Family & Divorce
There are key moments in your life when you may have to consult a family lawyer.
It might be when
- you are about to get married and you are considering a pre-nuptial agreement to protect your family’s assets
- your relationship is at an end and you need to resolve complex and international financial issues, and, above all,
- you need to protect your children’s welfare.
Of course, through all of this you will need to be assured that your privacy is respected and you will want to know that you are receiving the best advice and service.
At Farrer & Co, we can help you.
How we can help
Established and market leading, our family lawyers are the best at what they do. We have clear leaders in the field who have extensive experience, and a depth of rising stars.
For us, it is all about providing a very high level of client service. Our clients tell us that they value our ability to communicate complex issues in a pragmatic, innovative and positive way. We provide an all-round, integrated service, covering not just family law but every other service required by individuals involved in a divorce, including tax, private client, contentious trusts and international issues. Our reputation management experts can ensure that your privacy is protected at such a sensitive time.
Who we are
We are a team of diverse and engaging characters who share a sense of empathy and integrity. We maintain a constructive approach in sensitive and difficult situations, and are known to be straightforward, pragmatic and sensible. We will always act in your best interests.
Our team operates at the forefront of family law. We have been involved with a number of ground-breaking cases, which have established the current law. These include the leading Supreme Court case on pre-nuptial agreements, and the leading Court of Appeal decision on piercing the corporate veil.
We act for both domestic and international clients. Many of our cases involve complex cross-border issues, sophisticated asset protection structures and trust and tax issues.
Pre-nuptial agreements can help to achieve certainty on divorce, and are a key element of wealth planning for high net worth individuals.
It is a sad reality that as many as 40 per cent of marriages now end in divorce. A pre-nuptial agreement will make provision for that circumstance, should it arise, by setting out how your assets and liabilities will be divided. Although not strictly binding in this jurisdiction, the use of pre-nuptial agreements has increased dramatically in recent times. The landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, in which our firm was involved, is a big step towards pre-nuptial agreements being decisive.
If you wish to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement or your intended spouse has asked you to, we will provide you with expert advice in order to ensure that it is fair and that it gives you maximum certainty on divorce. It can be a difficult subject to address, but our experienced lawyers are sympathetic to this and will help to advise you in a sensitive way.
Whilst most of our cases involve mainly English issues, we also have particular expertise in advising those individuals with interests overseas. Complicated cross-border issues can arise in these cases, requiring careful and specialist advice to ensure that the agreement reached has effect in all of the relevant jurisdictions. This is a particularly developing area as a result of European legislation and the impact of Brexit. The lawyers in our team are at the forefront of developments in this field, and are therefore ideally placed to advise.
We will also advise on the likely effect of a pre-nuptial agreement entered into abroad if you later move to this country, and will advise you on a post-nuptial agreement in this jurisdiction if necessary.
With many years of working with families and couples going through a relationship breakdown, we have first-hand experience of the emotional and financial pressures you may be under. We will guide you through every aspect of the divorce process, addressing your concerns and bringing about an appropriate resolution.
If there are other relevant jurisdictions involved, we will swiftly advise you on the best course of action so the most appropriate jurisdiction can be secured.
From the outset, you will be given clear and realistic advice regarding the financial impact of your divorce, even in the most complicated of cases. We will explain the options available to you and advise you on likely outcomes. We will then help you to achieve a solution tailored to your own specific circumstances.
Advising on the resolution of financial issues upon divorce is our speciality. We take a constructive approach. It is important to us to help clients to maintain a civil and good working relationship with their former spouse, especially where there are children. The vast majority of our cases settle their financial arrangements out of court.
Nevertheless, there are times when litigation is necessary, and our track record at those times speaks for itself. For example
- We acted for the wife on her successful application to set aside a consent order compromising her claims upon divorce on the basis that her husband was guilty of material non-disclosure. The allegations of non-disclosure (which were proven) related to the existence and operation of international trusts. Our client was awarded a substantial additional sum, almost doubling her original award.
- We acted for the husband in circumstances where all of his substantial wealth was inherited, and obtained a very favourable judgment for our client.
Although the newspapers regularly report on hard-fought divorce battles, there are a number of alternatives to the court process. There are many advantages to these alternatives; they avoid the stress and cost of litigation, they help you and your former spouse to communicate with one another, and significantly, they are also completely private (in stark contrast to court proceedings).
If you and your spouse agree to mediate, you will both meet with a specialist mediator who will help you work to settle your differences and reach an agreement. Mediation can be used to help you reach agreement on how assets should be divided, to agree the arrangements for your children on separation, or anything else that you wish to discuss.
Our mediators are trained to help resolve all issues that may face separating couples.
Another alternative to the court process is collaborative law. If you and your spouse decide to use this process, you will each appoint your own collaboratively trained lawyer and then meet to work things out face to face. This way you can discuss the issues between you frankly and with the support of your own lawyers.
By meeting together in this way, negotiating an agreement is an open and transparent process which can progress at a pace that suits you.
If you decide to arbitrate in order to reach an agreement, you and your spouse would each have lawyers, but you then select an independent arbitrator to resolve your dispute. The arbitrator's decision is then binding.
We will discuss all of the options available to you, so that you can make an informed decision regarding the best way forward in your circumstances.
Cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK, with numbers more than doubling from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million families in 2017. However, it is also the most misunderstood area of family law. There is no such thing as common law marriage in this country, which means that cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples.
When unmarried couples separate, significant issues can arise over the ownership of property. To resolve these, cohabiting couples have to rely on complex and arcane trust principles. To avoid this, if you are intending to live with a partner, it is a good idea to enter into a cohabitation agreement which sets out what will happen to your finances in the event of a relationship breakdown. It can also make clear how the property in which you live (and any other property) is owned.
Whether you wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement, or your partner has asked you to, we will advise you on the contents.
If the relationship does break down, we can help you to resolve any disputes over property ownership that arise. If you have children, we can also advise you on any financial claims which may be brought by one parent on behalf of children for housing and maintenance.
Making arrangements for your children following a breakdown of your relationship can be extremely difficult and stressful. Our aim is to provide you with sensitive, pragmatic and sensible advice, enabling you to take a constructive approach. We will always act in your best interests, and will help you to find a child-focused, practical and workable solution.
Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to agree arrangements between you. Where it is not possible for you to do this directly, alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, collaborative law or arbitration may assist you to do so. Where it has not been possible to reach an agreement, court proceedings may be necessary.
We advise clients on all issues affecting children upon relationship breakdown. This includes where they spend their time, and also specific issues surrounding their care such as which school they should attend, or what medical care they should receive. These cases can be difficult, and early intervention with experienced lawyers can be crucial.
We also have expertise in dealing with international cases, where the jurisdiction of the English court may be in issue.
We regularly advise on relocation cases. This includes where one of the parents wishes to move away with the children – either abroad or within this country – or where one parent is concerned that the other will take the children abroad without their consent.
Our experienced reputation management team works with us where necessary in order to help keep these sensitive cases out of the public eye.
Relationship breakdown can have a devastating impact on the wider family, and can make it very difficult for grandparents to see their grandchildren. This can be the cause of huge distress for grandparents.
If you are a grandparent, you do not have an automatic right to spend time with your grandchildren. However, there are a number of options available to you to help you achieve this.
Ideally you will be able to talk to the parents and reach an agreement. Mediation can be of huge help, and our specialist mediators are experienced in guiding discussions between parents and grandparents in order to help them address any concerns and reach an agreement.
If you are not able to reach an agreement, the courts can assist you. There is a two stage process; first you will first need to apply to the court for permission to apply for an order (as a grandparent you do not have an automatic right to do so). Then, if you are successful in that application, you will need to apply for an order that the children spend time with you.
There is no presumption that contact with a grandparent, or any other extended family member, is in a child's best interests but the courts are sympathetic to grandparents in this situation, and do recognise the valuable role that grandparents can play in children's lives.
It is very important that you remain impartial in disputes between your grandchildren's parents. Case law recognises that grandparents can provide a haven for the children at a time when their parents are embroiled in a difficult dispute, but where grandparents have 'taken sides' and show hostility to one of the parents, the courts will be cautious in granting them contact with the children.