On your own at Christmas for the first time and trying to work out who has the kids and when? In the second of our 2023 blogs on Christmas child arrangements, Managing Director Rita Gupta explains how successful co-parenting involves planning in advance, to help you and your family enjoy the Christmas holidays with less stress and more certainty.

For newly single parents who have divorced or separated during 2023, their first Christmas as a family apart will be a whole new experience. In additional to the emotional upset many will feel, no UK family will be immune to the continued pressure of the cost-of-living crises either. It can all add up to a lot of uncertainty and pressure at a time when a newly separated family really need some stability and reassurance.

Making child arrangements isn’t just about Christmas Day itself. Child arrangements need to be made across the whole of the holiday period and include an agreement over which parent your children will spend each day of their holiday with. Making practical plans now is important so all the family know what is happening when, and at which location.


What are child arrangements?

Whether you are newly divorced or separated, you need to work out between you a timetable of who will look after the children, when and where. Unlike a Child Arrangement Order from a court, a child arrangement letter clarifies arrangements for a specific time period, such as the Christmas school holiday period. The aim is that both parents agree on arrangements in advance, so everyone can plan accordingly including:

  • Grandparents
  • Close and extended family
  • Friends
  • Your employers

Reaching such an agreement can be a lot harder work that it sounds, especially if you are not on good terms with your ex-partner. Making Christmas child arrangements can often involve endless phone calls, text messages, and email ping pong. This communication overload can be emotionally draining and with so many different messaging formats, lead to potential misunderstanding. This is why a child arrangement letter is so important whether you get on well with your ex-partner or not.


Why create a Christmas child arrangement letter

A Christmas child arrangement letter simply sets down in writing what the arrangements are for the entire holiday period. Created with the help of a family lawyer such as ourselves, this letter simply lays out the details so you both know what’s happening when and where. Both of you can then agree to it, and sign it, saving time and stress.


Need a child arrangement letter for Christmas 2023?

Contact us soonest so we can have this in place in time for the end of term.

Call us, Email us or book an appointment.


School holidays child arrangements and your family

The 2024 Christmas school holidays always include the weekday Bank Holidays in between Christmas and New Year, plus New Year’s Day. For the autumn term 2023, the local authorities near our family law firm here in Reading - Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey - have set two different end of term dates:

  • Hampshire schools: Friday 15th December 2023
  • Surrey schools: Friday 15th December 2023
  • Berkshire schools : Wednesday 20th December 2023
  • Private schools: week starting Monday 11th December 2023

If your child attends a private school, make sure your arrangements cover the entire holiday period, and ask now for support from grandparents and others if required. Both sets of grandparents may welcome the chance to have the children, but the more notice you can give them, the better.


Taking the children abroad for Christmas 2023 and New Year 2024

If you want to take your children abroad during the school Christmas holidays, whether for a holiday or to visit relatives, you will usually need the permission of all those with co-parenting responsibilities. See our first blog in this series “Santa, sunshine and skiing” for more details.

What separated parents are concerned about at Christmas

Most newly-single parents share three main concerns:

    1. Who will the children spend Christmas Day with?
    2. How much can I afford to spend on Christmas?
    3. I really want to be there when the kids open their presents

As a separated parent, it’s important to take time to consider what you feel about all these three concerns and which are your priorities.


1. Who gets the kids? Christmas Day arrangements

Most resident parents want their children to spend Christmas Day at their home - and the absent parent wants exactly the same thing too. As a recently-separated parent, you may be considering two different options:

    • Alternating who has the children on the day itself, such as one year with their resident parent, the next year with their absent parent.


    • Sharing the day, each having the children for half the day.

Whilst for some, sharing the day works out just fine, for other recently separated couple the ‘this year, next year’ option can prove to be the better of the two. Many recently-separated parents simply do not want to see their ex-partner on Christmas Day itself, as it can raise so many unwanted emotions. Equally, your children may not want to leave one parent halfway through the celebrations (or lunch) to head off to the other parent, with the emotional wrench that might involve.

There is also the major consideration of time spent travelling - and the cost too. No child really wants to spend hours in the car on Christmas Day travelling miles from one house to another when they could be playing with their presents. Apart from the unknowns of traffic, weather conditions and a possibly stressed-out parent at the wheel, there is also the cost. With the current price of fuel, a Christmas Day dash could cost considerably more than just time. There is also the thorny issue of which parent will make the journey and therefore cannot have a glass of wine or a beer with their Christmas lunch.

2. Can I afford Christmas?

Many parents will be concerned that they can’t afford their usual Christmas now they are separated and living apart. The current economic climate and rising cost of renting a home may have adversely affected one parent more than the other.

There is also the additional nagging concern that they also can’t afford to spend as much as their ex can. This is an issue that many separated parents worry about, especially if they don’t earn as much as their ex-partner.

Remember, Christmas is not a competition. Money spent does not equate to love given. Purchasing a joint present from both of you is both budget-friendly and a positive display of co-parenting that sets the trend moving forward. A modest budget for stocking gifts and treats can also prevent costs spiralling out of control, or devaluing the joint gift.

3. I want to see the children open their presents

These days, we can easily make low-cost or free video calls on almost any device including phone, tablets and laptops. Make the most of this, and if the children are with their other parent, share in those magical paper-ripping moments via a pre-arranged video call. With video calls, there are no worries over people travelling long distances, and you can all open your presents from the kids on the same call too. So make sure this call includes all the family including grandparents and extended family.


Don’t get into debt for just a day

We know the pressure on separated parents to compensate for their split with an extra-lavish Christmas can feel overwhelming. However, it is only one day in your children’s lives. In 2024, there will be 365 other days to spend with them, enjoying being together and having fun, as 2024 is a leap year. It is far better to budget and have money to spend in 2024 than to put yourself into debt for months.

As consumer champion Martin Lewis said:

“People have a perfect Christmas in their mind and then work towards achieving it. Decide how much you are going to spend on Christmas this year and stick to it. Christmas is one day, we don’t want you to be indebted in the New Year.”


Make time for yourself

Remember, your first separated Christmas is not all about the children. This year, make space in your diary to enjoy the things you love about the season. Meet up with friends, take a couple of days away, or just relax at home in peace and quiet. Start new traditions for yourself and your children for future Christmases to come.


Need a child arrangement letter?

Contact us at LGFL. We will create your Christmas child arrangement letter and finalise arrangements. So you can relax and plan your celebrations with certainly and clarity.

Christmas is approaching fast, and for separated or divorced parents, it’s important to start planning where the kids will spend the holidays as soon as possible. In the first of two articles on child arrangements over the Christmas period, Director Rita Gupta looks at the need to get permission in writing to take the kids abroad this winter.


Holidays are coming fast

Whilst most “Christmas countdowns” work towards the day itself, schools break up a week or more before. So, parents need to plan for at least 16 days of holidays with the kids.

End of autumn term 2023

  • Hampshire schools: Friday 15th December
  • Surrey schools: Friday 15th December
  • Berkshire: Wednesday 20th December
  • Private schools: week starting Monday 11th December


Skiing holidays, winter sun and families abroad 2023/24

Are you holding back to book your Christmas skiing or winter sun holidays with the children or equally looking to go and spend the holiday season with family abroad? Before making any arrangements, as a divorced or separated parent you should consider permissions and the response of the other party.

In particular, given how special and emotive a time Christmas is, consider the impact on children and your co-parenting relationship if you propose to take them away during this time.


Taking children overseas

In order to take a holiday abroad as a co-parent, you must have permission from everyone who has parental responsibility for each child. The Gov website makes it very clear that “Taking a child abroad without permission is child abduction.”

  • If you have a Child Arrangement Order stating that the children live with you, you are able to remove them from the country without permission for a period of less than one month.
  • If you do not have a Child Arrangement Order and need to gain permission, LGFL can help by writing correspondence to reach arrangements between all those with parental responsibility.

If you wish to take your children overseas for more than a month for any reason, including a holiday or to visit relatives, you will always need permission in writing from anyone with parental responsibility. This should be printed and signed, as you may have to show this at the UK or other international borders.


Why you need permission in writing

It is always best to ensure that there can be no room for miscommunication, or in some extreme cases, that another parent denies having given their permission. LGFL Director Rita had a case where this happened, resulting in a huge amount of distress and wasted legal costs that were incurred in her dealing with the matter urgently.

Your letter of permission should include:

  • Name and contact details for the person giving permission
  • Full details of your trip including hotel address/es, flights, train times, etc
  • Details of any planned activities that might require co-parental permission, such as sledding, scuba diving, etc

You may also wish to take evidence of your relationship with each child, such as a birth certificate, and your divorce certificate if your surname differs from the child’s.


Child arrangement letters: get the beach/snow ball rolling

To get your child arrangements sorted in good time, call us to discuss your situation and get the beach/snow ball rolling:

- Call us

- Email us

- Request your consultation online



Getting permission from your ex-partner or spouse

For many separated parents, booking the actual holiday is the easy part. According to a UK travel company:

- • 70% of travellers research travel on their smartphone.


- 72% of mobile bookings happen within 48 hours of last-minute Google searches.

However, getting permission from your ex can be fraught with difficulties, especially if you are the non-resident parent.

  • If you have a Child Arrangement Order stating that the children live with you, you can take them abroad without permission from the other parent for a period of less than one month.


  • If you have shared parental responsibility, you must have full agreement on all aspects of the holiday.


Reasons your ex-partner might object to the holiday

There are many practical and emotional-based reasons why your ex-partner might object to even the most straightforward of winter holidays or visits to relatives abroad during the seasonal holidays.

  • They may be jealous of you taking a holiday and/or the money you have to spend on it.
  • They may object to missing contact hours with the children during the Christmas period.
  • They may consider the holiday destination unsafe, unsuitable, or a risk to health.
  • They may have concerns about the children’s safety if participating in potentially risky activities such as skiing, diving, etc.
  • They may have a suspicion that the travelling parent may not return the children to the UK (in extreme cases).


Parental permission letters from LGFL – how it works

We draft a formal letter containing all the details in full, so everyone can see what is involved and raise any objections. All correspondence comes through us, so there are no ‘lost’ emails, confused phone calls, or lack of a signed written agreement to show at the borders.

If you cannot agree between yourselves even with our help, you can apply for permission direct from a court. However, this can be a lengthy process, and you will still need to give details of your trip in full.


Last minute holiday bookings

Timing is key. If you want to book a holiday for this winter 2023/24, you probably need to move fast. According to ABTA research:

“Four in ten people (42%) have either booked or are considering taking a winter break this year – with escaping for some winter sun (22%) at the top of the list for those planning to travel over winter.”

Wherever and whenever you book, you need to allow time for those with shared parental responsibility to reach a formal agreement with you, preferably well before the date of departure.

For more details on preparing for holidays with your children as a divorced parent, see our blog “Still out there: Holiday child arrangements


Taking the kids on holidays during term time

You have a legal obligation to ensure your child receives an education. Your child is only allowed to miss school if they are too ill to attend, or you have advance permission from the school. If you ask to take the children out of school for a holiday just because it's cheaper, the school may simply not grant permission.

As the Gov website explains:

"You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time. You can only do this if:

- you make an application to the head teacher in advance (as a parent the child normally lives with)

- there are exceptional circumstances

It’s up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted."

However, it appears awareness of this requirement and the possible risk of fines is very low, according to recent research by the University of Law:

- 89% of parents of school aged children are unaware that taking a child out of school during term-time could result in prosecution.

- 71% don’t know that fines can reach up to £2,500

- 16% believed that none of the genuine legal penalties presented to them were real.


Child holiday agreements with LGFL

Contact us to get your Christmas holiday permissions sorted well in advance, so you can relax and plan your packing!

- Call us

- Email us



Want to have the kids at home with you on Christmas Day ?

Check out our other articles on Christmas as a separated parent:

As one of Hollywood’s elite couples, the marriage of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith seemed to have weathered the storms and intense scrutiny internal fame brings.

However, in an interview, actress and talk show host Jada Pinkett Smith announced that she and her husband Will had been living separate lives since 2016. The couple have not divorced, and seemingly have no intention of doing so.


Sticking together

Whist it is not unusual for even long-term marriages in Hollywood to falter, (as it did recently for Kevin Costner) it is unusual for a couple to stay together and keep their split quiet.

Jade Pinkett Smith has seemingly only “gone public” due to the publication of her new book and the accompanying publicity round interviews. Discussing the reasons why they had split on an interview on NBC News, she said:

“Why it fractured — that’s a lot of things. I think by the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying. We were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”

As she further explained to Fox News Digital:

“We really wanted to take our time to uncouple consciously in trying to figure out how we wanted to separate. And in that process, we really wanted to learn a lot about ourselves and one another to the point that we eventually decided that we didn’t want to be divorced."

She revealed that as a couple, they had also struggled as to how to tell people:

“How do we present that to people? And we hadn’t figured that out.”

The only people who did know were the couple’s two children, Jaden Smith and Willow Smith, both of whom work in the entertainment industry.


A promise is a promise

Pinkett Smith also revealed that she and Smith had stuck with their marriage as:

“I made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce. We will work through whatever. I just haven’t been able to break that promise.”

It may be a promise made by Will Smith as well. He famously slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony for a remark about his wife’s hair, which led him to being banned from the ceremony for 10 years.


Separation agreements

As family lawyers, we see couples who have grown apart and want to go their own way, whilst keeping the family unit intact through considered co-parenting. However, it can be hard to see how to disentangle all aspect of their partnership; financial, practical, logistical and emotional, without actually divorcing. This is where a separation agreement in.

As the government’s MoneyHelper website says:

“A separation agreement is useful if you haven’t decided whether to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, or if you can’t do so yet.”

A separation agreement can set out financial and other arrangements, including:

  • who pays the mortgage or rent
  • why pays the utility bills on the family home
  • who lives in the family home
  • which parent do the children live with
  • whether child maintenance is paid
  • how any debts or loans will be paid off
  • how joint assets are to be divided


Separating or considering it?

Contact us first for practical, pragmatic legal advice. At LGFL, we have found that our holistic approach, including mediation and collaborative law, can help couples discuss and work through the logistics of their separation without the need to go to court. With our advice and assistance, you can reach a separation agreement that works for both of you and your children, whilst also being legally binding.

We can also help with Judicial Separation court orders if for cultural or religious reasons divorce proceedings are not appropriate for you.

- Call us

- Email us

- Book your initial 1 hour consultation here

There was a lot of news we found interesting in September and October 2023, so we've put a few of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages together and a reminder of our blogs.

From our blog:

Third time not so lucky: prenups, pleas for privacy and another divorce for Britney Spears


Britney Spears and her third husband have a legally-binding pre-nup in place which will play an important role in their pending divorce in California



Counting the cost: online divorce v. family lawyer


Considering divorce? My latest blog discusses why opting for a family lawyer can be a game-changer. rather than do-it yourself on-line




A legacy for the family: wills and divorce


Tempted by a free simple will this month? We look at why you might need something more comprehensive, especially after a divorce.




Our Legal 500 UK and Chambers and Partners rankings for 2024


Discover why both the Legal 500 UK and Chambers and Partners rank LGFL “right up there" with much bigger law firms




And from our social media streams:

Divorcees offered zero deposit mortgages to get back on housing ladder

Help for some after divorce from a building society.

Here's how to salvage your sense of self after a divorce

Divorce can be traumatic. As tempting as it may be to burn bridges with an ex following a separation or divorce, understand how the consequences of your actions may play out when your children need you to be there for them.

Achieving a good divorce is not about winners and losers - Philippa Cunniff

At the heart of any good divorce lies openness, honesty and a willingness to be fair. Pursuing a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mindset will only lead to more hurt

Divorce and insomnia linked to health issues in postmenopausal women – study

Getting divorced or losing a spouse can have major health impacts on postmenopausal women, according to a new study.

Men worry about the cost of divorce while women fear their partner’s death

Interesting differences in what men and women worry about.

Kevin Costner and ex-wife Christine Baumgartner reach unexpected end to divorce proceedings: Report

It's finally over! After months of back and forth and circling California courts, Kevin Costner and now ex-wife Christine Baumgartner have finalised the terms of their divorce.

Voidable Marriages

Can a declaration of non-recognition of a voidable overseas marriage, where at least one of the parties is domiciled in England and Wales, lawfully be made?

The distinction between divorce and nullity proceedings is vital. The one seeks to destroy a valid marriage, the other seeks to establish that there was no marriage.

63% of divorcees say this is the No. 1 thing that would have saved their marriage—and it’s not more money

A better understanding of the commitment of marriage prior to marrying.

‘You can’t cut the dog in half’: Pet custody disputes are making break-ups even messier

Pre-nups can include pets as well

Keeping kids front and center during separation and divorce

Putting your children ahead of your emotions has big payoffs for you and them.

What I wished I’d known before asking my husband for a divorce

Four women share what they’d wish they’d known before divorcing their partners

Parents going through divorce are trying bird nest parenting – Here's what that means

“Magpie parenting” – also known as “bird nest parenting”. One thing that can help, it succeed, is to write the agreed terms in a document before you start bird nesting, so everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet when it comes to what can and can’t be done in ‘nesting’ home.

Families continue to be victims of a broken justice system

Families continue to be victims of a broken justice system

'I still sleep with the lights on': How domestic abuse victims are being failed

For every 100 domestic-abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2022, only 31.3 arrests were made, ONS figures from last year show.

The Government is currently working on a civil Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN) ‘to provide immediate protection following a domestic abuse incident’ and a new civil Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) ‘to provide flexible, longer-term protection for victims’. Multiple women’s rights organisations are enthusiastic about this reform, hoping it will simplify the protective orders process.

Women being let down in our justice system, says Thornberry

Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said Labour will review laws on stalking, whistleblowing and co-habitation to ensure women are better protected by the law.

Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith separated since 2016: 'We were just exhausted with trying'

Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith are woking through things and divorce is not an option

Couple remarry at Dewsbury and District Hospital 65 years after first wedding

Remarrying before too late.

What is Clare's Law and how could it alert you to a potential domestic violence threat?

Under the scheme, individuals can ask police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past (the ‘right to ask’).

How to ensure gifts to married children stay in the family upon divorce

How to ensure gifts to married children stay in the family upon divorce

Influences on children and young people’s understanding of domestic abuse explored in new research

The research explores children and young people’s understanding of gender roles, relationships and sex, with the goal of informing Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) in schools. The report shows some worrying findings.

Women’s Aid report on domestic abuse

Women’s Aid has published, what it describes as, ‘a first-of-its-kind report into what influences children and young people’s attitudes towards domestic abuse, proving a direct link between the viewing of harmful misogynist content online and the normalisation of unhealthy behaviours in relationships’.

When you are looking for a new electrical appliance, do you look at reviews before you buy? A lot of professional services websites, including ours, pull in reviews from various sources such as Google, Trip Advisor, CheckaTrade and more.

Most of these major review sites work hard to ensure reviews are genuine, but inevitably you will find a set of over-effusive reviews (and equally crushingly negative reviews) that just don’t ring true. It can often be difficult to sort the straight-talking reality from the superlative-laden ‘scripted’ reviews.


Sorting the genuine from the gushing

Gathering ethically-sourced and verified reviews is one of the main reasons we have a Profile in the two leading legal firms directories, namely the Legal 500 UK and Chambers and Partners. These long-established and internally recognised directories undertake detailed research into each law firm using their own teams of researchers, and criteria that covers all aspects of a firm’s activities.

To help them, each law firm is asked to send a list of referees that have given their consent to be contacted, and who will give a frank and honest testimonial (review) of our services.


Anonymous and verified testimonials

When the reviews/testimonials appear on our online Profile, we have no idea who submitted which review. But we are very glad they do, because it enables anyone viewing our Profiles to read independently gathered feedback on all aspects of LGFL’s services.

We take these reviews very seriously too, using them to help us build and improve on what people most like about our Thames Valley family law firm, and especially our high level of personal service.


How we rank in Berkshire and beyond

Both directories rank our family law firm and our lawyers in Tiers (Legal 500) and Bands (Chambers). This system ranks us alongside other law firms in the Thames Valley area, and nationwide too. So potential clients like you can compare our services with those from much bigger multi-disciplinary firms with several offices, for example.

We’re proud that these rankings consistently show how LGFL is right up there with some very big names indeed!


Our Profiles for the 2024 editions

Here are our rankings and testimonials for the 2024 editions, and those all-important testimonials.

THE LEGAL 500 UK 2024


The Legal 500 – The Clients Guide to Law Firms
The Legal 500 – The Clients Guide to Law Firms


We are delighted that we have maintained our strong position as a Tier 3 firm, with both Directors as Recommended Lawyers. This shows once again how we can provide professional advice and action on a par with major players in family law in our area.

The Legal 500 also writes a short review of our firm, noting how we have:

“Carved out a niche specialism in cases regarding SEN children and post-separation abuse. “

“Having worked with them for years now I can honestly say it is the best set of solicitors I have worked with. They are dedicated to their clients, colleagues and associates. A highly personable boutique firm. Both directors are always on hand to deal with the problems ahead.”

“LGFL have a unique approach to family law that is both holistic and personalised, pragmatic yet determined, considered and contemporary. The directors are very much in touch with the latest national news and developments likely to impact on families, separating parents and those considering divorce. As a result, their clients benefit from an empathetic and informed approach to each and every case, which focuses on the emotional as well as the financial and legal aspects of divorce.”

“LGFL has an increasing reputation for complex cases involving SEN children, which in itself is an indication of how their personal and in-depth approach helps those for whom divorce is potentially both highly emotional and complicated.”

“Rita Gupta is a real live-wire, always crackling with new ideas, innovative approaches and fuelled by a deep-felt passion for the welfare of children caught up in separation and divorce. She is the driving force behind LGFL’s wide-ranging marketing and outreach activity, from blogs addressing key subjects and concerns to thought-provoking and practical articles for both legal and popular press.”

“Director Anne Leiper is a veritable powerhouse of information especially on financial matters. She is tenacious and determined, and very much the lawyer you want on your side in a divorce.”

“Together, Rita Gupta and Anne Leiper lead a dedicated team that enables this small boutique firm to truly punch above its weight. LGFL regularly take on major city law firms in the courtroom and achieve the right outcome for their clients.”

“LGFL are a boutique law firm who specialise in, among other areas family law where domestic abuse and children with special educational needs are involved. Their knowledge of these areas are outstanding, and this is a real strength when offering appropriate and realistic advice to their clients.”





The only way is up this year, with our family law firm and our two directors all ranked in Band 2. It’s a major achievement for our boutique firm as we celebrate 15 years since Rita and Anne founded LGFL in Yateley with one phone, one desk, and just five client files!

“The whole team are on the ball, friendly, hard-working, helpful and efficient.”

“The team are very professional and diligent in all matters. Replies are always prompt and show laser-focused attention to details.”

“I have found that LFGL are able to pick apart the details of a very complex case and provide well thought through and balanced advice. The team have been able to identify the key facts and key pieces of evidence and also pick up on the nuances of the case.”

“Anne was very professional and calm with me.”

“Anne's experience, professionalism and acumen are impeccable.”

“Rita is a powerhouse and everything that I'd look for in a lawyer. She is smart, focused and has a real passion for client service.”

"I’d never have any hesitation in recommending Rita or the firm.”

“Dealing with Rita is effortless and she makes things so easy.”

“In the ten years that I've had dealings with Rita, she has always been extremely trustworthy and understanding of the situation I've been in.”

“Rita is very intelligent, quick to assimilate information and provides very pragmatic advice having taken everything into account. I also feel she always has time to listen to me and answer my questions.”


Is LGFL the right family law firm for you?

If you need timely, accurate and pragmatic legal advice, book your initial one hour consultation with us. You will have a full 60 minutes for the price of 30 minutes to discuss your circumstances, concerns and aspirations for your separation, divorce or family law issue. To book your appointment:

- Call us

- Email us

- Request a consultation online

This month (October 2023) is Free Wills Month, a national initiative bringing together a group of charities to offer those aged 55+ a free will or will update.

These “simple wills” are written for free by participating local solicitors, and put in basic provisions for family and friends. These wills also (hopefully) include a gift for your chosen charities, but it’s by no means obligatory.

Zero cost or low cost will writing services are not just limited to the month of October either. Many charities offer a free will writing service for simple wills, in the hope of a gift to them when you die.

A free simple will may seem a very tempting offer with good causes at its heart. While a simple will is certainly better than no will at all (more on this later), it is limited in its scope and won’t cover detailed arrangements that best reflect your family circumstances, such as extended families and/or children by previous marriages.

You should always seek legal and financial advice on creating a will that covers all your bequests in detail. You can leave gifts / legacies for as many charities as you wish in any will you write; the charity doesn’t have to write it for you.


Where there’s a will

As family lawyers, we are often taken back by the number of people who haven’t made a will at all. It’s one of the most important documents you create, and considering how long-lasting it is, it’s a remarkably cheap one to make too.

  • If you have made your will, great. You can move on to the next section!
  • If not, make it your priority to make a will.

If you die without making a will, (known as dying intestate), nobody will know how you want your estate to be divided up. The rules (laws) of intestacy state that only spouses, civil partners and some close relatives can inherit.

There’s a further sting in the tail, as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website explains:

“Married partners or civil partners inherit under the rules of intestacy only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death.”

So what happens when you get divorced?


Wills before and after divorce

The process of divorce includes untangling both the emotional and financial ties between you and your partner. While a financial settlement deals with the division of assets at the time of divorce, it’s also important to realise the longer-term impact on your estate - and your will.

If your will predates your divorce proceedings, you should change it asap to reflect your new circumstances. This is because if you are in the process of getting divorced, but you are still married at the time of your death, then your spouse can inherit. You are only officially divorced when the final order (formerly known as the decree absolute) has been granted.

So, it is important to change your will as soon as you are certain you are going to divorce.

Your existing will won’t automatically become null and void when you get divorced. Only the parts pertaining to gifts (bequests) to your spouse change. As the Law Gazette explains:

“In law, an ex-spouse is, on divorce, treated as having died before the deceased, so any gifts to that ex-spouse as a beneficiary fail and so does any appointment of them as executor.”

The rest of any existing will should remain unchanged, so your children and relatives will still benefit from your will if you included them. However, so might your in-laws!


LGFL and will writing

As boutique divorce and family lawyers, we don’t offer a will writing service ourselves. We just know how important they are, and how the lack of a will can really complicate matters for families at a very difficult time in their lives. Contact us for our recommendations for local will writers.


Who inherits the house?

Your family home is usually one of the largest assets you have as a couple. You can own your property in two different ways, and how you own it can determine who can inherit.

  • If you own a property as Joint Tenants, when you die the ownership of the property passes to the surviving owner/s. This “bypasses” any request/bequest of the property in your will.
  • If you own your property as Tenants in Common, you personally own a defined share of the property. That share can be included in your will and passed on to beneficiaries.

For more on tenancies, and how to sever them, see our article:

Why you should discuss Joint Tenants and Tenants In Common with your family lawyer


Wills and remarriage

In terms of your will, remarriage is quite different to divorce. When you remarry, your existing will automatically becomes null and void. If you do not make a new will, the laws of intestacy will apply and children from your previous marriage may not receive anything.


Holistic divorce advice from LGFL

Divorce may seem simple on the surface, but we know from decades of experience that many people underestimate the time, effort and emotional impact involved.

That’s why at LGFL, we offer a fixed fee initial consultation lasting a full hour. We can talk through your circumstances in more detail and guide you through the process, so you understand the implications for you, your family and your estate.

Contact us to book your fixed fee initial consultation:

- Call us

- Email us

- Request a consultation online

When no fault divorce came into effect last year, it also heralded new opportunities for separating couples to file for divorce online.

So, why should separating couples choose to use a family lawyer rather than divorce online? LGFL Managing Director and family lawyer Rita Gupta explains.


Couples who wish to file for divorce can now start the process online. The applications form itself is relatively straightforward, but the information you fill in on your online application could have far-reaching consequences for your futures both as co-parents and as individuals.

The governmental online divorce process only covers the dissolving of the marriage itself. It does not cover provision for children or division of finances, which are usually the contentious areas for divorcing couples. The government online divorce also doesn’t offer you any advice or help on other aspects of divorce apart from the official process.

Online divorce actually consists of various online forms which are not altogether straightforward to complete They also use legal terms you may not be familiar with. Sadly, even the smallest of errors on these forms can be hard to correct once you press the “Apply” button.

By taking legal advice from a family lawyer in advance of divorcing, you can understand the implications, the process, and the long-term impact across all aspects of your lives. The advice you receive will also be tailored to your individual circumstances. You can consider the upfront costs of specialist legal advice as an investment in the future, to ensure you get the best outcome from your divorce for you and your family.


No quickie divorce

The legal divorce process in England and Wales has exactly the same time scales whether you apply online yourself or take advantage of the experience and advice of a family lawyer. There is no such thing as a quickie divorce, as the statutory divorce timeline will apply in all cases.


No need to go to court

One of the main reasons cited by couples for an online “DIY” divorce is that it won’t involve a court appearance. In reality, there are no real grounds for contested divorces. Similarly, if matters such as children and finances are a matter of mutual consent and agreement, it needn’t go to court at all. Much of these issues arise from the misunderstanding that parties have when they use the term divorce.


Talk to a real person

You may find online providers who will manage your divorce process for you, for a fee. Whilst the official divorce application forms are managed by the government, it’s important to remember that the online “provider” sector is not officially regulated. So those dealing with your divorce case at some provider services may not be qualified family solicitors, or have expertise. They will not be able to tailor their services or advice to your particular case should your circumstances be complicated.

At LGFL, your first contact with us is usually a one hour fixed fee consultation where we can discuss the unique circumstances around your divorce. We then can offer specific, tailored legal advice to plan the best way forward possible for your family. You also have the reassurance that our long-established family law firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.


Help, I’ve pressed the button!

We are seeing an increasing number of clients who have already applied online and who then realise getting a divorce is much more involved than they first imagined. At LGFL, we can help you take your divorce forward even if you have “pressed the button” and support you throughout the whole process.

At LGFL, we have the knowledge, expertise and professional capacity to sort and advance all your divorce documentation when you may not have the time, energy or understanding yourself.


Professional, empathetic support when you need it most

Divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster, and knowing that your family lawyer is fighting your corner can help you to divorce with much less stress and worry. Our pragmatic and empathetic approach helps us devise strategies to achieve the best outcomes for you, and especially any minor children.

We are also passionate about transparency. As our client, you will always know what is happening and why, and how much you will be charged for our services. We know that our legal fees will always cost more than online divorce services, but it is an investment in you and your family’s financial, emotional and parenting future for years to come.


Human and intelligent, not artificial intelligence

An experience family lawyer also has something an online form or ‘chatbot’ will never have - intelligent empathy. Our experience of helping hundreds of divorcing couples means we can be both smart in finding solutions that minimise your risk, and also be empathetic towards the emotions and stress in your particular divorce circumstances.


Do you need our help?

Contact us to book your initial one hour fixed fee consultation with us. This gives you plenty of time to discuss your situation and receive valuable legal advice, in complete confidence and with no obligation. The majority of divorcing people who come to LGFL for an initial hour of advice do decide to engage us, for a better divorce experience with less hassle and full professional support.

- Call us

- Email us

Once again, Britney Spears finds herself part of divorce proceedings. Her third husband, actor Sam Asghari, filed for divorce in a Los Angeles court in July. Asghari cited “irreconcilable differences”, and that he would be looking for financial support and his legal costs from Spears. The filed papers also stated that no valuation had been made of their individual and joint assets to date.


Sticking to the prenup

Having been together for six years, the couple signed a pre-nup before their wedding just 14 months ago. There has been unsubstantiated rumours that Asghari would challenge that pre-nup, leading to his representative Brandon Cohen stating to The Hollywood Reporter that:

“There are many claims that Sam is challenging the prenup and threatening to exploit his ex-wife with video. However, all these claims are false, as no negative intention has ever been directed towards her and never will be. Sam has always and will always support her.”

(Note the statement already states ‘ex-wife’, even though the divorce has not gone through as yet.)

Pre-nups are legal documents under Californian law. Both parties need to sign a pre-nup with full knowledge of what they are signing and what it contains. See here for more on UK pre and post nuptial agreements.


Equal division of assets

Under Californian law, any property either of you acquire starting on the day you marry and ending on the day your marriage ends, is supposed to be divided equally between you when you divorce. This can be negotiated and if neither side agree, the Superior Court can split property and debt equally between both parties.

If the couple cannot agree and go to court, a judge can overrule elements seen as unenforceable, or if the pre-nup appears to be unfair. Californian pre-nuptial agreements cannot address child support as both parents are legally responsible for the support of their children.

This is a reminder that different jurisdictions deal with financial settlements very differently. On that basis, it is always advisable to seek advice from a family law specialist. We live in an increasingly global world.


The Instagram announcements

Both Spears and Asghari released statements in the current method of choice for celebrities, their Instagram accounts.

Asghari said:

“After 6 years of love and commitment to each other my wife and I have decided to end our journey together. We will hold onto the love and respect we have for each other and I wish her the best always. … Asking for privacy seems ridiculous so I will just ask for everyone including media to be kind and thoughtful.”

Spears’ statement was more emotional;

“As everyone knows, Hesam and I are no longer together … six years is a long time to be with someone so, I’m a little shocked but … I’m not here to explain why because it’s honestly nobody’s business. But, I couldn’t take the pain any more, honestly. I’ve been playing it strong for way too long and my Instagram may seem perfect but it’s far from reality and I think we all know that.”

Over and out in 14 months

Mr Asghari met Ms Spears on the set of a music video in 2016, and the couple dated whilst Spears was still in a 13-year conservatorship. When that ended in November 2021, the couple had already been engaged for two months, and were married on June 9, 2022. Their wedding was attended by 60 guests who included Madonna, Paris Hilton, Drew Barrymore, and Donatella Versace.

This is Spears’ third marriage. She had two children with her first husband Kevin Federline before divorcing in 2007. Her second marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander was annulled in 2024 after just 55 hours. (Yes, hours.) Clearly there was acrimony in that separation as Alexander was later convicted of aggravated trespassing and battery after gate-crashing Spears’ wedding to Asghari. He was also issued a protective order forbidding him from coming within 100 yards of Spears.


Future plans

Both Asghari and Spears have plans for their separate futures. Asghari is said to be pursuing an acting and presenting career. Spears’ new book, “The Woman in Me”, described as “A brave and astonishingly moving story about freedom, fame, motherhood, survival, faith, and hope” is due for release on 24 October 2023.


UK Divorce with LGFL

We may not all have Spears’ fortune, but it’s still important to ensure that your divorce financial settlement is balanced and accurate in terms of disclosure of assets. To discuss this and any other aspect of divorce in England and Wales, contact us for your initial one hour fixed fee consultation:

- Call us

- Email us

- Request your appointment online

There was a lot of news we found interesting in August 2023, so we've put a few of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages together and a reminder of our blogs.

From our blog:

Introducing our 10% discount for emergency workers and the military


To celebrate 15 years of LGFL, we would like to give back to those who give so much. So, we’re introducing a new 10% discount to NHS employees, the emergency services, Armed Forces personnel, and other first responders such as the RNLI. Just ask for details.



Anything to declare? The importance of full disclosure in divorce Updated Aug 2023


One Supreme Court case shows the importance of full and frank disclosure of your financial information both at the start and during your divorce proceedings.




Weddings and pre-nups: know what you’re getting into


Spending £20k+ on your wedding? Why adding an hour or two of pre-marriage legal advice into your budget is a good investment for your future together.




Calling all dog lovers! Sponsoring the Swallowfield Show 2023


Is your family dog a Lovely Lady or Fabulous Fella? Prizes to be won in these LGFL sponsored dog show classes at the Swallowfield Show 2023 this August Bank Holiday!




And from our social media streams:

Court delays leave tens of thousands of children in limbo after parents split

This is a shocking statistic.

"Data showed that children removed from their parents were having to wait an average of 46 weeks to get a final decision on where they would live. "


UK businesses to get free government tool to tackle economic abuse

The kit aims to help businesses spot the signs and create an appropriate environment for victims to disclose their experiences.


Divorcing wife conceals lottery windfall, court orders her to hand over jackpot

Remember full disclosure is the best way forward, or years later you pay for it!


In North Carolina a jilted husband can sue his wife’s lover

Heartbreak’s revenge?

“Under an archaic tort called “alienation of affection”, a third party—someone outside the marriage—can be liable if shown to have intentionally ruined the marital bond.”


UK MPs warn against growing use of smart tech in domestic abuse

The far reaching effects of modern technology.


'Historic win' in Court of Appeal over same-sex parental rights

This ‘historic win’ has ‘opened the door on a new chapter in international family law’.


Does 'divorce strain' need to be treated the same way as mental health problems?

A recent pledge signed by major firms to support employees going through a divorce suggests that employers should be providing more specific support for those experiencing the strain of divorce.


Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth sign off on parenting plan for son and finalize divorce

Parenting plans sotted for Reese


Russian mogul’s wife hid £1m of handbags in bitter divorce case

Full disclosure is required even if it's handbags.


A psychologist offers advice on redefining life after divorce

"Divorce can be traumatic. … It is possible to learn to live a happy life after a divorce by leaning on the people you have around you and taking good care of your mental health."


Millionaire wins cash fight with estranged wife despite judge dubbing him ‘liar’

"Mr Justice Mostyn said the “effect” of his decision would be to reduce Mr Baker’s “deemed net worth” to about £3.9 million and increase Mrs Baker’s net worth to £7.4 million."


'Prenups: how well will they hold up in court?'


"There is a strong likelihood that any agreement that meets these criteria will be upheld and, indeed, spouses entering into a prenup should assume they will be."

Achieving a good divorce is not about winners and losers

"At the heart of any good divorce lies openness, honesty and a willingness to be fair. Pursuing a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mindset will only lead to more hurt"


Are your children more likely to divorce if you divorce?

"Research suggests that children of divorced parents have a slightly elevated risk of divorce. Many children of divorced parents go on to have healthy, stable marriages."


46% of divorced couples say this was the No. 1 conflict in their relationship—and it isn’t money

Be careful of your career choices and remember to parent together!


Inside Alice Evans and Ioan Gruffudd’s ongoing divorce battle

This divorce has become one of the messiest and most confrontational celebrity break-ups in years


More divorcing couples opt for 'risky and inferior' pension attachment orders

"But many couples undertaking DIY divorces may overlook pensions, even though they are potentially their largest financial asset besides the family home."

That's why divorcing couples should seek good advice.