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plclegal
plclegal, Barrister
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 9102
Experience:  Barrister at law
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Can I speak to a female family solicitor paying 45 pounds?

Customer Question

Hi, can I speak to a female family solicitor paying 45 pounds ?
Submitted: 9 days ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Hello and thank you for the question. Though I'm not female I'm an experienced family law barrister. I’ll do my best to assist you and provide an accurate and speedy response. Please bear with me as this is an email service and not live chat. Also note that the discussions here are for general information purposes only and do not constitute a lawyer client relationship.

Can you tell me what your question is please?

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
My question is related to divorce. (Legal aid), domestic abuse, sharing finances and child arrangements
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Thank you - I can answer with general pointers on all of those areas, if that helps, or do you have a specific question?

Do you have a legal aid solicitor in place already?

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Not yet. They can’t accept my case until universal credit will set an income. And somehow they (UC) closed my claim on Friday
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

OK, I see. That isn't something (the UC matter) I can assist with Im afraid.

I'll set out some general points for you in relation to the matters you have highlighted and then you can let me know if you have any further specific questions.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Ok. How can I start a call and where to pay for it?
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Domestic abuse:

A person who believes that they are being bullied or who has been a victim of domestic violence or coercive controlling behaviour, can apply to court for a non-molestation order to prevent the other person coming within 100 m of them and an occupation order for the alleged perpetrator to move out of the house.

Here are the government webpages on exactly this subject. https://www.gov.uk/injunction-domestic-violence.

A range of people can apply to the court: spouses, cohabitants and ex-cohabitants, people living in the same household (but not employees), tenants, lodgers, boarders, and certain relatives such as parents grandparents, in-laws, brothers sisters, and engaged couples. So basically people who are in a close relationship either physically or family or living together whether that’s in a relationship or just the same house.

There doesn't actually have to be physical violence per se because there can be coercive behaviour for example as you will read in this excellent article:

https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/get-information/violence-against-women-and-international-law/domestic-violence-injunctions/

If living arrangements are involved, it is very often impractical to live in the same house and it would very often be allied to an occupation order which defines or regulates the rights of occupation of property by the parties involved.

Many landlords will not change the name of the tenancy agreement for example without an Occupation Order.

It always helps if a report was made to the police recently because that is good evidence that this actually happened. The reason is that to report something to the police which hasn’t happened is a serious offence of wasting police time and/or attempting to pervert the course of justice which potentially carries a short jail sentence. So the civil court will take more notice if it has been reported to the police.

Having said that, the civil court will normally err on the side of caution and grant the order. However if the order is applied for based upon fabricated facts and that comes out in the wash, that is also perverting the course of justice and contempt of court and also potentially carries a jail sentence.

As there is usually some urgency with these kind of applications, it can be done on an emergency basis and there is the option on the form to as for an urgent hearing. An applicant can also attach a Certificate of Urgency (a letter with that heading) explaining why this should be in court on an emergency basis, usually within a day or so.

These applications are usually made “ex parte” which means that the other side doesn’t get notice until the order has actually been made.

The first they know about it is when they are served with a copy of the order.

Here’s a link to the application form: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-non-molestation-or-occupation-order-fl401

The effect of the order is exactly the same as a restraining order. A restraining order is something applied for by the police/CPS through the magistrates court whereas a non-molestation order is through the family/civil court.

Section 1 of the Domestic Violence, Crime & Victims Act 2004 makes the breach of a non-molestation order a criminal offence. It’s serious stuff, and the non-molestation order carries a power of arrest as a result. It applies from the moment that the recipient of the order is served with it.

There will be an opportunity for them to present their case to the court in due course, after the initial order is made. But it effectively remains in place (normally for a year) unless they can prove to the court that it is not necessary.

Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Sharing finances:

The court follows a specific set of guidelines when deciding how to fairly divide matrimonial property. The starting point is always an equal share of all assets. Generally:

1. With property purchased prior to marriage or assets acquired prior to marriage, the starting point is that these are EXCLUDED from the joint asset pot.

2. With property or assets acquired after the date of marriage, the starting point as that this is INCLUDED in the joint asset pot.

3. It does not matter who contributed what during the marriage, all assets acquired after the date of marriage are considered to be jointly owned regardless of who paid what. This means one party will still own half of the asset purchased after the date of marriage even if the other party paid for it all.

4. Claims on pensions should be limited to a share of the amount accrued in the fund during the length of the marriage, with marriages that are relatively short, but with a longer marriage pensions are more often shared equally.

5. If you both work now, there should not be claim for maintenance. In the case where one spouse earns significantly more than the other maintenance would be an issue for the court to decide if you are not agreed.

6. The court can depart from the general principles if it is deemed fair to do so and the needs of the parties dictate that it is necessary to do so.

7. When deciding how assets should be split fairly, parties' ages, income needs, salary and future financial plans are all relevant. Where it's not possible for one party to remain in the house and keep up the mortgage payments alone, it's more likely that a sale will be agreed through the courts and the proceeds split in accordance with the above principles.

Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

Child arrangements:

If at all possible, the parents’ best option is to try to agree arrangements between themselves, with the help of a parenting plan if necessary. A Cafcass leaflet and template for a parenting plan can be found here: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/download/4365

If that doesn’t work, then the person who wants to go to court has to attend a MIAM, and if the other party engages, then mediation has to be tried before going to court. It is a legal requirement for anyone wanting to apply to court to attend a MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) prior to making their application to court. There are some exemptions to the need to attend, and those exemptions can be found listed on the court application form, so any applicant should check to see if they meet one of those exemptions. But for most parties, mediation will be required, and mediation can overall be the far cheaper and preferable way to resolve issues. The link to find a mediator is below.

If both the above fail, then court is the final resort. It really ought to be the final option and only used if absolutely no agreement can be reached. This is because court, frankly, tends to bring out the worst in people and often allegations come up which would not have been mentioned but for the court proceedings. Of course, if there is abuse in the relationship, court is the correct method of resolving issues as mediation will not be suitable.

The application for child arrangements is made on a C100, which is available in paper form and online, and the court fee is £232. If the applicant is on benefits/low income they may be eligible for fee remission and should see the link below for help with that.

The paper C100 application is here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946762/c100-eng.pdf

The online C100 is here: https://www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/apply-for-court-order

Parties can find a mediator here: www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk

Fee remission assistance can be completed online, the system will give a code that is placed on the application form, if eligible. See here: https://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees

The applicant MUST attend the MIAM before applying as the mediator has to sign the C100 form - this is a legal requirement before they can apply to court.

Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.

I have provided general information about the three areas you have asked about above.

It would be helpful to know if you have any specific questions about these after you have read through the general pointers.

I can see your call request already on the system and that will be picked up shortly, as soon as someone becomes free to make a call in person.

Expert:  plclegal replied 8 days ago.

I didn't hear from you again, but I trust that the information provided was of assistance.

Thank you for your enquiry today. I am happy to answer follow-up questions - please do get in touch with requests for extra information or further queries and I will do my best to help you. You can request me personally on a new question thread saving my profile as one of your preferred experts and by tagging me (@PLCLEGAL) at the start of the new thread. Best wishes, Peter.

Have a great day!