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Family Law - Q&As

Marie Whittaker, Partner in the Family Law Department at Clough & Willis Solicitors answers your questions on divorce and separation.

Facing the breakdown of a marriage or long term relationship is one of the most stressful life experiences with a whole range of emotional turmoil – from anger and distress to thoughts of loss and the worry of an uncertain future.  It is therefore crucial that you obtain expert legal advice at an early stage. 

Each family, marriage or relationship is unique and it is never a case of one size fits all.  Obtaining advice face to face from a qualified professional is very important.  At Clough and Willis, we pride ourselves on providing support, empathy and guidance at each and every step.  We understand that trust is at the core of everything we do and so it is vital for you to feel comfortable with us.  We are confident that at the end of the process you should feel you have maintained your dignity and self respect and can move on with your life. 

The following are some examples of the questions that are put to us on a regular basis.

1. My wife and I have agreed to separate.  We have been led to believe that it is possible to apply for a divorce based upon the fact that we have simply grown apart.  Is this correct?

No.  The sole ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage.  If you want to apply for a divorce immediately then this must be supported by one of two facts, either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.  We will be able to advise you whether the “behaviour” complained of is sufficient.  The majority of people are often surprised that it is not necessary to go into too much detail or to exaggerate.  Alternatively, if you and your wife agree, one of you could apply for a divorce after you have lived separately for over two years provided the other is prepared to provide their written agreement.

2. My husband and I would like to try and reach an amicable settlement regarding our financial position.  However, at present I do not feel confident that I know enough about my husband’s circumstances to reach an informed decision.  Are you able to suggest a way forward?

Yes. It will be necessary for your husband to provide what is referred to as full and frank disclosure of his income, capital and pension provision and to provide documents in support.  Once you are satisfied this has been done you will know what resources are available and negotiations can then begin which will hopefully result in an amicable agreement.  This can be made legally binding by the Court by way of a Consent Order.

3. My wife and I have decided there is no future in our marriage.  We have two young children whose upbringing I have been actively involved in given that I am quite fortunate to have very flexible working arrangements.  I believe it would be good for the children for this to continue but I do not think my wife will agree because this may affect the amount she receives by way of a financial settlement and maintenance.  Is there any point pursuing shared care?

Yes, there certainly is.  The paramount consideration is the welfare of your children.  The arrangements for your children must be resolved before the financial settlement.  It would be much better for your family as a whole if you and your wife were able to reach an agreement rather than the Court having to impose a decision upon you.  You could try and resolve matters at Family Mediation.  We would be able to refer you to an appropriate service.  If you are unable to agree then you could make an application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order.   Shared care arrangements are becoming more commonplace given that a lot of fathers like you have more flexible working arrangements and many women now work full time and require more help with childcare.  The arrangements do not have to actually be an exact division of time on a 50\50 basis.

For further information on any of the above or any other family matter contact Marie Whittaker on 0161 764 5266 or via email marie.whittaker@clough-willis.co.uk