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FAMILY LAW


How can we help?

Our experienced and expert team of family lawyers can help, no matter how difficult your case is.

We work hard to assist families and couples and provide a range of family law services including (complex) divorce cases, dissolution of civil partnerships, financial arrangements, pre-nuptial agreements, separation agreements, child arrangements, maintenance and all related divorce and family law issues.  We can also assist with issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship following a period of co-habitation. We aim at all times to find a pragmatic, swift and cost -effective resolution to our clients’ problems.


Expertise

In Lorraine Armstrong, we have Gibraltar’s leading family lawyer who has practised in this area since 2003 and is the Head of our Family Law Department.  She is supported by Janieve Hawkins who, since 2015, has earned an excellent reputation in this field.  Lorraine and Janieve together make a formidable team which positions Ellul & Co. as Gibraltar’s leading family law firm.

Historically, Eric Ellul was Gibraltar’s leading family lawyer and he has created the foundations for the firm to become what it is today. 

When he founded Ellul & Co in 1973, to obtain a divorce it was necessary to prove cruelty as one of the medieval grounds, in what came to be known as the ‘blood and tears’ cases.  Long and determined canvassing by Eric Ellul, ‘the divorce lawyer’ as he was popularly known, and standing for election twice as an independent candidate on an essentially divorce law reform ticket to the House of Assembly, as our Parliament was then known, eventually succeeded in a process of general reform of our divorce laws culminating in what is today a sophisticated and fair law for the parties and which ultimately benefits the children of the family.

Eric brings all of his experience to support Lorraine and Janieve in this important area of practice for Ellul & Co.


Divorce and dissolution of Civil Partnerships

Going through a separation and divorce can be an extremely worrying and stressful time with feelings of confusion and concern about your home, your finances and your children.  We guide and support our clients throughout this difficult period.

There has been a recent and welcome overhaul of divorce laws in Gibraltar. Subject to certain jurisdictional requirements being satisfied and provided that couples have been married for at least one year (although this period can be shortened in exceptional circumstances), a divorce can be obtained without the need to allege and prove fault against the other party (adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion) or for the married couple to be separated for a period of years.

Provided that the petitioning party (the person starting the divorce action) is satisfied that their marriage has broken down irretrievably, they will be entitled to a decree of divorce and consent will not be required from the other spouse. This makes the divorce process much quicker and less adversarial.

Dissolution of a Civil Partnership still requires one party to provide evidence of irretrievable breakdown. A specific fault ground must be proved (such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion) or there needs to be a period of separation: two years with consent and three years without consent.  It is hoped that this area of the law will be amended soon in line with Gibraltar’s modernised divorce laws.


Financial matters on divorce or separation

Our family law specialists will advise you on all financial matters involved in divorce or separation including division of property, business interests, inherited wealth and pensions together with maintenance provisions for children and spouses.  We have represented many high net worth clients including those with assets and interests in other jurisdictions.

The majority of financial matters can be successfully negotiated and agreed upon and documented in a binding Financial Separation Agreement and/or a Consent Order from the courts.  However, when court proceedings become necessary, our team are vastly experienced in litigating financial relief proceedings following a divorce.

The recent changes to Gibraltar’s matrimonial laws also permit, subject to a number of jurisdictional requirements, financial relief proceedings being heard in Gibraltar’s Supreme Court following a divorce in a country outside Gibraltar.


Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular and important for future asset and wealth planning/protection when entering into a marriage.   Although common and popular in Europe, in the UK they are not recognised or supported by statute.  Gibraltar is different.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements are now recognised and permitted under our reformed matrimonial legislation.  Pre-Nuptial Agreements, provided that they are drafted in accordance with statutory requirements, will serve to avoid protracted and frequently acrimonious financial relief proceedings following divorce.


Children

Matters concerning children are undoubtedly all parent’s major concern upon separating.  We are experienced in advising and acting in all areas of children’s law, including private law disputes (where a child shall live, contact arrangements, relocation, change of name) and public law (care and adoption proceedings).


Private Law

Many issues often arise in relation to children when parents separate. Where and with whom should a child live, how often a child should have contact with each parent, change of a child’s surname, religious instruction and medical treatment to name just a few.  We focus on handling such matters sensitively and collaboratively so as to avoid acrimony and thereby minimise the negative impact of separation on the children and on the parties.

Our team are also very experienced in dealing with issues involving drug/alcohol misuse and domestic violence.

Given the geography and multi-national make-up of Gibraltar, our family law lawyers also have a breadth of experience in cross-jurisdictional issues concerning children and applications for relocation of a child to another country.

Gibraltar is also unique in that our legislation governing children, grandparents have a right to make an application for contact with their grandchildren.


Maintenance

Ensuring that appropriate financial provision is being paid for the children is often not straight forward.  We will assist in ensuring that parents are receiving and paying maintenance which is both appropriate and meets the needs of the children.

Our Courts require that proper and full financial disclosure is provided in order that the needs of the children can be properly assessed taking into account their parent’s income.  We are very experienced in obtaining maintenance orders and making applications for enforcement when orders are not complied with.


Public Law

Our lawyers are also very experienced in advising and representing parents at the Supreme Court on applications by the Care Agency (Social Services) for Supervision and Care Orders. We provide assistance and guidance to those parents whose children have been placed on “a child in need” plan.  Our lawyers are well-known and respected within the Care Agency which ensures that a parent has, at all times, the best representation at an extremely difficult time in their lives.