Matrimonial and Family Solicitors

Our Family Team understand that a main concern for those going through a separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership is obtaining financial provisions their children and for them.

It is important to receive advice early on so that you know your rights and entitlements in relation to financial claims. This advice might cover the division of capital assets and family assets, including the family home, on dealing with pensions, and also on income and maintenance for yourself and your children.

In our team, we have dedicated and highly experienced lawyers who can offer you advice in relation to financial claims and remedies whether from a current or former cohabitant, spouse or civil partner, to guide you through your options and to assist you with the most appropriate steps to help achieve the best outcome for you and your children.

Our Family Team subscribe to Resolution’s Code of Practice and are committed to reducing the conflict for families dealing with separation and related issues. We use our knowledge, resources and experience to deliver the best outcomes for our clients.

What we can offer We can offer you advice and assistance with:

  • Dealing with finances on separation, on divorce, judicial separation or dissolution of a civil partnership
  • Pre and post marriage agreements
  • Pre and post civil partnership agreements
  • Separation agreements
  • We can assist you in connection with reaching a financial settlement with your former cohabitant, spouse or civil partner and to prepare a written agreement or a draft consent order for the Court’s approval. If a settlement cannot be reached, we can represent you in Court proceedings in relation to your financial claims.

We understand that there are clients who are concerned about protecting their assets on a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, for example, they are bringing significant assets of their own into the marriage or civil partnership. In these circumstances, a pre-marriage agreement or a pre-civil partnership agreement may be appropriate. We can offer you advice and assist you in relation to these agreements.

We Would say this...but

We can assist you with your matter from day one and our highly trained lawyers can provide you with representation at Court. We undertake privately funding work as well as Legal Aid. We have very competitive rates. Additionally, we offer fixed fee appointments and assistance to enable you to manage your case costs.

What we’ve done for others Case A

We acted for the mother in care proceedings issued in the High Court after the serious injury to her child relating to shaken baby syndrome and thought to be as a result of Non Accidental Injury at the hands of the mother or father. The matter was transferred to the firm from former solicitors who are a well known firm that has acted in some of the most famous UK Human Rights Cases because it was felt our team that could best carry the matter forward and deliver a result for the client. There was complex medical evidence relating to whether the child had suffered a medical trauma that resulted in the mother shaking him or whether the shaking had caused a medical trauma in the baby. Having re examined the client’s account of events, we were able to provide an account that the panel of eminent experts in the field of Non Accidental Injury concurred was consistent and credible, resulting in the child returning home to the parents and preventing proceedings being brought in relation to her unborn child.

Case B

We acted for the children in a complex appeal before the President of the Family Division. It concerned a Father’s appeal against a decision of District Judge. The local authority’s ‘threshold’ statement asserted that all six children had suffered significant harm. In support of that assertion the local authority relied on nine specific allegations. The District Judge found all nine allegations proved. The Father sought a rehearing of the first four allegations before a different judge. The Local Authority accepted that certain findings should be discharged. The District Judge refused the applications for a rehearing, discharged certain of her findings, and gave directions for a final hearing. The Local Authority sought to cross-appeal. The court allowed the appeal and cross-appeal.

What others say about us

The Family Law team at GTS is diverse in relation to age, gender and ethnicity as befits its inner city clientele; young paralegals work alongside seasoned members of the Children Panel. What all members have in common is a determination to leave no stone unturned in representing their frequently embattled clients and presenting their cases with verve, skill and determination.” Edward Lloyd-Jones, Counsel, FOURTEEN

What all members have in common is a determination to leave no stone unturned.

No matter how difficult or serious the situation Bill portrays a calm demeanour whilst at his core he is a ferocious and tenacious lawyer. He questions dogma and thinks outside the box on order to win the day. Bill has a rare quality, he recognises the difference between Law and Justice. He is thoughtful in his approach and determined in his actions. In essence he is a fighter not a foot soldier.” Andrew Scott, Counsel, Blackstone Chambers.

Our Family Team at GT Stewart understand that the breakdown of a relationship, whether opposite sex or same sex, which leads to a separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership can be a traumatic and stressful time for those concerned.

In our team, we have dedicated and highly experienced lawyers who can offer you advice in connection with the breakdown of your relationship, to guide you through your options and to assist you with the most appropriate steps to help you achieve the best out for you.

Our solicitors are knowledgeable, resourceful, and dedicated to our clients. We have been ranked by the Legal 500 for our Family work and our team also includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel and Children Panel and Resolution Members and Resolution Accredited Specialists. Our Family Team subscribe to Resolution’s Code of Practice and are committed to reducing the conflict for families dealing with separation and related issues

What we can do for you

  • Cohabitation Disputes
  • Change of Name
  • Divorce Petitions (As either an Applicant or Respondent)
  • Financial Claims and Remedies
  • Occupation Orders

Funding

Legal aid may be available to fund your costs (please see our “Funding” Section). Where legal aid is not available, we are able to offer competitive fees

Your Next Step

If you require advice about financial claims and remedies from the breakdown of your relationship, marriage or civil partnership, or on any family law issues, contact us by calling us or by filling an online enquiry form.

A member of our Family Law Team will contact you to discuss your enquiry. We will let you know whether we can help you and to arrange a convenient time for you to meet with one our solicitors.

We are a dedicated team of family lawyers with broad experience gained in all aspects family law practice over a number of years.

Our team regularly undertakes work in public and privately funded Children Act cases, divorce, financial claims and remedies as well as other matrimonial cohabitation issues. Our caseload consists of mostly publicly funded pre care and care work (including a substantial amount of advocacy). Members of the Team are on the Child Panel and can represent Guardian’s at Court.

We provide a holistic and comprehensive support and advice. This is an energetic team that is committed to supporting clients through difficult circumstances.

All of our lawyers have the benefit of working in a multi disciplinary environment with great support from other dedicated family lawyers engaged in similar work and also from our other departments including Housing, Mental Health, Community Care, Prison Law, Actions Against the Police and Criminal lawyers.

What we can do for you

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.

Controlling behavior

a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behavior

an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

(Cross Government definition announced 18th September 2012)

The Government further defines domestic violence as:

Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
  • One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime
  • About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
  • On average, 35 assaults happen before the police are called
  • 12% of under 11s, 18% of 11-17s and 24% of 18-24s have been exposed to domestic abuse between adults

Funding

Legal aid may be available to fund your costs (please see our “Funding” Section). Where legal aid is not available, we are able to offer competitive fees.

Your Next Step

If you require advice regarding the breakdown of your relationship, marriage or civil partnership, or on any family law issues, contact us by calling us or by filling an online enquiry form.

A member of our Family Law Team will contact you to discuss your enquiry. We will let you know whether we can help you and to arrange a convenient time for you to meet with one our solicitors.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

(Cross Government definition announced 18th September 2012)

The Government further defines domestic violence as:

Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
  • One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime
  • About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
  • On average, 35 assaults happen before the police are called
  • 12% of under 11s, 18% of 11-17s and 24% of 18-24s have been exposed to domestic abuse between adults
Sources: Women’s Aid, NSPCC and Parity

Injunctions

There are two broad types of Civil Injunction:

1. Non Molestation order

2. Occupation order

You may need one or both if you are a victim.

A Non Molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner, ex-partner or family member from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you, in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of yourself and your children. The power to make an Order is contained in section 42 of the Family Law Act 1996.

An Occupation order regulates who can live in the family home, and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. If you do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner, or if you have left home because of violence, but want to return and exclude your abuser, you may want to apply for an Occupation order. It may be that you urgently need an injunction to stop someone threatening or hurting you, or for someone to leave the property you live in. It may be that you need to stop someone coming to your home.

How long does it take to get an injunction?

Our solicitors prioritise requests for help in domestic violence situations.

We are able to offer appointments within 24 hours of your first enquiry and if appropriate, obtain the Order from Court within 24 hours after the first appointment.

We understand that speed is of the essence in matter such as this and we therefore offer a flexible and robust service to our domestic violence clients. We will also represent you at Court ourselves, providing you with consistency of representation throughout.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse then there are important practical steps to take:

1. Tell someone – any Health professional, police, your child’s School, a Solicitor

2. Visit your GP or local hospital’s Accident and Emergency department to document your injuries

3. Photograph your injuries

4. Save any relevant evidence e.g.: text messages, Face book posts, Voicemails

Public Funding (Legal Aid)

Public funding is available for Domestic Violence matters and in many cases, we will be able to make the application to Court without delay. You may be eligible for legal aid even if for example you are employed/self-employed subject to you paying a small contribution. The Legal Aid Agency have produced an eligibility calculator which can be found here.

At GT Stewart we pride ourselves on our commitment to publicly-funded services. Since April 2013 there have been changes to the scope of public funding for family matters and public funding is no longer available for such matters as divorce, financial issues arising from a relationship breakdown or contact/residence disputes unless there is documentary evidence of domestic violence.

Public Funding is still available for clients who require advice or representation on:

  • Obtaining a Non Molestation Order/Occupation Order against a perpetrator of domestic abuse
  • Social Services Intervention/Court Proceedings issued by Social Services regarding their children (Care Proceedings)
  • Prohibited Steps Orders (to prevent removal of child from care/from jurisdiction)
  • Children matters where the client has been the victim of domestic abuse and the perpetrator is the opponent
  • Obtaining a protective Children Order where the child is at risk of harm (such as an Order preventing the child living with an abuser)

Should you not meet the above and require assistance for a family matter you will need to provide evidence of the following:

  • An injunction or undertaking given in court in the past 24 months.
  • A conviction, caution or on-going criminal proceedings relating to an assault.
  • Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) plan in place.
  • Findings made at court relating to the other party’s behaviour.
  • Admission to a refuge within the last 24 hours.

Further information on evidence can be found at the Legal Aid Agency website.

If the matter in which you require advice or representation is one in which we may obtain public funding, you must still prove you are financially eligible. If you receive benefits or a low income, it is likely you would qualify for public funding.

We would encourage all potential clients to check their financial eligibility

If you require our services for a matter that is not covered by public funding, or you do not qualify for public funding on financial grounds, we have prepared extremely competitive Fixed Fees.

What we can do for you

The involvement of social services can be a stressful and frightening time for many parents.

GT Stewart Solicitors have a dedicated and highly experienced team who are able to help families through this process and make representations on their behalf.

GT Stewart Solicitors can offer expert legal advice and assistance in the following areas of child care law:

  • Child Protection conferences
  • Section 20 Agreements and the accommodation of children in foster care
  • Pre-proceedings letters and meetings
  • Non-accidental injury allegations
  • Care proceedings
  • Contact with children in care
  • Care Orders
  • Supervision Orders
  • Adoption Orders
  • Special Guardianship Orders

Our solicitors are knowledgeable, resourceful, and dedicated to our clients. We have been ranked by the Legal 500 for our Family work and our team also includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children Panel.

GT Stewart Solicitors are committed to fiercely defending our clients and we have had many successful results for families dealing with social services involvement.

If you are having any difficulties with social services please contact GT Stewart Solicitors on 0208 299 6000 as soon as possible and we may be able to help you.

Successful cases

Medway Council v M & T (By Her Children’s Guardian) [2015] EWFC B164 (13 October 2015)

We made a Human Right Acts claim on behalf of a mother alongside her child’s application for a declaration and damages against Medway council for breach of their rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the of the European Convention on Human Rights following the unlawful accommodation of the child for over 2 years. The mother and child were each awarded £20,000.

Re N (Minor) (Care proceedings: fact-finding hearing) [2014] EWFC 54

We acted for the mother in care proceedings who had been accused of causing serious injury to her child relating to shaken baby syndrome. The matter was transferred to the firm from other solicitors because it was felt that we had the team that could best carry the matter forward and deliver a result for the client.

We were able to re-examine the medical evidence and the client’s position to show that her account was consistent and credible. Our representation resulted in the child returning home to the parents and prevented proceedings being brought in relation to the client’s unborn child.

Cumbria County Council v Q (Injuries to Infant with Bone Disorder) [2015] EWFC 59 (08 July 2015)

We assisted a mother who had been accused of causing non-accidental injury to her child. We were able to show that the child had been suffering from a bone disorder, and that the cause of the injuries could have been accidental. No findings could be made by the court in respect of these injuries.

Re M (Children) [2015] EWCA Civ 994

We made an application on behalf of a father to discharge a care order that placed his three children in long term foster care. The application was dismissed. We successful appealed to the Court of Appeal on the ground that the Judge failed to consider the children’s’ wishes and feelings by consulting the welfare checklist. The appeal was successful and the application is now being reheard.

Case A

We represented a young mother in contested care proceedings in relation to her child. The child was moved to foster care after the mother and baby placement broke down. With our support, the mother engaged with all services offered and sought external support. The mother gave birth to her third child during these proceedings. We were able to successfully argue that the mother and the newborn remain together. At the final hearing, the Local Authority conceded our case and all children were returned to the mother’s care.

Case B

We represented a mother in contested care proceedings. Her four children had been removed from her care following allegations of heavy physical chastisement. The local authority and the Children’s Guardian recommended at the final hearing that our client’s children remain in long term foster care. However, we were able to show that the mother had not caused the injuries to the children and had remained committed to accessing support services. We were able to show that the evidence put forward by the local authority was fundamentally flawed and that the children were in fact best placed in our client’s care. The court agreed with our arguments at the final hearing and ordered that the children be returned to our client’s care.

We can act on a privately paying basis or under our legal aid contract for clients who are eligible for legal aid. We have a legal aid contract for providing family law advice and representation.

Our private rates are very competitive and we offer both fixed fee and hourly rate options to enable you to manage your case costs.