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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Solicitors, mediation and legal advice to end a relationship

You may be able to make your own arrangements when you end a relationship. Or you may need help to formally end it and split things between you. Find out when you may be able to manage things yourselves and when you may find help from solicitors and mediators useful.

How to get help and legal advice if you’re splitting up

The best support and advice you can get when you’re ending your relationship will depend on how much you and your partner can agree on.

You’ll need to think about:

  • how you’re going to look after children, if you have them
  • how you split up your money and possessions
  • what you’ll do about property and living arrangements

If you’re married or in a civil partnership

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you’ll still need to legally end the relationship. You can do this yourself if you want.

If you’ve been living together

If you’ve been living together, you may want to get a legal agreement to confirm how you’re splitting your money, property and possessions. This can help you avoid disagreements later.

If you can’t agree – help from mediators

If you’re finding it difficult to agree about how to look after children or split up your property and possessions, using a mediator can save you time and money.

A mediator is an independent person who will work with both of you to reach an agreement. They won’t take sides and will keep your discussions confidential.

Mediators are often cheaper than solicitors and if you are eligible for legal aid, the mediation might be free.

If you can’t agree – help from solicitors

Your solicitor will advise you on what they think is best for you

Solicitors can help you end a relationship. They will negotiate with your partner (usually through their solicitor) and try to reach an agreement.

Your solicitor will advise you on what they think is best for you. If your partner is using a solicitor, their solicitor will advise them about what they think is best for your partner. The solicitors will then negotiate between them, often by telephone or in writing.

If the solicitors can reach an agreement, they can take the agreement to court and make it legally binding. This happens in the majority of cases.

If you need a solicitor, you should check if you’re eligible for legal aid. You can do this by contacting Community Legal Advice, or you can use the legal aid eligibility calculator.

'Collaborative law'

Some solicitors use a process called ‘collaborative law’ when helping people to formally end their relationships.

You, your partner and your solicitors meet together to reach an agreement. If you use solicitors this way, you will sign an agreement that you’ll resolve your problems without going to court. There’s no fixed timescale – your solicitors will work with you until you’ve made all the arrangements you need.

If your solicitors can’t agree

If your solicitors can’t reach an agreement about money and property, the court may be asked to decide.

If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership, this is a process called ‘ancillary relief’. It can take a lot of time and be expensive, as you’ll need to pay solicitors’ and court fees. You can find out more by following the link ‘What ancillary relief means’ below.

If you’ve been living together, but not married or in a civil partnership, your solicitors may try to get a ‘separation agreement’ confirmed by a court. You can find more information by following the link ‘Legal agreements if you split up or separate’ below.

Additional links

Working out who gets what

Find out how your money, property and possessions could be split at the end of your relationship

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