The sensitivity and expertise to help you
We’ll give you all the legal help you need to make a complex situation feel easier to deal with. With three local offices in Stroud, Dursley and Gloucester we’re never far away if you need our help.
We know that dealing with family-related issues can be extremely emotional and stressful. We aim to advise you in a practical, yet understanding way, identifying what’s important to you and using our legal knowledge and experience to work with you to get the best outcomes.
We are members of Resolution and are accredited specialists with the Law Society, belonging to the Family Law and Children Panels. We also have solicitors who are qualified collaborative lawyers.
The right approach for you
We encourage issues to be resolved amicably and fairly through collaboration, negotiation or mediation but recognise agreement is not always possible and, where necessary, will vigorously pursue issues through the courts.
Flexible payment options to suit your budget
We offer a range of fee options depending on your circumstances including charges based on an hourly rate, fixed fees and advice on a “pay as you go” basis. Where appropriate we can also provide you with information on litigation loans. You may also be eligible for legal aid. These can be discussed at our initial meeting with you.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal Aid is a fund provided by the Government to help people meet some or all of the costs of legal advice and representation in court proceedings. If Social Services / the Local Authority have started the pre-proceedings process or made an application to the court for a Care or Supervision Order then you are automatically entitled to legal aid if you are the child’s mother or father or you have parental responsibility for the child.
If you require advice about the following issues you may be eligible for family legal aid provided that you meet the means and merits criteria set out below:
- Social Services involvement with your children where there are no pre-proceedings or Care proceedings;
- Domestic abuse;
- Means – this test looks at both your capital (for example your home, your car, any savings you have) and your income (for example your wages, benefits, maintenance, working and child tax credits). We can help you work out whether you are financially eligible for legal aid. You will need to bring proof of your finances with you when you meet us. We will tell you what you need you to bring.
- Merits – this test looks at your chances of success and whether you need a solicitor’s advice. These are questions that should be answered by your solicitor. Don’t worry about being able to answer this yourself.
If you require advice in relation to other issues, for example divorce or dissolution proceedings, financial matters, or arrangements for your children legal aid may be available if you satisfy the means and merits tests above and you have evidence that you have suffered domestic abuse or your children have suffered child abuse.
The government has written a list of specific documentary evidence that can be used to prove that you have suffered domestic violence or your children have suffered child abuse. The list is quite long but we can go through this with you and help you to obtain the evidence that you need where appropriate. This may be a letter from your GP; a letter confirming police involvement; a letter from a refuge; an injunction order made by the court or a letter or report from your social worker.
How can we help you reach an agreement?
We could give you advice and guidance in the background so that you can talk to the other person yourself. Knowing where you stand can be really helpful in negotiations and getting advice afterwards about whether the agreement you have reached is legally right could give you a sense of security and peace with the decision.
We can also help you formalise any agreement you make, for example by drafting a financial consent order within divorce or dissolution proceedings or a parenting contract regarding future arrangements for the children.
What is mediation?
You could go to mediation and we could help and advise you along the way. Mediation helps you work things out by attending meetings together with a trained mediator to talk through issues that you need to resolve such as money, your children or any other consequences of your separation. The aim is to reach an agreement that works for your family.
The number of mediation sessions you will need will depend on your requirements and the issues to be resolved. Most people going through mediation find it helpful to take advice and support from a family solicitor during the process. Where you are able to reach agreement we can make sure that it is fair and right for you. We can also help you to formalise the agreement in writing, for example by applying to the court for a financial order by consent or drawing up a parenting contract for you both to sign.
What is collaboration?
Most of the time the very best solutions are those which you work out together for yourselves. Collaborative law is a process where you and your former partner work out the issues arising on your separation in face to face meetings with each other and your own solicitors. Rather than dealing through your solicitors, you work together with them to reach the best solutions for you or your family. The number of meetings will depend upon the extent of the issues. Sometimes other experts are involved in the process, for example counsellors or financial advisers. Using collaborative law is a way of solving problems without having to go to court and you, your former partner and your solicitors sign an agreement that commits each party to trying to resolve the issues collaboratively. Your collaborative solicitor will not be able to represent you in court if negotiations break down.
We have two specially trained collaborative solicitors who would be happy to talk to you about this in more detail.
What is family arbitration?
Family arbitration is a way of resolving issues about your finances or your property if your relationship has come to an end and you have not been able to reach agreement. Arbitration is essentially a private court process. You both decide who the ‘judge’ will be (normally an independent barrister or solicitor) and what issues they are going to decide. Whether that be small issues along the way or the whole case, it is entirely up to you. At the start of the process you and your former partner agree not to back out without the other’s consent and to be bound by the award of the arbitrator.
Will going to court help?
Sometimes going to court is the only way to resolve matters – for example you may need a judge to deal with an urgent issue, to stop another person doing something, to make decisions where you have been unable to reach agreement or you may need legal rights that can only be given to you through a court order.
If trying to agree outside of court is not getting anywhere, a court application can focus everyone on trying to find a solution. A judge may also be able to give helpful indications about what they would do if you ask them to make the final decision, and if you need a decision urgently the court can often act quickly to help.
Even once you go to court you can still try to reach an agreement. The family court process is designed to try to give you more opportunities to find a solution together and most cases end in an agreement being reached outside of the court room doors. The court then reflects this agreement in an order which is binding on both of you.