Divorce & Ancillary Relief


At Larkin Cassidy Solicitors our Family Law practice is managed by Practice Partner, Sinead Larkin. Sinead Larkin is a specialist Family Law Solicitor who has over 20 years experience practising Family Law.

Aoife Clayton is an extremely experienced advocate and represents private law and public law clients.

Sinead Larkin is a member of the following accredited bodies:

Divorce & Division of Capital Assets

If you have separated from your spouse you will need a good divorce lawyer to resolve various issues relating to the breakdown of your marriage. At Larkin Cassidy Solicitors we have many years experience in helping our client’s through what is undoubtedly a very difficult time in their life. Our Specialist Family Law Practitioners have in excess of 25 years experience. In that time our team have assisted our clients in navigating the numerous aspects of Family Law which need to be resolved to secure a Financial Settlement and Divorce.

There are a number of significant pieces of legislation which govern the breakdown of marriage/civil partnership and the division of the capital assets of the marriage. The most notable of same are as follows:

THE MATRIMONIAL CAUSES (NI) ORDER 1978
www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1978/1045

What are the grounds for the dissolution of a marriage?

  • Desertion
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Two Years Separation with consent of both parties
  • Five Years Separation without the consent of the other party

How are the assets of a Marriage resolved?
At Larkin Cassidy Solicitors we understand that you want to secure a fair and reasonable settlement for you and your family in the division of the capital assets of your marriage. Larkin Cassidy Solicitors have extensive experience in achieving this.

When addressing the division of the capital assets of the marriage we will ensure that you secure your entitlements such as:

  • Provision for the payment of Child Maintenance
  • Lump Sum Payments
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Orders registered against property to protect your interest in same
  • Maintenance Pending Suit
  • Property Adjustment Orders
  • Pension sharing/splitting Orders
  • Enforcement Orders
  • Clean Break Agreement

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors understands that this is a very stressful time in your life and that legal costs are an added worry. As experienced Family Law Solicitors, Sinead Larkin and Aoife Clayton will always seek to resolve matters for you on an amicable basis and without recourse to proceedings, by seeking to secure a clean break agreement. This is the most cost effective means of resolving the division of the capital assets of the marriage and the grounds for divorce together with estate planning and matters relating to the children.

If matters can not be resolved on an amicable basis Larkin Cassidy Solicitors will progress the Court application and guides you through every step of the process of the Ancillary Relief Proceedings with a view to achieving a fair and equitable settlement for you.

THE CIVIL PARTNERSHIP ACT 2004
www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/2005/33

The Civil Partnership Act gives same sex couples the ability to obtain legal recognition for their relationship. It is the legal equivalent and parallel to civil marriage. It can only be terminated on death, by dissolution or annulment.

What are the effects of a Civil Partnership?

  • Children– a civil partner will become the step parent of her civil partner’s child(ren).
  • In Laws– when you become a civil partner you acquire in laws and the traditional family relationships such as” mother in law” will apply.
  • Next of Kin– civil partners will be regarded as next of kin.
  • State Benefits– civil partners are treated the same way as married couples for the purpose of Social security Agency Benefits, Tax Credits, and Child Benefit.
  • Tax– Same sex couples are treated in the same way as married couples. Thus, Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax applies when a civil partner dies. If you have a property portfolio it is advisable to engage in tax planning and to seek legal advice.
  • Pensions– The surviving civil partner is entitled to the survivor benefits of the deceased civil partners work & personal pension scheme. As regards State Pensions, civil partners enjoy most of the benefits as that of married couples.
  • Death of your civil partner– As soon as you enter a civil partnership any pre-existing Will or testamentary disposition will automatically be revoked unless your Will contains express terms prohibiting revocation. You will benefit from the entitlements pursuant to the Laws of Intestacy should your partner die without a will and should your partner fail to make provision for you or your child in their Will you will be able to bring proceedings pursuant to the Provision for Family and Dependants (NI) Order.

What are the grounds for the dissolution of Civil Partnership?

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation of the parties with each party consenting to the dissolution
  • Five years separation of the parties with the consent of the other party
  • Desertion of one party by the other for a period of two years

How are the assets of a Civil Partnership resolved?
The law states that the parties to a civil partnership have the same entitlement to access to all of the provisions of “ancillary relief” legislation as applicable to married couples, as set out above, seeking to divorce or judicially separate. Most notable among these financial provisions are:

  • Provision for the payment of child maintenance
  • Maintenance pending suit
  • Property adjustment orders
  • Pension sharing/splitting orders
  • Enforcement orders
  • Clean break agreements

At Larkin Cassidy Solicitors, we will ensure that we seek to resolve the division of the capital assets of your civil partnership as amicably as possible so as to minimise stress and conserve costs. When it is necessary to issue proceedings to resolve this aspect of the dissolution of your civil partnership Larkin Cassidy Solicitors will guide you through the process at every stage with expert advice and assistance.

COLLABORATIVE LAW
www.afriendlydivorce.co.uk

Collaborative Law offers an amicable way of dealing with the breakdown of your relationship. It aims to avoid contentious legal proceedings. Collaborative law gives you and your former spouse or partner a way of working together amicably. It allows your separation to be resolved with minimal intervention from the court. You, with the assistance of your Solicitor, reach an agreement which suits your needs and that of your family.

Collaborative law operates on a number of principles:

  • Parties exchange information and documents
  • Joint meetings of the parties and their Solicitors
  • Solicitors work collaboratively to resolve the issues
  • Contractual agreement means that the appointed Solicitors can not being proceedings on behalf of their client if the process fails

The contractual agreement gives everyone, including the lawyers, an incentive to make the process work. If the collaborative process fails and there is no alternative but to involve the court, then you will have to instruct a new Solicitor to act on your behalf.

Collaborative law is available to all couples including married, civil partners and those who are cohabiting. This process may not be suitable for everyone depending on the circumstances of the breakdown of your relationship however if you are interested in same please contact Sinead Larkin.

Legal Aid for Family Law

You may be entitled to legal aid depending on your financial circumstances. If you are in receipt of certain State Benefits for example, Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment Support Allowance or if your income is below a certain level you will be entitled to free legal aid for certain family law proceedings.

If you are employed you should not hesitate to ask if you may be entitled to legal aid as each case is assessed based on your income and certain outgoings will be taken into account.

You may wish to contact the Northern Ireland Legal Services Agency at: www.justice-ni.gov.uk for further clarification on your entitlement to legal aid.

Private Clients

At Larkin Cassidy Solicitors, we understand that you may not be entitled to legal aid and that you may wish to discuss other means of payment. Please do not hesitate to enquire about our private client payment options.

Should you require confidential advice or assistance on any of the matters set out above or any other area of Family Law please contact:

Sinéad Larkin or Aoife Clayton
Family Law Department
Larkin Cassidy Solicitors
2 Carlisle Circus
Belfast
BT14 6AT

Tel: 028 90 992454
Fax: 028 90 992455
Email: sinead@larkincassidy.com

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