Crallan Family and Divorce Solicitors covers a range of services:
- Divorce: The Family Court has the power to dissolve marriages. One spouse has to issue a petition and they are called the petitioner. The other spouse is named as the respondent. We do not yet have a system of no-fault divorce such as exists in Australia and many other jurisdictions. The petitioner has to either accuse their spouse of adultery or unreasonable behaviour if they want to get divorced straight away. Otherwise, they can wait for two years and can then only get divorced if their spouse consents (or five years separation without their consent).
- Civil Partnerships Dissolution: The Family Court has the power to dissolve a civil partnership. The only difference with divorce is that the petitioner cannot accuse the respondent of adultery. The options are limited to accusations of unreasonable behaviour and two years separation with consent (or 5 years separation without consent).
- Property Redistribution: Each time the Family Court deals with either a divorce or civil partnership dissolution it also has the power to force the sale of property, to transfer property from one former partner to the other, to share pensions and to order that spousal maintenance be paid. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 still governs this exercise and the court’s aim is to provide for a fair outcome.
- Cohabitation: This applies if two people have been living together without being either married or in a civil partnership. The main difference is that the court has no power to redistribute property between the parties. The only power the court has is to work out who actually already owns the property and then order for it to be sold if one party cannot afford to buy out the other’s interest. The court does this by making a declaration as to who actually owns any property that is in dispute. The court is not aiming at a fair outcome because the matrimonial legislation does not apply. The outcome is often very unfair in cases where the parties have been living together for many years (especially where there are children) but the property is owned predominantly by one partner.
- Pre-nuptial Agreements: These are agreements that aim at controlling the ownership of property if the spouses ever get divorced. The aim is to restrict or eliminate the power of the Family Court to redistribute property. They are not watertight but are much more water resistant than they used to be. The Family Court will overturn them in a number of circumstances.
- Children: The Family Court has very extensive powers in relation to with whom children should live and how much time they spend with parents and grandparents. In extreme cases the Family Court can order that children be removed from their parents without their consent and be put up for adoption. The Family Court is also able to make decisions for the benefit of children when their parents cannot agree over matters such as which school they attend, whether they should have a particular medical procedure or whether they can be moved to live abroad. In cases involving an international dispute between the parents the courts of the country in which the child is habitually resident make these decisions. Cases of international child abduction are increasingly common and when children have been abducted to the UK the Hague Convention provides the Family Court with the power to order the return of children to the country where they are habitually resident, so that the foreign court can make long term decisions concerning the children’s welfare. If children have been abducted from the UK the Family Court will ensure that an application is brought before the foreign court under the Hague Convention for the immediate return of the children to the UK so that the courts here can make long term decisions about the children’s future.
Please click on the links on this page to find out about these services we offer in more detail.