Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Did you know? – the length of time you live together before marriage can affect the share you receive of matrimonial assets if you divorce …

Larry the cat

Larry the cat lives at 10 Downing Street. If he’s anything like my cat he’s always changing his mind. You let him in and straightaway he wants to go out again. He’s out, and next thing you know, he’s yowling at the door. It’s possible some humans are like this too. Forever changing their mind, chopping and changing, difficult to pin down.

Chopping and changing

But chopping and changing can lead to consequences if you’re a human being. Let’s pretend you’ve been married twice – in fact you’re still married to your second wife –  and you’re living at – um, well – let’s say an address in the centre of London not a million miles from Larry the cat. Some commentators are now referring to your cohabitee as the “First Girlfriend”.

Tot up the years

Perhaps you’re pondering marriage to the First Girlfriend once you’re divorced from your second wife. Heaven forbid this third marriage won’t last but say if it doesn’t? And say if it doesn’t last very long at all? How do you protect yourself against a claim that, taken together with the previous cohabitation, it wasn’t a short marriage? Perhaps it’s time to take advice from an expert family lawyer.

Why length of marriage is important

The starting point for the division of matrimonial assets is equal division (see my blog on Financial settlements). But this doesn’t always apply to short marriages. Take a look at my blog Short marriages – 10 things you need to know. So if you’re only married for a short period of time you might not want any prior period of cohabitation to count.

When does living together count towards length of marriage

The Court has set down that the time you live together is counted if you move “seamlessly” from living together to marriage. The Judge in the case of GW v RW said, “… where a relationship moves seamlessly from cohabitation to marriage without any major alteration in the way the couple live, it is unreal and artificial to treat the periods differently.”

What does move “seamlessly” mean

  • When you lived together – was it the same as being married but without the ceremony? And did you simply then get married and it made no difference?
  • Or alternatively were you just trying each other out, seeing if there was any possibility of a marriage some time in the future?

In the latter case, well, it’s just not the same as being married is it.

Are you cohabiting

Dates of cohabitation are frequently disputed. So perhaps you need it agreed and written down somewhere.

What’s the answer

When you move in together you could have a Cohabitation Agreement recording the date you started living together. See my blog about Cohabitation AgreementsWhen you decide to get married you can have a Prenuptial Agreement stating them same. A prenup can be vital in many circumstances – see my blog 10 reasons you need a prenuptial agreement when life is rosy 

Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on the question Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage Larry the Cat outside 10 Downing St by Parrot of Doom on Wikimedia Commons

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What Are The Property Rights of Unmarried Couples?

Property Rights of Unmarried Couples
Has your relationship broken down? The property rights of unmarried couples are different in many ways to the rights of married couples and those in civil partnerships. And please remember, there’s no such thing as a common law marriage.

So what are you going to do about:

  • property
  • assets
  • debts
  • your children

Home in joint names

Are you going to sell or is one of you going to buy the other out? But what’s your share? – if you own it in joint names you’re entitled to half of the net sale proceeds. So now’s the time to get some idea of the value from a couple of estate agents.

Declaration of trust

This sets out the shares in which you own the property. But not sure what it means or if it’s valid? Please don’t forget to consult an expert family law solicitor.

Cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement is always a good idea, see my post 6 Things you must include in a cohabitation agreement. If you do have one it may set out the shares in which you intend to own the property. But do you own the property as tenants in common with a declaration of trust?

Tenants in common

See my post Shall I buy a house with my partner for a clear explanation of the difference between owning in joint names and owning as tenants in common. But even if you do own the property as tenants in common, is this backed up by a declaration of trust?

Can’t agree a sale or your respective shares 

You may have to make an application to Court under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act. But save yourself time and money with an out of court settlement.  See my recent post How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration

Home in sole name

If you live in a property owned by your partner you may have a claim if:

  • you contributed to the purchase price (including making mortgage payments) or to the value of the property in money, or money’s worth. For example did you refurbish the property?
  • or perhaps your partner said you would always have a roof over your head.

You may have an interest in the property under trust law. But beware, these cases can be expensive and complicated. Try an out of Court approach first.

What about a home for the children?

You can make a claim for financial provision for the children including property or a share of property under Schedule 1 of the Children Act. Here again, try an out of Court approach first.

Other assets

It all comes down to ownership. If they’re in joint names, you’re entitled to half. If in sole name, they belong to just one of you.

What about debts?

If they’re in joint names, you’re jointly liable. If the debts are in your sole name, you’re solely liable.

Domestic abuse

You can make an application to the Court under the Family Law Act 1996 to:

  • protect you from domestic abuse and
  • protect your occupation of your home

Child maintenance 

Visit the Child Maintenance Options site and find out the best way to agree a family-based arrangement. You and your partner may be able to make your own arrangement about how much child support to pay. Here’s a link to an online child maintenance calculator

But if you can’t agree you’ll need to go through the Child Maintenance Service (and pay a fee). See my blog What are your child maintenance options.

Who are the children going to live with? Who are the children going to see?

Try to agree between yourselves. If you can’t, try an out of Court approach such as:

See my recent blog How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration

Parental responsibility

PR is all the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. For example, to be consulted on matters of education, religion, medical intervention. All mothers have it and unmarried fathers (or fathers not in civil partnerships) if they:

  • jointly register the birth of the child with the mother (from 1 December 2003)
  • enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • obtain a parental responsibility order from the Court

Here again, if you can’t agree, an out of Court approach may help.

If your partner has died

You may have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act for financial provision from their estate if your partner:

  • didn’t make provision for you in their will
  • didn’t make sufficient provision, or
  • perhaps didn’t make a will at all

What Are The Property Rights of Unmarried Couples?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on the question What Are The Property Rights of Unmarried Couples? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What Are The Property Rights of Unmarried Couples? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for What Are The Property Rights of Unmarried Couples? Couple at Each by Anuvand 68 on Wikimedia  

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How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration

Family Mediation Collaborative Law Arbitration
Family courts are full to bursting. Top family law judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, says families need to find other ways to settle disputes. But is this realistic? “Yes,” says Joanne Houston of Just Family Law. “Out of court settlements provide solutions specially tailored to your family’s needs. You’ll save time and money, and you’ll be able to move forward amicably with your ex.”

DIY

The simplest approach is to negotiate directly with your ex although of course this isn’t always possible. If you’re able to discuss matters between you please make sure you take advice from an expert family lawyer . You need to know what you’re entitled to and how to protect:

  • yourself
  • your property and money
  • the children.

See my recent blog Financial settlement on divorce – How to get the best one for you

But if DIY is not for you, what are the options? Your solicitor can advise you of the most suitable route for you.

Leave it to the lawyers

Perhaps you’ll decide to negotiate with your ex through your solicitor. Because this in many ways remains the norm in relationship breakdown. Your solicitor will represent you and support you and will help you achieve your goals. You’ll be able to rely on their professional experience to communicate on your behalf with your ex’s solicitors. And you can attend roundtable meetings and your solicitor will represent you.

Mediation

Mediation is a fast, low cost solution where you are both directly in charge of the outcome. What does a mediator do? He or she will help you identify the issues between you and help you reach an agreement. If you can’t sit in the same room as your ex there can be ‘shuttle’ mediation. But please take legal advice alongside the mediation process. This is vital because the mediator can’t advise you of your rights. Which mediator to chose? Your solicitor will be able to recommend the most suitable mediator for your case.

Hybrid mediation

You both attend mediation and you take your solicitors along – helpful if there’s conflict between you, because the presence of solicitors will keep things objective. Your solicitor will even be able to speak on your behalf. Hybrid is also helpful where a legal issue is getting in the way of settling your dispute.

Collaborative law

A specially trained collaborative lawyer can help you reach an agreement tailored to your, and your family’s, individual needs. But how does this work? You and your solicitor, and your ex and their solicitor, all sign a Participation Agreement. This states you commit to reaching an out of court settlement. And if you don’t reach an agreement, your solicitor won’t be able to represent you in court – an incentive to finding a solution! What is the collaborative process? Your solicitor will be at your side to advise, support and speak for you at a series of roundtable meetings. And other experts can help if necessary. These include:

  • independent financial advisor
  • family consultant
  • child specialist
  • accountant

See my recent blog What is Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative law is a constructive process and you and your ex remain in control of it.

Arbitration

Arbitration is a relatively new option in family law but provides several strong advantages. But what’s an arbitrator? An arbitrator is a family lawyer – perhaps even a judge – with special training. You and your ex both agree to be bound by their determination. The arbitrator can look at all the issues – money and property and children. Or they can narrow it down to just one question such as where the children are to live. They’re also trained to listen to children. Arbitration is more flexible than court as you decide the venue and the timing. And it’s less formal – you can even ask for it to be conducted in writing.

Consent order

An arbitration provides you with a binding determination. But if you reach agreement through another avenue you’ll need the protection of a consent order sealed by the court. Your solicitor can help you with this. It’s a paper procedure and unlikely to involve a court hearing. But it’s vital because:

  • your ex will have to keep to what’s been agreed
  • you’ll be protected from future claims if eg you come into money.

See my recent blog How do I get a Consent Order

How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration Woman redhead natural portrait by dusdin on Wikimedia

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Does splitting up affect tax in the UK?

Does splitting up affect tax in the UK?
Megan Saksida of Meganomics, Chartered Accountant, lecturer and writer on private client taxes.

Yes, says guest blogger Megan Saksida of Meganomics, but HMRC may not consider you separated for tax purposes. This is because it depends whether there is –

  • a Court order
  • a deed of separation
  • an intention on the part of both of you to separate – that’s a total separation, not something that is on/off.

In Benford v HMRC (2011) the couple said their separation was permanent. But they were so amicable that after a year he moved back home because she was expecting their baby. Not sure about the legal status of your separation? Speak to an expert family lawyer.

Why is the date of separation important

The way you are taxed before and after separation is different. This goes for both capital gains tax and income tax.

Are there tax advantages to staying together

Yes, there are. These are what you stand to lose –

  • married couples allowance
  • transferable allowance for married couples
  • treatment of joint asset income
  • capital gains tax exemption

Are there tax advantages to splitting up

Yes, if one of you is a high earner because high income child benefit charge only applies if you’re married, in a civil partnership, or living together as such.

The married couples allowance

This is £8,695 if you’re together for the full tax year. It’s reduced in the year of marriage or civil partnership but is available in full in the year of separation. This allowance is given to the higher earner of the couple if one of you was born before 6 April 1935.

If you separate – How will this affect married couples allowance? It’s still available in the year of separation. And if you reconcile it’s available for the tax year of reconciliation on a pro rata basis.

The transferable allowance for married couples

Do you both pay basic rate tax? Are you married or in a civil partnership for all of the tax year? If so, one of you can decide to donate ten percent of their personal allowance to the other. A good idea if one of you isn’t using up all their personal allowance. Note: it doesn’t increase the personal allowance of the other but reduces their tax liability by 20 percent of the personal allowance transferred – £238 in 2018/2019.

If you separate – How will this affect the transferable allowance for married couples? It’s given in full in both the year of the marriage and the year of the separation. It will cease the tax year after the divorce unless the donating spouse withdraws the transfer earlier.

Treatment of joint asset income

Do you own a “buy to let”? HMRC sees you as equally entitled to the income even if you own the property in unequal shares. You can tell HMRC you want to go for unequal shares of income. But this means your ownership of the property will have to be unequal too. This only applies whilst you are living together.

If you separate – How will this affect treatment of joint asset income? Instead of HMRC taxing you on equal shares of income irrespective of your actual share of ownership of the property, tax will now apply depending on your actual share.

High income child benefit charge

If either of you earn a “net adjusted income” of over £50,000, HMRC claws back one percent of child benefit for every £100 you earn over £50,000. This doesn’t just apply to married couples and those in civil partnerships but to those who live together as such too.

If you separate – How will this affect high income child benefit charge? If you opted not to receive the benefit because the salary of the other was above the minimum even though your own income wasn’t, you may wish to reinstate the benefit once the separation is permanent.

Capital gains tax exemption

Transfers between spouses and civil partners are treated as being made on a “no gain no loss” basis which means no tax is due. Any asset gifted between them keeps its original cost. It’s only when the recipient sells the asset to someone else that there is a chargeable gain or loss.

If you separate – How will this affect capital gains tax exemption? The exemption for gifts between you can be used until the end of the tax year (5 April) of the year of separation. Of course, these transfers only save CGT for the donor spouse. Whereas the donee spouse will eventually have all the gain over both the donor’s and the donee’s period of ownership if the asset is sold. Negotiations for a financial settlement should take into account the impact of CGT in this situation.

After the tax year of the separation is over you will be treated as connected parties and any transfers will be deemed by HMRC to have been made at market value. For example, Andy and Dave split up. They reach a financial settlement in their divorce after the tax year of separation. Andy owns the holiday home in Devon in his sole name. He agrees to give it to Dave. Andy will be liable to CGT as, for tax purposes, the Devon holiday home will be regarded as having been transferred to Dave at market value. This is even if no cash changes hands. If the holiday home has increased in value during Andy’s ownership more than the annual exemption available to him in the year of the disposal he will be liable to CGT at either 18 or 28 percent depending on his income tax level.

After the divorce goes through the couple are no longer connected parties. But take care, they may still be connected parties for another reason. Are they both partners of a partnership? Or is one the trustee of a trust the other set up?

Does splitting up affect tax in the UK

Contact Joanne Houston for expert advice on the question Does splitting up affect tax in the UK on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation. In this 20 minute session Joanne will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Does splitting up affect tax in the UK are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UKThe Government has announced it will legislate for no-fault divorce as soon as parliamentary time allows. If you are keen to start your divorce and not sure whether to wait until the law changes, speak to an expert family lawyer.

What is no-fault divorce?

This is a way of getting divorced without raising conflict. Currently you have to rely on a reason:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation without consent

Allegations of adultery and unreasonable behaviour raise tensions, and if the divorce is contested, the only option can be to wait five years. The most amicable solution at the moment is two years separation with consent. No-fault divorce means the marriage has broken down but no one is in the wrong, and you don’t have to wait for years.

Why has the Government decided to act?

Resolution and other organisations have been lobbying. And the case of Owens v Owens has been in the news. Mrs Owens said her marriage was over because of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. But he contested the divorce and she is now in the process of waiting five years to reach the end of her unhappy marriage.

Why is no-fault divorce a good idea?

Joanne Houston of Just Family Law says no-fault divorce will reduce conflict in divorce and protect children. She adds, “This presents an opportunity for parting couples to engage in a constructive rather than a destructive process.” Joanne is a specialist in collaborative family law which allows couples to reach amicable agreements, avoid Court proceedings, and move forward with dignity and positivity. See my post, What is collaborative family law. Other options are –

How will no-fault divorce work?

The details have yet to be fully formulated but there will be a minimum time from start to finish of six months. There will still be a decree nisi and decree absolute stage. See my recent post How to file for divorce for a basic guide to divorce under the current law.

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

A Court order finalising the finances is only available once the first divorce decree has been granted (the “decree nisi”). Hence it’s a good idea to sort out the divorce and the finances at the same time. See my blog What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement.

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

 In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK? Family Portrait by Eric Ward on Wikimedia

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Do I need permission to take my children on holiday?

Do I need permission to take my children on holiday?

Can you take the children on holiday without permission from the other parent or the Court? It depends. In this blog I will set out what you need to consider. But as getting it wrong can have very serious consequences please get advice from a family law expert if you have any doubts.

The important factors you will need to consider are –

  • Is the holiday in England or Wales.
  • Or is it elsewhere – Scotland, Ireland or abroad.
  • Is it for less than 28 days.
  • Has the Court made a child arrangements order saying with whom the children will live.
  • Do you both have parental responsibility.

The holiday is in England or Wales

If the children live with you, you can take them on holiday without permission. If they don’t live with you, you can take them on holiday during a contact visit. But it’s best if parents discuss holiday plans well in advance in order to keep things amicable and to avoid misunderstandings.

The holiday is elsewhere – Scotland, Ireland or abroad

You can take the children on holiday without the other parent’s permission or the permission of the Court if –

  • there is a child arrangements order saying the children live with you, even if it’s not all of the time (as long as the time is defined), and
  • the holiday is less than a month (usually defined as 28 days)

For the lawyers and law students among you, this is set out in s.13 Children Actthe geographical extent of which is England and Wales. For everyone else, please read your child arrangements order carefully and all the way through.

But if the other parent doesn’t have parental responsibility (see below) you don’t have to consult them at all. However taking a child abroad where there is no child arrangements order and without the consent of the other parent when they do have parental responsibility is child abduction – a criminal offence. So if you have the slightest doubt, please get advice from a family law expert.

Here again, don’t forget to discuss your plans with the other parent in order to keep things amicable and avoid misunderstandings.

Who has parental responsibility?

  • all mothers
  • fathers who
    • were married to the mother at the time of the birth or subsequently
    • are named on the birth certificate (from 1 December 2003)
    • have entered into a parental responsibility agreement
    • have a parental responsibility order

Discuss your plans with the other parent 

This applies whether the children live with you or the other parent. Start discussing your plans as early as possible. Share your holiday itinerary. Take turns with significant holidays such as Passover, Easter or Ramadan.

If the children don’t live with you, you might be surprised how keen the other parent is for them to go on holiday with you. This doesn’t mean they aren’t a good parent, it’s just that they need a break. And if the children live with you, remember to respect their right to enjoy quality time with their other parent.

If you can’t agree,

may be the answer. In mediation or collaborative law, a family consultant can be involved to help with communication or non-legal issues.

Discuss your plans with the children 

Bracing walks on the coast might sound great to you but the children might prefer to laze around on a sunny beach. And don’t forget the children have their own commitments. Is there something coming up they really don’t want to miss? Or are exams on the horizon, should they be at home revising?

Make sure they stay in touch with the other parent 

When they’re away on holiday, even if they’re having a great time with you, they are likely to miss their other parent so work out in advance how and when they will stay in contact.

Seeing other family members

Don’t forget holidays are a valuable opportunity for children to see their wider family.

Grandparents

It can be difficult for grandparents to see their grandchildren, let alone come to an agreement to take them on holiday. See my blog Do grandparents have rights?

Do I need permission to take my children on holiday?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question Do I need permission to take my children on holiday? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Do I need permission to take my children on holiday? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Do I need permission to take my children on holiday? Caretta Beach Holiday Village on WikimediaThis image has been adjusted.

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How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK?

How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK

How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK?

Family home, pensions, inheritances, business assets, there’s a lot to think about. And is it matrimonial or non matrimonial property?

The starting place is a fifty/fifty split but there are considerations under s.25 Matrimonial Causes Act –

  • the welfare of any children
  • income, earning capacity, property
  • financial needs
  • standard of living
  • ages and length of marriage
  • disabilities
  • contributions
  • conduct if inequitable to disregard it

How do we reach an agreement about assets?

If you can reach an agreement, well done, but run it past an experienced family lawyer to make sure it’s fair. If you can’t agree try –

Whichever method you will need to give full and frank disclosure of your finances. See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce, 10 things you need to know. And you need a Court order to protect you. See my blog How do I get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide

What about my home?

The options are –

  • one of you buys the other out, or
  • you sell and divide the proceeds, or
  • one of you keeps the house and the other has an interest in it which they realise in the future. This is called a charge.

What is a charge on the home?

This works well if there are children. You can’t afford to buy each other out and a sale won’t realise enough to house you both. Perhaps there’s only a tiny equity. But how is this fair for the parent who won’t live there and won’t be receiving any cash? The answer is an interest in the property, a charge representing a certain percentage of its value. This means in the future you will get capital from the property.

When do I get the money from the charge?

There are various ways it can be worded. For example, when the children turn eighteen years of age or when the parent living there remarries or cohabits for a certain period.

What about pensions?

Pensions can be significant especially if one of you works in the public sector. In the heat of the moment one of you might say, Keep the pension, I want the house! But this isn’t always wise. It might be better to sell the house, split the proceeds and downsize so you can have a pension sharing order to provide you with income in retirement. See my blog Pensions on Divorce, what can you expect.

How will the assets be split in my case?

It really is impossible to generalise but I can give you a couple of examples.

Sue and John – older couple, no mortgage, no kids

So you’re both in good health and you have a range of assets – nice house, couple of cars, pensions, savings. You are likely to come away with half each, a fifty/fifty split. How this is achieved is up to you. One of you buys the other’s interest in the house. Or you sell it and split the proceeds. You could say, I’ll have the yacht, you have the timeshare. Tot it up so you make sure you’re getting equal value. Don’t forget to get a Consent Order – see my blog How do I get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide

Emma and Mike – two kids, big mortgage, little equity

This is more tricky. The top priority is a home for the children and the only option is the family house. A transfer of the house to Emma with a charge to Mike might be the answer.

Olivia and David – short marriage, no kids

The rules are different for short marriages, see my blog Short marriages, 10 things you need to know.

What about my inheritance?

It depends on –

  • when you received it
  • whether you mixed it with the matrimonial assets or kept it separate
  • whether there are enough non-inheritance assets to provide a fair settlement

See my blog How to protect inheritance on divorce.

I have a business, what will happen to that?

See my blog How to protect business on divorce

But I contributed everything to this marriage!

Sometimes you can keep non matrimonial assets out of the pot for division. These include –

  • Assets built up before the marriage
  • Inheritances
  • Businesses

But non matrimonial assets will go into the pot if this is the only way for example to answer the children’s need for housing. See my blog Ring fence and protect assets on divorce.

What is a clean break, can I still get maintenance?

See my blog Maintenance and clean break on divorce.

How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK? Moving a House on Wikimedia

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How do I get a Consent Order? A simple guide

How do I get a Consent Order?
Rosalind Russell in the 1949 movie ‘Tell it to the Judge’ – and that, in essence, is what a Consent Order is all about

  What’s a Consent Order?

You’ve agreed the matrimonial finances. The next step is to get a Consent Order so you know it’s done and dusted. Once it’s made, neither of you can:

  • go back on the agreement
  • come back for a second bite of the cherry.

  How do I get a Consent Order?

Contact an experienced family lawyer because your Consent Order needs to be technically accurate.

  When’s the best time to get a Consent Order?

As soon as you are in agreement. But did you know that a Consent Order cannot be made by the Court until your decree nisi has been pronounced?

  What do I send to the Court?

  What’s a ‘statement of information for Consent Order’?

This sets out your finances. It’s vital to complete it accurately. See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need To Know for the dire consequences of being less than frank in financial disclosure.

  What will the Court do?

The Court’s duty is to make sure the Consent Order is fair, makes proper financial provision, and is technically correct. The Court will firstly consider the welfare of any children. It will then consider your –

  • income, earning capacity, property
  • financial needs
  • standard of living during marriage
  • ages and length of marriage 
  • disabilities
  • contributions made 
  • conduct if it would be inequitable to disregard it

If the Court isn’t convinced it’s fair, or if the order is technically incorrect, they will raise queries. These can mostly be dealt with by letter. Occasionally there can be a short Court hearing.

If you want to make sure you come to a fair agreement, read my blog Financial Settlement on Divorce, How To Get The Best One For You – 5 FAQs.

  How can a Consent Order be wrong?

If it’s unfair. For example if one of you ends up with valuable assets but the other doesn’t. But this can sometimes be fair if there are unusual circumstances such as a short marriage. See my blog Short Marriages – 10 Things You Need To Know

  How else can a Consent Order be wrong?

If there are technical errors. The Court can only make certain orders. These include:

  How to get a Consent Order right

The simplest answer is to ask an experienced family lawyer to draft it for you.

  What’s a recital/preamble?

The paragraphs above the words “By Consent it is Ordered“. What’s included?

  • Agreements that can’t be orders
  • Undertakings to the Court (an undertaking is a solemn promise to the Court)

For example to return the oil painting of your mother in law. Or to take turns looking after Rover, the beloved family pet. Or to pay the mortgage on the family home. This is relevant if the house will be yours but the mortgage is still in joint names because of financial constraints.

  But what happens if my ex ignores what’s in the recital/preamble?

You can make an application to the Court for enforcement.

  When does a Consent Order come into effect?

When it’s sealed by the Court, or when your decree absolute is obtained, whichever is later.

  How do I get a Consent Order?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How do I get a Consent Order? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How do I get a Consent Order? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image credit for How do I get a Consent Order? Columbia’s ‘Tell it to the Judge’

 

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Coercive control – what is it and are you a victim of it?

Coercive Control
Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight, the film that gave us the term “gaslighting” because her character is controlled and humiliated by her husband

Coercive control – what is it and are you a victim of it?

In 2010 Sally Challen hammered her husband, Richard Challen, to death, and she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to eighteen years. But on 28 February 2019 the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial. Why? Mrs Challen, 65, says her husband controlled and humiliated her for forty years.

Are you being coercively controlled?

The person doing it wants you to think you are in the wrong and they are in the right. So it can take victims a lot of courage and resolution to do anything about it. If you think you may be a victim please contact the police. Also make sure to ask an experienced family lawyer for advice.

What is coercive control?

If you’ve experienced coercive control you are likely to be fearful, and you may even feel as if you’re going mad. Here are some examples:

  • Use and threats of violence to get you to do things you don’t want to
  • Sexual coercion
  • Belittling you to make you feel worthless
  • Criticising your appearance and telling you what to wear
  • Threats to tell the authorities or friends and families about you
  • Threats of harm to your child, friends, family or pets
  • Controlling your communications and social media, and distancing you from your friends, family and co-workers
  • Financial control
  • “Gaslighting” – accusing you of doing things you haven’t done, or not doing things you have
  • Damaging your property – smashing your phone or laptop
  • Denying you food or other essential requirements
  • Forcing you to take part in criminal activity or child abuse

Victims can feel confused and trapped and as if they are hostages. They can form an unhealthy dependency on the perpetrator. Anyone can be a victim – young or old.

Are you “personally connected”?

The next question is, does your relation to this person fall within the following list?

  • Romantic or sexual relationship
  • Engaged or married or in a civil partnership
  • Divorced or previously engaged
  • Family member, if only by marriage, and living together
  • Previously in an intimate relationship, and living together
  • Sharing a child/parental responsibility

This of course includes same sex relationships.

If you do not have any of these connections you are still protected under the Protection from Harassment Act. Contact the police and take advice from an experienced family lawyer.

What can victims of coercive control do?

The police and/or the civil Courts can protect you. Coercive control became a criminal offence in December 2015 and can lead to imprisonment. Contact the police or an experienced family lawyer, or report domestic abuse and coercive control to:

What can the police do to help?

It’s up to the police to obtain evidence but if you can keep a diary and any texts or emails that’s a help. But please don’t endanger yourself by collecting evidence yourself.

What can family law and the Courts do to help?

Make a non molestation order to protect you. Contact an experienced family lawyer.

Coercive Control – what is it and are you a victim of it?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question Coercive Control – what is it and are you a victim of it? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Coercive control – what is it and are you a victim of it? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Coercive Control – what is it and are you a victim of it? Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 filmGaslight” on Wikimedia 

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Shall I buy a house with my partner?



Shall I buy a house with my partner?

Shall I buy a house with my partner?

You face a big decision. There are many factors to consider but don’t forget to think about how the two of you will own it because this can have very serious implications for couples who aren’t married or in civil partnerships. Did you know there’s a choice between:

  • Joint tenants and
  • Tenants in common?

 Joint tenants/tenants in common – what’s the difference?

I will explain in simple terms but if you are at all puzzled please get in touch. And when it comes to the paperwork for buying the house, make sure your conveyancer goes over the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common and gives you lots of time to think about it before you sign. Wrong decisions have consequences.

 “Joint tenants” explained …

When I tell clients about being joint tenants I usually draw a picture of a house, let’s say in blue, and then draw exactly the same picture of the house over the top of it, let’s say in red.

Then I say to one of them, you own the blue house, and I say to the other, you own the red house. The point being, you both own the whole thing.

 Joint tenants – so what if one of us dies, or we split up?

If one of you dies, the other automatically inherits. And if you split up, it’s equal shares.

 But I’m putting more in, I want a bigger share!

Owning as joint tenants might not be right for you if you put in more money at the start, or will be paying all the mortgage. Tenants in common may be the answer.

 “Tenants in common” explained …

Remember the little house I drew to explain joint tenants? Well in the case of tenants in common imagine a house, one side drawn in blue, the other side in red. One of you owns the blue side, the other owns the red side. A declaration of trust can set out the shares you own it in and what happens if you split up. See more about declarations of trust below.

 Tenants in common – what happens if one of us dies?

If one of you dies, their share goes under the terms of their will. This doesn’t suit everyone because you can’t guarantee who your partner is going to leave their share to. A cohabitation agreement might help (see more below). But owning as tenants in common, and having a declaration of trust, protects the money you invested in the property if you split up.

 Tenants in common – what happens if we split up?

You can own the property in equal or unequal shares, depending on how you contributed to the purchase. Your declaration of trust will set this out. So if you split up you will know what you are entitled to.

Is there anything else you need to do? Well, yes, there is. You need to make a will.

 Make a will …

Why do you need to make a will? Because if you own the property as tenants in common and one of you dies, the survivor doesn’t automatically inherit the house. See my recent blog Do I need a will, here’s one very good reason.

Anything else? Well, yes, a cohabitation agreement might be a good idea.

 Get a cohabitation agreement …

See my blogs 6 reasons why you need a cohabitation agreement  and 6 things you must include in a cohabitation agreement

 “Declaration of trust” explained …

This is a document which sets out your respective interests in the property and what happens if you split up.

 Shall I buy a house with my partner?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question Shall I buy a house with my partner? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Shall I buy a house with my partner? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Shall I buy a house with my partner? Norsk bokmål: yellow house child drawing by Oyvind Holmstad on Wikimedia 

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