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Divorce and Separation Solicitors in Canterbury

Thinking about separating from your partner, spouse or civil partner? Or are you already in the process of going through a separation or divorce? You will understandably want to know where you stand from a legal perspective and what options will be available to you. Our divorce solicitors can help.

The process of a separation or divorce inevitably carries with it plenty of questions about the future. These can range from financial matters, such as issues concerning jointly-held assets or contributions made to assets owned by your spouse, partner or civil partner, as well as arrangements for children and what will happen to the family home.

Gardner Croft’s expert divorce solicitors have gained a strong reputation for providing a personal service that is sensitive to the issues that come with divorce and separation.  We are on hand to provide support and guidance and is carefully tailored to you and your circumstances.

Our friendly and sympathetic divorce solicitors in Canterbury can meet with you to talk through your current situation and respond to your questions. We will advise and guide you as to the most appropriate and cost-effective way forward to suit your personal circumstances.

We would suggest that you seek advice at the earliest possible stage to ensure that you are as prepared as you can be for the steps that lie ahead.

Our team place a strong emphasis on finding resolutions to divorce and separation without the need for costly and time-consuming court proceedings wherever possible. Members of our family law team are registered with Resolution, a network of legal professionals who are committed to removing conflict from family law matters.

However, if court proceedings are required to reach a positive outcome, we can also guide you through the process and provide robust representation.

Our divorce solicitors in Canterbury can provide assistance in relation to various matters, including:

  • Starting divorce proceedings
  • Responding to a divorce petition
  • Financial matters on divorce
  • No-fault divorce
  • Arrangements for children
  • Advice for unmarried couples who are separating

Speak to our Divorce Solicitors in Canterbury Today

To get in touch with our divorce and separation solicitors in Canterbury, please call us on 01227 813400, email enquiries@gardnercroft.co.uk or fill in our simple online enquiry form on the right-hand side of the page to request a call back.

Why Work with Our Divorce Solicitors in Canterbury?

Our divorce solicitors are committed to providing constructive resolutions to matters involving divorce, ensuring that the disruption to your life is kept to a minimum. This not only allows you to avoid the stress of having to head to court, but it can also save you time and money.

Unfortunately, court proceedings are not avoidable in every scenario. There may be certain issues you and your former partner are unable to agree on. Where this is the case, you can be safe in the knowledge that our divorce solicitors will be on hand to provide carefully tailored advice and support that is geared towards achieving the best possible outcome.

During any court proceedings that take place, the team always adhere to Resolution’s code of practice and the Family Law protocol where possible. This involves seeking a conciliatory approach to minimise the disruption that litigation can often cause, as well as bringing about a conclusion that is reasonable to all parties.

Our Divorce Solicitors’ Approach

We pride ourselves on our ability to actively listen to all of the concerns our clients may have and find a constructive solution.

Our divorce solicitors can offer you:

  • Objective advice about the available options so you can be sure you are making the correct decisions for your future and that of your children
  • Expert guidance with practitioners who have specialist accreditations and experience of complex divorce matters
  • Tailor-made solutions which recognise the individual nature of every divorce

We understand that going through a divorce can be an incredibly daunting experience. When clients come to see us, they are often upset, angry and confused. Our aim is to develop a holistic strategy that allows us to assist wherever possible.

Our Divorce and Separation Expertise

Starting and Responding to Divorce Proceedings

To ensure that your divorce goes ahead as quickly and smoothly as possible, our divorce solicitors will work alongside you to get proceedings underway and advise you on all the necessary steps you need to take.

With the support of our experts, you can be sure that the various forms and official documents that need to be submitted will be completed accurately and on time, avoiding any potential mistakes which could otherwise delay proceedings. We can also help you to respond to a divorce petition which has been submitted by your former partner, helping you to understand exactly what you need to do, as well as clarifying your legal position.

As of 6 April 2022, new divorce rules are being introduced which will simplify the general process. Despite these changes, the advice and support of an experienced divorce solicitor will remain as important as ever, which is where our team can lend their support.

Financial Matters on Divorce

Whether you are going through a separation from your partner, or a divorce, this will inevitably involve discussions concerning family finances.

Our expert divorce solicitors will discuss what is important for you and your family and advise you on the legal parameters that apply to your personal situation. We will guide you through each step of the legal process and the numerous issues that you will potentially face, to minimise uncertainty and help you achieve an outcome that works for you.

We can advise on various matters related to the division of finances upon divorce, including:

  • The family home
  • Pensions
  • Savings and investments
  • Second homes
  • Business assets
  • International assets
  • Maintenance, both child and spousal

As part of this process, we will encourage the resolution of financial matters on separation or divorce in a constructive way, whether or not this involves going to Court.

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Arrangements for Children

During any divorce or separation, any children you have will always be your number one priority. Unfortunately, during divorce proceedings, disputes can often arise concerning what arrangements should be made for children, such as how much time they will spend with each parent, where they will go to school and other matters related to their general welfare.

Our divorce and separation solicitors have substantial experience in dealing with various complex matters related to children. As such, we can provide sensitive, practical advice about arrangements for children following divorce, taking all the necessary steps to encourage the early resolution of disputes.

Our team also have experience in handling cases where parties wish to remove their children from the jurisdiction or relocate. We also have close links with the Grandparents’ Association.

Our Divorce Fees

Fixed Fee Initial Consultation

As practitioners, we understand that clients wish to have the time and space to discuss options at an initial meeting without feeling that costs are mounting throughout the interview. For this reason, we offer a first consultation at a cost of £150 plus VAT.

This fee covers the entire meeting, however long it lasts, and a letter confirming the matters discussed and the advice given following the appointment.

During the initial meeting we take the time to discuss your circumstances in detail so we can provide you with a service that is tailored to your needs, from your first meeting and thereafter.

Fixed Fee Divorce

We offer a fixed fee divorce service for £795 inclusive of VAT (plus any relevant court fees) to cover the actual divorce proceedings. This does not include making a financial settlement or arrangements for children.

Please note: some online companies and solicitors offer a fixed fee divorce with exclusions because, in essence, the cost of divorce proceedings depends upon the parties involved.

You can, in some instances, pay more than the quoted price given by an online company because issues are unforeseen at the start. These issues commonly occur because the paperwork is often not managed by a solicitor with the experience to support the client throughout the process.

Fees for Divorce Financial Matters

At your initial meeting with our team, we will also give you an estimate of the costs for dealing with the financial aspects of the divorce. These costs can vary depending upon the circumstances of each individual case. We will provide you with the best possible information about the likely cost at the outset to help you budget.

Contact our Divorce Solicitors in Canterbury

To get in touch with our divorce solicitors in Canterbury, please call us on 01227 813400, email enquiries@gardnercroft.co.uk or fill in our simple online enquiry form on the right-hand side of the page to request a call back.

Divorce and Separation Frequently Asked Questions

In simple terms, much will depend on whether the other parent has, what is known as Parental Responsibility. Mothers have Parental Responsibility automatically by virtue of giving birth to the child. Father’s have Parental Responsibility automatically if their child is born after the 1st of December 2003 and they are named as the father on the child’s birth certificate. Therefore, in circumstances where both parents have Parental Responsibility one parent cannot change the name of the child without the other parent’s agreement or consent. In the absence of an agreement then an application may be made to the Court to request that the child’s surname be changed.

Even if a father does not have Parental Responsibility, recent law has suggested that if only the mother has Parental Responsibility, the father should still be contacted and in the event of a disagreement, an order from the Court must be sought before changing the name.

Further, if the child is over the age of 16, the child’s consent is also required.

The law encourages parents to work together and parent co-operatively in respect of their children. It is true to say that each parent will have their own parenting style that others may not necessarily agree with. If your concerns are limited to that of parenting style and technique, the most effective way to remedy this is to engage in discussions with one another. If you feel that this is not possible, the issue can be raised between solicitors, however, parenting technique is not something that the Court is able to impose upon parents.

However, if you have significant concerns regarding the health and welfare of your child whilst in the care of their other parent, particularly if you feel the child is being put at risk, the best course of action would be to contact social services. You should also seek legal advice as to how best to proceed regarding the future residency and contact arrangements for the child, in light of these welfare concerns.

If you are unsure as to whether your concerns would warrant contacting social services, we would be able to assist you in respect of this and advise you accordingly.

There is no fixed rule as to how much time a child should spend with each parent. The circumstances of each family and their children must be considered on an individual basis.

It is accepted that children have a right to know and spend time with both of their parents. However, what is appropriate in one set of circumstances may not be appropriate in a different situation. It is therefore advisable that you obtain legal advice that is tailored to your individual situation.

The law seeks to encourage parents to come to an agreement together and parent co-operatively focussing on the best interests and needs of the child at all times. The amount of time a parent spends with their child may depend on such things as, where each parent lives, where the child goes to school and the relationship that the child may or may not have already forged with each parent. The Courts are reluctant to interfere with any decisions that parents are able to make between themselves co-operatively.

If there is a dispute as to how much time the children should spend with you, then it is important that you take legal advice.

In relation to the divorce itself, there is one fee payable to the Court of £593.

It is possible to agree to split the costs of the divorce proceedings with your spouse, however, if an agreement is not possible, an order from the Court can be sought to the same effect.

The Court fee is fixed, whilst any work under taken by a Solicitor is normally charged at a private hourly rate. However, we may be able to assist you on a fixed fee basis, if your circumstances are appropriate, and we are happy to discuss the possibility of working on a fixed fee basis.

Costs relating to divorce can be quite hard to predict at an early stage in the process, as much will depend on how far you and your spouse are able to agree, and what the issues are between you. If you and your spouse have been able to reach a decision between yourselves, costs may only be payable in relation to having the agreement formalised by way of a Court Order. Costs can also depend on the method of dispute resolution used. The Court process is the most expensive option available, however, alternative dispute resolution can in some circumstances be more cost-effective.

The overall costs will vary depending on each person’s individual set of circumstances. An estimate of the overall likely fees will be discussed with you during an initial meeting and after full details of your circumstances has been provided.

The most common myth amongst cohabiting couples is that they are common law husband and wife. Unfortunately this is not the case, and there is no such thing. As you are not married, you will not be entitled to make the same financial claims against one another upon the breakdown of the relationship, as if you were married.

Depending on your individual circumstances, you may only be entitled to any assets that are held in your sole name, or jointly with your former partner. It is possible in some cases to seek an interest in property that is held in the sole name of your partner. Further, you may be able to claim a greater interest in property that is held in your joint names.

This is a specialist area of law and we would advise that you seek our advice at the earliest opportunity.

If you and your partner are able to agree matters then it is possible to record your agreement in a document called Separation Agreement. This will help to formalise the separation and the financial arrangements thereafter.

If you and your former partner have any children together, child maintenance is dealt with separately by the Child Maintenance Service in terms of its calculation and enforcement.

Further, if you are having any difficulties implementing arrangements for your children, as to when they spend time with you and your former partner we can advise you on all the options available.

In any circumstance, if you are being harassed, you should call the police. The police have powers under the Protection from Harassment Act to deal with harassment claims and seek restraining orders from the Court to prevent a person from harassing another.

However, if you feel that you are not making any headway with the police, we are able to offer you advice in relation to making an application to the Court, in respect of a Non-Molestation Order, that can help to prevent one person from harassing another. Alternatively, if the person is living with you, it may be possible to obtain an Occupation Order excluding the abusive person from the home or part of it. These orders can have powers of arrest attached to them, so that if a person is in breach of the Order, the police are able to intervene.

Much will depend on your circumstances and the extent of harassment you are experiencing, therefore we would urge you to seek legal advice and maintain an accurate record of the time, date and extent of the harassment.

The important thing to bear in mind is that it is your decision when to start the divorce process. You can take this step whenever you feel ready, and one of our Solicitors can advise you as to the various options available to you. It is important to consider whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and if not, a divorce may not be the best option for now.

The most obvious avenue to some, is to petition for divorce. In this circumstance, it would be best to seek legal advice as to how to go about doing so. We can provide this initial advice on a fixed fee basis and provide you with various options to help decide on what basis you would like to proceed with a divorce.

If you do not feel ready to start a divorce, there is the possibility of entering into a Separation Agreement, which is effectively a contract between you and your spouse. This option is a means of separating from one another financially, and also setting out the arrangements in relation to the children. This also accommodates the possibility of a reconciliation. However, the Separation Agreement would not automatically bind the Court in any subsequent divorce proceedings, although they may have regard to it.

Even if you are not ready to separate, and are merely contemplating separating, it is better to seek advice as to the options that are available to you.

If you have been able to reach an agreement between yourselves, in conjunction with divorce proceedings, it should be quite a straightforward process.

A common misconception is that Decree Absolute, the document bringing the marriage to an end, automatically extinguishes any financial claims each spouse may have against one another. The only way in which financial claims may be brought to an end, is if they are dismissed within a formal order that is approved by the Court in circumstances where the person who did not start the divorce has remarried.

Therefore, it is vitally important that any informal agreement reached between you and your spouse is prepared by your Solicitor. This will give legal effect to the agreement and dismiss all future financial claims that you may have against one another. However, the Court will not ‘rubber stamp’ every agreement, the Court will need to be satisfied that the agreement reached is fair and reasonable to each person.

If the arrangement are not formalised then you and your partner may remain vulnerable to future claims.

You and your spouse will have financial claims against one another resulting from your marriage. This can be by way of lump sum, pension sharing or maintenance. In calculating the assets to be divided, the ‘matrimonial pot’ will consist of all joint and sole assets held by each of you.

When financially separating from one another, the Court will always pay regard to what is fair and reasonable. The Court will try to ensure that the decision to divorce should not impact detrimentally upon the standard of living enjoyed by either party, or their ability to live independently from one another. This is, of course, subject to the available assets, however, the Court will try to ensure that each person is able to live a similar standard of living to that when they were married though in real terms, there will be an expectation that you and your spouse adjust your standard of living accordingly if finances dictate.

The law suggests that the starting point for any division of assets should be equal. However, the court will also pay regard to a set of criteria when deciding whether to depart from this equal sharing principle.

The court will first and foremost give paramount consideration to the welfare of any child.

Following that the Court will consider:

a) The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future including in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would be, in the opinion of the Court, reasonable to expect a person to take steps to acquire;

b) The financial needs, obligations and responsibility which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

c) The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;

d) The ages of each spouse and the duration of the marriage;

e) Any physical or mental disability of each spouse;

 f) The contributions which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;

g) The conduct of each spouse that conduct being such that it would be, in the opinion of the Court, to be inequitable to disregard;

h) The value of any benefits which one spouse, because of the divorce, would lose a chance of acquiring, most usually pension provision.

None of these factors listed above, carries more weight than another and the Court has discretion as to which of these factors they consider should be paramount, depending on the circumstances of each case.

There is no definite answer as to ‘who should get what’ and much will depend on each person’s set of circumstances, but, essentially, will boil down to what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. We are able to advise and assist you in relation to what you may be able to achieve by way of financial settlement in light of your own set of circumstances.