Sean Middleton - Family Law
Sean Middleton is a trained barrister who has practiced law for many years in multiple jurisdictions. Offering a direct and honest approach to complex issues, Sean Middleton offers great clarity to his clients, whilst always preferring to find solutions out of court.
- Part 1: Presentation and specialties of Sean Middleton
- Part 2: Case study
- Part 3: What people can expect when working with Sean
- Part 4: Questions concerning the children involved
- Part 5: How do you help a parent who is worrying about the finances in the divorce?
- Part 6: What sort of questions are vital to ask your family lawyer?
Part 1: Presentation and specialties of Sean Middleton
What’s your background, Sean?
I was born and educated in South Africa. I also served in the South African Defence Force before pursuing a career in law in the UK.
What drove you to become a barrister?
After being in the army and going through the rigours of officer training, it felt like a natural progression. In the military, you need a wide set of skills such as problem-solving, dealing with adversarial situations and thinking on your feet which you are trained and conditioned to deal with from start to finish. Law is not a question of life and death in the UK, but lives are impacted greatly by the decisions of the courts and it is critical to have representation who will cope with the pressures of court cases.
What in short, are your specialties?
I am a Barrister, which means that I have direct access to courts. Having said this, I should add that I have a number of areas of legal practice expertise, but I am using Welink Legal to focus on Family Matters.
Part 3: Case Study
Can you give a typical case study for some of your family law work?
My family law work focuses on 3 primary areas of legal assistance:
- Child Contact and visitation rights: Assistance for parents to be able to see their children when going through or after a divorce.
- Children at Risk: Assistance in helping promote the child's welfare and best interests.
- Financial Division of the Matrimonial Estate: Assistance in making sure that the assets and earnings accumulated during marriages are divided equitably and fairly.
Part 4: What people can expect when working with Sean
What can people expect from your divorce work in terms of prices?
The simple fact is that solicitors will cost more money, so if you want to save money in your case, hire me to make sure your costs will be clear from the beginning.
I agree to a fixed fee upfront with my clients which is transparent and tailored to the needs of the individual case.
How will we stay in contact over the course of the case?
Communication over sensitive issues is always important to deal with in a delicate and timely manner. Generally by phone, I’ll get back to clients within 10 minutes if I miss the call. However, if I’m in court then it’ll be 24 hours maximum.
How long will a process of divorce take on average?
It depends when I come in on the problem. If the matter is urgent or an emergency, I specialise in getting in front of a judge within about 24 hours. These situations are rare and certain criteria have to be met - that is one of the advantages of having a barrister in your case.
Speaking more generally, there are always three hearings in divorce and sometimes with an additional fact-finding hearing.
- First hearing: The introduction of the case to the court.
- Directions Hearing: The judge gives directions and instructions to the parties to obtain important elements such as bank slips, GP’s notes, CAFCASS & social workers’ reports.
- Fact-finding – where certain allegations are made, a Court will order a fact-finding hearing.
- Final Hearing: The decision.
Part 5: Questions concerning the children involved
How can I see my child during the proceedings?
It is important to know that in the family law “seeing” your child physically already falls into the category of something called “Direct Contact”. This differs from “Indirect Contact” which can be phone calls and video calls or letters and cards with the child.
In the UK, we have contact centres that enable parents to see their children in a safe environment in certain cases which fall under “Direct Contact.” This is an interim step.
My role is to tell the judge via a court order that the parents want to establish contact with the children.
How can you help parents keep seeing their children after the case?
Re-establishing Interim Contact is the initial step. The next step is going to be obtaining a final contact order at the final hearing.
How do you help a divorced parent whose children are at risk from the other partner?
I can help get an order from the court to prevent the parent who is presenting a risk to have either direct or indirect contact.
Part 6: How do you help a parent who is worrying about the finances in the divorce?
Financial division is very simple and specific. It is designed around the needs of the children.
If there is enough equity in the financial post, the next question is: is there enough money for both parties to resettle themselves with new homes and new mortgages?
My role in this part is to mediate a financial agreement between the two parties. In an ideal situation, this is the part in which we can come to an amicable agreement where both parties are happy.
Afterward, if there is failure to agree, I go back to an adversarial mode, defend the position of my client and strive to achieve my client’s expectations via a court application or formal mediation.
I think it’s safe to say that my tactical training in the army has helped when defending my position.
Part 7: What sort of questions are vital to ask your family lawyer?
Fees are very important for any family issue. From the beginning to end you will need a budget to hire a lawyer to help navigate through the court proceedings.
The simple fact of the matter is that divorces can go up in price so what I can do to sort it out is be open and transparent. When you have direct court access with a barrister, the prices will not go up if the case drags.
Don’t ask your lawyer but rather tell the lawyer what your expectations are from the case. Expectations can vary from questions like “Am I going to see my kids?”, “How much of the house’s value can I take?”, “My husband/wife cheated on me, so what are my rights now that I want to get divorced?”
Asking these sorts of questions is vital to ensure that you get the barrister or lawyer who is right for you.