Alternative Family Law

Due to Andrea Woelke’s retirement as a family solicitor Alternative Family Law has now closed as a law firm and continues as a legal information website only.

Fertility Law

Fertility law in England & Wales is almost all made by Acts of Parliament. It is not always logical for the lay person. On our website you find free information about who the legal parents are of a child who has been conceived other than through sexual intercourse, whether in a clinic here or abroad, or at home, which is not uncommon when lesbian couples co-parent with a gay friend or ask a friend for a private sperm donation. The most important point is to distinguish between who the legal parents of the child are on the one hand and who has parental responsibility on the other hand. You can also find detailed information about surrogacy including international surrogacy and the process of applying for a parental order, which we can help you with.

Alternative Ways to Resolve Family Conflicts

While some cases can only be settled through litigation through the courts, such as applications for permission to relocate abroad with a child or some financial claims between unmarried cohabitants, it is usually best for everyone involved, especially children, if the parties can resolve matters without having to go to court. The best way to do this is mediation. Here a neutral mediator meets with both parties and guides them through the process. It is structured but adapts to the needs of the couple. Because everything gets dealt with in meetings, this is the cheapest process of all. You may still need solicitors after the mediation to draft a financial consent order for you and deal with the divorce papers. Of course you can also have a solicitor alongside the mediation to advise you on your position or help you with the paperwork. Another way is collaborative law. Here both parties have a solicitor who has had extra training as a collaborative lawyer. Matters are then resolved in meetings between all four: the two parties and their lawyers. Of course, here you already pay for two lawyers rather than one mediator for each meeting. There will also be meetings or telephone calls between the lawyers to prepare each meeting and equally consultation between each party and their lawyer. This makes it a lot more expensive than mediation. It is in our view the best way, however, to work out pre-nuptial agreements and it is the only way we now draft prenuptial agreements.

International Family Law

International family law cases can be quite tricky for a lay person or lawyers who are not experienced in this area and can have far reaching consequences, especially when it comes to financial outcomes. If a divorce can be started in more than one EU Country, wherever it is started first, that is where it will remain. Even prenuptial agreements made in other countries and which are binding there, may not be followed by the English courts. On the other hand, courts in other countries may never take into account inherited assets, or maintenance may be very limited. If the divorce happens in one country and there is a property in another, it may be difficult to enforce a sale. For lesbians & gay men the way their relationship is regarded in other countries may not be the same as in England & Wales. They should consider the international aspects of their civil partnership or marriage. When parents want to move children abroad, they usually need the permission of the other parent or the court. If they move a child abroad without this, the child may be returned under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.