Separation & Divorce
Whether cohabitants, married, or civil partners, each couple is different. Many issues can arise. Advice can be needed on deciding how care of children is to be shared, what happens to the family home, or how to deal with pensions, savings and debts. Whatever the situation, we will find creative but fair solutions for our clients.
High value and complex financial provision cases
Where complex issues arise, such as how to deal with a family business, how pre-marriage or inherited property is dealt with or deciding who retains which assets or debts, careful legal advice is needed. We have a wealth of experience in this field, whether in negotiation or in court, and whether assets are in Scotland or elsewhere. We are able to call on advice from a range of other experienced advisers, such as forensic accountants, independent financial advisors, tax specialists and actuaries.
In 2006 a new law came into force introducing the potential for claims by cohabiting couples who separate, or where one dies. This law applies to couples who were already cohabiting as well as those who move in together after the Act came into force. Many people are not aware of the retrospective effect of the law. We advise in these situations, whether prior to the cohabitation or on separation or death. There are strict deadlines for such claims so seeking early, expert advice is essential.
Same sex couples
Civil partners have very similar rights to those of married couples when they separate. The law for cohabiting couples is very different from that applying to civil partners, but we have experience in helping our clients sort out all the issues arising from separation, whether financial, dealing with property or related to children. We have experience of dealing with issues arising from assisted fertilisation, and gender re-assignment.
Parental rights, residence and contact with children
When parents separate, we advise on the law regarding issues such as with whom the children should live, contact with the non-resident parent, trips out of the UK, financial issues and on the children’s education.
Relocation of children
Issues regarding relocation of children are becoming increasingly common. The law in this area can be complex. Early advice is recommended when one parent is thinking of moving and taking the children, whether it is to another part of Scotland, elsewhere in the UK or abroad. The situation is particularly challenging where such a removal has already taken place without the other parent’s consent. We have experience of all of these situations and offer clear, effective advice and action where necessary.
We find that grandparents are often at risk of losing contact with their grandchildren when their parents part. The effect on children of losing contact with a loved grandparent can be overlooked in the emotional turmoil of a separation. While the law does not provide specific rights for grandparents, applications to court can be made on their behalf if a less formal approach fails.
Adoption is a complex area of law and will have a huge impact on the child and his or her parents or carers. The process is also a very testing one for prospective adoptive parents. We provide clear, sympathetic advice to prospective adopters, carers and children.
Surrogacy is an option which more couples are turning to in order to add to their family. The law in this area is complex. We can help guide you through the challenges to a successful outcome.
Children’s referrals and child protection issues
We understand that parents or carers whose children may become subject to child protection measures often feel extremely upset, anxious and powerless, and we aim to give them a voice, in addition to providing sound legal advice throughout their case.
Child support and aliment
Child maintenance is another issue which can raise problems. The Child Support Agency now encourages parents to enter into “voluntary arrangements”. The law in England and Scotland is different and clear information is not always available from agencies and public websites. In some circumstances it is still possible to raise a court action for aliment for a child, such as where payment of school fees or additional support for a special interest is sought.
These agreements are becoming more popular. They are particularly helpful where one party has built up or inherited significant assets before the relationship or where a second marriage is planned and it is necessary to protect the assets already in place or to look after the interests of children of the first marriage.
Domestic abuse and stalking
Relationships can become abusive in many different ways. The abuse can be verbal, physical, or emotional. We have many years’ experience in obtaining quick, effective protection for our clients. We are able to obtain court orders, liaise with the police and support services such as Women’s Aid and Social Work. A range of protective orders is now available. We advise on what is most appropriate for each individual. Speed can be critical and we are experienced in swift, effective action.
Adults with Incapacity
Adults with incapacity issues, including guardianship and intervention orders. These orders are now available where a loved one has a disability or a permanent health problem that requires intervention. Powers of attorney are a very useful tool to ensure that financial and welfare arrangements are dealt with by a person chosen by our client and can save considerably in costs and emotional challenges in the event of incapacity occurring.