Family law disputes are often trying and stressful for all of the involved parties. It is the goal of a family solicitor to provide an amicable solution to domestic legal disputes, which is agreeable to all those involved, and achieved within the swiftest amount of time possible. As one can imagine, family law is rarely simple, and covers an expansive range of domestic issues, including divorce and child custody. Often, it is the role of a family solicitor in Portsmouth to negotiate between two parties who are in disagreement, and help those involved find the light at the end of a dark and seemingly never ending tunnel.
Divorces and dissolution
A large portion of family law is devoted to what is known as divorce or dissolution – which is when a marriage or legal partnership is declared nullified by law and the inherent legally binding rights therein are no longer valid. The law relating to divorce is under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for married couples, and the 2013 Marriage Act for civil partnerships. The majority of these cases are for divorce, as there are a larger number of divorce settlements each year than civil partnership annulments. The law, in its essence, attempts to prevent divorce or dissolution by encouraging the involved parties to reconcile. However, in instances where the relationship between the involved parties cannot be mended then, legally, the marriage or partnership is deemed to have broken down irretrievably, and there is then legal cause for a divorce or dissolution.
This irretrievable breakdown of a relationship has to be proven legally by certain factors. These factors determine whether or not a marriage or partnership can be legally ended, and include; adultery – whereby one party has been adulterous, and therefore the other cannot live with them; behaviour – whereby one party has behaved in such a way that the other cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with them; desertion – whereby one involved party has deserted the other for a period exceeding two years, and separation with consent – whereby both parties have lived apart from each other for a period of over two years. As one can imagine, dealing with each of these instances requires a great deal of care and consideration from the family solicitor, to ensure that everything is done within the parameters of the law, and that each involved party feels they are represented fairly.
Annulments are different from divorces, and are another aspect of law which is covered by a family solicitor. An annulment, in its simplest form, is a legal procedure which negates and cancels a marriage, and completely erases it from a legal perspective – as if it had never happened. Either involved party within a marriage can initiate an annulment, providing they have solid, legal grounds for doing so. If it is determined by a court or family solicitor that they do have grounds, then the marriage will then be declared null and void by the court. Some of the legal grounds for an annulment are as follows; bigamy, whereby one party in the marriage was legally married beforehand, unbeknown to the other; forced consent, whereby one party was forced into marriage by duress, against their will, and fraud – whereby one party was married under false pretences. There are numerous other grounds for an annulment which are similar to those of a divorce. Whatever the reason, this again requires a great deal of skillful and respectful handling by a family solicitor, to ensure that an amicable and agreed solution is achieved, within the parameters of the law.