Public and third sector information services
GOV.UK provides extensive information on marriage, civil partnership and divorce, covering all aspects of getting married, getting separated or divorced, child maintenance and help and support if you have children. The main section on births, deaths and marriages covers wider family issues including: certificates, register offices, changes of name or gender, child benefit, death and bereavement, having a child, parenting and adoption, lasting power of attorney, being in care and your financial affairs.
Citizens Advice provides extensive information on family matters. Find out what your rights are if your relationship has broken down, for example whether you can stay in the family home or who the children should live with. You can also find out how to deal with things like making a will, registering a birth or changing your name, and where else to go for help.
Reunite (Reunite International Child Abduction Centre) is the leading UK charity specialising in international parental child abduction and the movement of children across international borders. They operate the only telephone advice line in the UK offering practical, impartial advice, information and support to parents, family members, and guardians who have had their child abducted, as well as parents and guardians who may have abducted their child.
CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services) looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. It works with children and their families, and then advises the courts on what it considers to be in the children’s best interests. CAFCASS only works in the family courts. The site provides answers to questions for three groups of people – children, teenagers, and adults. There is also a basic explanation of the law about children.
The Official Solicitor & Public Trustee provides legal representation for persons unable to act for themselves for some reason, eg children and people with some incapacity.
Resolution (previously Solicitors Family Law Association) is an association of 6,500 solicitors who agree to follow a Law Society recommended Code of Practice which essentially aims to deal with matters in a way designed to preserve peoples dignity and encourage them to reach agreement. The site provides a searchable directory of members and also an extensive set of fact sheets on family law topics.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre is an independent national charity concerned with law and policy affecting children and young people. There is a free and confidential legal advice and information service, covering all aspects of the law affecting children and young people, and a unit providing legal advice and representation to children and/or parents with concerns relating to schools or Local Education Authorities (LEAs). The centre also campaigns for children’s rights in accordance with the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and also monitors the impact of armed conflict on civilian children. The Centre is based at Essex University.
National Association for Child Support Action (NACSA) is the leading organisation within the UK providing help in all areas of the Child Support Act and the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC). They provide affordable help to parents and their families who suffer difficulties with the UK Child Support Act, by offering case specific support to resolve those issues that never seem to be addressed by the CSA. There is a lot of good information on the site and they can also provide a month’s access to their helplines (for personal assistance) for a modest price.
Solicitors for the Elderly is a national association of solicitors, barristers and legal executives who are concerned with improving the availability and delivery of legal services to older people. The site contains a list of member solicitors, arranged by town or area, and also a very good set of links to other bodies concerned with elderly people and the law, benefits, health, illness, social services, carers and so on.
Families Need Fathers is a registered UK charity which provides information and support to parents, including unmarried parents, of either sex. FNF is chiefly concerned with the problems of maintaining a child’s relationship with both parents during and after family breakdown. Thre is a Rough Guide To The Law on the site, covering legislation and advice on many topics related to families and divorce.
Rights of Women is a womens voluntary organisation committed to informing, educating and empowering women concerning their legal rights. Founded in 1975, they offer free confidential legal advice by phone. The site provides information on the organisation and also a series of information sheets (in pdf) on divorce, child contact orders, child residence orders, and parental responsibility. The site also features downloadable copies of research and policy papers and a set of links in this policy area.
Other useful sites
On GOV.UK you can now Apply for a divorce online in England and Wales. You can only use this service to apply for a divorce for yourself. You must apply by post if you’re a solicitor, you want to end a civil partnership or you want to apply in Welsh. It costs £550 to apply online or by post. The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Netlaw is a social media forum and information resource offering support to those experiencing relationship and family problems, with the aim of bridging the gap between those requiring assistance and the professionals able to offer expert advice. This allows people to engage directly who otherwise would not have consulted a professional. A key figure in the new forum is Paul Summerbell, Head of Family Law at Warrens Family Law and Founder and CEO of Accord Mediation Services. Viewers are offered the opportunity to open an account (free of charge at present) and to view articles, blogs and posts as an information resource. They can also participate in public forums or notice boards that permit problems to be posted and answers provided.
family-lawfirm is the web site of Stratford-upon-Avon firm Woolley & Co. The site provides many pages of free information on divorce and related topics which you access via a search mechanism. There are case studies, questions and answers, leaflets and articles. There is a special section on divorce for British Expats. There is a section called divorcemyths.co.uk which is designed to try and dispel damaging misunderstandings about divorce and separation. There is a long list of myth categories with examples of statements about each – and an explanation about whether the myth is true or false. It is useful – and amusing as well.
Wikivorce is an interesting site on divorce which provides an interactive (and wiki-type) experience for those involved in, or considering, a divorce. As well as factual information, e.g. Divorce Guide and Divorce Calculator, there are blogs (several of the existing well known blogs are included), chat rooms and forums. In other words, it is a community based web site where other members of the community do most of the work! It seems to be very popular and already has 10,000 people registered, which for a relatively new, UK based site is pretty good going. There is also a bookstore and a “find a solicitor” section.
Pinnington Law of Salford, Manchester, have created a glossary of legal terms in divorce and separation, to help participants understand the legal processes they will need to follow. The glossary includes technical terms involved in court proceedings and legal documents as well as different child arrangement orders and agreements for which the participant can apply. There is general information on divorce and other areas of law on the main Pinnington site here.
Family Law Guide is a brief layperson’s guide to family law in England and Wales from John Bolch. There is, of course, no substitute for expert legal advice (and this guide is certainly not one). Sadly, however, legal aid is not available for most private family law matters, and as a result an increasing number of people are having to navigate the system on their own. This guide, or rather set of guides, is intended to help them.
Family Law Portal is a site from Comptons Solicitors, offering support and accessible legal advice relating to family law. There are clearly laid out pages of information and guidance on all aspects of family law, including children, divorce and separation, domestic abuse, financial issues and wealth protection.
Prenuptial Agreement UK is a specialised site from solicitors Silverman Sherliker that tells the viewer everything they need to know about having a prenuptial agreement, including what benefits an agreement can bring, legal pitfalls to avoid, UK case law involving prenuptial agreements, the current UK legal position on prenuptial agreements and the likely cost of getting a suitable agreement drawn up. There is a facility on the site to ask for free initial advice.
Natalie Gamble Associates – provide an impressive site on fertility law and parenting law in all its manifestations. Overall, the site includes legislation (including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA)), case law, useful links and 30,000 words of detailed written guidance on the law broken down for different situations. It has been designed as a free resource on this complex area of law, providing reliable information accessible to everyone. As well as having unrivalled information on this topic, the site uses attractive colours and photographs. The site includes a blog of current news and comment.
Divorce Aid is a site run by an independent group of professionals who volunteer their time to help people with divorce problems. Advice is provided, by email, without any payment or promise of further work. There is also a great deal of free information, attractively and helpfully presented, on the site itself (and some attractive graphic designs to go with the sections). They promote mediation and counselling and also promote collaborative law, as a new, more dignified, approach to divorce.
abuselaw.co.uk is a site provided originally by Abney Garsden McDonald Solicitors but now part of Simpson Millar LLP. The site aims to provide easy access to information for child and adult survivors of physical, sexual and psychological abuse on all aspects of this complex area of law. The site also aims to offer guidance on and understanding of the legal system of England and Wales for professionals working for survivors of abuse. By providing information on the legal rights available to the survivor of abuse in seeking compensation, an explanation of the civil and criminal court procedures and a guide to the Legal Aid system and Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, the site aims to offer a greater understanding of the workings of the Legal system.
UK College of Family Mediators is the professional standards-setting watchdog and public information providing body for family mediation in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is information on how family mediation works and information on finding a mediator.
Family Mediators Association offers trained mediators to help all couples facing separation or divorce to reach decisions about dealing with children, property and finance. Family mediation is a voluntary process by which couples in dispute, particularly those going through separation or divorce, are helped to deal with arrangements for their future.
Alternative Family Law – Southwark, London, a great deal of free information about family law including alternatives to litigation (including mediation and collaborative law), divorce, financial issues (including complext financial cases), international family law, family law issues affecting gay men and lesbians (including civil partnership and parenting) and issues about children and cohabitation. The site provides information in German as well as English.
Getting your Get is a free online booklet, providing information for Jewish men and women in England, Wales and Scotland about divorce according to Jewish law. The booklet, written by Sharon Faith BA (Law) (Hons) and Deanna Levine MA LLB also contains articles, forms and information for their lawyers. The booklet is in pdf form and can be downloaded from the site.
Sharing Pensions is a very informative site site focused on the division of pension rights resulting from UK divorce. The website is an independent financial advisers (IFA) view, providing information for family lawyers, their clients, individuals involved in marriage breakdown and divorce, pension scheme managers and those with an interest in retirement planning. The site includes an extensive glossary explaining terms found in marriage breakdown and retirement planning and also offers a valuation service from IFA pension experts.
SeparatedDads provides help, advice & support for separated fathers. It covers many types of problem – legal, financial and emotional including, for example, how to negotiate with problems about custody and contact, how to deal with child support payments, how to communicate with kids, ideas for things to do when you’re all together and even how to introduce a new partner to your children.
Amicable is a legal services company that helps couples to divorce and separate. They offer lots of free advice on their site with a blog, divorce forum, free guides and chatbot. Visitors are also able to book in for a free 15 minute advice call with one of the amicable experts.
Family matters in Scotland
The Right Kind of Divorce – Scotland is a wide ranging portal for advice on this topic aimed at ordinary people with marital problems. There are links and descriptions of organisations which can help (both UK-wide and Scottish), information on separation, children, division of money and property, cohabitation, divorce, and the various routes to “sorting things out” available to the individuals concerned. The site is offered by Anne Dick of Family Law Matters, Shona Templeton of MTM Family Law and Alan Susskind of Harper Macleod solicitors, all based in Glasgow. The site is a mine of useful and impartial information.
Family Law Matters Scotland is a very useful resource covering divorce, separation, cohabitation, civil partnerships, children and the financial practicalities of all these topics.
My Scottish Law blog comes from Bruce de Wert, a Scottish solicitor at Georgesons Solicitors of Wick and Thurso in Caithness. The blog is updated frequently with postings on Scottish Divorce, Scottish Powers of Attorney, Scottish Wills and topics relating to Property Law and Estate Agency. Bruce also offers a number of spcialised sites for the purchase of wills, powers of attorney and divorce services in Scotland, all at very reasonable rates with a particular emphasis on family law.
Simplicity Law provides useful information on negotiation, mediation and collaboration for resolving divorce disputes. They provide fixed-fee legal advice in family law, divorce & child custody matters.