Family Law

If you're starting a new relationship, separating or divorcing, our specialist Family team will provide advice & support to help you resolve family matters as quickly and amicably as possible.

Specialist family law solicitors 

Our family law solicitors can provide advice to help you deal with the legal aspects of family arrangements or disputes. 

Areas of family law

Our family lawyers are experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law, including:

• Divorce & separation
• Child arrangements following divorce
• Civil partnerships
• Cohabitation rights
• Financial matters
• Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Our family law specialists are also members of Resolution, a body of solicitors committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.

This means you can be certain that we will tailor our advice to meet your needs and find constructive solutions, during what can often be a difficult and emotional time. 

What will your family law services cost?

Every case is different. For divorce and children work, wherever possible, we will provide you with a fixed fee before you instruct us.

If we are unable to provide you with a fixed fee, you can rest assured that we are committed to our Clear Price Guarantee: You will not have to pay your bill if we did not tell you about it in advance. 

If you’ve got questions or concerns about how the law applies to your situation or problem, our Ask the Legal Expert service can help. 

This service gives you the opportunity to access a lawyer’s knowledge without the usual expenses of using a law firm. For £200 + VAT, we will provide up to 1 hour of one-to-one legal advice from a specialist lawyer.

We also offer a Capped Monthly Payment Scheme and are always happy to discuss alternative payment options with you (such as being paid a percentage of a financial settlement) where appropriate.

Contact our team of expert family solicitors to discuss your needs.  Call our team on 0117 929 0451 or email.

Family Law FAQs

  • What is Parental Responsibility?

    Parental Responsibility is defined by law as “All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which by law a parent has in relation to the child and the administration of his or her property.”

    The law does not list what these duties, powers and rights are, but in simple terms it gives a person responsibility for the care and wellbeing of a child. Examples include:

    • Choosing where and how your child is educated,
    • Agreeing to medical treatment,
    • Changing a child’s name,
    • Obtaining a passport or limiting its use
    • Choosing the culture and religion of a child
    • Having a say in a child’s adoption
    • Allowing you to appoint a Guardian on your death,
    • Day-to-day things, like signing consent forms for school trips and simple medical treatment.

  • Do I have Parental Responsibility?

    The mother of a child will have Parental Responsibility from when the child is born.

    The position with fathers can vary. Fathers will have Parental Responsibility in various circumstances:

    • When they are or have been married to the mother at any time from when the child was born
    • When a child was born after 1 December 2003, they are registered jointly with the child’s mother on the birth certificate
    • A formal legal agreement has given them Parental Responsibility, either in agreement with the mother or by an order from the court

  • Am I allowed to travel abroad with my child/children?

    Unless the Court gives permission to you, the consent of every person who has Parental Responsibility for the child is required before they can be taken out of England & Wales, no matter how short the trip may be.

    However, if you have an order from the court for Residence or Special Guardianship you are permitted to travel for:

    • up to one month in the case of a Residence Order, or
    • three months in the case of a Special Guardianship Order.

    You can do so without the consent of any other person with Parental Responsibility or the permission of the Court.

  • I’m married but separated, why should I make a Will?

    If you do not have a valid Will you will get no say in what happens after your death.

    If you die without having made a valid Will, and you are still legally married (even if you are separated) then your spouse will still inherit from your estate. 

  • I haven’t seen my grandchild since the separation - what can I do?

    The significant people in a child’s life often stretch beyond their mother and father to include grandparents and members of their wider family including non-blood related individuals.

    When the parents of a child separate, contact with the wider family can become problematic, sporadic and in some cases, cease completely. If this happens, what can you do?

    Be patient
    Always keep the child at the centre of everything. Their welfare is paramount and it is crucial that you do not get embroiled in arguments or take sides. Ideally, all the significant people in a child’s life will get on well, but the most important thing is to be civil and respect each other’s relationships with the child.
    Be patient. The breakdown of a family unit can be extremely difficult as well as emotional; there may be many issues that will need to be resolved before returning to a normal routine.

    If you have been patient and are still struggling to make suitable arrangements through the parents of the children, we recommend you try attending mediation. The mediator will encourage constructive communication and try to help all parties reach an agreement.

    Apply to Court for a Child Arrangements Order
    The last resort is an application to court. Grandparents and other extended family members do not have an automatic right to have contact with a child but they can apply for permission from the court to apply for what is known as a Child Arrangements Order.

    Step 1: Permission to apply
    When deciding whether to grant permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, the court has to consider
    a) The nature of the application (usually for contact);
    b) The nature and quality of the applicant’s connection with the child.  (They do not have to be a blood relation of the child but there does need to be a genuine and important connection);
    c) Any harmful disruption that could be caused to the child. 

    Step 2: Making the application
    Where permission is granted, the court will consider in detail whether it would be in the child’s best interests for contact to take place and if so, how and when.

    It is important to note that even though you may be successful in applying for permission to make the application, the application itself for a Child Arrangements Order may or may not be successful. They are two completely separate steps.

    If you are considering making an application for contact time with a child or children in your family, we can help. Call our family team for free first advice or email  

  • Do you offer fixed fee divorces?

    We offer fixed fees for a divorce depending on your situation, including whether you are the one applying for the divorce or whether you are responding to a claim from your partner.

    Please contact us and we will be able to discuss the services available to you.

    We will try to understand the pressures you and your family are likely to be under when thinking about a divorce or separation and want to help you to achieve workable solutions. Ultimately, our solicitors are here to guide you through each stage of the divorce or separation process and will always provide straightforward, practical and cost-effective advice.

  • What is Mediation?

    Mediation is not reconciliation and it is not counselling.

    Mediation is the process by which you and your partner meet together with an independent, trained third party called a mediator. They help facilitate discussions between you both, to help you reach agreements about finances and property, and arrangements for the children.

    It is sensible to receive legal advice alongside the mediation process, as this ensures you are well informed about your legal position. Also, as the mediator is impartial they cannot give you independent advice.

  • What is ‘Civil Partnership Dissolution’?

    Dissolution is the legal term used for the legal process in which a civil partnership is bought to an end.

    If you are married, this is known as divorce. The process follows an almost identical process; please see our divorce advice.

  • What is a pension sharing order?

    This is where one partner gets a credit or top-up from the other’s pension fund to ensure you both get an equal pension income either now or when you reach retirement age.

    For example, if a husband is already in receipt of his pension, and has a younger wife, it is important to appreciate that she won’t usually be able to begin claiming an income from a pension fund until she’s 55.

    If the wife is 53 years old, this means any pension sharing order will not provide an income for her for a further two years. This is described as the ‘income gap’ and will be something your solicitor will be able to advise you on.

  • We have a pet - what happens if we separate?

    We are frequently asked about what happens to pets in the event of a separation - we know that pets are usually a loved part of the family.

    A pet is defined as a “chattel” (personal possession) - as such, the first question will always be who purchased the pet. Ownership would normally rest with the party who could evidence the purchase.

  • Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?

    The law relating to pre-nuptial agreements has developed following a case in the Supreme Court.

    The law relating to pre-nuptial agreements has developed following a case in the Supreme Court. The case was called Radmacher v Granatino and was decided in October 2010.

    The key points of the current law are as follows:

    • When considering the role of a pre-nuptial agreement in a financial claim on divorce, the starting point is the relevant law, which is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Section 25 of that Act says that a judge must consider “all the relevant circumstance”s of the case when deciding how to divide the parties' finances on a divorce.
    • A pre-nuptial agreement is considered as ‘a relevant circumstance of the case, to be weighed by the judge. A pre-nuptial agreement will have a substantial impact on the judge's decision in many cases.
    The Supreme Court said in Radmacher v Granatino that the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.
    • No agreement between the parties can override the legislation or prevent the judge from deciding on the appropriate division of assets on a divorce. This means a pre-nuptial agreement cannot absolutely stop a spouse applying to the court for financial provision from the other spouse. Any "waiver" of the right to apply to the court for financial provision in an agreement will not be effective.

  • The ‘Common Law’ Marriage Myth

    If the family department at Burroughs Day had a £1 coin for every time we were told “but we have a common law marriage”, we would be very rich indeed. In the eyes of the law - this simply doesn’t exist.
    Where does the misconception “common law marriage” come from?

    ‘Common Law Marriage’ has evolved from the notion that “common law” exists – (it does not). Many couples believe Common law Marriage arises when they have lived together for a long period of time, pooled their resources to buy property, build up joint assets and most likely had children.

    While it might feel as though they are married in all senses of the word, they are not legally married which means they are not treated as being legally married. Inevitably this can cause problems if the relationship ends or if one of them dies.

    If I am not married but I live with my partner, what legal rights do I have in the event of a separation?
    If you have financially contributed to property or other assets, then you may have a financial interest. This is a complicated area of law.If you have children together, you may likely have a claim under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for property and capital support for the child.

    I do not want to get married but we live together and I want to protect what I own; should we decide to separate? The best solution is a cohabitee agreement - this will set out what will happen in the event that you and your partner ever parted ways.

    A cohabitee agreement sets out legally what would happen to any property, animals or other assets you or your partner may have to enable you to go your separate ways with the minimum of fuss and legal expense. This should ensure that you are not left arguing over who should have the sofa!

Key contacts


Civil partnerships: an alternative to marriage for all couples

January 02, 2020

It is estimated that around two thirds of cohabiting couples incorrectly believe they have the same rights as married couples or couples in a civil partnership. New legislation in this area provides a...


Protect yourself in the future: The importance of consent orders

July 17, 2019

During divorce proceedings there will often be negotiations concerning a settlement in terms of assets, including property, pensions, savings and investments and income.  A common mistake that parties...


Pre-nuptial agreements - not just for the rich and famous

June 20, 2019

With the wedding season almost upon us, couples are often considering whether to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  Julian McCarthy, Senior Family Solicitor provides an informative guide to engaged ...


Unmarried couples - what are your rights if you separate?

October 25, 2017

When an unmarried couple separates they are often surprised to hear that unless they have dependent children together, any financial claims they may have against each other (if any) are often limited ...


The Pros and Cons of Prenups

September 13, 2017

What is a prenup? A prenuptial agreement is a document which sets out how an engaged couples’ possessions will be divided in the event that their marriage breaks down....


We’re separating. Why do we need a Financial Remedy Order?

July 18, 2017

If your marriage or civil partnership is ending, you both have the right to make financial claims against each other. Our Family Law specialists explain how dealing with your marital finances could be...


Achieving Financial Certainty after Divorce

July 18, 2017

When married couples separate and either have no significant assets or come to an agreement between themselves about how their assets are to be shared, they often don’t realise that that may not neces...


Putting Children First

June 30, 2017

Adapting to separation is hard for everyone and where children are involved it is essential that it is handled sensitively.  This is not always easy and it will often help to get legal advice and supp...


Q & A: Financial contributions from an ex-partner during divorce

June 28, 2017

With many of our clients, we find that we are asked the same questions time and time again regarding the financial responsibilities during divorce proceedings. One of the more common questions is in r...


Children Arbitration Scheme - A new option for resolving children matters without going to court

June 26, 2017

Resolving disputes about children can be incredibly difficult and emotional. Where parents are not able to reach an agreement between themselves, through solicitors or through mediation, their only op...


Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

June 22, 2017

Following separation, it is not unusual for one parent to consider relocating, for example to be with a new partner, start a new job or be closer to family members.  If the other parent does not agree...


What is 'Unreasonable Behaviour'?

June 16, 2017

Unreasonable behaviour is one of the five facts you could use to prove that element of irretrievable breakdown....


What Protection from Domestic Violence can you get from the Family Court?

June 07, 2017

Recent figures show a 40% increase in the number of domestic violence victims withdrawing their support for criminal charges against their abuser. This summary has been produced by our expert family l...

Our manifesto

We give clients time. We don’t assume what they want, so first of all we listen. This allows us to think about the details of your personal situation, and address your needs, not just the issue at hand. You’ll also get lawyer contact from day one. 

arrowarrow-leftburgerLarge M Inc BD Logo - transparentchevroncloseUntitled-2iconmonstr-facebook-6 (1)tick