What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 2

Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

In last week’s blog What happens after financial disclosure in divorce – part 1 I looked at what you should do when you receive your ex’s From E. This week’s blog is all about the Court timetable. I’ll explain it as clearly as possible but if you’re at all unsure what to do, please make sure you get advice from an expert family lawyer.

And if you’re involved in a voluntary process such as:

please see my blog How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration. 

The Court timetable

Not less than 14 days before the First Appointment you must file with the Court and serve on each other:

  • concise statement of the issues
  • chronology
  • questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
  • notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR appointment

What Court documents look like

The heading is vital:

  • Top right hand corner: “In the Family Court at [name of your Court]”
  • Against the right hand margin” “No of matter [look at the last document you received from the Court]”
  • “Between” followed by “[name] Applicant”
  • “And” followed by “[name] Respondent”
  • Centred heading, “Concise Statement of Issues”, “Chronology” etc

Concise statement of issues

Putting this document together is a two step process:

  1. Identify what the issues are
  2. Concisely state them in a document

What are the issues

Anything that’s not yet agreed between you:

  • value of property and/or the future ownership of the family home or any other property
  • extent of savings and investments and/or the distribution of pensions or assets
  • level of income and/or maintenance
  • responsibility for debts

These are of course examples of issues. Every case is different.

How to set out your issues

Order your issues under headings, for example “Property”, and try to follow the sequence of the Form E when setting out your issues:

  • property
  • savings, investments
  • debts
  • businesses
  • pensions
  • income
  • income needs
  • capital needs

How much detail

The minimum. Simply state the issue; eg the value of the family home is not agreed or the Respondent has failed to disclose their income. Think of a Concise Statement of Issues as a heads-up to your ex and to the Court.

Chronology

What’s happened in date order. It’s usually going to go something like this:

[date] Civil partner’s/wife’s/husband’s date of birth

[date] Civil partner’s/wife’s/husband’s date of birth

[date] Marriage/civil partnership

[date] birth of [child name]

[date] separation

[date] divorce petition

[date] First Appointment

Questionnaire

Last week I said it was vital to go through your ex’s Form E carefully and note anything unexpected, incomplete or missing. List these items in your Questionnaire by reference to the paragraph numbers on the Form E. For example your ex has:

2.2 missed off the villa in Monaco you’re pretty sure they own jointly with their new partner

2.11 not attached copies of business accounts for the last two financial years

3.1.1 stated they need £300 a month to maintain their swimming pool. What swimming pool?

Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed on that occasion to a FDR appointment

Once you understand what this Notice is getting at, it’s really easy to answer. But first you need to know what’s likely to happen at the First Appointment, and what a FDR appointment is all about. I’ll cover these in next week’s blog.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 2

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 2. 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 Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 2 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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What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

It’s easy to lose sight of what happens after financial disclosure in divorce. This is because getting your Form E together can be more than a bit complicated and longwinded.

Stuck on your Form E

If you’re stuck, please see my recent blogs: How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – Part 1 which tells you what documents you need, and How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – Part 2 which helps you answer some of the trickier questions. Still puzzled? Get in touch with an expert family lawyer.

But when it’s finished, what happens next? It depends whether you’re disclosing your finances voluntarily or as part of the Court timetable.

What is voluntary disclosure

Voluntary disclosure happens in:

What are these voluntary processes all about? See my blog How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Mediation

Exchange of Forms E

Whether it’s voluntary, or as part of the Court timetable, Forms E are exchanged simultaneously. This means your ex doesn’t get yours first and tailor theirs accordingly.

The first thing you need to do when you receive your ex’s Form E is to check it carefully. Does it contain any surprises? What’s this, a spare yacht moored in Capri which they’re happy to let you have? And all that money you thought they were spending in the bookies they were saving up for the children? Mm, we can all dream …

Check whether there’s anything they’ve left out – their business bank account, their shares, their pension. And have they included all the documents required by Form E?

Questions, questions …

If something doesn’t make sense – where did they get the money to pay for yet another yacht – any chance they’re earning a lot more than they’re letting on? And where are the statements backing up their bank accounts? This is your opportunity to raise questions. If it’s a voluntary process, this can be by letter. If you’re involved in Court proceedings, you need to keep to the Court timetable.

The Court timetable

The Court issued the timetable when proceedings started. You now have a date for the first hearing which is called, perhaps a little predictably, the “First Appointment”. You’ve already complied with item 1 of the timetable – well done!

  1. Not less than 35 days before the first appointment you must simultaneously exchange your Forms E. Don’t forget to file your Form E in the Court, too
  2. Not less than 14 days before the first appointment, you must file with the Court and serve on each other:
    • a concise statement of the issues
    • a chronology
    • a questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
    • a notice stating whether you will be in a position at the first appointment to proceed on that occasion to a FDR appointment

Concise statement of issues? Chronology? Questionnaire? Notice?

This is all a lot simpler than it sounds but it does take some care, so please read my next blog which will guide you through in easy steps, What happens after financial disclosure on divorce – part 2.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce. 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 Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce 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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Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure

Can I Refuse Financial DisclosureI understand why sometimes clients ask, “Can I refuse financial disclosure.” Your relationship has broken down and now your ex, or your ex’s solicitors, are asking intrusive questions. You object because:

  • you’ve already reached a perfectly sensible agreement between you, or
  • you want your business, inheritance or pension left out of the settlement.

There’s a lot at stake so make sure you get expert legal advice

Why is financial disclosure requested

You’ll only know you’re getting a fair share of the matrimonial income and assets if you understand their extent. Your ex’s solicitor will be advising your ex the same. However this doesn’t mean your ex automatically gets a share of everything. When you disclose you can argue an asset is non matrimonial, for example:

  • an inheritance postdating the relationship breakdown, or
  • a pension you built up before the marriage.

See my blog Ring fence and protect assets on divorce

Further, if your business is small and represents your income, it’s unlikely it’ll be thrown into the mix. See my blog How to protect business on divorce.

What if you’ve already agreed a financial settlement

Did you know that the Court won’t make an order without seeing a Statement of Information for Consent Order. This is a Court form containing basic financial information about both of you.

What is a “Statement of Information for Consent Order” and why is it necessary

This document contains the following information from both of you:

  • details of marriage/civil partnership
  • dates of birth
  • financial agreement
  • summary of means
  • capital
  • income

The Court checks this document to make sure your financial agreement is fair and reasonable.

What if you provide inaccurate disclosure or hide assets?

See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need to Know. This tells you about:

  • costs consequences, and
  • adverse inferences, and
  • the worst case scenario, being found to be “in contempt of Court”, and
  • the ultimate sanction, imprisonment.

Why do you need a consent order?

For more about consent orders and how to get one see my blog How do I get a consent order

Can I refuse financial disclosure

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure. 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 Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure 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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How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – pt 2

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on DivorceLast week’s blog Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – pt 1 set out the documents you need to gather together. This week I’m guiding you through the Form E Financial Statement, explaining the tricky bits and pitfalls. However there’s no substitute for taking advice from a family law expert.

You need to answer the questions thoroughly and honestly. Why? See my blog  Financial disclosure on divorce, 10 things you need to know.

1.13 Child support

If you’re not sure about your position see my blog What are your child maintenance options? Here’s a link to the online child maintenance calculator

2.10 Capital Gains Tax

Here’s a link to an overview of Capital Gains Tax. If you have any doubts about your tax liability you should consult your accountant. Also please see our blog Does Splitting up Affect Tax in the UK.

2.11 Details of all your business interests

Providing information about your business doesn’t mean it’s automatically up for grabs in the divorce. See my blog How to Protect Business on Divorce

2.14 Other assets

“You are reminded of your obligation to disclose all your financial assets and interest of ANY nature.” If you wonder why this warning is necessary take a look at my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need to Know

3. Financial Requirements Part 1 Income needs

Print off the checklist from the Advice Now website, fill it in and attach it to the form.

3. Financial Requirements Part 2 Capital needs

Often for accommodation. Consider your reasonable housing needs and do some market research. Also note your potential mortgage capacity and show your net capital requirement.

4.2 Brief details of the standard of living enjoyed by you and your spouse/civil partner during the marriage/civil partnership

This is only likely to have consequences in very high value divorces where there’s a significant excess of resources. See my blog A Guide to “Needs” on Divorce – Christina Estrada’s Extraordinary Essentials. In this case the Judge described the couple’s standard of living as “stratospheric”. The starting point for the division of capital is equal shares. But division can be unequal:

  • where needs cannot be met, or
  • in high value divorces where there’s been a “stellar” contribution by one party.

Stellar contribution, otherwise known as special contribution, is considered in my blog Special Contribution on Divorce: How to Get a Bigger Share of the Assets.

If you married an established millionaire there’s a chance you won’t get an equal share of their fortune on divorce. However if you give full details of your lavish lifestyle this might justify a share not simply based on your needs.

4.4 Bad behaviour or conduct

This goes way beyond unreasonable behaviour and adultery.  An argument for a bigger share on this basis is unlikely to succeed unless for example it’s a question of:

  • “wanton” or “reckless” expenditure, or
  • your ex destroying your ability to earn an income by injuring you or burning down your business.

4.5 Other circumstances

It’s important to give careful thought to answering this question. It could justify a greater share of the capital or a maintenance order.

5. Order sought

Take advice from a family law expert to find out what you can hope to achieve in a financial settlement.

Statement of Truth

Wondering why the contempt of court warning is necessary? Take a look at my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need to Know

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – pt 2

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce. 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 Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce 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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How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – Pt 1

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on DivorceThis blog is about how to fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce. If you’re not sure whether you should fill in a Form E, or you’re not sure what to disclose, make sure you obtain legal advice from an expert family lawyer

What Form E is all about

See my blog Financial disclosure on divorce, 10 things you need to know

Don’t fall at the first hurdle

What could be worse than finally sitting down to fill in your Form E and you fall at the first hurdle because you haven’t got the right documents. This week I’ll tell you what documents you need so you can start collecting them together.

Why these documents are necessary

They are required by the Form E. If you don’t include them you will be chased by the other side or ultimately ordered by the Court. So you might as well get on with it now.

Properties

  • If you own or part own any properties – family home, holiday home, investment property – a valuation for each in the last six months is helpful. The more recent the better otherwise you’re going to have to rely on a guess and if you’re way off, this could cause unnecessary delay and expense in your case
  • A recent mortgage statement for each property
  • Click this link to the Land Registry for an online title summary providing basic information about the property. For more detail, order documents by following this link Land Registry.

Bank, building society and savings accounts

Whether in your sole name or jointly with others – 12 months of statements for each.

Any other investments; eg shares, ISAs

Last statement for each investment.

Life assurance policies/endowment policies

Recent statement to show surrender value.

Running a business

  • Last two years’ accounts and
  • evidence that supports your valuation of your business; eg a letter from your accountant

Pensions

Write to your pension provider and ask for the cash equivalent transfer value.

Employed

  • Your last P60 together with
  • wages slips for the last three months

Self employed

  • Last two tax assessments but if these aren’t available, a letter from your accountant
  • If the estimate for your net income for the next twelve months is significantly different from your net income from your last set of accounts, you’ll need to provide a set of your management accounts for the current period to explain the difference

Next blog

Got all your documents together? My next blog will guide you through how to fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce.

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce. 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 Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce 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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Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

1. Can I do the divorce/end our civil partnership myself

Yes, here’s a guide to how to file for divorce in the UKIt also tells you about the challenges you might faceIf in doubt, consult an expert family lawyer.

2. How much will it cost

The Court fee is £550 but:

  • are you eligible for an exemption? Here’s a link to an application form, or
  • will your ex pay? You can ask the Court to make an order although it’s not guaranteed the Court will agree so try to reach agreement with your ex.

3. How long will it take

About four months ruling out mishaps with the paperwork. But it’s wise to delay completing your divorce until you have a financial order. Why? Because you might miss out on your fair share; eg if your ex dies after the divorce but before you have a financial order you could lose out on their pension. Not sure? Consult an expert family solicitor.

4. How are the finances split 

Equally – subject to the following factors:

  • welfare of children
  • income and earning capacity –  a “clean break” means a payment of capital instead of ongoing maintenance
  • financial needs – eg the care of children
  • standard of living during the marriage – in rare cases where there is an excess of capital and income this is an argument for a greater share
  • your ages, and the length of the marriage – different considerations apply if it’s a short marriage
  • disabilities – ongoing maintenance or extra capital may be the answer
  • contributions to marriage – high achievers can attempt to ring fence their “stellar contribution

Try to agree the finances with your ex – see my recent blog How to avoid Court for your options:

5. Do I have to disclose my finances

Yes. Hiding assets or income drags things out and can result in an expensive and never ending court case. You will disclose your assets and income in a Form E Financial Statement, and/or a Statement of Information for Consent Order (if your agreed settlement is protected in a consent order)

If you don’t make full disclosure you risk:

  • adverse inferences being drawn as to the extent of your assets
  • extra costs
  • imprisonment for contempt of Court

Think you’ve got away with it? The Court can overturn financial orders when non disclosure or fraudulent disclosure comes to light. Transferring assets to someone else? You risk a Court order freezing your assets and a hefty costs order. Hiding assets? You risk imprisonment for contempt of Court.

6. Can I ring fence my assets 

Yes, sometimes, but you must still give full and frank disclosure first. What’s the best way to ring fence and protect assets on divorce? A prenuptial agreement.

If you’re already married, a post nuptial agreement. 

7. What’s a non matrimonial asset

Take advice because it depends on all the circumstances:

  • the house you owned before the marriage
  • the pension you paid since you started work
  • the inheritance that post dated separation
  • your business

But if there aren’t enough matrimonial assets left to fulfil your ex’s needs eg for housing, non matrimonial assets can be used to plug the gap.

8. Is it possible to ring fence and protect an earlier inheritance

Possibly if you never allowed it to be used as a matrimonial asset.

9. Can a business be ring fenced

Your ex might make a claim over your business but won’t automatically be entitled to a share of the business on divorce, and if they are, they could instead receive a larger share of other assets such as savings or the family home. Take advice, this is a tricky one.

Joint business? The options are:

  • split it between you
  • buy each other out
  • sell it

Here again a you might want to consider a post nuptial agreement.

10. My husband/wife/civil partner has left me what are my rights

Worried your ex will:

  • sell your home because it’s not in joint names
  • sell, hide or move valuable assets

The answers are:

  • an application to the Land Registry to register a Notice of Home Rights – anyone who is not a joint owner should register their home rights when a marriage breaks down
  • an urgent application to the Court to freeze assets

You need maintenance:

  • on an emergency basis
  • to support the children

The answers are:

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered. 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 Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered 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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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.

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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.

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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.

Read the article