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Family Law

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Our dedicated family lawyers and qualified Family Mediator will help you resolve the practical, financial and legal implications of separation or divorce including children's welfare.

In difficult and often distressing situations our Family Law Team offers pragmatic and objective advice that will be reassuring and comforting.

We can offer specialist advice regarding financial matters, including businesses, pensions, property and maintenance. Specialist but practical advice will be used to assist you in reaching a conclusion that is right for you.Our Family Law Team is proficient, skilled and caring when dealing with children matters. We will advise you about maintenance payments, where children can live, what contact there can be with parents and family, whether Social Services need to be involved and if adoption should be considered.We will advise regarding the best ways of dealing with matters by agreement including mediation and collaborative law. We can also advise in relation to marriage breakdown, civil partnerships and cohabitation disputes.


All family solicitors at Crane & Staples are members of Resolution, which is a group of over 5,500 family lawyers in England and Wales who are committed to resolving family disputes in a constructive and non-confrontational manner.

Click on the headings below to


Following the breakdown of a relationship you will undoubtedly want to consider arrangements for any children involved. Many couples reach agreement about whom the children live with and how often they see the other parent without seeking legal advice.

However, our clear explanation of family law and each person's legal rights can often help parents make these decisions. We can discuss the various options available to you and, if appropriate, refer you to mediation.

In some cases one parent will make an application to the court. As well as orders about residence, courts can make a Specific Issue Order (such as deciding where a child should go to school) or a Prohibited Steps Order (stopping a parent taking a child abroad, for example).

Legal matters relating to families are dealt with in family courts under the Children Act 2004. In England the Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) advises family courts what it considers to be in the best interests of individual children.

Having qualified as solicitor in 1999, Danielle was appointed to the Law Society's specialist Children's Panel in 2004.

Our family law team will guide and support you through every step. We will clearly explain all the legal terms and what they mean to you.


The breakdown of a relationship often means financial issues need to be resolved –including the division of property, assets and other financial assets such as pensions, life policies or investments. We are also experienced in dealing with business interests.

Dealing with finances is a specialist area and Sharon Montgomery is a Resolution accredited specialist in financial matters.

With our help and an explanation of the options available within the law, couples and families are often able to reach fair and reasonable decisions. This can be done by negotiation as well as using the Collaborative process which assists couples in coming to agreement without resorting to court. Sharon Montgomery is a Resolution trained Collaborative lawyer.

If legal proceedings become unavoidable, we will help and advise you to achieve a timely conclusion and the best possible outcome, in the most effective way possible.

We have access to experts to assist us, for example specialist financial advisers for pensions and accountants to advise regarding business valuations.


Although the divorce rate in England and Wales has fallen in recent years around one in three marriages still end in divorce. We understand that concluding your marriage or civil partnership has come to an end is a difficult decision.

At Crane & Staples, we can help you through the legal procedure of divorce or dissolution and at least minimize the pain of the process. Our divorce lawyers can help you and your partner agree on such things as how you'll look after the children and how money, property and possessions will be split.

If you also agree on the reasons for the divorce, the process from filing a divorce petition to the issuing of a decree absolute should take approximately 6 months.


Current rules mean  mean that couples applying to the Court in relation to children or financial matters have to meet with a trained mediator.  For many separating couples this will be a more preferable option as it puts them in control of how they manage arrangements for children, their finances and other assets.

It can also provide a far more cost effective solution as often agreements can be reached in less time than going to court. 

Two of our Family Partners Danielle Peters and Sharon Montgomery are both qualified Family Mediators.

Couples would initially come in to meet Danielle for an initial mediation assessment session to explain more about the process, and decide whether this is the best option. In some cases, particularly those where domestic abuse has happened, mediation may not be suitable. 

For more information please visit our mediation section. 

Collaborative Law

Traditionally, separating couples take independent advice from their own Family lawyers. They negotiate the division of assets through the solicitors. If this fails, they resort to the Court. The alternative is the collaborative process where you and your former partner sit down together and with the help of your own solicitors work out your own solutions face to face.

It is important to know that not all cases are suitable for the collaborative process. You must wish to participate in it, understand how important it is to be honest about your assets and use solicitors who are trained to work in a collaborative way. In order to enter the collaborative process you must agree not to go to Court.

If you are interested in working collaboratively with your former partner to reach a solution contact Sharon Montgomery on 01707 329333.

Children - disputes with social services

Sometimes if the social services department of your local authority becomes concerned that your child (or children), is not being cared for, or is out of control it may think about asking a court if your child should be taken into care.

You should receive a 'letter before proceedings' from your local authority explaining why they have concerns about your child and inviting you to a meeting to talk about the way you look after them. If you do not follow the instructions in this letter, you may have to go to court and your child could be taken into care.

The recommendation of the Ministry of Justice is that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity and we concur with this. Danielle Peters is on the Law Society’s Childrens Panel and specialises in this area. Danielle can help you liaise with the local authority and, if necessary, advise and support you through court proceedings.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse means threats, violence or abuse between people who have a relationship with each other or who have had a relationship in the past. Often it starts gradually, perhaps by controlling behaviour, name-calling or threats. It usually gets worse.

It is a crime for anyone to attack you, whether or not they are a partner or family member, and the Family Law Act 1996 is there to help protect you. If you find yourself in this situation, you can make an application to the court for a Non-Molestation Order to prevent your partner from assaulting, pestering, molesting or threatening you or your children. 

In some circumstances you can also apply for an Occupation Order which could remove your partner from your home and prevent him or her from returning.

The step to breaking the cycle of domestic violence is to tell someone and not suffer in silence. Please make an appointment to see one of our Family Law solicitors who will handle your case with the utmost sensitivity. They can also refer you to other support agencies and will advise whether you are eligible to receive legal aid.

Legal Aid

We have a franchise with the Legal Services Commission, which runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales. We may be able to offer you free advice, subject to your being eligible for legal aid.

Please visit or contact the Family Department and one of the secretaries will establish if you are likely to qualify for legal aid.

Thank you so much for all your kindness and wisdom over the last 2 years. You really did help to make a most painful and difficult situation bearable. 

For more information on any of these areas, or on our governing bodies, please click the links on the right of the page. You’ll also find a series of useful fact sheets.

If you have any specific queries or would like to make an appointment with our family department, please call on 01707 329333 or email

Department Contacts

The following members of the C&S team specialise in this area of law. To find out more about them simply click on their name.

Department contact details

Direct dial 01707 387073 or email

Secretarial Support

  • Marlene Levin
  • Gill Harding
  • Resolution Specialist logo
  • The Law Society Accredited Children Law logo
Forms & Factsheets
Lexcel Law Society Accreditation logo.

Crane & Staples Solicitors
Longcroft House, Fretherne Road, Welwyn Garden City,
Hertfordshire AL8 6TU

Tel: 01707 329333

Fax: 01707 331194


DX: 30051 Welwyn Garden City

Family Law