sandra phillips larcomes solicitorsFamily law frequently asked questions 

At Larcomes we have considerable experience in all areas of family law, separation and divorce, child matters and matrimonial finances. We speak to Sandra Phillips, head of our Family Law department who is also a qualified family mediator and a member of Resolution.

What is Family Mediation?

Family Mediation is what we call alternative dispute resolution and is a process whereby the parties sit with an impartial third party (the mediator) to discuss issues arising out of their separation.

Mediation is a cost-effective way of dealing with issues arising out of separation. The Solicitors will remain in the background to provide advice and assistance at all times.

What is Collaborative Law? 

Collaborative law is a method of alternative dispute resolution. The parties agree in advance not to refer the matter to the court and they sign an agreement to that effect. The process will involve the parties and their collaboratively trained solicitors.

How to I apply for residence or contact with my child?

The terminology residence and contact has now been replaced with the terminology Child Arrangement Order (live with) and Child Arrangement Order (spend time with).

Prior to making such an application, the applicant first has to attend Mediation unless an exemption applies. If Mediation is unsuccessful then the Mediator will provide the party with a Form called a C100. This is the Application form. The Application is then lodged with the Court with the appropriate fee of £215 (if a party is on benefit or low income, they can apply for Help with fees).

The Court will process the Application and a hearing date will be issued.

Does there have to be a court order regarding the Children?

The short answer is no. Under the Children Act 1989, there is a No Order principle, and the Court would much prefer that parents come to their own agreement about the arrangements for their children rather than the Court imposing orders on parties.

What are the normal arrangements for contact?

There are no “normal” arrangements for contact as such. Every case is different, and each case will be considered on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child.

Does the Court’s always favour the mother in contact disputes?

No – the Court’s paramount concern is the welfare of the child and the Court will make orders which they consider to be in the best interest of the child. It is the child’s right to have a meaningful and safe relationship with each parent.

Do I need advice from a specialist lawyer?

It is always best to seek advice from a Solicitor who specialises in the area of the dispute. Most Solicitors offer a free half-hour meeting to discuss your matter.

A few questions about you

  1. How long have you worked at Larcomes?

I joined Larcomes in 1999, over 20 years ago!

  1. What do you like most about working in family law? 

I like helping people who are going through one of the most challenging and difficult periods of their lives.  I believe I have great empathy skills.  This is a difficult question to answer though to be honest, because it is such a hard time for people going through a relationship breakdown.

  1. Why did you decide to work in the legal industry?

Since the age of 17 I have worked in Solicitor’s offices in different areas of the law and I was encouraged by a Family Solicitor to train and qualify as a Legal Executive.

  1. What was your favourite subject at school?

My favourite subject at school was French.

  1. Where is one of your favourite places to visit?

My happy place is Cornwall because I don’t have to get on a plane or a boat!!

If you would like to discuss a family law matter with one of our specialist family law team, you can contact us on 023 9244 8100 or make an online enquiry

Expert Family Law Solicitors

Regardless of the complexity of your family law matter or dispute, our specialist family solicitors in Portsmouth and Waterlooville, have the knowledge and expertise to help.

Remember you can talk to us in complete confidence and gain reassurance from speaking to someone who understands your situation.

Please note that this article is not intended as legal or professional advice. This is a general news article only and updates to the law may have changed since it was published