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About Us

The Family Department comprises a strong and driven team of three qualified Solicitors and Solicitor-Advocates, all of whom have a wealth of experience which crosses all aspects of family work; including care proceedings, private children matters, domestic violence, divorce and finance. The Solicitors all hold accreditations with the Law Society including the Children Panel and the Advanced Family Panel. These all involve a rigorous application process to assess the breadth and depth of experience. Candidates have to meet a very high standard of expertise to receive such accreditation.

The Department undertakes a high volume of Public Law care cases. These are those brought by Local Authorities. This is a complex and highly skilled area of work that requires specialist accreditation and support for those undertaking it which the structure of the Department at Jefferies is uniquely placed to provide. The cases can be harrowing.

Following the publicity surrounding the Baby P case, the number of children involved in Public Law applications made by Local Authorities jumped in 2009 from around 20,000 to almost 26,000 per year. This had subsequently increased in the past three years to nearly 30,000 per year. Figures have remained fairly steady.

Our focus is primarily on representing children in family cases ie. care cases but also in complex cases involving children who have often become lost in the disputes between their parents.

We are the leading firm in Essex for this and are independently appointed experts in children cases appointed by the Court/CAFCASS to ensure children’s welfare issues are paramount in proceedings and their voices are heard above the issues their parents and other professionals are sometimes fixated on.

Jefferies are also specialist lawyers in divorce, separation and financial issues that arise in these situations. Divorce and separation are life changing and personally challenging so having an accredited expert to help you and support you is vital. Our experience also extends to a huge range of family issues including pre-marital agreements, child abduction and cohabitation agreements for couples who live together but are not married. We have the skills and expertise you need and can rely on within our team.

We are uniquely placed as we are Solicitor Court Advocates so will deal with each and every part of a case including all Court hearings whether contested or case management. Because of this we are able to offer a complete and seamless service to our clients and also demonstrate we can offer better than is available from the bar both by way of personal service and also our clients tell us repeatedly in terms of skilled advocacy.

As a result of the breadth of experience in the department and the use of the wide and varied skill sets, the department is known across the county for all clients’ cases being both prepared and representing clients to the very highest standard.

Related Services

Adoption

What is adoption?

Adoption is a way of providing a new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents. It’s a legal procedure in which all the parental responsibility, known as full parental rights, is transferred to the adopters.

How can we help you?

At Jefferies, we’re members of the Law Society Children Panel and are therefore accredited specialists. Our experience allows us to offer assistance on all adoption cases including complex adoption situations which are often outside the expertise of most family solicitors. As a firm, we appreciate that not every adoption case is straightforward, which is why we place high value on ensuring our lawyers have the right training, experience and specialist skills.

We offer an efficient and responsive service and often go over and beyond to keep our clients informed of any updates in the process.

We can guide you through gaining full parental rights; and can also support you if:

  • You are adopting from abroad

Please note – it is necessary to also make enquires with your Local Authority before taking any steps to adopt from abroad.

  • Adoption by step-parents

This is very common and we have a wealth of experience in this field. If a step-parent adoption is contested we can help you with this and represent you at court as we are specialist adoption advocates.

  • Your child has been or is going to be adopted.

We can help with this, especially if you need representation at court.

Please note: If you don’t consent to the adoption -you should get legal advice as soon as possible. The Family Rights Group provides advice and support for families whose children are involved with social services.

Child Maintenance

Even though your relationship may have broken down, you both will always be parents to your children and have a financial responsibility towards them, amongst the many other responsibilities you have for your children.

At Jefferies, we offer impartial support in an approachable way. Some of the common questions we are asked include….

Who has to pay what, then?

The parent with whom the child lives receives financial support – child maintenance – from the other parent, whether the parents are married to each other or not. The amount to be paid varies, depending on how much parents earn and how many nights the child stays over with each parent.

Can we agree what is to be paid?

Yes, you can. We can help you work out what is a fair agreement to make.

What if you can’t agree on what is to be paid?

You can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service (who replaced the CSA). We can help you with that.

What if the CMS has done the assessment and you do not agree with it?

Sometimes, the CMS do not get it right. Sometimes, income that should be taken into account hasn’t been taken into account. We can help you challenge the decision.

Is it only the CMS who decides on money to be paid then?

No. In some cases, the court has the power to ‘top up’ child maintenance. In some cases, the court can also make orders for property to be provided for use by a child (and their parent) or lump sums to be paid for a child. We can help you with that.

Disputes About Children – Involvement of Social Services

Social Services work for the Local Authority and have a duty to make sure that every child in their area is safe and healthy. If Social Services have a concern that your child is “at risk of harm” due to your parenting, they may invite you to a meeting in order to work with you to create a plan to ensure your child is safe from risks.

We understand that having Social Services involved with your life can be extremely difficult. We will be able to advise and assist you in working with Social Services to ensure the best outcome for your child. Our team are efficient and responsive – and will keep you informed of any updates throughout the process.

Disputes About Children – Parents and Relatives

If you are involved in any kind of dispute over your children and can’t reach an agreement, we can guide you through the process of getting a legal solution. We offer advice on all matters concerning the care of your children.

We will support you in a personable and efficient way and aim to make the process of resolution as stress-free as possible.

See our pages on the various payment options and Legal Aid. For information on Legal Aid and to check your eligibility, view our information on Legal Aid or visit the Legal Aid Agency.

If after speaking with us you feel you would like to take legal action, we offer our services at very competitive rates and can adapt our services to meet your needs and budget; from helping you run your own case by checking forms and statements to conducting the whole case on your behalf.

Please contact us on childdisputes@jefferieslaw.co.uk for more information or to book a no obligation appointment.

We can offer advice and guidance on many situations, see below:

  • ‘I’ve broken up with my partner/husband/wife and we can’t agree who our child(ren) should live with’
  • ‘My ex-partner/husband/wife won’t let me see our child(ren)’
  • ‘My ex-partner/husband/wife and I can’t agree on when I/they should see the child
  • ‘My son/daughter/sister etc. can’t look after their (child)ren and I want to help. I’m really worried what can I do?’ We can help you decide whether to go to Court and what type of Order to apply for e.g. Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order.

In order to give you and the child(ren) security and stability and to enable you to make decisions about the day to day care of the child(ren), if you are not a parent or in certain circumstances even if you are a parent you may need a Court Order to give you rights in respect of the children. We are pleased to say we are on the lawyers’ list for the Grandparents Association.

For more information please visit the Grandparent’s Association by clicking here. Although this is primarily directed at Grandparents, there is a lot of useful information on Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Orders.

Divorce

Divorce papers have to be drawn up in a very careful way to avoid problems. You cannot get a divorce just because you want one or have drifted apart. The only ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but you need to explain why this has happened. We can help you with this.

It usually takes 6 to 9 months for a divorce to be finalised depending on whether your spouse co-operates. Sometimes, it is best not to finalise the divorce until the financial matters are sorted out.

At Jefferies, we have specialist solicitors in this area who offer an efficient and informed service to our clients. We aim to support you in an approachable way to help you reach a place of solution.

In addition to divorce matters, we can also help you with:

  • Separation agreements

If you don’t want/are not ready to divorce we can draw these up for you – view separation agreements.

  • Applying for orders/arrangements made on divorce/dissolution of a civil partnership including:

Maintenance payable to a spouse

Lump sum payments – e.g. one party to pay another

Property adjustment orders – e.g. transfer of property from joint name to sole name, sale of a property

Orders in relation to pension

  • Your finances linked to a divorce

And finally…

Each family situation is different and that is reflected in the complexity of this area of law. Please do take advantage of the reduced rate diagnostic interview of up to 1 hour’s advice followed by a written report at a cost of £95 including VAT. As you can see below, many of our clients have received great value from the 1 hour interview:

“I just want to say a huge thank you for the advice you gave me yesterday regarding the financial matter in my divorce case.

I must admit I was skeptical at an hours advice, but I couldn’t have received better care. Your advice has saved me and my ex-husband from making a terrible mistake in assuming that if it was a mutually agreed settlement it would be accepted.

It just shows the importance of seeking professional help in legal matters. His solicitor had not highlighted this matter and we wouldn’t have known any different.

Thank you so much for your excellent advice and care that you gave me. It is the best and most important hour I have spent.”

Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is 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.

If you are suffering domestic abuse we can help you by dealing with court applications to protect yourself and your children. We give priority to clients seeking advice about domestic abuse and can advise if you may be eligible for legal aid. We endeavor to offer a confidential, supportive and discrete service and can be flexible in arranging alternative meeting venues.

We work also with partner organisations like Womens Aid.

We can advise you if you are being accused of domestic abuse. As experienced court advocates we can represent you in court.

Financial Issues – When You Are Divorcing

The finance aspect can be one of the most difficult parts of getting divorced. Divorce alone does not regulate and/or terminate the financial relationship between you and your spouse as you need a court order for that.

We work very hard to help you come to an agreement with your spouse over finances. Our team at Jefferies are dynamic problem-solvers – we act as quickly as we can to reach a place of resolution. We think this approach is best as it will cost you less in legal fees, keep the family money in the family instead of spending it on court fees and solicitors costs and it is usually less upsetting than having a judge at court decide what is to happen with your money and property.

Even if you reach an agreement with your spouse, that agreement has to be turned into the form of a court order and sent to the court for the judge to consider whether to approve the settlement you have reached.

If you have started divorce proceedings, tried to reach an agreement but you are both ‘stuck’ and do not agree, you can apply to the court for the judge to decide what should happen for you. We can help you with this as it can be complicated.

Financial Issues – When You Are Not Married

When you are unmarried, the issues and situations you face can be more complex than for married couples. The law for unmarried couples is not the same as for married couples. Separation can affect your home, your savings and your children. We can guide you through this difficult area.

At Jefferies, we are genuinely interested in people and solving their problems. You’ll be allocated a solicitor who is a specialist in this field and will support you through the process until completion.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid is still available in some family cases and we can advise you on which types of family cases qualify. Generally these cases are where there is domestic violence, child protection concerns or for parents involved in care proceedings brought by local authorities.

It is also available to you if you had an order that gave you parental responsibility for a child made prior to care proceedings or made during a care case or for help with mediation in family matters.

Living Together Agreements

When you are unmarried, the issues and situations you face can be more complex than for married couples. The law for unmarried couples is not the same as for married couples. The purpose of a Living Together Agreement is to set out what the arrangements will be, should the worst happen and your relationship breaks down. Taking some time to think through all eventualities can take away the stress and upset of dealing with arrangements at a time when emotions are running high. Some time now could save a lot of heartache and legal costs in the future.

If, for example, you are renting you might need to think about who should pay the rent and bills if one of you moves out. Or perhaps how furniture items or contents are to be divided. If you are buying a property, you may want to make sure that money is protected. Buying a property is usually the single biggest financial investment you will ever make so agreeing arrangements beforehand can avoid the future legal costs of a dispute.

We will be able to assist you in an understanding and efficient way.

Pre-nuptial Agreements

A Pre-nuptial Agreement is a way of setting out how a couple will organise their finances during their marriage and what they agree will happen to financies in the unfortunate event of divorce. This agreement is entered into by both parties prior to them getting married.

Jefferies can walk you through the Pre-nuptial agreement process to make the process as seamless as possible. Our solicitors are understanding and approachable – and we pride ourselves on offering a responsive and communicative service to our clients.

The Pre-nuptial process – what does it entail?

What you have to do:

  • Come in to the office by appointment to meet with us and be formally identified producing identity documents
  • Bring in the terms of the agreement you have reached with your husband or wife to be/partner
  • Bring in details and value for all your income, assets, property and pensions since this has to be listed in the agreement

What we do for you:

  • Meet with you and give some advice regarding the effect of a separation agreement and also ask questions to give clarity in respect of your instructions and agreement reached
  • Prepare the pre-nuptial agreement and send to you for approval.
  • Make any minor amendments to the pre-nuptial agreement and prepare the final draft. (Other amendments can be made but if they are major amendments that require further considerable drafting work then there will be an additional charge)
  • Send the final draft to your husband/wife/partner for signature
  • When received back from them, send it to you for signature
  • When received back from you, date the deed and send a copy to each of you

What is not included:

  • Giving legal advice to the other party. We are not allowed to advise you both due to the professional rules of conduct for solicitors. It is in your best interest for the other party to get separate legal advice
  • Unreasonable usage of our services for example, a high volume of telephone calls, emails and letters. We will let you know if we feel unreasonable usage is occurring, if it continues we may have to terminate the fixed fee agreement. You can choose to leave your case with us in which case you will be charged for the additional work undertaken at our standard charging rates in accordance with our standard terms and conditions of business.
  • Full analysis of your financial situation and advice as to what should go in the pre-nuptial/post-nuptial agreement. We can do this for an extra charge. Under the fixed fee, we are taking your instructions about what has been agreed and turning that into your agreement.

Separation Agreements

A Separation Agreement sets out how couples wish to organise their finances when separated, but do not want to apply for a court order to regulate the finances.

One of our dedicated solicitors can prepare the separation agreement for you and explain the difference between a separation agreement and a court order. We pride ourselves on offering a responsive and communicative service to our clients.

Separation Agreement – what does the process entail?

What you have to do:

  • Come in to the office by appointment to meet with us and be formally identified producing identity documents
  • Bring in the terms of the agreement you have reached with your husband/wife/partner
  • Bring in details and value for all your income, assets, property and pensions since this has to be listed in the agreement

What we do for you:

  • Meet with you and give some advice regarding the effect of a separation agreement and also ask questions to give clarity in respect of your instructions and agreement reached
  • Prepare the separation agreement and send to you for approval.
  • Make any minor amendments to the separation agreement and prepare the final draft. (Other amendments can be made but if they are major amendments that require further considerable drafting work then there will be an additional charge)
  • Send the final draft to your husband/wife/partner for signature
  • When received back from them, send it to you for signature
  • When received back from you, date the deed and send a copy to each of you

What is not included:

  • Giving legal advice to the other party. We are not allowed to advise you both due to the professional rules of conduct for solicitors. It is in your best interest for the other party to get separate legal advice
  • Unreasonable usage of our services for example, a high volume of telephone calls, emails and letters. We will let you know if we feel unreasonable usage is occurring, if it continues we may have to terminate the fixed fee agreement. You can choose to leave your case with us in which case you will be charged for the additional work undertaken at our standard charging rates in accordance with our standard terms and conditions of business.

familylaw@jefferieslaw.co.uk