Divorce is a sad end to what was once the most important legal relationship of choice. It need not , however, be bitter and expensive. We help clients through this period as efficiently as we can with clear advice, where needed.
Please see our separate 'Divorce''page for more information.
According to the 2011 census, more people in the UK now live together as unmarried couples than as married couples. It is tempting to assume the lack of legal formality in the relationship is the better option, perhaps because it saves the expense and drama of a wedding, or the interference by the courts in a divorce. However unromantic it may seem, forming an enforceable agreement from the start (in respect of property rights) can save many thousands of pounds later.
Please see our separate 'Unmarried Couples' page for more information.
Please see our separate'Civil Partnerships' page for more information.
The 'residence of children', that is, where they live and 'contact' with children, that is, who may see them and when, are the terms now used in place of 'custody' and 'access'. The legal system works towards families making these decisions themselves. In a family break up, it is even more important for families to try to make decisions together for the sake of the children, than to rely on a court order. We aim to help families achieve that, whether the parents were a married couple or not.
In a divorce, the court asks both parents to show in writing the arrangements made for children and if the court is satisfied with the arrangements, the divorce can proceed. In these cases, the court takes no further active part and relies on both parents to make whatever ongoing arrangements they both think is best. After all, the children have not divorced either parent.
The emphasis now (whether the parents were married or not), is that if the court is asked to intervene, the children should be able to maintain their relationships with both parents, unhindered as far as possible.
Please see our separate 'Considering the Children' page for more information
When a couple's relationship ends, the law and procedure is different for a divorcing couple (or a couple whose civil partnership is dissolving) than it is for an unmarried couple.
For a divorcing couple please see our separate 'Family Finance' page for more information.
For a couple who were not married the situation is more complex if they have not made enforceable agreements about jointly owned assets in advance. There is no such thing today as a 'common law marriage'. The rights and duties at the termination of the relationship are exactly the same as they would be if any two people own assets jointly. There may however be some rights to benefit from the estate of a deceased person if a couple have lived together for a continuous period of two years up to the date of death. As to this see the section 'when someone dies'