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I want to remarry... but I'm still married!

You have met the love of your life and are eager to set a date. You are already looking at the dress, the venue and the guest list. Just a small fly in the ointment – you are still married to your ex!

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Mediation – an option worth considering?

There has been a great deal of publicity recently in relation to Divorce/Family mediation and you may have mixed views about it - having spoken to others who have gone through the process or, even, having seen the recent BBC three part programme “Mr v Mrs – Call the Mediator”. But is mediation worth considering for you?

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Meet us at Maidstone Studios: Jo Spain announces new location

Jo Spain, Managing Director and Solicitor at SpainWilliams, is pleased to announce a new location where clients can meet our Consultant Solicitors at Maidstone Studios - located to the Eastern outskirts of Maidstone between the town centre and Bearsted. We are now offering appointments at Maidstone Studios with one of our two Maidstone-based Consultant Solicitors: Justin Forster or Michelle Samuel.

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What is Domestic Abuse and what can you do about it?

Domestic abuse is any incident, or pattern of incidents, involving controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse and encompassing, psychological, physical, financial, sexual and emotional abuse. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, I can work with you to establish which remedy most suitable to your needs.

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Mr v Mrs: Call the Mediator episode 1 review: Less ‘blame’ and more emphasis on importance of legal advice please

Mediator and Solicitor Kate Lovegrove casts her expert eye over episode 1 of the BBC's new documentary series ‘Mr v Mrs: Call the Mediator’ and thinks that the episode focuses too much on ‘blame’, and not enough on: promoting a pragmatic discussion, and the importance of legal advice, amongst other things...

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They are my child – why can't I change their surname?

If you are a mother it is likely that your child has the same surname as their biological father. But what happens if you separate from their father and at some stage wish to change their surname (or the child requests this change)? First of all I would advise you to think very carefully about this.

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How does Mediation work?

At the first session, I will meet with each of you individually to assess whether there are any obstacles to mediation, and establish your objectives. If mediation is suitable and you are both willing to engage in the process then a joint mediation session can start immediately, or at a later date.

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Kate Lovegrove joins SpainWilliams’ ‘Family’

Family Law Specialist Kate Lovegrove is the latest to join SpainWilliams' growing ‘family’ of Consultant Solicitors. Kate brings a wealth of experience including mediation and has been a Legal 500 recommended lawyer for the last two years.

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But what does it all mean? A guide to the language of Divorce

If you are embarking on a Divorce for the first time you may come across what appears to be a strange new language! Here is a quick guide to understanding the main terms.

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Court changes - How does this affect you?

In 2014, the government changed the way in which Divorce Petitions are processed and for most of the South East region of England, parties are required to issue their Divorce at Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre.

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Catherine Blanchard joins SpainWilliams’ ‘Family’

We welcome another highly respected and experienced Family Law Specialist Consultant Solicitor, Catherine Blanchard, to the SpainWilliams ‘family’.

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Agreeing your finances within your Divorce – a Guide

If you are divorcing, you will also need to sort out the financial side of the marriage. If you would like to avoid potentially lengthy and expensive Court proceedings then it is useful to know what your options are in reaching an agreement. Here is a quick guide to those options...

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Michelle Samuel joins SpainWilliams’ ‘family’

Highly respected and experienced Family Law Specialist Solicitor Michelle Samuel is the latest addition to the SpainWilliams Consultant Solicitor ‘family’

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Divorcing and sorting out your finances – a Quick Guide

If you are going through a divorce you will probably know that, as well as dealing with ending the marriage itself, you will need to finalise the financial side of things too. It may be daunting but here is a quick guide to help you start off the process...

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Divorcing in the New Year? – here's a Quick Guide

The Christmas Turkey has been eaten, the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” are just a distant memory and you start to look forward to 2016 and all that it has in store. Sadly it's about this time that some of you may feel that you need to take the first step towards a Divorce.

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How to have a Happy Christmas with the Children – even if you are separated

With Christmas around the corner, the thoughts of those who are separated may turn to arrangements for the Children over the festive season. Even if arrangements for the rest of the year are going smoothly - whether there is shared care or whether one parent sees the children on alternate weekends – arrangements at Christmas are often a problem because it is seen as a special time, especially for children.

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Honesty is the best policy in Divorce – according to the Supreme Court

Within a Divorce, an agreement is often reached on the basis of both parties disclosing their financial situation to the other in full and a Consent Order being agreed and ratified by the Court. When it has subsequently been discovered that one person has been fraudulent in respect of their financial disclosure it has often been difficult to persuade the Court that such non-disclosure would have made a material difference to the outcome of the case, because this point can be very difficult to prove.

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Why Collaborate?

When you are going through a relationship breakdown or other Family Law related dispute, it is difficult to imagine a time when you could sit down with the other person and try to reach an agreement. You may feel that the only way forward is to instruct a Lawyer to apply to Court to resolve any disputes.

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Willing to Share?

When parents are separated there needs to be an agreement as to who cares for the child or children day to day.

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“Who's the Daddy?” - DNA Testing in Family Proceedings

In proceedings involving Children there can sometimes be a dispute as to the true paternity of a child. This may be relevant in relation to finances (because there may or may not be a duty to pay child maintenance for that child) and sometimes in relation to contact between a father and a child.

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Adjournments in Family Court proceedings and how to achieve them!

When an Application is made to the Family Court then usually the first step is that the Court lists an initial Directions Hearing. This is the first time that the Parties will come to Court. The Court does not consult with either Party and so when you receive the Notice of Hearing the date is set. This can cause problems if the date is inconvenient for any reason. So, can the date be changed?

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I think my partner is hiding assets and we are getting divorced - what do I do?

One common concern during a Divorce or Separation is that the other person is hiding assets, income or pension and therefore there will not be a fair financial settlement.

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23 years after the divorce - why you are never safe from claims

Many people were shocked last month to read about the case of the owner of a multi-million pound Eco-Electricity company whose ex-wife had won permission at the Supreme Court allowing her to file a financial claim against him, despite the fact that they divorced more than 23 years ago.

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6 things to look for when you need a matrimonial solicitor

If you feel that you need to take the first step towards a divorce then it almost goes without saying that you need to choose the right Matrimonial Solicitor to help you. Here are a few things to think about before you pick up that phone...

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Initial appointments with a matrimonial solicitor

Last month I discussed taking that first step to obtain legal advice in relation to your divorce or separation. If you are concerned about cost then it is sensible to look at approaching a Solicitor who offers a fixed fee appointment. This costs less than the Solicitor's hourly rate and is a good way to obtain advice without too much cost before you decide whether you need to formally instruct a Solicitor.

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Matrimonial advice - taking the first step

One of the most difficult things you can do, when going through some marital problems, or simply feeling that things are not right at home, is to take the decision to go and get some legal advice.

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Mediation - is it worth trying?

It is now compulsory to try Mediation in Family Law disputes before an application can be made to the Family Court. There are some exceptions to this but in general the Court will not issue an application and give you a Court date until there has been some attempt to Mediate.

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What is financial disclosure and do I need it?

When you divorce or separate and see a Solicitor or Mediator you will soon hear the expression “Financial Disclosure” or be advised to complete a “Form E”. But what does this mean?

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Getting the best deal in a divorce - the art of compromise

Occasionally, a client tells me that they want to take their spouse “for everything they've got” within their divorce. My role is to show a client their options, the procedure for moving forward and also, on the basis of the Law itself and my experience, advise them in relation to the likely outcome in financial terms.

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Child maintenance in a divorce – How is this dealt with?

Usually when a marriage breaks down and the parties have children then one person is likely to be the main carer and the other will have contact with the children. The party who is the main carer will usually be paid child maintenance by the other party to help them to house the children and pay for their food, clothes and all other expenses.

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10 questions if you're thinking of divorcing

If you are thinking of separating from your partner then here are some questions to consider before you take the first step.

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I want to get divorced but my other half won't sign the Acknowledgement form to the Divorce Petition. What can I do?

If you are divorcing on two years separation then the other person has to consent. Alternatively if you wish to go ahead with adultery then the simplest way to proceed is that the other person admits adultery.

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Sharing Christmas time

Christmas is a special time – made even more magical when there are children in the family. It is wonderful to see them wake up on Christmas morning and peer into their stockings to see what Father Christmas has brought them.

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Separating but in no rush to divorce - my elderly parent's health is poor can my husband claim against any inheritance?

“I am separating from my husband and am in no rush to get divorced. However I have elderly parents, who are not in good health and I will inherit from them. A friend has told me that my husband could claim against any inheritance. Is this true?”

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We are thinking of moving into a new place with our daughter and son-in-law

“My husband and I have sold our house and are thinking of moving into a new place with our daughter and son-in-law. We intend to put some of our capital into the new place – is there any reason why we should have a formal arrangement in this respect?” The answer is most definitely yes.

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My children live with me so do I need their father's permission to take them to Spain on holiday this summer?

The answer is that you probably do. If their father has Parental Responsibility for the children then you will need to seek his permission to take them out of the country even if this was a day trip.

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I am a woman who wants to move to Spain with my children. Do I need my ex-partner's permission?

The answer is that you may do. If your ex-partner has Parental Responsibility for the children then he will need to give permission for you to permanently remove them from this country to live elsewhere.

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My partner has left our jointly owned house but is threatening to come back. Can I stop them by changing the locks?

The simple answer is no. You can't change the locks if the property is in joint names as your partner has a right to live there. However...

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I heard recently that a lottery winner had to pay millions to his wife even though they were divorced. Why was that?

It is true that a lottery winner was recently ordered to pay £2million to his ex-wife! Having won about £56 million on the lottery, his ex-wife saw the publicity and consulted her Solicitors.

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Do I have to change my name after I divorce and how do I go about it?

In general (but not always) a woman takes her husband’s surname when she gets married. When you get divorced there is no legal problem in retaining this name and there may be several reasons why you wish to do so.

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I have a Directions Appointment at Court but I haven't been in a Court building before – what should I expect?

First of all forget everything you have seen on TV. Family Law matters are dealt with in the County Court not the Crown Court which is very different.

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Is it better to have a Separation or a Divorce?

The answer to this does depend on your personal circumstances and because there are many things to consider then you should definitely see a Solicitor for advice before making your final decision. However the first thing to think about is whether you think you will reconcile with your spouse.

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I keep hearing about “Custody” but I need a “Residence” Order don't I?

A Residence Order is an order made by the Court which confirms that a child is to reside with you. This also means that you are able to take the child out of the country for up to one month without the permission of any other person who has parental responsibility for them.

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My wife/husband and I have separated: should I wait to divorce after 2 year's separation or start things off now?

This partly depends on whether any of the other reasons for divorce apply now. If you have not been separated for two years then the only way you can divorce earlier is by reason of the other person's adultery or their unreasonable behaviour.

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My husband/wife has committed adultery. Should I name the other person in the Divorce Petition?

The short answer is that you are allowed to do so but my advice is that you do not. The Divorce Petition is not a public document. It does not hang on the wall of the County Court for all to see and neither can just anybody ask the Court for a copy.

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My ex has filed a Divorce Petition and the unreasonable behaviour allegations are not true. Should I defend the divorce?

It is very unusual for both parties to agree on why a marriage broke down and there is often a dispute over the allegations of unreasonable behaviour. One option, if you receive a Divorce Petition with allegations which you believe to be untrue, is to defend the divorce.

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I want contact with my children at Christmas, can you sort this out?

The simple answer is yes, but only if you deal with this early enough. The worst thing is to leave it until a couple of weeks before Christmas and then find that it may be too late to do anything.

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Can I have a quickie divorce like Madonna and Guy Richie?

There is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce! This is a complete myth perpetrated by the media and trotted out whenever someone famous is going through divorce proceedings. It seems to suggest that somehow if you are in the public eye you have access to speedier service from the Divorce Courts than is the reality.

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How long will it take to get divorced?

If a Divorce is straightforward and financial matters are also agreed swiftly then it is usually possible to finalise divorce proceedings in between 3 and 6 months. However, there are many factors that may affect this time-scale.

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Can I stop my ex-partner taking our children abroad on holiday?

First of all ask yourself why you want to stop them. Unless there is genuinely a concern for your children's welfare then do you really want to deprive the children of a holiday? It will also inevitably cause bad feeling between you and your ex partner and this will not be in the best interests of the children.

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Can I have my marriage annulled if I no longer share a bed with my husband/wife?

There are limited grounds for obtaining an annulment under English Law and one of these is non-consummation of the marriage.

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Can I get a divorce if I have been married for less than a year?

The answer is no! It is not possible to apply for a divorce in England and Wales until you have been married for one year. So if you no longer wish to live together what can you do?

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Funding your divorce or family law matter

A major consideration when taking the step to see a Family Law Solicitor is “how am I going to pay for it?”

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DIY divorce - why use a family law solicitor?

“Speedy Divorce” “DIY Divorce” – you only need to search on Google to find all sorts of adverts tempting you to do your own divorce rather than instructing a Solicitor. But is this the right way to go?

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Divorce surge on Monday warns Gazette

It seems that you can't read a mainstream newspaper or news website without finding January's traditional annual news item about surging divorce figures following Christmas, this year given an extra boost by the credit crunch.

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Ten tips for finding a family law solicitor

Having arrived here (reading this article on our website) some of the following tips may be academic, but for the sake of completeness I have included them anyway. Here are a few basic tips to consider when you look for a family law solicitor.

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Top 10 tips for a smoother divorce

Most people want their divorce to go as smoothly as possible, but it isn't always obvious how to achieve this, that's why we have compiled our top 10 tips for a smoother divorce.

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Making a Financial Application

At the same time as your divorce is being finalised you will need to deal with financial matters. If this can be agreed between you then this agreement can simply be set out in a Consent Order which is sent into Court and, once approved, sealed by the Judge. But what if you can’t agree?

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Divorce Procedure in Simple Terms

Every undefended Divorce follows the same procedure through the [English Law] Courts and this article shows the practical steps which should be followed.

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Can I have a “legal separation”?

If you don’t want to divorce but have separated you may be wondering about formalising the separation in some way. You may ask, is it possible to have a “Legal Separation”?

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A longer separation – how about 5 years?

The fifth and final fact which can be used to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is 5 years separation. This means that the parties must have lived separately and apart for more than 5 years.

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They left me – should I go for desertion?

I am often told that a husband or wife has simply left a marriage and asked if a divorce could proceed on the basis of “desertion”.

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Two Years Separation – the quicker option?

I am often asked “Should I wait until I’ve been separated for two years and then I will be automatically divorced?”. The answer is that it is not the case that the divorce is automatic.

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Unreasonable Behaviour – a reasonable alternative?

If you wish to start Divorce Proceedings before you have been separated for two years and adultery does not apply then your only option is to use the fact of “unreasonable behaviour”.

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Name and Shame?

One of the questions I am frequently asked is “Can I name other woman (or man) in my Divorce Petition”. My answer is always yes, but...

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Adultery

Adultery is a common reason for Divorce in England and Wales as it is one of the two reasons which can be used if parties are not separated or have not been separated for two years. The other is Unreasonable Behaviour.

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About Annulments

I have previously mentioned annulments as an alternative to dissolution for a civil partnership; It is also possible to have marriages annulled. But what does this mean and how does annulment differ from a divorce?

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Civil Partnerships – how to dissolve them

The ending of a Civil Partnership can be dealt with in a similar way to the ending of a Marriage. A Civil Partnership can be ended either by dissolution or by annulment.

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Civil Partnerships – what are they?

Over the past year or so the media has made much of the new “same-sex marriages”. By March 2006 6,516 same-sex couples had “married” and even celebrities like Elton John have now tied the knot. So what is this new phenomena and why is it now possible?

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Don't stop at a Declaration of Love – consider a Declaration of Trust

If you are cohabiting but are not married then you may be financially vulnerable if it all falls apart. There is no such thing as a “common law spouse” and you have none of the protection afforded to married couples under matrimonial law. This may come as a surprise (and a worry) especially if you have children.

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Doing the Deed – Separation formalised

If you are separating but don't want to start a Divorce then you may consider entering into a Separation Agreement or Deed of Separation.

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New Year, New Start?

Do your New Year's Resolutions include a new life without your spouse? Often people consider separation at this time of year, but sometimes you can be uncertain as to your next steps?

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Domestic Violence – What can you do?

The term “domestic violence” covers a wide range of behaviour from physical violence, through verbal abuse, mental abuse and bullying to pestering and harassment. All are difficult and distressing to deal with. So what do you do if you experience domestic violence?

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Do you want to see your children?

If you have children, the most difficult part of a relationship breakdown is not seeing them as much as you did before. This is hard enough if you have stayed on good terms with your ex-partner but if things are so bad that you can't talk about contact or your ex-partner is refusing you contact or limiting it then what do you do?

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Parental Responsibility – how do I get it?

As a father you have the same rights and duties in relation to your children as their mother does, don't you? Not necessarily!

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Safer Cohabiting

Last month I looked at the myth of the Common Law spouse and the fact that cohabiting couples do not have the same protection as married couples if the relationship breaks down or one of them dies. So what can you do to protect yourself?

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Do you think you are a Common Law Spouse?

More and more people are choosing to live together without being married. Sometimes they have children together, often they jointly own a house and they may have joint savings or investments. But what happens if these relationships break down or if one of the partners dies?

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Grounds for Divorce?

You may be surprised to know that there is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales and that is the “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage. But, to satisfy the Court that a marriage has irretrievably broken down one of five facts must be used.

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your Brighter future...

depends on getting
the best advice now!

Enhance my future
JoIN US!

We are currently looking for the very best Family Law Consultant Solicitors with 7+ years PQE. 

Learn more