Family law covers a range of different legal relationships and issues arising.
You can rely on our team of family solicitors to provide experienced, thorough and sensitive advice whatever the issue or legal requirement.
Click here to access our informative and helpful guide to navigating the legal process during divorce.
Unmarried couples – legal issues arising on cohabitation
The starting point is to understand that under current English law, regardless of the length of relationship, if you are cohabiting but unmarried, you don’t have established legal rights except where there are children involved. To enforce any legal rights or obligations you will need to rely on evidence and areas of law such as contract law, equity and trusts. If you don’t plan on getting married, there are ways you can protect your position and that of your partner which should be considered. In particular, we can advise on:-
- cohabitation agreements generally
- issues where 1 partner owns a property and it is agreed that the non-owning partner should have a recorded interest in the equity in the property
- disputes over cohabitation finances where an unmarried couple split up – this can include advice on establishing an equity interest based on financial or other contributions such as improving the property and/or staying at home to look after children
- parental responsibility – the mother will have legal rights and obligations for children as of right but an unmarried father may not automatically have parental responsibility and may want to apply for it
- Wills – with an unmarried couple, unless a Will is made, on the death of 1, the other partner will not benefit under the intestacy rules. Consequently, it is imperative that both partners in an unmarried, permanent relationship, make appropriate Wills.
Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial Agreements
Historically, such agreements tended to be only considered by the very wealthy and even then, in legal terms, such agreements carried no binding authority and relatively little weight under English law. Whilst the position remains that neither prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are binding, recent case law indicates that, where appropriate the English Courts will now attach considerable weight to such agreements. However, for this to be the case, certain formalities must be proven, such as that both parties made adequate disclosure of circumstances to each other and that both had the opportunity to get independent legal advice before entering the agreement.
Legal issues relating to Civil Partnerships
We advise on all legal issues arising from civil partnerships including negotiated settlements arising on dissolution. With many same sex couples now adopting children, we can also advise on legal issues in this respect and on child maintenance and financial dispute.
It can take great courage to seek legal advice where you are the victim of verbal abuse, physical aggression or assault, sexual abuse, or emotional and financial control. We advise on all available options and are experienced in dealing with legal issues arising in these most difficult of situations, whether applying for an injunction or other civil law options.
Mediation is a voluntary process where couples are assisted by a trained mediator to reach a resolution on a number of issues. These issues can include the divorce/separation, concerns surrounding children and the financial arrangements. The mediator is impartial and is there to guide parties and facilitate an environment that helps parties reach an agreement. Mediation is a less formal and often less expensive way for couples to resolve their issues.
Family law advice for older clients – Court of Protection and mental capacity advice
Get in touch
To find out more about us, to discuss your needs or problem with a free first discussion or to make an appointment to meet, either in Uxbridge or at one of our branch offices in Aylesbury, Maidenhead, High Wycombe, Chorleywood or in London.