If you need family legal advice, whether you are splitting up from your partner or spouse, or you need to make a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), Routh Clarke are here to guide you through the legal process. We will always give clear understandable advice and will be the voice of reason at what can be extremely difficult and emotional times. One of our clients described us as “having a legal friend who is always there for me and always in my corner.” We have a great deal of experience in helping people in all areas of family law and can provide a very flexible service to meet your particular needs, whether it’s providing mediation, legal advice, or representation at court. We believe court should always be the last resort and so will work hard to help you reach a workable solution, that matches your emotional and financial needs.
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Clarification for Separated Parents
Michael Gove made it clear on 24/03/20 children under 18 can move between parents during UK lockdown. For the government guidance see here. For legal advice call us on 01935 823883
If your marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down, we are here to help you through the legal separation process. This is a very stressful and emotional time, particularly when children are involved, so we are here to take some of that stress away. We offer a fixed fee service which will end in you receiving your Decree Absolute. We can also help with the Financial Settlement and Child contact and custody issues if required.
If you and your partner wish to separate, or have separated, and you would like advice on your next steps, contact us. We can advise you on how to unravel your partnership finances, split your assets and agree on the care of your children. This can be a very difficult time for everyone and our aim is to make sure you have someone you can trust to guide you through the process.
If you are separating, divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership, the law says you must consider mediation before your case can go to court. Family mediation helps you sort out any disputes – without involving legal fees or going through a long drawn-out court battle. A MIAM (Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting) will be arranged, whereby a professional mediator will help you try to come to a fair agreement. We can then work with you to put the necessary orders in place.
We all love our children very much and want what’s best for them, so this can be the most emotionally charged area of a relationship breakdown, with parental views often at odds to each other. The Court’s paramount consideration is always the welfare of the children, which is why Mediation is suggested to help sort out any disputes. We will work closely with you to ensure the welfare of your children is always the principal consideration and that the best and fairest solution is gained. We will advise you on the Child arrangement orders, ie who they live with and how much time each parent spends with them and child maintenance, together with any issues you may have such as taking your children abroad. We are also experienced in helping people to ascertain parental responsibility including obtaining Paternity tests.
Financial settlements can be extremely contentious. Mediation can often help you come up with a fair agreement, but you may still have to make some very hard decisions, which will have serious implications for your future. Our aim is to help you in this process giving clear advice on the best courses of action, negotiating a financial settlement between you, your partner and their solicitor, which best protects your interests in the future. Once agreed, we will ask the court to ratify this agreement in the form of a Financial order.
Where you are subjected to domestic abuse and/or violence or cruelty by your partner or spouse you can apply to the Court for protection. A Restrictive Order is a court order intended to protect you from further harm from someone who has hurt you; to keep an abuser away from you; to stop them harassing you; to stop them using controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour towards you; or to keep the abuser from the places where you live and work or other specified areas, sometimes called exclusion zones. They may take the form of Non-Molestation orders, Occupation Orders or Harassment Injunctions. If you are being subjected to violence, abuse or harassment from anyone, we can help you to quickly have an Order put in place to protect you and your family.
If you are worried about who will manage your affairs or make decisions about your care when you are not capable of doing so yourself, you might want to think about appointing aLasting Power of Attorney. We are here to help you through this developing and changing area of law. We are also on a mission to help everyone write a Will, which is why we also take part in the Will Aid scheme. It is estimated about 70% of people in the UK die without writing a Will, meaning assets are distributed according to Intestacy rules and not according to personal wishes. It also means families have to deal with a more complex probate situation at a time when they are grieving most. Even worse, if you are cohabitating and your partner dies without a Will, you have no rights on their estate. None of us can plan when or how we die, but we can plan how our estate is dealt with, so let us help you to write a Will and ensure your loved ones don't have one more thing to worry about in the future.
We know everyone copes with the loss of a loved one in different ways and however you wish to deal with matters, we are here to support you, whatever your needs. When a Will is in place, the task of gaining Probate and settling your loved one’s financial affairs is generally much easier. However, when they don’t have a WIll, it can often be extremely time consuming and frustrating. Sometimes an individual may die without making reasonable financial provision in their Will, or under the laws of Intestacy, for their relatives or dependents. In this instance there are grounds to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. Often this can be resolved by mediation or round-table party discussions and avoid the need for court. We are here to guide you every step of the way and to help you solve your issues in the most effective and least costly way possible.
Dissolving a civil partnership follows the same procedure as a Divorce except adultery cannot be used as a reason for the irretrievable breakdown. Other reasons are unreasonable behaviour, separation for 2 years by consent, separation for 5 years without consent or desertion. We will help you to make your relationship breakdown as painless as possible.
If you have Parental Responsibility for a child, you are entitled to take them abroad for up to 28 continuous days. Problems can and do arise when parents are no longer together and the children are subject to a court order (Contact or Residency aspects) and one parent wishes to take them away for either a longer period or perhaps to emigrate. We can help you through this process.
If you are worried about who will manage your affairs or make decisions about your care when you are not capable of doing so yourself, you might want to think about appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney. An LPA is a formal document that is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. There are two kinds, one which deals with your Property and Affairs and the other with your Health and Welfare. Without LPA's in place, your family might find they have to go through the lengthy and expensive process of applying to the Court of Protection to make decisions on your behalf.
The only ground for a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 is where an individual has died without making reasonable financial provision in their Will, or under the laws of Intestacy, for their relatives or dependents. Judges have a wide discretion to redistribute assets to produce a fair result. However, we would also advise clients to take part in out of court Dispute Resolution (DR) whereby either Mediation or round-table negotiations take place to avoid involving the court, so as to keep costs down.
Domestic violence can happen at all levels of society and in all relationships. If you are subject to domestic violence, abuse or harassment from your partner, spouse or anyone else, we can help you apply to the Court for protection in the form of a Restrictive Order, either an Occupation order and/or a Non-Molestation order or a Harrassment Injunction. In late 2014 the government introduced a new domestic violence law criminalising patterns of coercive, controlling and psychological abuse which is designed to clarify and strengthen the law on abuse. If you would like to talk to someone about abusive behaviour, please call us and we will help you.
Molestation covers a multitude of incidents as serious as assaults all the way down to pestering and general harassment. It does not require violence or threats of violence. It covers any conduct constituting harassment which requires the protection of the Court. A non-molestation Order prohibits a person from molesting/harassing another person or a child and can also create 'exclusion zones'. Breaching a Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence. There are a lot of technical steps which must be complied with before an Order is enforceable, let alone can be granted. Routh Clarke will ensure these steps are satisfied so that you and/or your children can have the protection they deserve.
Whilst many people may have a right to occupy a home, an Occupation Order allows the Court to restrict those rights and decide who should live, or not live, in the home or any part of it. The Order can also exclude the other person from an area around the home. Where an Occupation Order is in force it can also deal with who pays the rent or mortgage and outgoings on the property, who has to maintain the property, what furniture and contents can be used and whether the party in occupation should pay a "rent" to the other person.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 introduced 2 criminal offences of harassment along with an entitlement to claim damages and/or a Harrassment injunction in Court . The Act provides personal protection where inappropriate conduct is taking place, which is not covered by the Family Law Act 1996. Harassment is only very loosely defined and is conduct that includes "alarming the person or causing them distress". The more trivial the conduct, the longer it must have occurred to satisfy the test. The more serious the conduct, the less incidents or shorter period is required. If you are being harrassed, call us now for advice.
Where there is any doubt about the paternity of a child, then this can be ascertained by paternity DNA testing. If the test cannot be voluntarily agreed, the Court has the power to Order it (or make a declaration of parentage). However, a person can refuse to provide a DNA sample. If a person does refuse to provide a sample, the Court can be asked to 'take inferences', and can still make a declaration of parentage. The Child Support Agency can also apply for a declaration under section 27 of the Child Support Act 1991.