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Family Law

Domestic Violence


We all understand physical violence as being “domestic violence” but the UK government definition is as follows:

“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



Child Arrangement Orders


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.”

I have dealt with many cases of domestic violence over the last 15 years, some of which have been more horrific than others but they have all been shocking in many ways. What I have noticed is the increase in cases involving adult children being violent towards their parents. The children refuse to leave home, they terrorise the parents who are often frail and unable to stand up for themselves.

In turn the parents are also riddled with guilt about taking any action against them, after all as parents our job is to protect our children and this goes against the grain. These cases often involve drug or mental health issues.

It is possible to obtain an injunction against a child or a parent in the same way that you would obtain one against a husband or wife. If you need a sympathetic, understanding solicitor then please get in touch on 01952 214085 or 07950 848241.


The Children Act 1989 specifies who the child lives with and how much time they will spend with the other parent.

The Court have to consider Section 1 – Welfare Checklist

The seven criteria set out in the welfare checklist under s1(3) Children Act 1989 are:

1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned
2. The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
3. The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision
4. The child’s age, sex, backgrounds and any other characteristics which will be relevant to the court’s decision
5. Any harm the child has suffered or maybe at risk of suffering
6. Capability of the child’s parents (or any other person the courts find relevant) at meeting the child’s needs
7. The powers available to the court in the given proceedings

In helping the court to reach a decision they will sometimes order CAFCASS to prepare a Section 7 report.
The appointed officer will interview the children (dependent on age) and both parents and any other significant people. They often carry out the children interviews at school and don’t normally let the parents know when that will take place.

My advice to clients is to try not to run the other parent down, find something positive to say, remember all answers should be given in the context of what’s in the best interests of the children.

In a recent case I dealt with the parents hated each other with a passion, however mother was able to be positive about the father and his abilities to look after the child on the other hand the father was extremely negative about the mother and his resentment came across to the Judge very clearly. The end result was the Judge ordered primary care to the mother because he could see that mother would put the child’s needs first.

To gain a more detailed understanding please make a free no obligation, no nonsense consultation with Rachel McGrath at our Telford office or on Skype. Please call 01952 214085.

Family Law Solicitor Telford


When you apply for a divorce you’ll need to prove that your marriage has broken down. You’ll need to give one or more of the following 5 reasons.


One party had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex. (same sex relationships don’t count)
You can’t use adultery as a reason if the parties lived together as a couple for 6 months after the other person found out about it.

Unreasonable behaviour

The other party has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.

This could include:

  • physical violence
  • verbal abuse, such as insults or threats
  • drunkenness or drug-taking


The other party has left you:

  • without your agreement
  • without a good reason
  • to end your relationship
  • for more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years

Separation of 2 years

You can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for more than 2 years and the other party must agree
You can be separated while living in the same home as long as you’re not together as a couple (for example you sleep and eat apart).

Separation of 5 years

You can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for at least 5 years, even if the other person disagrees.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A QUICKIE DIVORCE – the news reports of celebs getting a quickie divorce is simply false reporting, even the celebrities have to go through the same procedure.

Often, I hear from clients that they think that their spouse is not willing to cooperate and they don’t know what to do. threatens to defend the divorce.

Defended divorces are exceptionally rare and I have only ever dealt with one in 15 plus years of practice. However, a recent case that hit the headlines shows that it can happen.

Owens v Owens 2017

The Judge dismissed wife’s petition on the basis that the wife had failed to prove within S. 1 (2) MCA 1976 that her husband had behaved in such a way that she cannot reasonably be expected to live with him. She had made 5 allegations of his unreasonable behaviour, including prioritising work over home life, not showing love or affection, mood swings, unpleasant and disparaging comments, critical and undermining, separate lives and not sharing a bedroom.

Parliament decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage!

All lawyers are currently wondering how much of an impact this is going to have in the future and whether we will see a rise in defended divorce petitions.

Will Prince Harry and Meghan have a pre-nuptial agreement?

With the wedding of the year due to take place on the 19th May 2018 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle would you expect Harry and Meghan to have a pre-nuptial agreement in place?

American born Meghan is probably more used to the term as they have always been quite common in America.

It has only been since 2010 in the UK that pre-nups have been recognised, the case of Radmacher v. Granatino means that they are now more common than ever and recognised as enforceable.
This particular case concerned Katrin Radmacher who was a German heiress and her husband bank Nicolas Granatino who had married in the UK in 1998. The couple signed a prenuptial agreement stating that neither party would benefit financially if the marriage ended. Radmacher understandably wanted to protect her £106m fortune.

For the first time in UK courts prenuptial agreements were recognised as enforceable and Radmacher was successful in relying upon the agreement and protecting her fortune.

There are certain rules you need to follow:
1. You must use a qualified Solicitor to draft the agreement.
2. You will both need to consult independent solicitors
3. You must both understand the agreement and voluntarily agree to it
4. Both the solicitors must confirm that the agreement was entered into freely and knowingly.
5. All assets and property must be fully disclosed by both parties
6. The agreement must be signed at least 21 days before the wedding takes place.

You are probably saying to yourself that Harry and Meghan have substantial assets unlike me why would I need a pre-nup?

Well if it’s a second marriage and you want to ensure that your children are protected or if you have or are likely to inherit assets, maybe you own your own business or the assets you have would be difficult to split 50/50 it may be worth you considering.

Here at RJS Family law we can advise you on your unique circumstances in a free no obligation, no nonsense appointment. Please call on 01952 214085 or 07950 848241.


What to do when your relationship breaks down

Most people have been through the heartbreak of a relationship breaking down at some point in their lives and can remember the pain and how all consuming it becomes. Hopefully this guide can help you take the first few steps in healing and moving on.

Practical Steps


Check that you are claiming all of the benefits that you are entitled to. A check with the government website should tell you what help you can get.
If you need to change a claim from a couple to a single person do it as soon as possible.


Try to sort practical arrangements for the children, remember no matter what the other person has done in most cases they should still be seeing the children regularly. If you are finding it too difficult enlist the services of a mediator to help you.


Remember the children will be worried about the future, they may be scared by arguments, they may be worried about the parent that has left and whether they are going to see them again. It can be a very unsettling and worrying time so be sure to let their schools know so that they can provide some pastoral care to help the children through this difficult time.
Know your housing rights
If you have split up from your spouse or partner and are living together you may have rights to remain in the house. You may be entitled to be re-housed by your local authority.

Council Tax

If one of you leaves the home then contact your council tax department, you may be entitled to some assistance and if you are the only remaining adult in the house then you will be entitled to receive single persons discount.

Child Maintenance

The non-resident parent must contribute to the children’s financial upbringing and if you are unable to agree between you the amount of financial support then make a claim for child maintenance at https://www.cmoptions.org/en/calculator/

Legal Advice

Make an appointment to see a solicitor to gain an understanding of your rights.
At www.rjsfamilylaw.co.uk we offer a free initial appointment in order to take some basic information and give you general advice on your unique situation. We provide you with a full breakdown of costs and we can set up a payment plan to help you.

Emotional Steps

Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Whether you have ended the relationship or you are the one left behind it can be a difficult few months ahead of you. Take time to mourn the loss of a relationship, accept the emotions and try not to bottle up your feelings. Don’t rush into a new relationship straight away, take sometime out and enjoy your new life.

Contact friends/family

Even if you haven’t had much time for friends and family in recent times, now is the perfect time to reach out and ask for help. No doubt they will be pleased that you are back in touch and want to support you. Spend sometime with others, go to the cinema, go shopping, play golf and talk to friends.

New hobby

Have you wanted to try something new, take up a new sport then now is the time. It may feel difficult to start with but once you take those first steps it will give you a new lease of life and a new focus. Something new and different to focus on that does not involve your ex.

Here at RJS Family Law we understand the difficulties and we can guide you through the process. If you want to discuss any of the issues in this article then please contact Rachel McGrath on 07950 848241 or by email on rjs@rjsfamilylaw.co.uk for a free , no nonsense, no obligation, confidential chat.


I am a member of Resolution, the organisation is a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way.
I signed up to the code of practice that says I will:

  • Reduce or manage any conflict and confrontation; for example, by not using inflammatory language.
  • Support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first.
  • Act with honesty, integrity and objectivity.
  • Help clients understand and manage the potential long-term financial and emotional consequences of decisions.
  • Listen to and treat everyone with respect and without judgment.
  • Use my experience and knowledge to guide clients through the options available to them.
  • Continually develop my knowledge and skills.
  • Use the Resolution Guides to Good Practice in my day-to-day work.
  • And I will work with other Resolution members to uphold this Code and ensure it is at the heart of everything I do.

Why choose a Resolution member?
Resolution members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.

This means:

  • Listening to you, being honest with you and treating you with respect.
  • Explaining all the options and giving you confidence to make the right decisions.
  • Helping you focus on what’s important in the long-term.
  • Helping you balance financial and emotional costs with what you want to achieve.
  • Working with others to find the right approach and the best solutions for you.
  • Managing stress in what can be an already stressful situation.

If you have any questions about what this means in reality then please feel free to contact RJS Family Law on rjs@rjsfamilylaw.co.uk or 01952 241085 or 07950 848241

How did I do it?

Any Solicitors out there that are wondering about taking the first step – it wasn’t that difficult – here is how I did it.

1. Business Plan – know what you want to achieve. The business plan should cover the basic information.
a. Name
b. Address
c. The set up – limited company, partnership, sole trader
d. Ownership information
e. Premises
f. Products & services
g. Management of the practice
h. Financial management – COLP, COFA, money laundering etc
i. Marketing plan
j. Competition
k. Strategy and implementation
2. Budgets and Profit and Loss – they don’t need to be over complicated at this stage.
3. Work out your start-up costs and consider funding options
4. Prepare an office manual (although not strictly necessary but I found helpful)
5. Contact an insurance broker for indemnity insurance quote
6. Set up limited company if appropriate
7. Complete the SRA application form and submit with the fee
8. Wait for the SRA to authorise – which in my case took 10 days!

And then the hard work starts!!

RJS Family Law Shropshire

Why I set up my own firm?

Having worked for other firms for many years I have recently taken the plunge and set up RJS Family Law.

Brave? Mad? Crazy? Some of the things I have been called!

So why did I take that step?

The traditional law firm is coming to an end, gone are those days where you would attend a solicitor’s office to be greeted by a man in a suit sitting in an office surrounded by law encyclopaedias (that I guarantee he has never read). The office only open between 9 – 5pm and shut for lunch between 1 – 2pm. You would still leave confused and unsure of the costs but feel as though you had no other option.

The internet has taken over the world, we are a generation of instant gratification, we want instant response to our problems and we certainly don’t want to wait weeks for an appointment.
Here at RJS Family law we aim to make you a convenient appointment as soon as possible, we pride ourselves on giving simple, honest advice and you will leave our office knowing exactly what the costs will be.

I am a single mum to three children, I have been divorced and know how difficult it can be on your emotional health, I hope that I can guide you through the difficult process and you will come out feeling stronger at the end.

RJS Family Law Shropshire