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Vines Legal Limited

Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

Progressive • Dedicated • Persistent

Call today for your free initial, no obligation, consultation on 01246 555 610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

When Should you Hire a Matrimonial Lawyer?

when to hire a family lawyer ChesterfieldAlthough the breakdown of a marriage is bound to be a stressful and confusing time, there are things that you can do to achieve a sense of calm and reassurance that the situation will inevitably be resolved. One of the best ways to do this is by seeking legal advice from a matrimonial lawyer as soon as you can. The earlier you do this, the sooner you will be informed on what the consequences of your potential decisions may be, and the better informed you’ll be about how you wish to proceed.

Seeking Legal Representation

As experts in matrimonial and family law, the team at Vines Legal have given plenty of advice and support over the years to those who are very early on in the divorce process and simply reaching out for advice on when and how to hire a matrimonial lawyer. Many people take the advice of friends and family, or even the internet. Both are fine, but the truth is, each case is different, and you’ll really only get accurate advice by sharing your situation with a professional. 

As such, we would always recommend that you seek legal representation right the beginning. An error at any stage can be expensive and sometimes difficult to put right, leaving you in a worse position than you would have been if you had used a solicitor from the start.

What do I do Once the Divorce Petition has been Filed?

If you haven’t already chosen a matrimonial lawyer at the time that the divorce petition has been filed, we would strongly recommend that you appoint a solicitor at this stage. It is by far the most sensible way of ensuring that you get one to one support when you need it, and a full explanation of all options from the outset.

You can also rest assured that if you do need to go to court, your solicitor will be there to guide you through all the required forms, statements, evidence, and responses, therefore making sure that you get the best and fairest possible outcome.

Although there have been delays due to the Coronavirus pandemic, obtaining a divorce usually takes approximately 4 and 6 months. Of course, this is a best-case scenario; financial issues, child arrangements, assets, property, and pensions can all extend it. Seeking legal advice and allowing a solicitor to guide you through this process, which can sometimes be confusing, will ensure that any delays are handled swiftly, correctly, and with the minimum amount of stress for both you and your family.

Get Help from Matrimonial Lawyers in Chesterfield

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in matrimonial and family law and can assist you at every stage to help guide you through what can be a confusing and distressing time. For a free initial, no obligation consultation, please call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 11 Oct 2021

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How to Handle a Divorce Petition

divorce lawyer Chesterfield - how to handle a divorce petitionIt goes without saying that deciding to file a divorce petition is a huge decision and one that is never taken lightly. But what if you’re the one receiving the divorce petition? It’s unlikely that being served with divorce papers will come completely out of the blue, but nevertheless, it will still be a shock. The divorce petition is the first formal step that marks the beginning of a divorce, and as the receiver, it’s up to you to take the next step.

What Should I do if I Receive a Divorce Petition?

As matrimonial and family law solicitors, we are naturally involved in the process of separation and divorce for many clients and have plenty of experience supporting them through what can be a difficult, stressful time in their lives. If you receive a divorce petition, it may be tempting to avoid dealing with it. But the truth is, ignoring it won’t make it go away. The sooner you accept that you will have to act, and decide on a course of action, the better. Whether your separation is amicable, mutual, or more complicated, acting quickly will make the whole process more manageable in the long run.

Seeking Legal Representation

As the receiver of the petition you will become known as “the respondent” throughout the divorce proceedings. Your spouse will be known as “the petitioner”. Upon receipt of the petition, you will have 7 days to return the acknowledgement of service form to the court.

At this stage, we would recommend that you take advice from a solicitor. Although the need to seek legal representation can be hard to accept, it is absolutely advisable. Avoiding any errors at all stages of the proceedings is really important, as mistakes can be costly.

What are my Options?

You will need to complete the acknowledgement of service, confirming whether or not you wish to defend the petition. Defended petitions are very rare and can be costly. Most commonly, divorce petitions are not defended, however, depending on the petition, safeguards can be included in the acknowledgement of service to protect the responding party. This is why taking legal advice is so advisable at an early stage.

Matrimonial Solicitors in Chesterfield

If you have been asked for a divorce by your spouse, it’s understandable that you’ll have lots of questions. Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in matrimonial and family law and can assist you at every stage to help guide you through what can be a confusing and distressing time. For a free initial, no obligation consultation, please call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly, and professional advice.


By Vines Legal on 29 Sep 2021

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How to Protect your Children’s Mental Health During a Divorce

divorce lawyer Chesterfield protect children during divorceIt’s a common fear among separating couples that the mental health of their shared children may suffer as a result of their divorce. Although research has documented that parental divorce/separation is associated with an increased risk of child and adolescent adjustment problems, many children whose parents divorce are resilient and exhibit no obvious psychological problems as a result.

As family lawyers, we’ve helped many divorcing couples to navigate the process of separation, including offering advice and support on protecting their children’s mental health during the process.  Using our experience, we’ve put together a few helpful tips on how to protect your children’s mental health during a divorce.

Keep Communication Open

It’s crucial that you’re as honest as you can be in your communications with your children. Of course, they may be upset that you’ve taken the decision to separate and ask questions about why you can’t change your mind and work things out. Take the time to talk openly and honestly with your children about why the separation is happening, whilst showing that you love them, and offering reassurance that regular contact will continue.

Don’t Storm Out

In high pressure situations, we can all relate to that feeling of simply wanting to run away. But storming out of the house teaches children that some disagreements are so damaging and catastrophic that they cannot be resolved. This in turn makes them scared to have difficult conversations and arguments themselves in the future.

Healthy arguments and proportionate anger around a situation is OK, as long as issues are dealt with together, and one at a time. The way you behave now will teach your children how to behave in high conflict situations in their future lives. So, try set an example. If you absolutely have to leave, ensure you return in a reasonable amount of time and talk to your children. Don't leave them to make their own interpretations.

Be Supportive

This goes without saying really, but it is absolutely crucial that you are there to support your child. Typically, when children first find out that their parents are going to divorce, they’ll take in very little due to shock. Telling them is just the first step. Focus on supporting them once the news has sunk in by reinforcing the message that not only is it OK to disagree with somebody, but it’s also OK to make mistakes. Although separation is the end result, both parents are still committed to raising their children.

Understanding the New Dynamic

Ultimately, one of the best ways you can support your children and protect their mental health is by forming a good alliance with your ex- spouse or partner and trying to make it as simple, straight forward, and amicable as possible. Regardless of your separation, it is still your responsibility to bring up your children to the very best of your ability, and to co-parent effectively. Even though it will be painful for you sometimes, trying to navigate the situation as best as possible for the children is the key.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce, and we work hard to ensure that the best possible arrangements are made in your child’s best interests. For further help and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation where we can explain all the options available to you.

By Vines Legal on 21 Sep 2021

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5 Tips to Ease the Pain of Divorce

divorce lawyer Chesterfield ease pain of divorceIt will come as no surprise that divorce can be incredibly difficult for all parties involved. Even if you’re the one that decided to initiate the separation, it can still be a painful, uncertain, and even scary time. Just the process of making the decision is enough to cause a significant amount of mental turmoil, and that’s before the process itself.

Here at Vines Legal, we’ve helped and supported many individuals going through the pain of separation and divorce. It’s always going to be a tough time, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and keep your suffering to a minimum under the circumstances. So, here are our top 5 tips on how to ease the pain of divorce.


Despite starting your married life with the best of intentions and never imagining that you’d be embarking on divorce, accepting the fact that the relationship has broken down and will not recover is important. It can be understandably hard to accept but doing so is critical to your recovery.

Ask for Help

Now is the time to lean on your family and friends, asking for help if you need to. Hopefully they will be a great source of comfort to you, providing plenty of emotional support and advice to help you through the process of divorce. Don’t worry about burdening people with your problems; they care about you and will want to be there for you.  

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Grief is a perfectly natural emotional state to find yourself in following any loss, including the loss of a relationship. Allowing yourself to grieve is another way of coming to terms with the end of your relationship, and processing the feelings of sadness, regret, anger, or helplessness that you may feel.

Avoid Blame

It’s easy to blame your ex-spouse when you’re hurting and angry. But assigning blame can be counterproductive and stop you from moving forward. This is particularly important if there are children involved, as you will want to keep things as amicable as possible for them. Try to accept that no matter who was to blame, it’s now time to move on as a separated couple and look to the future.

Look After Yourself

Prioritising your physical and emotional wellbeing is absolutely crucial to easing the pain that divorce brings with it. Taking time to look after yourself really can make all the difference. Emotional pain can rob you of sleep, the desire to eat, and the motivation to exercise. So, try to make a conscious effort to eat well, take time to go for a walk in nature, or set up an exercise routine at home. Above all, give your body and mind the time it needs to rest and recuperate.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. If you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.


By Vines Legal on 16 Aug 2021

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How to Talk to your Children about Divorce

How to talk to your children about divorceFor many parents who are embarking on the process of separation, telling your children can be an intensely painful and difficult task. The chances are that by the time you’ve decided to tell your children, you and your ex-partner may have already worked through many of your feelings and begun to accept the decision. Regardless of how old your children are, or whether they suspect that a separation is on the cards, it will probably come as an enormous shock and raise a number of emotions.

As family lawyers, we’ve helped many divorcing couples to navigate the process of separation, including offering advice and support on broaching the subject with children. Using our experience, we’ve put together a few helpful tips on how to talk to your children about divorce.

Talk to the Children Together

In order to avoid any further conflict between you and your ex-partner, and to ensure you’re both able to answer any questions that may arise, we always recommend that you tell the children together. Of course, this may not always be possible for a variety of reasons. But if it is, giving the children ‘the same story’ is extremely important, as is avoiding any blame and presenting a united front as parents, despite no longer being partners. In addition, telling your children in the family home is a sensible idea. Not only will they have access to you both when questions inevitably arise, they’ll feel safer and more secure in a familiar environment.

Honest Communication

Being honest in your communications with your children is crucial. There’s every chance that they may be unhappy with your decision and ask questions about why you cannot remain together. By taking the time to talk opening and honestly to your children about why the separation is happening, whilst showing that you love them, and offering reassurance that regular contact will continue, these feelings should reduce over time.

Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

Remember though, be honest within the boundaries of what is appropriate to share, and above all, avoid judging or blaming the other parent in front of the children. It’s also important to offer reassurance without making unrealistic promises. This is often a very difficult task for parents as it’s natural to want to reassure your child at any cost but setting false expectations will only cause more pain later on.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce, and we work hard to ensure that the best possible arrangements are made in your child’s best interests. For further help and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation where we can explain all the options available to you.


By Vines Legal on 9 Aug 2021

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Associate Solicitor, Claire Clark, Comments On Vines Legal’s Continued Organic Growth

Established in 2009, Vines Legal has become a valued and trusted family law firm in the heart of Chesterfield. The small team of Family Law Solicitors at Vines Legal has recently celebrated the addition of 2 newly qualified solicitors, Ella Ashforth and Chloe Payne, who now work alongside Director and Principal Solicitor Catherine Wenborn and Associate Solicitor Claire Clark.

Since Claire’s appointment at Vines Legal back in 2010, she has played an active and important role in building the business, as well as being instrumental in the training of newly qualified solicitor, Ella. When Claire joined Vines Legal, Director Catherine was the sole fee earner. Now with 4 Matrimonial and Family Solicitors, and soon to welcome a Paralegal to the team, Vines Legal is going from strength to strength.

Specialising in the field of Family and Matrimonial Law, Claire is also a member of the Law Society Family Law Panel. Here’s what Claire has to say about the organic growth and continued success of the firm.

“I’m really proud that we are a niche specialist family law firm, and delighted that we’ve been able to expand our team. It was great to help Ella in her journey to becoming a matrimonial and family solicitor and further contributing to the growth of the company. I firmly believe that we can only go from strength to strength with the team we now have in place.

We all have our own independent caseloads, and the majority of cases we receive are recommendations from current and former clients. Word of mouth is powerful; when you’re recommended by someone who you’ve helped come through what can be a painful process, it is a satisfying feeling.

The pandemic has been stressful for everyone and unfortunately has taken its toll on relationships and families alike. It’s been a privilege to be able to help people during this time though. Child arrangements in particular have come to the forefront during the pandemic. None of us have ever experienced a situation like this before, and to be able to guide people through the issues that they were faced with was very rewarding.

Despite not being able to see clients face to face, I found it quite easy to adapt during the pandemic. We’re a forward-thinking law firm and we naturally push ourselves. The pandemic meant a new way of working with its own unique new challenges, but we found benefits too. As quite a young team, we were able to embrace the technology we had to work effectively remotely, keeping our clients updated and informed from start to finish. Although we missed the face to face interaction we were used to, relying on virtual meetings and phone calls increased our productivity at times, allowing us to thrive under the circumstances.

The team at Vines Legal all find working in family law very rewarding. We meet people during what can be the very worst time in their lives, and we are there to guide them through it from start to finish. Seeing their lives transform in front of you, and providing that value and service to the client is why we’re all here at Vines Legal. And we hope to be for many years to come!”

By Vines Legal on 21 Jul 2021

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Congratulations to Ella, our Latest Newly Qualified Solicitor Specialising in Family and Matrimonial Law

It has been a very positive few months for the team here at Vines Legal, particularly for our former paralegal and now newly qualified solicitor Ella Ashforth. Despite the challenges that Ella has faced during the pandemic, when face to face learning was substituted with virtual seminars and workshops, Ella has made us all incredibly proud by becoming fully qualified and specialising in Family and Matrimonial Law.

Ella began her training at Vines Legal as a Paralegal to our very own Claire Clark, assisting with her caseload and numerous administrative tasks. Ella graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a First-Class Honours Degree in Law with Professional Practice, a course which combined a one-year work placement at a law firm together with the Legal Practice Course. Having completed her Training Contract with Vines Legal, Ella is now a fully qualified Solicitor. 

Speaking of her recent success, Ella said: “Assisting Claire with her cases was such a valuable experience for me; it was so rewarding to be able to train on the job, so to speak! My University placement really sparked an interest in family law, and I’m delighted to be able to follow my passion with the support of the team here at Vines Legal.”

During her time working as a Paralegal, Ella’s confidence and experience grew naturally. “I just found it all so interesting,” says Ella. “Every case is different, and with family law the service we offer is extremely personal and more client facing, which I thrive on. You are dealing with people on a daily basis who are going through tough times, and as such, conversations can be difficult and emotional for clients. But I enjoy helping people and being their sounding board when they need me. I always strive to reassure clients, give them the sense that you’re always on their side and let them know that I will work as hard as I can to achieve the best possible outcome for them.”

Despite the disruption to learning caused by the pandemic, Ella is positive about both her ongoing learning and future work. “Yes, there have been some challenges brought along by the pandemic,” admits Ella. “It was an entirely different way of learning, but we absolutely made the best of the situation and the outcome has been a success. With regard to working, we tried to be as accessible as possible to clients using virtual meetings and telephone appointments, both of which worked very well. In some cases, it was actually more convenient for our clients. Thankfully we’re back to being able to see clients face to face now, which is great.”

Speaking of her future career at Vines Legal, Ella says: “It’s lovey to be part of a smaller team because I get more exposure to cases and enjoy working closely with the other solicitors. We are growing organically as a business, and I am genuinely excited to have the opportunity to progress through the company.”

Find out more about the Vines Legal team, including Ella, please visit To contact Ella for a free initial, no obligation consultation, please email, or call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 14 Jul 2021

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Meet Chloe, Our Newly Qualified Solicitor Specialising in Family and Matrimonial Law

Vines Legal is delighted to announce that our talented former paralegal Chloe Payne is now a qualified Solicitor! Specialising in Family and Matrimonial Law, Chloe became fully qualified in February 2021, after completing her final training and exams online during lockdown.

Chloe started her legal career back in 2012, embarking on a four-year Law degree at the University of Leeds that took her abroad to Sweden for a year. After achieving a First-Class Honours Degree, Chloe began working as a paralegal with Vines Legal in 2017, which gave her an in depth, working knowledge of family law. Chloe then won a scholarship to complete the Legal Practice Course at the University of Sheffield. She then completed her Training Contract with Vines Legal and achieved her academic goal of becoming a fully qualified, practicing Solicitor. 

Chloe’s academic achievements and already significant working experience mean that she’s extremely skilled and proficient, and now taking on cases of her own. Speaking of her achievements, Chloe said: “It was so useful being able to work alongside my studies and see how legal practice works in real life. You can learn a lot from books and seminars, but the hands-on experience has been invaluable to me.

I very much enjoyed being given more responsibility as I progressed, which allowed me to develop my skills and gain confidence. My academic studies and the practical experience have given me the best possible grounding for my future career.”

Chloe’s last academic hurdle came during the pandemic with her Professional Skills Course. “Of course, this all had to be carried out online” says Chloe. “Luckily it was all very well done, with great technology in place to ensure that we got the training we needed. It was a fantastic feeling to qualify, but unfortunately I couldn’t celebrate properly as the whole of the UK was locked down!”

Chloe is now looking to the future and keen to really get stuck into her career at Vines Legal. “Now that I’m fully qualified, the thing I’m most looking forward to is developing cases in my own right and building up my own client base. Vines Legal is a great place to work; the atmosphere is so friendly, and we do a great job of supporting our clients with a professional, yet empathetic service. I’m really excited about progressing within the firm.”

When asked what motivates Chloe to be so dedicated to family law she says: “When we see clients at the start of the process, they’re often facing a number of challenges. But with our legal advice and emotional support, they emerge from the other end in a far, far, better place. It’s incredibly rewarding to see this, and a privilege to be able to help people overcome what are often tough situations.”

Find out more about the Vines Legal team, including Chloe, please visit To contact Chloe for a free initial, no obligation consultation, please email, or call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 6 Jul 2021

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How to Avoid Court in Disputes Involving Children

divorce lawyer Chesterfield - How to Avoid Court in Disputes Involving ChildrenGoing through the process of a divorce or separation is undoubtedly one of the most stressful things you’ll endure in your adult life. Unfortunately, it can be even more complex if there are children involved. However, there are steps you and your ex-partner can take to help proceedings run as smoothly as possible.

Of course, this may not be feasible or realistic if your split was acrimonious, but it is possible for separating couples to avoid court. As specialists in matrimonial and family law, here’s our advice on keeping matters involving the future care of your children out of court.

Parenting Plans & Consent Orders

If you and your ex-partner agree on child arrangements, you do not have to complete any official paperwork. But you can write down what you’ve agreed in a parenting plan so that you have a record of the agreement. You can also make your agreement legally binding by engaging a solicitor, who will be able to guide you through the paperwork and draft a ‘consent order’.

This legally binding document basically confirms your agreement in the eyes of the law, and typically includes details regarding where your children with live, when they’ll spend time with each parent, and when and what types of other contact will take place. Once drawn up, you and your ex-partner will both be required to sign the draft consent order, and you’ll also need to get the consent order approved by the Court.

Although you’ll technically need to apply for a court order to get your consent order approved, which a solicitor can help you with, you’ll usually not be required to attend a court hearing, or show that you’ve tried mediation. A judge will then approve your consent order to make it legally binding, as long as they conclude that you’ve made the decisions stated in the consent order in the best interests of your children.

Family Mediation

If you and your ex-partner are unable to come an agreement on child arrangements, family mediation can be a very effective way of reaching a resolution. This service has been available in England and Wales for over 30 years, with the practice expanding to cover all areas of divorce and separation. The main advantage of engaging with a mediator is that they are able to guide towards resolution without taking sides, which can be incredibly useful in situations where emotions may be running high.

At the end of the mediation process, you’ll be presented with a document drawing up everything that you have agreed on. Although this agreement is not legally binding, you can ask a solicitor to draft a consent order at this point for the court to approve.

As you can see, there are several ways in which it’s possible to come to an agreement involving child arrangements without having to attend a court hearing. Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce, including coming to arrangements involving children. If you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, and want to ensure that you protect your children during the process, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation where we can explain all of the options available to you.

By Vines Legal on 8 Jun 2021

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Explaining the Misconceptions of ‘Common Law Marriage’

divorce lawyer Chesterfield misconceptions of common law marriageAccording to findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey carried out by The National Centre for Social Research, 46% of people believe that cohabiting couples automatically form a so called ‘common law marriage’. Despite a huge increase in the number of cohabiting couples, figures have remained largely unchanged since 2005, when 47% believed the same. As experts in matrimonial and family law, we do come across many people who have a similar misconception of common law marriage. So, what does the law say?

Individuals in the Eyes of the Law

As the law stands in England and Wales, there’s no actual legal definition of a cohabitee. This means that the persons involved are still considered individuals in the eyes of the law, despite sharing a home. This can inevitably cause problems for cohabitees who decide to separate, and then find out that they don’t have the same rights as couples who are married or who are in civil partnerships. Despite being widely considered as unfair, the government have made no plans to change the law.

In this modern day and age, more and more people are choosing not to be get married. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), marriages between men and women in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level ever. This may, therefore, present many cohabiting couples with potential problems should they decide to part ways. Despite the common misconception of the common law marriage, because unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples, they’re exempt from maintenance rights, rights to their partner’s pension, and automatic inheritance (unless there is a will in place).

How to Protect Yourself as an Unmarried Couple

If you have chosen to cohabit with your partner, but have no current plans to get married, there are still ways in which you can protect yourself in the event of a separation. For example, a Cohabitation Agreement is often the most sensible solution in this situation, which can be drawn up to cover the financial aspects of your relationship whilst you live together. It is a legal document, therefore needs to be drawn up by a solicitor, but taking the time to complete one can save huge amounts of money on litigation fees should a separation occur in the future.

Cohabitation Agreements

A Cohabitation Agreement is essentially a legal agreement which can be drawn up to regulate the terms of your relationship and decide in advance what would happen to your assets, finances, and family, if you and your partner choose to separate in the future. Many matters can be covered in order to suit your individual situation, including details on the payment of household bills, the ownership of your property, and the care of shared pets.

If you are cohabiting, or thinking of cohabiting, and do not have such an agreement in place, it may be time to seek advice on how to protect yourself in the event of a separation. A Cohabitation Agreement will offer you the legal protection you would need should the worst happen, and can save an awful lot of time, money, and stress, in the long term.

For further advice and expertise surrounding Cohabitation Agreements, contact Vines Legal. An initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers are free, so please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01246 555610.

By Vines Legal on 29 May 2021

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