Family law and divorce

Common questions about Family Law & Relationship Law


> How long will my divorce/dissolution take?

It depends on the individual circumstances of your case and whether it is necessary to deal with children issues and financial matters. A straight forward undefended divorce can take between 4-6 months from issuing through to Decree Absolute/Final Order. If financial matters are agreed then a Consent Order can be obtained at this time although in other cases financial matters may take longer.

> How much will a divorce/dissolution cost?

We offer fixed fees whether acting for you as the petitioner or respondent. Please contact us for further information or visit the section on divorce and dissolution.

> What can I do if there is a dispute regarding the children?

The courts will only get involved as a last resort.  Initially such issues will be dealt with by mutual agreement through negotiations between parties and/or solicitors. In most cases, it is compulsory to attend mediation before issuing proceedings.

> Do I have Parental Responsibility?

All mothers have parental responsibility. Fathers have parental responsibility if they are married to the mother at the time of birth (or subsequently) or if they are named on the birth certificate (applies to children born after December 2003).

If this does not apply then you can obtain parental responsibility by agreement with the mother or court order.

> My partner is violent, what can I do?

Initially you may want to contact the police. If charged your partner may be bailed to keep away from you and the property.

The starting point for us, depending on the seriousness of the assault or threat, may be to send a warning letter advising your partner to keep away. If necessary an application can be made to the court for an order to prevent further assaults or threats (non-molestation order) and/or an order to exclude your partner from the property (occupation order). Such an order can also cover issues relating to the payment of the mortgage etc.

> How much will it cost me to deal with financial or children matters?

Costs depend on the complexity of the case, the issues that need to be dealt with and whether court proceedings are necessary.  Various options can be considered including collaborative law, mediation or a more traditional approach.  An estimate as to the overall cost can be given at our initial meeting.  We can, in certain cases, offer a fixed fee for all or part of the work to help you budget.  Please ask for more information.

> I am in a civil partnership and I am pregnant by a known donor. Can we draw up an agreement setting out what role, if any; he will have in the child's upbringing?

I am in a civil partnership and I am pregnant by a known donor. Can we draw up an agreement setting out what role, if any; he will have in the child's upbringing?

> We are not married. What rights do I have over assets if we separate?

You do not have the same rights as married couples or couples in a civil partnership. You can have no claim on your partners pension or maintenance and visa versa. Any claim you may have depends on your intentions and contributions and normally relates to the property in which you live.

> My same-sex partner and I wish to have a child and we both want to be named on the birth certificate as parents, is this possible?

This can now be done for same sex couples under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA).  The regulations depend on whether you and your partner are in a civil partnership/marriage and whether you conceive at a licensed clinic or artificially at home.  In appropriate cases you can be named as the mother and parent on the birth certificate in place of mother and father. See separate section on HFEA.

Contact us

O'Neill Patient Solicitors LLP

Chester House, 2 Chester Road, Hazel Grove,  Stockport, Cheshire, SK7 5NT


0161 694 3000 / 0161 483 8555



0844 576 2140 (we do not accept service by fax or email)