• Putting your family first
    whatever happens

Family Services

We are Family Solicitors Southend, Benfleet and Billericay based, serving Essex within reach...

When the situation at home becomes intolerable, it's essential to protect the ones you love - the real innocents - through high-quality legal advice. This will help you make the best decisions for all your family.

Getting you through it all, effectively and quickly.
The Family Lawyers at Paul Robinson Solicitors are an approachable, sympathetic and tireless team of experts who will take the time to really listen, identify your priorities and understand your expectations. Wherever we can - and wherever appropriate - the family team endeavour to keep matters out of the Courts, and resolve the situation and reach settlements that cause as little pain and upset as possible to all involved. The team is recognised in the Legal 500 as one of the leading family law departments in Essex.

Resourcefulness, creativity and determination on your side.
We understand just how difficult break-ups can be. The Paul Robinson Family Team prides itself on reaching pragmatic, lasting agreements forged out of the emotional turmoil that surround relationship breakdowns.  Paul Robinson Solicitors are members of Resolution which is committed to constructive and non-confrontational resolutions to family disputes.

It needn't be Hellish. We can help.
The sooner started the sooner mended. Don't wait until it's critical. Paul Robinson Solicitors offer an initial meeting of up to one hour for a fixed fee of £100 plus VAT, where you can begin to find the best way forward to a better future for everyone. 

When Court proceedings cannot be avoided.
Occasionally agreements cannot be reached and the courts unavoidably become involved. Whether you are making a court application or you are a respondent having received court papers, our team of experienced advocates will represent you with a robust approach, securing early, high quality outcomes for you and your children.

Divorce

Are you considering divorce or separation? If you would like to discuss your matter, please contact one of our specialist Family Team for confidential advice that you can trust.

The breakdown of a marriage or a civil partnership can be a very stressful time for all involved, including children, but we can provide the expert knowledge and professional support to assist you throughout the divorce process.

You may have many questions to ask:

  • How soon can a divorce petition be issued?
  • What grounds are available?
  • What are the costs involved?
  • What is judicial separation?
  • When is an annulment appropriate?
  • Will you have to attend Court?
  • How long does the process take?

So many questions, but the Family Team at Paul Robinson Solicitors have the answers.

The procedure starts with a divorce petition and ends with Decree Absolute, which dissolves the marriage. In most cases other issues arise as a result of the divorce, such as sorting out the finances of the marriage and these will need to be resolved before the divorce is finalised.

Financial claims continue against each other despite the granting of Decree Absolute and the Decree Absolute affects any inheritance left to a spouse in a will. Obtaining legal advice when considering a divorce is a must and our combination of experience, detailed legal knowledge, and the latest IT and technical support, will ensure that you receive the very best client care, support and service.

Financial Matters Associated with Divorce

Have you wondered what would happen in relation to the assets of the marriage if you were to divorce your spouse? For instance, what would happen to the family home, would you be able to stay living there or would it have to be sold and if so, how will the proceeds be divided and how would other savings, investments and pensions be taken into consideration? It is important that you obtain legal advice when life changing decisions are to be made and at the earliest opportunity.

There are a number of factors that will be relevant to the division of your assets, including your age, how long you have been married, your financial resources and those of your spouse, your earning potential, standard of living and needs. The needs of any dependent children will be the first consideration, to ensure that they are securely housed and with their resident parent having the resources to adequately provide for them.

The ambition is to achieve a division of the assets that it is fair to both spouses, but there can be creative solutions particularly in meeting needs. Our expert advice will also consider the nature of the assets and whether they should be subject to division, depending on when they were accumulated and how they were used within the marriage.

Our specialist team can advise you on all aspects of the financial process, providing clear and relevant advice that will enable you to negotiate with your spouse in confidence, to secure the best outcome. If you have reached an agreement with your spouse then we will guide you in ensuring that the agreement is formalised as part of your divorce, with a consent order approved by the Family Court.

If the financial issues are not agreed then we do support forms of dispute resolution, including mediation. We will consider what resources are available to try and resolve your dispute amicably, supporting you through the chosen process.

Ultimately, if the financial issues cannot be agreed and Court proceedings are necessary, our experienced family team can guide you every step of the way to ensure that the best settlement possible can be achieved for you.

Whether your assets are modest or considerable, our matrimonial team has the experience and expertise to assist you.

Unmarried Couples and Cohabitants

Many couples choose to live together without getting married. Despite commonly held misconceptions, there is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife and this can lead to all sorts of issues when a relationship breaks down as the law only offers limited protection for cohabitants.

Disputes often arise regarding ownership of the assets, particularly the family home and the outcome is predominantly focused on what financial contributions each party made throughout the relationship and not on an equitable split of the assets accumulated during that time. It is therefore important that you get the right legal advice about your rights and responsibilities and we are committed to offering that service whatever stage your relationship is at.

Recent case law and the uncertainty involved in this outdated area of law demonstrate how important it is for unmarried couples and cohabitants to protect their interests by documenting the terms of asset division in the event of separation. This is known as a Cohabitation Agreement.

Whilst the Cohabitation Agreement can be as detailed as you require, it will typically address ownership of property, how much each partner will contribute whilst living together and how the assets should be divided if the relationship comes to an end.

In the absence of a Cohabitation Agreement and where there is a dispute regarding the division of assets, we can offer you clear and effective legal advice, saving you time, stress and money.

Our family department has a wealth of experience in representing cohabitants and we can assist you from the outset of the negotiations, to arranging Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Mediation and providing representation at Court, where an agreement cannot be reached and it is necessary to apply to the Court for determination.

Domestic Violence and Abuse

The Government has recognised that domestic violence can extend beyond acts of physical violence and include emotional or other psychological abuse, harassment or controlling behaviour. As practitioners, we are skilled to advise you on the remedies that are available to you, guiding you through them cost efficiently. We are also experienced in pursuing formal applications, particularly where there is an on-going risk of harm and use careful judgement to advise on circumstances when the Court’s emergency powers can be invoked.

We work closely with other organisations including the Police and service agents, so that we can secure the best outcomes and - when required - on an urgent basis.

If you have experienced domestic violence or are at risk of harm, then contact us for urgent advice as soon as possible. We recognise the harmful impact that domestic violence – in whatever form – has on its victims. We will prioritise meeting with you urgently and at any of our offices so that we are able to advise you and if instructed, to secure the necessary protective measures as soon as possible.

We can also offer advice and support if you have been accused of domestic violence and proceedings have been issued against you. Where appropriate, we will work in unison with our criminal department, to ensure that you receive the best representation whether proceedings continue in the Family or Criminal Court and where appropriate, to advise on the impact of those allegations and the resolution of them on arrangements with your children.

Child Arrangement Orders

Separation can be a difficult time and particularly for any children. Parents must still be able to make appropriate arrangements for their children, whether it is in respect of where they will live (including dispute as to which Country they will live in), when and how they will spend time with each of their parents, the child’s education and other such important considerations. Where parents are not able to resolve such matters between them, we offer clear advice on the way forward.

We encourage an amicable resolution whether in taking forward proposals with one of the parents, in helping to formulate a parenting plan or in supporting forms of dispute resolution, including mediation. However, where it is not possible for all arrangements to be amicably agreed, we have specialist knowledge and experience to pursue the best outcome through a formal application to the Family Court.

A Court application is for Child Arrangements Orders. These replaced the old style of “Residence” and “Contact” Orders (formerly known as “Custody” and “Access” Orders) and focus on where the child will live and when they will spend time with each of their parents.

The law does promote both parents having an important role to play in a child’s future life, irrespective of who left the relationship, or how the parent personally may feel about their former partner. The emphasis is very much the child, with their best interests being the Court’s paramount consideration. Unless there is a very good reason for the child not to spend time with one of the parents, ie. that the child will be at risk of significant harm from that parent, then the Court is to presume that involvement of that parent in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare.

In the event you are currently facing difficulties with regard to the arrangements for your child(ren) then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist children department for child focused, sound advice for the best outcome for you and your child(ren).

Children Proceedings - Representation at Court

Representation within Children Proceedings

The Government has now abolished legal aid for children cases, except in certain circumstances:-
•The case involves allegations of domestic abuse – supported by specific documentary evidence.
•The case involves allegations of child abuse.
•The Local Authority has issued proceedings to take children into Care or for a Supervision Order.

As a result, many people facing legal proceedings in relation to arrangements for children are now faced with the prospect of either instructing Solicitors on a private fee paying basis, or are facing the dilemma of having to represent themselves, which can be very challenging, particularly at such an emotional time.

Some people may feel confident to conduct the case themselves, drafting their own court application and court documents and engaging in correspondence with the other person, or their Solicitors.  However, it often proves very daunting to actually have to attend Court alone, especially when the other person has legal representation.

This is where we can help.

We can offer you an Advocacy service which will include:-
• A fixed fee one hour consultation with you before the date of the Court hearing, to discuss matters with you and to look at your documentation.
• We will attend Court with you and represent you at the hearing, as your Advocate.
• We will also provide you with a written letter explaining the outcome of the hearing and what steps you will subsequently need to take.
• We will discuss the fee with you prior to the hearing, which will depend on the length of the hearing, and where this is likely to take place. You will know in advance what the cost will be.

Within our team we have our specialist children lawyer, who is a member of the Law Society Children Panel, has been employed by this firm for 17 years and has wide-ranging experience in dealing with all aspects of child related proceedings.  Her knowledge of Children Law is exceptional, as are her skills in negotiation and advocacy, (having historically dealt with extremely complex cases, which have regularly included final contested hearings).

Our Team are here to support you, providing sound and solid advice, and we will utilise our wide ranging skills and experience to the very best of our ability, to ensure the most successful outcome for you, whilst remaining child focused throughout.

Special Guardianship Orders

For a great number of different reasons, people who are not the biological parents of the child(ren) can find themselves in circumstances where they are caring for a child(ren) on a full time basis.

Such situations may be very stressful or uncertain, and knowing what to do for the best is not always easy.

Special Guardianship Orders are made when a child is placed with someone other than the biological parent, on a permanent basis. Such an Order provides the child with security and a sense of belonging, and the Special Guardian obtains a higher level of Parental Responsibility than the parents. This means that the Special Guardian can have control of the key decisions affecting the child, as well as having responsibility over the day to day issues that the child faces.

In this way the Special Guardian’s views and any decisions made by them in respect of the child for the most part will take priority over what the parents may wish to happen for the child.

Special Guardians will retain Parental Responsibility for any child that the Order has granted until that child is 18 years of age.

Quite often, grandparents, or extended family, fall into this category for any number of reasons.

Our team have successfully represented many applicants in securing a Special Guardianship Order. We can advise you on all of the steps required from starting the application to securing a final Order. Do contact our Children Department if you require further advice.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

If you are thinking of getting married and you are concerned about the affect this may have on your financial position then you should give serious consideration to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement - it is an easy and straight forward way of getting the peace of mind you need.

A pre-nuptial agreement is a legal agreement made between two individuals before their marriage has been celebrated. The agreement sets out how the couple will divide their assets if they later divorce.

A well drafted Pre-Nuptial Agreement can set out exactly what is to be kept separate and what is to be shared. It can deal with all of your assets or address a selected few. The aim is to avoid confusion or disagreement in the future, so that you can both enter into the marriage feeling safe and secure knowing that if things do not work out there is no uncertainty or potential conflict ahead, which there can be with divorce proceedings.

The court’s approach to Pre-Nuptial Agreements is that they should be upheld as long as certain conditions have been satisfied. This is a great step forward and makes Pre-Nuptial Agreements an essential document for any couple wishing to set out how their assets should be divided in the unfortunate event that the marriage does not work out.

Our team of specialists are experienced in the preparation of Pre-Nuptial Agreements. We can advise on the legal requirements to ensure that once prepared, couples are able to look to the future with confidence that the Pre-Nuptial Agreement will be recognised and upheld by the court. This provides far more certainty than has ever existed in the past and it is something all couples should consider before their marriage, no matter how modest or considerable their asset base is.

If you require any further information about the Pre-Nuptial Agreements then please do not hesitate to contact our matrimonial team.

Get in touch today

Our family service specialists are happy to advise.
Call us on 01702 338338 (Westcliff Office) or 01277 500123 (Billericay Office).

Lorraine George
Family Law Executive
Lauren Larkin
Associate
Annette Lowen
Annette Lowen
Legal Executive - Children Panel Member
Melanie Steeples
Senior Associate
Chris Wall
Chris Wall
Partner

professional approach and attention

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Thank you so very much for your totally professional assistance and help to reach the final agreement. I have very much appreciated your clear advice and prompt replies to any of my concerns or questions. It hasn't been easy to sort through the Separation, but at least your professional approach and attention to my specific issues and concerns has made it more bearable for me personally, and has made the final agreement possible.
Mr S
Paris
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Thanks again for your help with everything

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Thanks again for your help with everything you have made this whole process so much more bearable for me I can't thank you enough.
LM
Essex
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patience and understanding

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I can't tell you how much I have appreciated your patience and understanding in this matter and, should the need arise in the future, you will definitely be first person I come to for advice.
Ms TS
Essex
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valuable advice and help

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Hi Melanie I am absolutely delighted as well as shocked and amazed. It is a great outcome and I must thank you for all your valuable advice and help. I'm truly grateful. It hasn't quite sunk in to be honest! Many thanks again for all your hard work and helping me resolve this matter.
Miss W
Chelmsford
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I couldn’t have done it without you

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Annette Thank you so much in being my legal representative. I couldn’t have done it without you and our whole family are very grateful.
SF
Thorpe Bay
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how fantastic

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Hello Annette I just wanted to let you know that I have just spoken to T. L. about the outcome of his court hearing, and he told me how fantastic you have been all the way through his case, right from the beginning when you gave him free advice at the end of last year. It’s so useful for us to get this feedback as we had initially passed your details on to T as Paul Robinson are on Lawyers’ List. I thought you might like to hear it too! Best wishes,
Grandparents Plus organisation
Norfolk
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A successful outcome for us

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Words really can't express what it means to the boys and I and our future, and how deeply grateful I am to you for all your support, expertise and for achieving such a successful outcome for us.
Ms W
Westcliff
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I felt at ease with you during such a difficult time

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Annette, thankyou so very much for all of your help in getting my children to live with me. You stepped in quite last minute and I felt at ease with you during such a difficult time. You truly are a star. Many Thanks
Miss LB
Essex
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I would be only too welcome to recommend him to all my clients and friends.

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Thank Chris for me as I am so very pleased with the outcome of my son Johnathons case I would be only too welcome to recommend him to all my clients and friends.
Janet Harris
Accountant
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Annette will go that extra mile to help

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Annette Lowen was like a breath of fresh air during a very difficult and emotional time. It was such a relief and weight off my shoulders to find her. You always feel confident that she has fully listened to you and understood what you are thinking and feeling. Her ability to document and subsequently recall the required detail, both quickly and accurately, is second to none.  I once likened her to a nuclear bomb! Overall, I have always found, and appreciated the fact, that Annette will go that extra mile to help.
Mr D
Leigh on Sea
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Professional and Diligent

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Annette Lowen represented my family case with the highest respect and integrity. Working alongside myself to reach the best possible long term goal. Extremely diligent and professional with much compassion. I highly recommend her expertise.
Lisa A
Essex
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Not just a Solicitor

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Annette I just wanted to personally thank you...as you know I was an emotional mess when I first came to you. You've not just been a legal representative, you've given me some great advice and helped me be a better mum.
Miss S
Essex
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Highly recommended

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I appreciate your professionalism and kindness, and would truly recommend you to family and friends if they ever needed your services. Many Thanks!
Miss H
Southend on Sea
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Excellent service

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I am delighted with the outcome of my case and I would not hesitate to use you again. Professional, reliable, knowledgeable and excellent communications.
C. Howell
Grays
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Timely & vital advice

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Thank you for all the work you and your staff in the office have done and the support… you have always been very professional, prompt and efficient in dealing with and explaining any request I had. Your patience and tenacity helped keep this out of court at a time when it seemed to be heading in that direction.
D. Eagle
Accountant, Middx
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Understood perfectly

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Annette Lowen represented my family case with the highest respect and integrity. Working alongside myself to reach the best possible long term goal. Extremely diligent and professional with much compassion.  I highly recommend her expertise.
Client
Southend on sea
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Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP. Highly professional and going the extra mile.

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