Family Law

Services

We understand that family law matters are often emotionally charged and challenging for everyone involved. Our team handles every case with care and compassion and does their best to minimise stress by achieving the best outcome for you as quickly as possible.

Our services cover more than just handling divorce, but all aspects of family law. We have specialist family solicitors that are here to make sure you have the advice and support you need and guide you through what can be an overwhelming experience.

Below are just some of the areas of family law that we operate in.


Divorce

When a marriage (whether heterosexual or same-sex) has broken down you may decide to divorce, formally ending the marriage through the court. We can help advise you on the relevant legal grounds that may apply to your circumstances, the procedure involved and help you throughout the court process.

Sometimes other issues can arise during the process of a divorce and you need specialist support to protect your position such as financial matters, child arrangements and inheritance positions.

Whatever your current situation, it is important to take advice early to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and are not missing anything important. If you have not made up your mind and simply need advice as to your options and implications for you, as a divorce may not be right for you at this time, we can offer an initial fixed fee appointment to give you the information you need.


Civil Partnership Dissolution

Civil Partnership is now available to heterosexual couples as well as same-sex couples in the UK and serves as a means of formalising relationships if the couple should choose not to marry.    
If a civil partnership breaks down, just as the relationship itself offers the same legal rights as a marriage, the dissolution provides the same rights to both parties as in a divorce. The process of civil partnership dissolution mirrors divorce proceedings, formally ending the partnership through the court.

Financial Settlements in Divorce/Separation

Financial agreements in divorce, civil partnership dissolution or separation of cohabiting couples can often be the most challenging aspect of the legal process of separation. This can be made more complex if your financial positions are complicated.

Do you have a shared home? Is the house only under one name? Do you depend on your partner financially? Are there children that financially depend on you? Does one of you own a business? These and many other situations can affect the complexity of your case and require you to seek professional input and support to reach an agreement.

The first step to navigating the process of reaching a financial agreement is ensuring you have experienced and professional input and support throughout the proceedings. Your lawyer will help you identify the right outcome for your and make sure you are aware of the options available depending on how the conversations with your ex-partner progress.

It is important to take advice on your position whether or not you think that formal arrangements are necessary. Without an experienced professional, you could be at risk of losing out on claims that you are entitled to or having claims made against you in the future. Call our team about our fixed fee, no obligation initial appointment to discuss these issues with an experienced family law specialist.


Child Arrangements

Whether you are married, living together or are a wider family member caring for a child you may need help with child arrangements. Importantly, we will always resolve issues with the welfare of the children as our paramount concern and will consider other options to avoid court proceedings when possible.

Our specialist family law team works with you to reach an agreement that serves the best interest of the child. This can include the choice of school, travel arrangements, living arrangments, visiting rights and who the children should see during these visits.

Primarily, child arrangements are settled during the settlement of divorce or separations, however, we also assist clients with issues arising months or years later. This can also include cases when one parent wishes to move either within the UK or internationally.


Cohabitation Disputes

Many people believe that there is such a thing as a "common law marriage" in the UK and that, if they live together for a long time or have children, they will have rights equivalent to married couples. That is not the case.

There are many legal differences between the rights of married and cohabiting couples, including rights to property, inheritance and, if you did not sign the Birth Certificate of your child as an unmarried father, will not have parental responsibility for your child. The key legal difference for cohabiting couples is the financial provisions that the court can grant to the other party.

There are many legal options available to you whether you are about to enter into a cohabiting relationship, are already cohabiting with your partner or are facing the breakdown of a relationship.

You may wish to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement or prenuptial agreement if you have plans to marry in the future. Alternatively, you may require legal advice or representation if you are planning to separate from a cohabitee. Call our family law specialists for honest and practical advice about your situation and what your rights and options are.


Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse can occur whether you are living together, married, in a relationship or separated. It can occur in heterosexual or same sex relationships and perpetrators can be of either sex. Abuse need not be physical, it can be verbal, controlling behaviour, financial abuse or other behaviour. Whatever your situation, it can be daunting trying to stand up to an abuser or leave a relationship, but help is available.

If you are stuck in such a relationship it is important that you know what help is available, even if you may not be ready to take the first step at this point. Protection is available through the police, lawyers and support agencies, who can also help with issues such as re-housing or counselling. Injunctions can also be obtained from the court to try to protect you from harm or sometimes to order one person to leave a property.

These matters often need dealing with urgently and sometimes the same day. Occasionally, legal aid will also be available if you are a victim of domestic abuse. Talk to our experienced family law solicitors about how we can help you to protect yourself and your family.


Postnuptial and Prenuptial Agreements

Whilst it may seem mercenary or unromantic to think about, it is important to protect what is important to you ahead of time, to avoid additional uncertainty and stress should your relationship come to an end.

Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements give this peace of mind and help to avoid the possibility of future disputes and court proceedings. Such agreements are particularly popular where one party wishes to protect their pre-marital assets. They are also particularly relevant where one or both parties have children from a previous relationship and wish to preserve pre-marital assets for the benefit of those children.

These agreements and the law relating to them is not straightforward. It is important to get specialist advice if you are considering such an agreement or are presented with one by your partner.


Family Mediation

Family mediation is the process by which families can negotiate about future arrangements with the help of a neutral third party. It is always best if families are able to resolve their issues without becoming involved in court proceedings, which are stressful and can be expensive. However, some situations can be emotionally-charged and may require specialist help to reach an agreement.

A specialist family mediator will gather information from both parties and assist in discussions with a view to help everyone involved retain control of their lives and resolve their issues as amicably and cost-effectively as possible. This family mediator will often work, alongside advice from your own solicitor, with issues such as financial settlements, dispute resolution and child arrangements (sometimes including the children in the discussions when desired).

At Bridge Law we can advise you whether seeking the services of a family mediator is appropriate in your case and can refer you to an appropriate mediation service that we know and trust.

For legal help or to find out more please contact one of our offices or email info@bridgelawsolicitors.co.uk

Authorised and regulated by the Bar Standards Board: number ER161541.

Bridge Law is a trading name of Bridge Law Solicitors Limited, a company registered in England and Wales: company number 10007745.

Registered office: 42 Town Street, Marple Bridge SK6 5AA. Director: Claire Stewart.