Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Protection From Domestic Abuse

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Someone who is suffering from domestic abuse can apply for a civil injunction which is a court order requiring someone to do or not to do something.

The two main types available are non-molestation and occupation orders. A non-molestation order prevents a partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence, intimidation, harassment or pestering. An occupation order can restrict a partner or ex-partner from entering a property as well as the surrounding area.

If somebody is in immediate danger, an application can be made to court on the same day without the abuser knowing about it which is called a ‘without notice’ or ex parte application. If the court grants the order ex parte, there will be a return court date listed once the abuser has been served with the notice. Once an order has been made, this will need to be served on the abuser by hand and the order will only be effective if there is evidence to prove service. Court staff should be informed if there is a risk that the abuser may harass the Applicant whilst they are waiting at court so that a separate room can be arranged.

A statement will need to be filed by the Applicant explaining the physical and emotional abuse that has been experienced. As much evidence and detail as possible is required such as police or medical reports. When deciding whether to make an order, the court will look at the whole picture to include both parties’ needs and financial resources as well as the needs of any children.

If the abuser breaks the terms of the injunction, the police should be called. If the non-molestation order was made after 1 July 2007 or if there is a power of arrest attached, the police should arrest the abuser and bring them back before the court within 24 hours. The abuser will be in breach of the order and they may be fined or given either a suspended or custodial sentence.

If you would like more information, speak to our Family Law Solicitor, Louisa Gothard on 020 7998 7777 or email her at

Mediation Session Before Divorce

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Due to recent changes in family law, anyone intending to make a Court application must first attend a mediation session with a suitably accredited mediator. The other party will be invited to attend the meeting and if the meeting is unsuccessful, a Court application may then be issued. Even in the event of the other party not turning up to the mediation session, the mediator will deem the meeting unsuccessful allowing for a possible Court application to be made.

Mediators assist both parties with identifying issues of conflict between them including financial and children issues relating to relationship breakdown. Mediators will not give legal advice although the notes that are made during a mediation session are usually forwarded to any solicitors instructed by way of a summary to assist with legal negotiations and with a view to drafting a legally binding document, which both parties would receive independent legal advice on.

If both parties decide to attend mediation, it can be a successful and satisfying process which can save on the need to pay for further legal costs if an agreement is reached between the parties. If necessary, more than one mediation session can be booked in the event that all of the issues cannot be agreed during one meeting as this can allow time for further information to be obtained if necessary for further discussions to take place.

Mediation is not however always suitable especially in cases involving domestic abuse and in some circumstances where relations between both parties are far from amicable meaning that a Court application is the only option.

Solicitors have a duty to mention mediation to clients early on in their instruction so that it may be considered by both parties in order that the issues between them are narrowed as quickly as possible.

If you would like more information, speak to our Family Law Solicitor, Louisa Gothard on 020 7998 7777 or email her at

Cohabitation Agreements

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

More couples than ever are now choosing to live together and remain unmarried. Reasons vary although the high cost of a wedding and the desire to purchase a property before spending thousands of pounds on a wedding are among common reasons why people are choosing not to tie the knot.

Cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples upon separation and when a co-habiting relationship breaks down, there is little that the weaker party can do to protect themselves financially such as they have no right to claim any personal maintenance even if they have always been supported financially by their partner. Furthermore, if the weaker party does not own the property in which they have lived with their partner, they will have no legal right to a share of the property even if they have contributed to the mortgage or paid towards the property in other ways such as decoration or building works. An attempt by the weaker party to claim a share of the property through the court system is dealt with by way of land and trust law which is complicated and very expensive to take through the court system, which often leaves the weaker party unable to take the matter further.

The Government does not appear to want to do anything about the rights of cohabitees any time soon. It is therefore advisable for cohabiting couples to draw up a cohabitation agreement, otherwise known as a living together agreement setting out how they will divide up their assets upon separation and can include provision for any children. It can also set out how the couple will manage their finances whilst they are living together such as contributions to the mortgage, payment of bills, insurance and any home improvements which are to be carried out.

Both parties can agree on the terms of the agreement before seeing a solicitor who will then draw up the agreement and send it to the other party to seek their own legal advice and go through it. The agreement must be fairly entered into by both parties.

If you would like more information, speak to our Family Law Solicitor, Louisa Gothard on 020 7998 7777 or email her at

Social Media And Divorce

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are being increasingly referred to in divorce petitions with many people admitting to browsing their partner’s social media accounts and subsequently admitting that this has led to frequent arguments about who their partner has been communicating with. Many partners are looking for evidence of infidelity such as the sending of secret messages and the posting of inappropriate photos.

In addition, the length of time that a partner is spending on Facebook and similar social media sites is also becoming cited in Divorce petitions. It appears that people are becoming more and more obsessed with social media to the extent that their partners are being left by the wayside, leaving them feeling neglected and lonely.

The rise of social media has also eased the process of contacting old friends or ex-partners and with the rise in chat apps such as WhatsApp, it is becoming much easier for people to be unfaithful. It was recently reported in the Guardian newspaper that 42% of users of the dating app, Tinder actually already have a partner. It appears that many people are just ‘shopping around’ which is known as a Tinder Tourist. It is much easier to connect with someone discreetly online than to do so in a public place and although many users with partners have confirmed that they would have no intention of meeting up with anyone from Tinder, the discovery of using the App by a partner is often enough to cause significant strain in a relationship, which could easily end in separation or divorce. The days of using the secret mobile phone may be dwindling, but dating Apps such as Tinder and Grindr can be just as damaging to a relationship should they be discovered.

‘Facebook’ divorces are becoming more common and with the continued increase in social media sites and dating Apps, there may just be too much temptation for some people not to take part, even if they are in a happy relationship.

If you would like more information on Divorce matters, speak to our Family Law Solicitor, Louisa Gothard on 020 7998 7777 or email her at