If you decide to adopt a child, either in the UK or from overseas, having expert legal advice is key. QualitySolicitorsParkinson Wright can support you in this highly complex legal area.
The decision to adopt a child starts an involved legal process. There can be many people or bodies involved before the process is complete. Not just you as the prospective adopter, the children’s guardians or birth parents, local authorities, and, of course, the child. Where the child is being adopted from can add complications, and after the adoption, consider matters such as contact with birth relatives. If you object to an adoption, you need to know what to do too.
QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright has expert family lawyers who can advise you on the adoption process from all sides. Regardless of where you plan to adopt from, options are explained before any action is taken. We clearly outline timescales, costs and what you should be thinking about at every stage of the adoption process. If you are having a child taken away, we can act for you too. We attend case conferences, at court or negotiate with social workers.
Adoption is a challenging time. To get the best advice, contact us today on 01905 721600.
If a local authority is concerned they may apply for an ‘emergency protection order’ or ‘care order’. Allegations may be made that the children have been ill treated or that their parents are unable to look after them. This is a desperately worrying time for parents. We have Solicitors who are members of the Law Society’s Children Panel and are qualified to help you.
In all matters concerning children, the children’s welfare is paramount. Sometimes, the tensions and unhappiness of a broken relationship will be focused on arguments over the children. We understand this and will help parents reach out of court agreements wherever possible. If problems over ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ do arise we can help make an application to the court. Click here for more information on Arrangements for Children
Peter Lewis, Partner and Head of Family Law is a trained Collaborative Family Lawyer. Collaborative Law is a process similar to Mediation, however, both parties have their own Collaborative lawyer present in the meeting to assist them with discussions regarding legal issues.
Both processes have the advantage of couples meeting each other in a structured setting rather than through the court process which can often be more expensive and stressful. See More:
For additional information and advice, please contact Peter Lewis on 01905 721600 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-habitee Agreements / Civil Partnerships+
Many couples choose to live together and have families without getting married and are under the misconception that they have the same rights as married couples. Unfortunately, if the relationship breaks down they do not have the same rights. The court does not recognise a ‘common law marriage’ and the rules which apply to the division of property are very complicated. We can advise on legal issues relating to children and whether or not there is a legal or beneficial interest in property based on the law of trusts. We can give you advice before setting up home together and can draw up a 'living together' or cohabitation agreement.
The introduction of the Civil Partnership Act on 5 December 2005, now allows gay and lesbian couples to obtain legal recognition for their relationship by entering into a Civil Partnership.It is advisable to seek independent legal advice on the impact a civil partnership will have on you before entering into one. You should consider taking advice on Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax planning; making tax efficient wills; setting up trust arrangements to preserve your wealth; and setting up ‘pre-civil partnership’ agreements with your partner.
After a breakdown of marriage the thought of divorce can be overwhelming, but with the right professional advice this need not be the case.
Controlling and Coercive behaviour+
Controlling and Coercive behaviour became a criminal offence on 29th December 2015.
Domestic abuse affects women, men and children in all manner of family relationships and walks of life and can be physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, financial or verbal.
QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright have a designated Domestic Abuse Team led by Suzanne Oldnall. They also have a Domestic Abuse Drop in Centre at Haswell House, St Nicholas Street, Worcester WR1 1UN, which is open three mornings a week. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30am - 12:30pm. You do not need to make an appointment. More information: Domestic Abuse - Legal advice and support during the 2018 Football World Cup
They will be able to advise you with speed and compassion on what options are available to you and also assess whether you are entitled to public funding and if required make an immediate application to the court for an emergency injunction.
If you’re in a relationship that isn't working for you, either because you feel threatened or are with a violent or abusive partner, it can be difficult to know where to turn to for help - but it’s important not to suffer in silence. Asking for help is the first step to resolving the situation.
At QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright, we’ve got people you can talk to in complete confidence. We understand the feelings and concerns you have and make it our priority to support and help you through this difficult time.
Domestic abuse, whether physical or psychological, is unacceptable in any relationship and no one should ever be made to feel scared or threatened in their own home. But we know that simply walking away from a violent partner isn’t always an option - particularly if children are involved or you don’t have access to your own finances. That’s why it’s vital to talk to someone you trust - a legal expert who can provide sympathetic but practical advice; explaining your options and helping you put an end to domestic abuse.
Our Domestic Abuse Team led by Suzanne Oldnall provide that support. We work quickly to understand your unique situation and make your safety our priority. If you are in immediate danger we can take swift action and, where necessary, we obtain court orders to protect you and your family from the abusive partner.
You can talk to us in complete confidence. We’ll discuss your options and what outcome you would like as well as clearly explaining the ways in which the law can protect you from domestic violence. As well as providing legal advice, we can put you in touch with a range of organisations who can provide additional help and support. We keep you informed at every stage, explaining everything in straightforward terms and taking the right legal steps to protect you and your family.
Domestic violence can take many different forms but in whatever way you are experiencing it, it’s important to ask for help as soon as possible. In these cases, you may be entitled to legal aid, as your partner’s income is not taken into account.
If you feel that you are in an abusive relationship, pick up the phone and talk to us. It’s the first step to taking control of your situation so call us for a free and confidential chat. Or come along to one of our regular drop in advice centres, held on Monday and Thursday mornings.
Related Information and Support:
Finances including Pension Arrangements+
Including Pension Planning - Pensions are a complex and often misunderstood area. Pension funds are taken into account in any financial settlement and can be valuable assets. The Court has a range of powers to deal with the division of pensions including offsetting their value against other assets and making pension sharing orders. We can discuss the options with you.
If a family breakdown occurs, there are alternatives to court proceedings which can be less stressful. QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright provides Mediation and Collaborative Family Law which are processes that offer a conciliatory approach.
Peter Lewis, Partner and Head of Family Law is a Resolution Mediator. As a qualified lawyer with extensive knowledge of Court procedures and over 14 years’ experience in family mediation he can deal with issues arising from the separation which can include children and financial matters, enabling couples to reach an agreement that they both consider fair. He conducts Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) which are normally required before court proceedings can be issued. See more:
Pre Nuptial agreements+
It is a sad fact of modern life that around 50% of marriages end in divorce. Therefore, it is no surprise that more people are considering prenuptial agreements as a way of regulating what happens if they divorce especially if this is a second marriage or they have family assets they want to try and protect.
Pre nuptial agreements are not enforceable. What financial provision is appropriate on divorce is ultimately down to the matrimonial court. It has wide discretion. Parties have claims for property, capital and income, commonly referred to as maintenance and pension. Core factors for the court to consider in exercising discretion are set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The needs of any children of the family are the first consideration of the court. The needs of the parties are key in most cases, even in the well publicised McCartney/Mills divorce.
However a properly drafted pre-nuptial agreement can be taken into account by the court and does provide a useful record of what each party brought to a marriage. In recent years the courts have been more willing to look at them during divorce proceedings and how much weight should be given to a pre-nup will depend on all the circumstances. If the agreement does not comply with some basic procedural requirements and/or does not adequately deal with needs then it will not be taken into account in any meaningful way.
The Law Commission has recently published its recommendations on pre nuptial agreements. The Law Commission started looking into marital property agreements in 2009. In October 2010 the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Radmacher v Grantino. Eight out of the nine Justices held that it was fair for the parties to be held to the terms of the prenuptial agreement and that the court should give effect to such agreements unless in the circumstances it is not fair to do so.
The Law Commission has recommended that the concept of “needs” is clarified to try and help ensure that decisions on needs can be more consistent in courts across the country and recommended the introduction of what it calls “Qualifying Nuptial Agreements”. These would be enforceable contracts and not subject to the scrutiny of the matrimonial courts. The Commission sets out some basic procedural requirements which are not dissimilar to those we already apply when drafting a pre-nuptial agreement.
However, and importantly, Qualifying Nuptial Agreements cannot contract out of needs. So that key part of the court’s discretion would remain. The Commission has published with its findings a draft bill. Whether that will be enshrined in law remains to be seen.
Pre nuptial agreements whether under the current system or under the proposed Qualifying Nuptial Agreements are not going to be for everyone. Our advice is to consider whether to make one several months prior to the wedding. A good prenuptial agreement is comprehensive and takes time to draft and negotiate. We all have to think carefully about legal fees. If you intend to spend money making a prenuptial agreement, it needs to be drafted properly.
Making the decision to end a relationship and separate is rarely easy and sometimes you may need professional legal help to ensure the separation process is handled fairly. Whether you’re facing a marriage separation or are ending a relationship after living together, it’s likely that you’ll have lots of questions and concerns. You’ll want to know what will happen regarding your home, possessions and finances. And if children are involved, you’ll want to ensure that their wellbeing is the main priority.
We offer practical and sympathetic legal support to couples who are separating and can help you put a separation agreement in place to make the process easier.
Perhaps you’re considering a trial separation. If so, we can provide help and advice here too. And whether you later choose to rebuild your relationship or make the separation permanent, we’ll help you understand your choices, so you can make the right decisions.
It is generally accepted that grandparents can be of great benefit to children. Despite this, many children lose contact with their grandparents upon the breakdown of the parents’ relationship.
QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright says, if you find yourself in this situation we recommend that you should consider asking the parent with whom the children reside for contact and stress the benefits of continued contact. If this does not resolve the situation Mediation is an option which may settle the matter amicably and without attending court. However, Mediation has to be agreed by all parties and if this is not possible, the Courts are available.
The Courts primary concern in any case is the best interest of the child. In the case of grandparents it will also consider the following factors:
It is important to recognise that every family is different and how each case will progress depends on the issues that have been raised.
QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright has an experienced team of specialist Family lawyers who can guide you through the process of keeping contact with your grandchildren.
TOLATA – Cohabitation Disputes+
There is a common myth that if you live with your partner but are unmarried that you can become “common law husband and wife” and that you will have financial claims against your partner if your relationship breaks down similar to divorce proceedings – this is not true! There is no legal standing behind the phrase “common law husband and wife” and you may find yourself in an extremely tricky situation if your relationship breaks down.
At the moment there is no specific legislation in England and Wales which protects unmarried cohabiting couples and any financial claims that you might have will be limited to any interest in any property that you own with your partner or (in some circumstances) in your partner’s sole name. You will not have any claims to pensions, spousal maintenance or lump sums.
With regards to any property, then your claims are covered by the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). This is an extremely strict piece of legislation and you may find that your claims against any property are very limited. It is important to get proper legal advice about any potential claims that you have.
Ending a relationship is never easy but it is important to make sure that you are aware of any rights or entitlements that you have. We offer practical and sympathetic support to help you resolve any financial issues as a result of the breakdown of your relationship.
Meet the team
Partner & Head Of Family Law
Peter is a partner at QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright and also Head of the Family Department.
He sits as a Deputy District Judge and is also a trained Mediator and Collaborative lawyer and as such tries to resolve disputes outside contested court proceedings.
Peter is extremely experienced in all areas of family law, but specialises in the more complex matrimonial financial disputes and representing children and parents in Care Proceedings and Adoption. He also advises on Civil Partnership disputes and Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements.