Family Law

Our skilled lawyers deal with Children, Divorce, Finance and all aspects of family law.Early advice is important.

What can we advise upon?

With the way in which families are structured – with second and third families becoming more commonplace, and the potential for assets to fall across multiple countries – untangling a dispute can be fraught with complications.

Our family team is structured to ensure that you get the right level of legal, commercial and specialist support.

Asset Protection and Company matters

Many of our client’s divorce cases involve the ownership of a business.

Are you concerned that your spouse or civil partner is hiding assets away from you or more urgently is taking steps to dispose of them?

It may be that he or she is transferring ownership of a property to a third party, withdrawing significant sums of money from a bank account or transferring shares in a company.

Regardless of which option you choose, you and your spouse will need to disclose your assets, income and liabilities to determine a settlement. This is called producing your disclosure.

Companies and Divorce

During a divorce, the family courts will deal with the business as part of the Financial Settlement, whether it is a trading firm, a company or a partnership.

The process ensures that businesses are valued as part of the financial disclosure exercise. Valuing business interests is a real challenge, as there is a danger that an unrealistic valuation will be put on the firm or company when dividing up the family assets. However, we are uniquely placed as our in-house Forensic Team can support our clients to ensure a fair outcome for your business.

Children and Custody

Due to our unique combined legal and psychological approach, we are extremely successful in advising on disputes involving children upon divorce and separation.

Due to our personal experience and unique legal and psychological approach, we are pre-eminent in resolving disputes which involve “residence” and “contact” (now referred to as child arrangements), specific issues and other disputes involving children, such as education and medical treatment and leave to remove (international relocation of children).Our approach results in successful dispute resolution/mediation/litigation on behalf of our clients because they are based in child-centricity and collaboration.  Our approach minimises the potential for escalating acrimony and the resultant emotional and psychological harm to the children and parents which often follows from conventional legal advice. The importance of early advice is explained in “Why act now”.

Whilst the law provides the legal framework for disputes involving children, it is typically of such general application that neither it nor the facts determine the successful outcome of any dispute resolution, mediation, or litigation involving children.  Rather, the following aspects of our joint legal and psychological approach ensure that we maximise the chances of reaching successful outcomes whether by way of agreement or litigation.

Collaborative Law, Prenuptial agreements and Cohabitation agreements

Collaborative law was created as an alternative to traditional litigation. Litigation can be expensive, time consuming and confrontational for all parties involved. We can assist you in relation to all aspects and advise in respect of Prenuptial and cohabitation agreements.

Family law issues are often particularly emotional and since children are often involved, the traditional court process has been viewed as negative and possibly harmful. Family law issues range from divorce, spousal support and asset division to child issues such as custody, support and visitation. When trying to reach an agreement regarding family law issues, litigation may often be an emotionally charged, negative experience for the parties involved. As another option to litigation, collaborative law is an out of court process that is intended to produce an environment of consideration for others and communication that helps parties cooperate with each other and reach a settlement agreement.

Prenuptial Agreements

Whilst it might not be the most ideal subject to talk about, having a PNA or a cohabitation agreement in place is essential for couples who are about to marry or start living together.

Where one or both have assets, they want to protect in the event of a divorce or separation to ensure they are treated fairly. PNA or a cohabitation agreement is an easy process that we can help guide you through to protect your assets and rights.

As specialist family lawyers, we are experts in advising on the preventative measures that you can take including Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Cohabitation Agreements, ensuring that you are not left vulnerable to future claims.

Cohabitation agreements

Common-law man and wife is a complete myth.  If you are unmarried and live together you do not have the legal rights of a married couple.

As a result, following the breakdown of a relationship or the death of one party there are very different legal implications, sometimes creating a financial disaster for a dependent cohabitee. Capital assets such as the family home are not divided as they might be in divorce and should a property dispute occur, trust and land law is applied instead.

There is no automatic entitlement to make financial, capital, spousal maintenance or pension claims. There are laws concerning the children of cohabiting couples as there is no distinction between married and unmarried parents when deciding such issues as who the child (or children) will live with and how often they will see the other parent.

Divorce

We are here to make divorce simple. We offer fixed-prices and transparent advice that is free of jargon and legalese. Our goal is to make the difficult task of legally ending a marriage, and the associated complications, as straightforward as possible.

We’re also able to offer significant savings compared to traditional high-street solicitors. We use technology and streamlined, efficient processes in order to reduce our overheads and pass these on to our clients. This, and the fact that our clients are able to pay us through affordable, flexible monthly payments, serves to make this unpleasant process significantly more tolerable.

In addition, we boast a team of highly experienced practitioners within the field of family law and a dedicated support team of paralegals and assistants.

There is only one ground on which a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party of the marriage and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Divorce and Pensions

Disputes over sharing a pension can be very acrimonious between divorcing partners or when a civil partnership is dissolved. It is crucial to take expert legal advice – especially as the pension landscape is changing.

How much of my pensions will be taken into account by the court?

The total value of the pensions you have each built up is taken into account. This means all of your pensions, not just the ones you or your ex-partner built up while you were married or in a civil partnership.

In some instances it may be possible to make adjustments to the financial settlement to reflect pensions accumulated outside the period of the marriage (including the period that you spent living together provided there was no break and it led seamlessly into marriage / civil partnership).

This could include:

  • Personal pension schemes (including money purchase schemes, self-invested pension plans)
  • Schemes you have through work
  • Additional State Pension (but not the basic State Pension)
  • How you can divide up pensions?

The rules of the pension scheme will help inform you which of these options will work best for you.  It is important that you get professional advice from a solicitor and or a financial adviser before you take any steps with regard to dividing up your pensions.

Domestic Violence

Bond Adams provides legal advice to victims of domestic abuse to help them find the right method of protection for themselves and their children whilst providing the guidance to move forward following the breakdown of a relationship.

The term ‘domestic abuse’ includes emotional, psychological, physical, financial and sexual abuse of an intimate partner, child, former partner, family member or associated person.

Our experienced team of family and divorce lawyers will help and advise you in complete confidence, with compassion and respect, supporting you through all the relevant procedures quickly and efficiently.

How the law can protect victims of domestic violence?

If domestic violence has occurred, you can apply to the court for an injunction to protect you and your children.  The most common type of mandatory injunction in domestic violence and abuse cases is a Non-Molestation Order and/or an Occupation Order.

A Non-Molestation Order is designed to protect you from actual or threatened physical violence from your abuser.  Your abuser will also be banned from stalking or pestering you.  The protection offered by a Non-Molestation Order against domestic violence can be extended to your children.

An Occupation Order may give you the right to occupy the property you shared with your abuser and restrict or prevent your abuser from entering the home.

To apply for a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order, you must be an “associated person.”

This means you and your partner or ex-partner must be related or associated with each other in one of the following ways:

  • are or were ever married or engaged to be married
  • are or were ever in a civil partnership or had agreed to form a civil partnership
  • are or were living together (this includes same-sex and opposite-sex couples)
  • live or have lived in the same household, for example as a flat share (but not as a tenant, border, lodger or employee)
  • are relatives, including parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews or first cousins (whether by blood, marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation)
  • have a child together
  • have or had parental responsibility for the same child
  • are parties to the same family proceedings for the same child
  • are or were in an intimate personal relationship of significant duration.

To apply for an Occupation Order, you must have a legal right to live in the home.

Applications for Occupation Orders and Non-Molestation Orders can be made either with or without the respondent’s knowledge (known as ex-parte or on notice).  If you are in immediate danger, an application made ex-parte can provide protection more quickly than if the application were made on notice.  If an ex-parte application order is granted, it will only take effect after the respondent receives it.  This is to ensure that they do not unknowingly breach a court order.  A court hearing date with both parties’ present will be set.  This is known as a return date, and it is to allow the respondent to raise a defence against the order being made.

Finances, Property and Divorce

We advise on all financial aspects of matrimonial, civil partnership and relationship breakdown, including claims for the benefit of children, along with Property & Divorce, Islamic Based matters and related matters.

Our clients have consistently found that our unique joint legal and psychological approach, has resulted in earlier and more cost-effective financial agreements. Whilst, inevitably, the resolution of financial matters upon divorce or relationship breakup rely more on a cost-benefit analysis than disputes involving children, our approach minimises the harmful acrimony which frequently develops between parties when a solely legalistic approach is pursued which makes any resolution of the finances virtually impossible.

Further, and perhaps more importantly, where children are involved, the outcome of the financial proceedings depends to a great extent on the outcome of any dispute involving children.  This is an area where our unique joint legal and psychological approach leads to extremely successful results for clients.

In addition the Supervising Partner is Rafique Patel, his previous role as a Litigation partner at a 400 staff law firm (Harvey Ingram) means that he excels at managing complex financial cases involving high-value assets and liabilities.

Grandparent rights

We assist grandparents who may need legal help to continue contact with their grandchildren after a divorce, separation, death or family disputes.

Our expert family lawyers recognise how important a grandparent is in family life, offering love, support, advice and experience. The Courts, too, are increasingly aware of the beneficial role a grandparent plays in a child’s upbringing.

Grandparents play an important and irreplaceable role in most children’s lives. But it may surprise many to know that you don’t have an automatic right to see your grandchildren when your child separates from or divorces their ex-partner. In practice though, the family court does recognise the importance and benefits of children spending time with their grandparents – and there is a legal process you can follow to maintain a relationship with them. The court will usually consider that it’s in your grandchild’s best interests to spend time with their extended family following a divorce or separation – unless there is good reason to prevent this. In most situations the time available for children to spend with their grandparents will be limited, but that does not mean that you can’t secure access to your grandchildren. We specialise in helping grandparents get access to their grandchildren, and with decades of experience as one of the UK’s leading family law firms, you can be sure you’ll have top experts on your side. Our experienced team can help you with.

Islamic Shariah Based Divorces

What Islamic family law services do we offer?

Our team of specialist divorce lawyers with experience of Sharia law in the context of marriage and divorce understand the importance of your faith and culture. They speak your language to ensure that you get a service that fulfils the requirements of both your faith and English Law.

As with English Law, both spouses are entitled to obtain an Islamic divorce and we are instructed by both men (Talaq) and women (Khula) who want a divorce. We have male and female lawyers on the Islamic law team.

Nuptial trusts (nuptial settlements)

A nuptial settlement is when the husband and wife are beneficiaries connected to the trust in their capacity as spouses.

If the Court finds the trust to be nuptial, then it can exercise wide-ranging powers and can make an order to vary the settlement. For example, funds can be paid directly from the trust to a spouse, civil partner and/or any children of the family.

A trust is likely to be considered to have a nuptial element if there is a connection between the trust and the marriage. For example, if the trust was established for the benefit of either party to the marriage, them both, or any of the children of the family, it is highly likely that it will be considered a nuptial trust. As with all situations, it will be necessary to look at the specific facts. The question of whether a trust is nuptial or not is hugely important because if a trust is deemed as being nuptial, the Court has the power to vary it. That could therefore see the assets of the trust lose all the protection that you intended when establishing the trust.

The Court cannot vary trusts that do not have a nuptial element so it is hugely important that the drafting of a trust is considered carefully and that consideration is given to the creation and operation of a trust and whether it is likely to be considered nuptial or not.

When dealing with trusts without a nuptial element, the Court’s powers are more restricted. That is however, not to say that such powers are non-existent. The options available to a Court will, when it comes to trusts deemed to have no nuptial element, depend on the type of trust.

As one would expect, if the spouse’s interest in the trust is fixed or defined then it is likely to be necessary for the value of the interest to be determined. Consideration will then need to be given to when the spouse will be able to access the assets in the trust or income deriving from those assets.

Property and Divorce

When you know the facts, when you have both provided a full and frank disclosure of finances, when you both realise what type of settlement you both need, then and only then can you decide what to do. When these initial steps have been taken, whether amicably, through mediation, you can then examine any offer on its merits and know whether your partner is being reasonable or not.

A court could order the sale of a property and apportion the proceeds between both parties in any way it chooses. Or it could split the ownership differently so that one party retains an interest in the property until a later date. It could order a lump sum to be paid, endowment or life policy to be split or reassigned and the pension pot could also be allocated differently. It can also consider any inheritance if it seems that two properties cannot be bought with the declared financial assets.

Trusts and Divorce

Trusts can add a level of complexity to divorce negotiations or court proceedings but sometimes they can be the source of a solution that enables both parties to move on with their lives.

A trust is set up by a settlor and looked after and administered by trustees on behalf of the beneficiaries. It has a separate legal identity. A key feature of a trust is that neither the husband or wife, owns the assets of the trust in the way that they legally own their house, car or savings. Trustees have a duty to look after the interests of the beneficiaries so requests for capital or income may be refused if this unfairly prejudices the interests of the others.

Contact Us for Expert Advice & Assistance

lawyers@bondadams.com

0116 285 8080

0116 285 8185