Family Law

We are the leading firm in Essex for child representation. Our award-winning Family Law Team here at Jefferies are experts in the sensitive topics and matters that surround Family Law.

Family Law in Essex

Our Family Law Department in Southend, Essex, comprises a strong, driven, and highly qualified team, all of whom have a wealth of experience across all aspects of family work; including:

  • Care proceedings
  • Private children matters
  • Domestic violence
  • Divorce & separation
  • Financial matters


Independently appointed as experts in child cases brought forward by the Court/CAFCASS, Jefferies are assigned to ensure children’s welfare issues, and their voices, are the focus in proceedings; representing children in family cases, but also complex cases involving children who have become lost in disputes between their parents.

Uniquely placed as Solicitor Court Advocates, we deal with each part of a case including all Court hearings whether contested or case management. Because of this, we are able to offer a complete, seamless service to our clients and demonstrate a better service than that available from the bar.

The Solicitors in the Family Law Team here at Jefferies all hold accreditations with the Law Society including the Children Panel and the Advanced Family Panel. These accreditations involve a rigorous application process to assess the breadth and depth of experience. Candidates have to meet a very high standard of expertise to receive such accreditation.

Specialising in divorce, separation, and financial issues, our experience extends to a wide range of family issues including pre-marital agreements, child abduction, and cohabitation agreements for couples who live together but are not married.

Family Law FAQs
For more information read our top frequently asked questions.

Meet Our Family Law Team

Our Family Law experts are here to help you through the hardest of times.  

Jefferies Law Southend Brooke Rodrup-Kilgour

Brooke Robdrup-Kilgour

Jefferies Law Southend Anne-Marie Rainsford

Anne-Marie Rainsford

Jefferies Law Southend Shannon Tomkins

Shannon Tomkins

Jefferies Law Southend Sian Jenkins

Sian Jenkins

Mohammad Divorce Lawyer Essex

Mohammad Yahya Mahboob

Sydney Window Family Solicitor Essex

Sydney Window

Olivia Hall Headshot

Olivia Hall

For expert advice with a personal touch, call

Family Law FAQs

  • How long do you have to be separated before you can get divorced?

    There is no time limit, as such. If you want to be divorced in a co-operative way, you can divorce after you have been separated for a minimum of 2 years and both of you agree to a divorce. However, that may not suit you if there are financial matters to be resolved and you might need to start divorce proceedings earlier.

    If you do, you can divorce based on the other person adultery or unreasonable behaviour. You would need some legal advice, tailored to your situation, about whether you could do that. If you have been separated at least 5 years, you can ask for a divorce whether or not the other party agrees. There is also a more technical basis for divorce called ‘desertion’ This is rarely used and cannot be used if you separated by consent.

  • Can I refuse to get a divorce?

    If you are the person receiving the divorce proceedings, there will be a form in the pack of papers that you get from the court for you to complete and state whether you oppose the divorce. You have to return this form to the court within 7 days. If you oppose the divorce, then you have a further 21 days to file your formal court papers and pay the court fee to oppose or ‘defend’ the divorce.

    Most people do not defend a divorce because they accept that the marriage is over, just not for the reason given or for all of the reasons given. However, since behaviour and the reason for the divorce is rarely relevant to sorting out the finances, then most people will say they do not defend the divorce but they do not agree with all that is said and leave it at that.

    There are some circumstances where you can refuse to co-operate with a divorce but you would need to get some legal advice, tailored to your situation, about whether you could do that.

  • What are my rights in a divorce?

    This question usually really means ‘what are my financial rights?’ Technically, the ‘rights’ in a divorce is to receive the divorce papers and to be involved in the court process. However, getting divorced and end the legal relationship is usually only one side of the coin. The flip side, and usually the side with more practical impact, is sorting out the finances. For that you need some legal advice, tailored to your situation, about what would happen to your financial assets.

    There is no ‘one size fits all’. Our law is flexible, discretionary and above all, aimed to address financial needs in terms of the legal meaning of ‘needs’.

  • Social services are taking me to Court about my child – what can happen?

    Families often feel anxious at the prospect of social services’ involvement because of experiences they may have heard from others, or just because they are frightened that social workers will remove their children from the family home.

    These fears are natural but a child will only be removed if there is very clear evidence that they are at risk of significant harm, and there is a court order in place too. If they consider that your child is in immediate danger, the police can take a child into ‘police protection’, but they must return your child to your care within the next 48 hours unless the court makes an Emergency Protection Order (EPO).

  • I have been accused by Social Services of injuring my child and they are going to Court – what can I do?

    You may be being investigated or prosecuted for offences associated with child abuse. Whether you are accused rightly or wrongly, it’s very important for you to get legal advice. You might get legal aid.

  • If the local authority is involved

    If the local authority child protection team is already involved with your child, you need to remember that their aim is to do what is in the child’s best interests. If you want this, there’s a very good chance you can work with the social workers to protect the child. There will be very serious consequences for both the child and yourself if the abuse continues. If the local authority child protection team is involved, it’s very important for you to get legal advice from a specialist solicitor.

  • Can you get a prenuptial agreement after you get married?

    Yes but these are called post nuptial agreements. They are doing the same job as a prenupital agreement but agreed after the marriage and at any time after the marriage.

  • Are prenuptial agreements legally binding?

    Prenuptial agreements are not currently legally binding in England. However, a Judge is likely to take a prenuptial agreement into account when overseeing a case and is likely to uphold it, if certain safeguards have been met. Recent cases show that prenuptial agreements are being upheld in many instances.

  • My child was adopted in another country. Will the adoption be automatically recognised in this country?

    Yes, if the child has been adopted in a country which is either a contracting state to the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation with respect of Intercountry Adoption (and the adoption followed its requirements) or listed in the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973.

  • How can I find out about the process of adopting a child from abroad?

    If you want to adopt a child from overseas, you should contact either:

    The adoption process is like a UK adoption and will be done by a UK adoption agency that may charge a fee.

    There are several other steps, e.g.:

    • the assessment will be sent to the overseas adoption authority
    • you’ll need to visit the child in their own country
    • your application will be sent to the child’s country

    The UK adoption agency will let you know what you need to do.

    We recommend that you read more here for more detailed information.

  • How do you get adoption papers?

    An adoption Certificate and/or Order is issued at this hearing; the certificate will list the stepparent as the legal parent of the child and the child’s new name if theadoption petition requested a name change. You may wish to request extra copies of this legal document for your files.

  • What is a living together agreement?

    A Living Together Agreement or a Cohabitation Agreement is a form of legal agreement reached between a couple who have chosen to live together as a couple. Because our matrimonial law does not apply to those unmarried couples, the unmarried couple can use the Living Together Agreement to set out what should happen with their property and money should anything go wrong and they decide to separate. Having the difficult discussions now can save a lot of heartache later. These agreements are bespoke and tailormade for your individual situation and needs, so we consider carefully what you want to achieve.

  • What do Family Law Solicitors deal with?

    Family Law Solicitors generally deal with two main areas; matrimonial, divorce, and finance; and children matters.

    Matrimonial, divorce, and finance:
    This area covers separation, annulment, divorce, and how property and finances are divided. We also advise clients about alternative dispute methods (e.g. arbitration to avoid court) and schedule One Children Act applications.

    Children matters:
    We represent children, parents, grandparents, and other family members when adults can’t agree on the best arrangements for the children.
    We represent these parties in care proceedings and provide advice about the involvement of social care.

  • How do I find a good Family Lawyer?

    Look for someone with accreditations such as children accreditations, resolution, and family panel.

    Children Law Accreditation and Family Law Panel are Law Society accreditations only awarded after rigorous scrutiny of the Solicitor’s ability and expertise. Children Law Accreditation also requires a 3-day course, a lengthy application, and an interview, it is notoriously difficult to get on this panel.

  • How much does a Family Lawyer cost?

    The price for a Family Lawyer can vary.
    Here at Jefferies, we have a fixed fee of £250 including VAT and a smart search fee*. This is up to 1-hour diagnostic appointment and includes a letter of advice.

    *Prices correct as of 05|07|2023.

  • Should I take a Solicitor to family court?

    Yes, family proceedings are hugely important, and whilst it’s possible for you to represent yourself in court, it is beneficial to have legal representation with relevant expertise.

  • Who can represent me in family court?

    Solicitors and Barristers can represent you in court.

  • What is Cafcass’ role in childcare and welfare?

    In most private law proceedings where an s.7 report is ordered, an officer from Cafcass (a Family Court Adviser) will visit the family and prepare a report containing recommendations as to what decision the Court should make.
    The professional background of an FCA is usually social work.

    In some cases where the Judge is extremely worried that the child’s voice is being lost in proceedings, the Court will make the child ‘party’ to the case, and an officer from Cafcass is appointed as the child’s guardian (a Guardian ad litem) who instructs a solicitor on behalf of the child.

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