Family Law Resources

All your question about family law answered by our very own specialist solicitor.

Family Lawyer London - Phuong Trung

My name is Phuong Troung. I am the family law solicitor at Freeman Harris who has been in the industry for over a decade.

I have had the opportunity to deal with a range of family law cases from divorces to children custody. You can contact me at 0208 679 8900 or email me at phuong@freemanharris.co.uk.

What is the procedure for a divorce?

You have to file a document, called a Petition, to the Court. You can learn more about the process in our blog post about how long divorce takes?

Do I need to provide a reason for a divorce?

Yes, you need to prove that the marriage has broken down and it would be difficult to mend the relationship. Common reasons for a divorce include:

  • adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion (for at least 2 years)
  • separation for 2 years and an agreement to the divorce from both spouses
  • separation for 5 years

Incompatibility with your spouse or ‘irreconcilable differences’ are not accepted as grounds for a divorce. In such cases, it may be possible to establish unreasonable behaviour for example being emotionally distant or abusive.

What is included in unreasonable behaviour?

You can get a divorce if your spouse behaves in a manner that you cannot be expected to live with. This can include the following:

  • Violence and/or verbal abuse
  • Aggressive behaviour and threats
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol and displaying irrational behaviour as a result
  • Being financially irresponsible

It can also include less dramatic matters such as:

  • Lack of sex
  • Lack of emotional and financial support
  • Being disrespectful or unreasonable

It is common to list a combination of such matters in your divorce proceedings.

If you use such reasons in your divorce petition, you should expect your relationship to worsen as a result as your spouse will get offended and be upset with your allegations.

How long do I need to be in a marriage to seek a divorce?

You have to be married for at least 1 year before you can get a divorce.

If your marriage breaks down during the 1 year period, then you may want to separate in the meantime. This will give you time to agree to various issues such as financial arrangements, children and other matters.

Do we have to try mediation or counselling before applying for a divorce?

Divorcing couples are usually expected to consider mediation before starting the divorce process. This would help you resolve the emotional side of the break-up, which is helpful if only one person is looking to get a divorce.

Counselling helps you understand each other’s feelings and may take some hostility out of the break-up. This would make it easier to negotiate an agreement.

In some cases, counselling may encourage you both to give the marriage a second chance.

Do I have to use a solicitor to get divorced?

If you have children or a significant amount of money/assets, you are strongly advised to use a solicitor. A solicitor will:

  • Provide advice on what rights you have and what would be a reasonable financial settlement;
  • help you negotiate an agreement on financial arrangements and how any children will be looked after;
  • Draft the court documents and file them on your behalf

You can decide on the level of engagement you would like from your solicitor. You can discuss the arrangements with your spouse before filing for divorce if things are amicable.

Please note that both you and your spouse cannot use the same solicitor.

What information will a solicitor to start a divorce proceeding?

A solicitor would require as much information as possible to understand the background to the divorce. They would need information on financial assets, children and other relevant matters such as properties. The information you provide should include:

  • The basis for your divorce for example adultery, unreasonable behaviour or separation
  • Who is applying for the divorce and whether it has been agreed between you and your spouse
  • The major assets that you and your spouse share are, such as savings, pensions, houses etc;
  • You and your spouse’s income and outgoings are;
  • details of any dependent children (under the age of 18, still in full time education, or having special needs)

The more information you have, the easier it is for your solicitor to understand the circumstances and to advise you. If your solicitor has to do a lot of work in terms of gathering information, contacting the spouse’s solicitor, it will only delay and make the process more expensive.

You should also let your solicitor know your major objectives out of the divorce for example, keeping the children, or having reasonable contact with them, keeping the family home etc.

I am about to get married, should I get a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is made before a marriage to set out specific outcomes in case of separation. A prenup is useful if

  • you’re bringing in considerable wealth or assets into a marriage and want to retain those if the marriage fails
  • you have been married before and want to retain your existing property for your children for example

If your marriage has an international aspect, then it’s also worth making a prenuptial agreement as the financial awards can be made against you in foreign countries.

I don’t have a lot of savings or assets, do I need to make a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement?

You don’t need to make a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement if you don’t own substantial finances or assets. If you are expecting to obtain a large amount of money through inheritance, for example, or expect to increase your value considerably then you should look into getting a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement drawn up.

What should a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement cover?

The prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement should cover:

  • assets such as money, shares, investment pension, etc and how they should they be divided;
  • Any property you own and who will be entitled to it;
  • any ongoing payments (maintenance) to be paid to your partner and for what time period;
  • Child maintenance and related expenses

Who should be used to write a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement?

A solicitor should be used to draft your prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement. The agreement needs to be carefully researches and examined which is why a solicitor is best placed to create it.

It is unlikely that a court would follow a prenuptial agreement if it is very basic, has faults and you haven’t followed proper legal advice.

Does one prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement cover me and my partner or do we need to have spearate agreements?

No. It is important that you and your partner receive independent legal advice. You need to have your own agreement which is then agreed with your partner. As stated above, an incorrect or poorly created prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement will carry no weight in the court.

I am already married, can I get a prenuptial (pre-nup) agreement made?

Yes, its called a postnuptial (post-nup) agreement, and you can find further information about it in the service profile above.