An overview of family law
Family law is the body of legislation which governs family life and people’s most important relationships and experiences. The majority of solicitor’s services in the area of family law are related to divorce and the breakdown of these personal relationships.
When a couple becomes separated they will have to make many life changing decisions about the future, family law solicitors can assist with the legal processes related to these decisions and make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
When a married couple separates and decides they are unable to reconcile their differences they will eventually have to get a divorce. Divorce is the family law process of dissolving a marriage and all that it represents, in order to start divorce proceedings one partner has to file a petition with their local county court.
The court must be satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for a divorce to be granted; sufficient evidence to prove one of the following 4 reasons must be provided:
Adultery: This is defined as sexual activity with a member of the opposite sex that you choose, there will have to be sufficient evidence that adultery has taken place and an admission from the party that committed it. Sexual activity with someone of the same gender is not classed as adultery under family law, however, where this is a case a divorce would probably be granted on grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
Unreasonable Behaviour: This would include situations of domestic violence, failing to show affection or other mistreatment, as well as any other behaviour that a reasonable person wouldn’t put up with. If the partner won’t admit to unreasonable behaviour there must sufficient evidence to prove it.
Desertion: If a partner has been absent for 2 years of the previous 2 and a half with the aim of trying to end the relationship there will be grounds for divorce.
Separation: If a couple has been living separately for 2 years and both agree that divorce is the best option, or for 5 years if one partner refuses to agree, a divorce can be granted.
The vast majority of divorces are granted for the first two reasons. A family law solicitor will be able to give advice on the best option to go with and assist in filling in all of the necessary forms and providing the right evidence to file for divorce.
Divorcing couples need to consider the broader ramifications of their separation, particularly if children are involved. UK family law includes provisions for the division of assets which are jointly owned by the couple as well as for the custody and maintenance of children. If the couple cannot decide these issues by themselves there are resolution processes such as mediation which can help to bring about a fair solution, or the matter can be decided in court if there proves to be no alternative. A family law solicitor will be able to give advice on the best way to proceed in any given situation.
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