Professional family law solicitors in Altrincham and Cheshire

We understand that the breakdown of your relationship is a troubling time for you and you may not know where to turn. As family law specialists, we approach any case with sensitivity, empathy and understanding and you can rely on Nicholls Solicitors to provide reliable and efficient service.

We also collaborate with other professionals such as mediators, financial advisors, barristers, accountants and divorce coaches so that you have access to all the professional support that you may need.

The law in relation to divorce changed on 6 April 2022, after many years of campaigning, to allow for divorce simply on the basis of irretrievable breakdown. We understand the stress that a divorce can have on a family, but here are some things to consider.

Our Family Solicitor, Sarah Birdsey, is on the board of Directors on The Group Hug Directory, A website, blog and forum where you can learn, share and gain support for those going through divorce, separation and bereavement.

How long does a divorce take?

Once your divorce has been issued there is a 20 week ‘cooling off’ period which is intended to allow the parties to reflect on the separation and try to work out the practical arrangements. The Conditional order (formerly ‘Decree Nisi’) is then pronounced and six weeks after that the final order can be granted. Therefore the minimum timeframe is 6 months and it can take longer depending on how quickly the court process the paperwork.

What is the cost involved?

There is a court fee of £593 to pay to issue the divorce. The legal costs are usually £450 plus VAT. There are circumstances where the legal costs could be higher if there are issues surrounding jurisdiction or service of the proceedings on the other party for example.

What is the first thing to do?

Your family law solicitor will need to have sight of your marriage certificate in order to issue the divorce, or if you are dealing with the divorce yourself you will need to be able to scan this in to the portal so this is the first thing you will need. Once you have that you should provide your solicitor with the details for the divorce application so that they can prepare that for submitting to court.

My spouse and I are amicable so can we apply together for a divorce?

The new law allows joint applications to court for the first time. This may be something that you would want to consider doing particularly where you are still able to work well with your spouse.

How we can help you

We know that dealing with any family matter requires a sensitive approach. We will provide you with the best advice to ensure that your case is dealt with as sensitively and cost-effectively as possible.

“Thank you for fighting so hard for me and my boys. You have gone above and beyond”

Family ClientManchester

Our results and recommendations speak for themselves. We work incredibly hard to ensure that you feel supported throughout your matter and we strive for the best results for you.

Get in touch to discuss your next move!

Finances on divorce

Dealing with the finances when you are separating is not straightforward and is often very daunting and it is understandable to have worries about this. Our specialist team will help to guide you through this process to achieve the best outcome for you.

At Nicholls Solicitors, we know that every case is different and that is why you will receive bespoke advice from us that matches your individual needs.

When you go through a divorce all financial assets need to be considered and addressed and that includes property, savings and investments, pensions and future maintenance if applicable.

It is important that there is a process of full financial disclosure so that we can be sure of what assets there are and what they are worth in order to advise you on how they should be divided.

The court’s starting point is equality but there are many factors that are then considered to influence whether in your case the division should be different to 50:50 so this is by no means the outcome in every case.  Get in touch for advice on your own individual circumstances or see our advice pages.

Will my spouse get half of everything on divorce?

The starting point for the court is equal division of all marital assets but there are a number of factors that the courts then look at to decide if the assets should be divided differently, this includes for example housing needs, the length of the marriage, the needs of any children and financial contributions. Each case is unique.

How will I know if my spouse is disclosing everything?

When dealing with divorce both parties solicitors will ask for full financial disclosure in order that they can be clear as to what assets are available, and what they are worth so that they can advise their client.  This process usually involves exchanging at least 12 months’ of bank statements so that any transfers out would be apparent.  Money held at the point of separation is likely to be treated as a marital asset and should therefore be included in any divorce negotiations.

How long will it take to resolve the finances?

This very much depends on your situation and whether we are able to negotiate a settlement or whether court proceedings are issued. There are various alternatives to court such as mediation and arbitration which we can support you with but if an application to court is issued then it could take 12 months or more to reach a final order stage.

Can I stay in the marital home?

The court will be concerned to make sure that you and any children of the family can be suitably housed whether this is appropriate to be in the family home or in another property will depend on your unique situation.

How are pensions dealt with on divorce?

Pensions are generally treated as a marital asset which should be divided and the starting point is that there should be equality however this will again depend on your unique circumstances.  

Call our team on 0161 980 6099

Funding Alternative – Pay from settlement

At Nicholls Solicitors, we can offer a deferred payment scheme for payment of legal costs. We know that often when a relationship breaks down you suddenly need to provide for two homes instead of one and this is not something that you may have ever contemplated, let alone planned for financially.  This can put a strain on financial resources in itself, but legal costs can also be a worry.

We can offer to wait for payment of our legal costs until the conclusion of the case in some situations – for example where the family home is to be sold and there is sufficient equity to be divided, then we may agree for your legal costs to be paid out of your share on completion of the sale for example.  This is determined on a case by case basis but please get in contact with us to discuss this further.

Children Applications

When families separate and there are children involved this can be even more emotional and difficult.

The children’s best interests need to be at the heart of any decisions and at Nicholls we will work with you to try to achieve an agreement which avoids parental conflict.

Our family team are hugely experienced in dealing with issues concerning arrangements for children.  The ideal outcome is to reach an amicable resolution but where that is not happy our many years of experience can assist you in reaching a conclusion through the courts.

Where parents cannot agree then we can assist you in making an application to the family court.

There are a number of orders that can be made:

  1. Child Arrangements Order- to determine with whom the child/children should live and who they should spend time with, when and on what basis
  2. Prohibited steps order or Specific issue order- these are orders to address specific issues such as change of a child’s school or surname or an order preventing a child from being removed from the other’s care.
  3. Parental responsibility order- an important order to give you the rights and responsibilities of caring for your child and making day to day decisions. We can advise you on obtaining an order or agreement if required.
  4. Special Guardianship Order- this is an order settling where a child or children should live and is slightly different to a child arrangements order in a number of ways. This can often be useful in a situation where a child moves to live with other family members for example.

We are often consulted by grandparents regarding their rights to spend time with grandchildren and we are highly experienced at representing grandparents in the family court.

Prenuptial Agreements

When you are marrying the last thing on your mind is what will happen when you separate but it is important to think about and very sensible to put an agreement in place which can determine this. Not only will this give you peace of mind now, it can save you a lot of cost and stress in the future.

The law in this country is that whilst prenuptial agreements are not legally binding, there is a presumption they will be upheld if the following conditions are met:

– They are freely entered into
– There is a full understanding of the implications of the agreement
– It is fair to the parties

It is important that both parties receive thorough and specialist advice before entering into a prenuptial agreement. Contact us for more information.

Cohabiting Couples

Cohabiting couples have very different rights to married couples and it is important to be aware of the differences. It is possible to try to avoid future disputes arising by entering into a cohabitation agreement at the outset. We can advise you and prepare this agreement for you.

In the event that you separate and need advice on how to resolve financial matters between you, particularly jointly owned property then our expert advisors can assist you. We are very experienced in dealing with disputes over jointly owned property and we can help you to separate with dignity.