Family Law


Richard Webster has a well reputed family law department with modern communications and technology. We can offer our clients the same personal service throughout England and Wales. The divorce process under English law is a paper exercise resulting in a decree of divorce. The divorce process is not expensive and can be completed relatively quickly for divorce cases where both parties co-operate.

Time estimates: 13-16 weeks from divorce petition to decree absolute finally ending the marriage. Please note that if there are financial issues outstanding the decree absolute may have to be delayed.

That is as much as needs to be said about the divorce process other than to give some indication of the grounds that have to be proved for a divorce petition to succeed. There is only one basis for divorce in England and Wales and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Unfortunately, the law is not quite civilised enough to leave it at that. The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage has to be proven by establishing one of the ‘grounds’.

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Separation for 2 years and mutual consent to Divorce
  • Separation for 5 years

What Richard Webster can do for you:

  • Get you divorced with the minimum of fuss and aggravation
  • Negotiate a financial settlement that is fair to everyone
  • Negotiate arrangements for children
  • Protect you and your children from much of the stress associated with the divorce process
  • Do our best to make unreasonable people behave reasonably
  • Make the divorce and separation process as affordable as it can reasonably be

Financial Division

Whatever the value of assets involved, our policy is always to promote settlement following voluntary disclosure and negotiations wherever possible. We can alternatively support mediation or act on a collaborative basis. If court proceedings are required then we will represent you thoughtfully and diligently.

The court has a wide discretion to redistribute income and assets on marriage breakdown so it is never possible to predict precisely the award a court would order. To reduce costs and conflicts, it is vital that the issues are narrowed as much as possible, that a constructive approach is adopted and that a compromise is sought.

Neither do we foster false hope or unrealistic expectation, nor do we shy away from giving honest advice even when it is unpalatable. We keep you fully apprised of the costs of the proceedings and at all times keep in mind the costs compared to the benefits. Our aim is to always provide a cost-effective service.

Our team ranges from trainee solicitors to senior solicitors who have practiced for a number of years and we match you with the solicitor best equipped to deal with your case and on an affordable fee structure. We very much work as a team, sharing knowledge and expertise. We have also developed close relationships with other related professionals such as accountants, actuaries and IFAs who can give invaluable specialist advice on related matters such as tax implications and pension sharing.

Children’s Cases

This is one of the most difficult areas of family law and one where particular skills are required to resolve issues with a minimum of conflict. It is a subject that requires experience and sensitivity on the part of your adviser.

We will always look at the bigger picture with you and guide you in a way that reduces animosity and tries to build a stable platform for your child to flourish; avoiding, as much as possible, the negative impact of your relationship breakdown.

We deal with whole range of children’s issues;

  • Child Abduction – reuniting parents with children who have been removed / representing the parent who has removed. One of our team is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in this area
    Residence – with whom a child should live
    Shared care – trying to divide the child’s time between both parents
    Contact – how much time the child spends with the absent partner
    Parental Responsibility – the right to decide and be consulted on important aspects of a child’s life
    Prohibited Steps Orders – orders preventing one parent from doing something
    Specific Issue Orders – orders governing a particular area of concern such as where a child should go to school or what medical treatment should be given
    Special Guardianship – Order of the court granting rights to a non-parent and authorising them to care for a child without severing legal ties with the birth family
    Adoption – Please see our Child Care Law section for more information

There are other issues that we can assist with such as changing your child’s name and removal from the country either permanently or for a holiday.

We feel that parents should consider trying to resolve any differences by constructive dialogue directly or via solicitors or in mediation. We acknowledge that is not always possible and we are there to advise, support mediation or take legal action as you require.


When relationships breakdown it is often difficult for separating couples to talk to each other. Mediation is a service to help couples who have decided to separate or divorce to communicate with each other and work out mutually acceptable arrangements.

What is mediation?
Mediation is a service to help couples who have decided to separate or divorce to communicate with each other and work out mutually acceptable arrangements for the children, property, finances and other matters. A mediated settlement is much more likely to be workable and is quicker and cheaper than going to court.

How can mediation help you?
If children are involved, it is particularly important for parents and family members to co-operate with each other to clarify issues and reach a solution which is both fair and workable which will cause the minimum amount of conflict or stress. We can also help with financial settlements following a relationship breakdown.

The role of our mediators
During the sessions, both of you will be encouraged to contribute equally to the discussions. A mediator will not take sides or make decisions on your behalf but will gather information and help you formulate the best outcome for all concerned. Mediation is not a reconciliation service and no attempt is made by the mediator to encourage you to rethink your decision to separate.

How long?
The length of time which is needed to reach a possible solution will depend on the individuals and their problems but it usually takes two to six sessions with each session lasting about an hour and a half.

Prenuptial & Civil Partnership Agreements

In order to protect your respective financial positions, you may wish to consider entering into a Prenuptial or Civil Partnership Agreement prior to entering into a marriage or civil partnership. Such an Agreement will cover the assets and items that are in the ownership of the parties’ prior to entering into the marriage or Civil Partnership and any assets acquired during the relationship. The Agreement will specifically deal with how such assets and items will be distributed if your relationship ends and you separate in the future.

Though not strictly binding, recent cases of law in the Courts, in particular, the case of Radmacher, means that it is more likely that weight will be given by the Court to the Agreement and it will be highly persuasive in any subsequent financial proceedings relating to the breakdown of the relationship. There are key elements that will need to be present in the Agreement in order to maximize the persuasive ability on the Court.

Richard Webster has a wealth of experience in drafting such agreements, giving you the best chance of financial protection in the event of the breakdown of your relationship or divorce. At the very least we would recommend that you speak to us about a Deed of Trust on how to hold your property if this is not jointly owned or purchased.

Injunctions & Domestic Abuse

There is protection available through the Family and County Courts in respect of violence or threats of violence against spouses, partners or children. The law makes provision for an injunction against the party causing harm. There is ability, based on the evidence presented, to make an application to the Court without the other party attending in the first instance. The Judge will make a decision based on the statement of the person who is in need and brought the application to Court. The likelihood is that another Hearing will be set for a future date when the alleged aggressor will need to attend to put forward why an Order against them should not be made.

We can advise you as to the best course of action to protect yourself and your family in such circumstances and the likelihood of successfully obtaining a Non-Molestation Order or Occupation Order in order to protect your family and the family home.

We understand that discussions of this nature are personal and distressing to all parties involved. We offer a friendly, empathetic ear and will provide you with a common-sense approach to the options that are available to you.

Contact us to find out more.
For further information or a free consultation, please call us on 023 8000 4321, or get in touch via either the contact us page or the quick contact option on this page.