TRANS AND NON-BINARY SERVICES

Ben Hoare Bell is the only firm in the region to offer the trans community an exclusive, expert service.

We are passionate about understanding what the trans community need from a solicitor and always act with sensitivity and with expert knowledge. We engage with the trans community to ensure we understand the issues affecting the trans community and are proud of being the only law firm in the region to have a trans family law, exclusive unit.

Should you wish to discuss any one of our services with us, or wonder if we can assist you with something that you may not see on our website please do not hesitate to contact Lui Asquith at our office, without obligation, who will discuss your issue with you in confidence and advise you as to whether you require legal advice.

Should you be looking on our website on behalf of a trans community group and are interested in Ben Hoare Bell coming to provide a presentation to your members on an area of law, please do not hesitate to contact the office.

We offer a range of services for the trans community including the following:

  • Legal Gender Recognition Advice
  • Legal Gender Recognition Advice: Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Change of Name
  • Police Misconduct
  • Hate Crime Support
  • Civil Partnerships and Marriage
  • Divorce, Dissolution and Separation
  • Financial Settlements
  • Child Arrangement Orders
  • Family Creating
  • Childcare
  • Domestic Violence
  • Collaborative Family Law

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

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LEGAL GENDER RECOGNITION ADVICE

We appreciate at Ben Hoare Bell that the decision to ‘gender reassign’ (as the law labels it) it no small thing and our service is provided with the sensitivity and with the proportionate clarity required to make any next stage as easy as possible. We recognise that the current law does not provide for the spectrum of gender identities that exist in society and should you wish to discuss your options considering your personal gender identity, we would encourage you to contact the office, without obligation.

We can explain to you, in simple language, what the legal requirements are and the process involved in applying for a Full Gender Recognition Certificate, governed by the Gender Recognition Act 2004. We are able to offer our clients different levels of assistance, from one ‘advisory meeting’ to support throughout the process. Our clients will therefore at the very least be provided with foundation knowledge needed to understand the legal process, so you can go forward in confidence knowing your rights, and knowing us, should you need us at a later date.

Please note that the process can be complicated if you are married or in a civil partnership (see below section on Gender Reassignment: Marriage and Civil Partnerships) and we would encourage legal advice to be sought, especially if you anticipate your partner not consenting to your GRC application.

Please note that Ben Hoare Bell can only provide legal support and we are unable to provide holistic support. However we do have contacts that can provide this support should you require it. If you would like their contact details please do not hesitate to contact Lui Asquith.

LEGAL GENDER RECOGNITION: MARRIAGE AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIP

If a trans person is in a civil partnership or is married to someone of the same sex, an interim Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) can only be converted into a full GRC in certain circumstances. Issues can arise when the partner to the individual transitioning refuses to consent (which is required) to the change in identified gender if they are married or if a civil partner of a transitioning individual is not also gender reassigning (as civil partnerships in England and Wales are only valid between same sex couples). In this case the civil partnership will have to be converted in to a marriage to avoid the civil partnership being voided. Such scenarios have been termed the “spousal veto”.

Unfortunately, approximately 44% of spouses actively try to prevent their partner from transitioning and some purposefully delay or cause difficulties in divorce or annulment proceedings, or have purposefully delayed or caused difficulties in divorce or annulment proceedings. Alternatively they have used it as leverage when dealing with arrangements for any children or finances. So even where it is the person seeking a GRC initiating a divorce, they can face real difficulties that may not be present if it is their spouse who decides to end the relationship.

Ben Hoare Bell can represent you in either reaching an agreement with your partner or if matters are unable to be resolved, represent you in the breakdown of a relationship (see below section on Divorce, Dissolution and Separation).

CHANGE OF NAME

Here at Ben Hoare Bell we recognise the milestone a change of name can be for a trans individual. It is often a simple process and one we will guide you throughout.

Please note that changing the name of a child is a different matter but is something we can indeed assist you with. However, to allow for clarity please confirm the age of the person wishing to change their name and your relationship to them if it is not for you.

POLICE MISCONDUCT

For more information on Police Misconduct please visit our full service page.

HATE CRIME SUPPORT

The trans community are still victim to hate crime; if you have suffered a hate crime and do not feel the police have dealt with the matter appropriately or if you feel that your particular circumstances require injunctive action, you should contact our office to see if we think you have the basis of a civil claim; our Legal Aid Contract covers applications under the Harassment Act 1997.

Visit our Police Misconduct service for further information.

CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARRIAGE

Same sex couples can now legally marry, or opt to enter a civil partnership. You may be seeking advice as to which route you want to go down, you may be looking to convert a civil partnership in to a marriage or you may have doubts as to your legal status in general for various reasons.

Some areas of law are different for people in a civil partnership as opposed to a marriage. Therefore, if you have any doubts about your entitlements or rights you should seek legal advice to ensure you have a full understanding. This includes issues such as your right to inherit property and relationship breakdown.

We were some of the first to train in this specialist area of civil partnership law and have done training for groups such as the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

DIVORCE, DISSOLUTION AND SEPARATION

No one likes to think of their relationship breaking down. Unfortunately it does happen and the team at Ben Hoare Bell provide a service to our clients that will provide you with the sound legal advice you need to make an irrevocable breakdown as easy as possible.

The legal advice provided to you will depend on whether you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting; for example, instead of a divorce to end the relationship a civil partnership needs to be formally dissolved. We will guide you through the relevant process, keeping everything as clear as possible the whole way.

For more information see our service for Divorce and Separation.

FINANCIAL SETTLEMENTS

If you are going through a divorce, dissolution or separation you will need to come to an agreement about your finances. You can do this with or without help of a family law solicitor, although you may wish to take advice on your options and make sure any agreement you reach is confirmed in writing and, if advised, made into a court order.

CHILD ARRANGEMENT ORDERS

Previously applicants made ‘Residence’ and ‘Contact’ applications. However these were replaced with ‘Child Arrangements Orders’ from 22nd April 2014. These are defined as orders:

(a) with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact; and

(b) when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.

There are specific requirements as to who can apply and the process involved depending on who is applying. Legal advice should be sought to ensure the correct Order is applied for, should mediation be unsuccessful.

You should also seek legal advice about specific issues such as whether you are able to take a child on holiday and if you want to change your child’s name.

FAMILY CREATING

Same sex couples cannot genetically have children together. However there are many ways in which they may come to bring up children together within a family. Ben Hoare Bell celebrate and support that there are now alternative means for everyone in society to have children outside of the non-traditional method.

The manner by which a child is introduced in a same-sex relationship has a considerable impact on which parents are considered to have “parental responsibility” for that child. If you are considering starting your own family, we can provide you with initial guidance as to the different options to assist you in making a decision as to which option suits your circumstances. Once you have decided, or if you have already decided we can guide you through the process to ensure that your family is undisputable. The law surrounding same-sex parents is complex and if legal advice is not sought from the outset then it can result in complications and unnecessary further expense further down the line.

We can provide advice on the following areas:

Should you wish to discuss a method you cannot see on our website, please contact Ben Hoare Bell Solicitor Lui Asquith to discuss, without obligation, in confidence.

CHILDCARE

Our childcare solicitors are members of the Law Society Children Panel, which denotes expertise in this area. We can help with all sorts of legal issues concerning childcare including:

  • Residence, contact and parental responsibility disputes
  • Child Protection and social services issues including attendance at Child Protection Conferences
  • Care Proceedings
  • Adoption

We are able to advise and assist in situations where social services have become involved either because families have sought their assistance or because of social services concerns.

We advise and assist parents at the start of child protection procedures, including attendance at Child Protection Conferences and related advice. We can also represent clients if Care Proceedings are commenced by the Local Authority.

Local Authority Issues

One of the most distressing things that can happen is that social services become involved with your child or a child for which you have responsibility. We appreciate that dealing with the local authority and social services is a daunting prospect and is often very difficult to do without legal advice. We can be there throughout the whole process, advise you on the procedure and represent you at court hearings and meetings with the local authority. We are there to be your support and act in the best interests of the child.

Unfortunately if the local authority does not think you are giving the child the right care they may apply to the court for a care order. If a care order is granted the local authority has control over your parental responsibility for the child and can limit what you can and cannot do. In many cases this is not what is best for the child and we can act for you if you wish to oppose the application.

The court could also make a supervision order or a child arrangements order, detailing who the child should live with and have contact with. If you are concerned that any of these orders are being made please contact us as soon as you can.

We are also experienced in working with guardians and other members of the child’s family such as grandparents and aunts and uncles.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic abuse is not well recognised in the LGBTQ community. However it is a serious issue. It is estimated that about 25% of LGBTQ people suffer through violent or threatening relationships with partners or ex-partners which is about the same rate as domestic abuse against heterosexual women.

Domestic violence can take many different forms – physical, sexual, financial or emotional. Each case is different apart from the fact that none of them should happen.

As most forms of domestic violence are criminal offences you should also speak to the police. However if you do not want to go down the criminal route there are civil options available to you. We can apply for an injunction against the person committing the domestic violence. For example this can prevent the other person from threatening you or contacting you. In serious situations we can apply for emergency injunctions which means the other person is not aware that we are making the application.

We can apply for non-molestation orders, occupation orders and prohibited steps orders amongst others.

We can deal with emergency situations and will aim to meet you on the same day. We also have many links with local refuge centres around the North East and we will seek to ensure you are put out of immediate danger and put you in contact with one of these places.

If you are suffering domestic abuse please contact us as soon as possible as there are usually many options available to you.

COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW

The family team at Ben Hoare Bell are committed to dealing with cases in a non-confrontational manner and to assist clients to settle their differences by agreement, wherever possible.

Therefore we are able to offer a Collaborative Law process. To learn more about this visit our main Collaborative Family Law service page.

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