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  

Read the article

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

Read the article

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 

Read the article

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 

Read the article

What is Collaborative Family Law?

What is Collaborative Family Law?What is Collaborative Family Law?

An opportunity to shape your future after divorce and avoid the expense and heartbreak of Court proceedings.

But how does Collaborative Law work? You have a series of positive meetings with your ex and both your solicitors. The process is holistic and aims towards a result tailored to your needs.

You agree not to go to Court …

Yes, that’s both you and your solicitors. This means all are one hundred percent invested in reaching an out of Court settlement. You sign a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement to:

  • be open and constructive
  • respect each other
  • provide financial disclosure

You set out your hopes and aspirations …

Your Anchor Statement will be your opportunity to create a new and positive future for yourself and your family. Your solicitor will focus on your vision and help you to achieve it.

There will be disclosure of all finances. This is a requirement in any form of negotiation or Court proceeding. See my blog Financial disclosure on divorce – 10 things you need to know

Set your own timetable and agenda for meetings …

Every family is different and you can decide what’s most important for yours. You may be very concerned about what’s going to happen to the family home. Or perhaps

  • your pension or
  • inheritance

See my posts Pensions on divorce – what can you expect  and How to protect inheritance on divorce

Or perhaps the children are finding it hard to adjust. Family consultants who practise as counsellors or life coaches can help manage the separation and can be directly involved in the Collaborative Law process too.

Lay your cards on the table …

What do you want to achieve? Inevitably some compromise is required. But hopefully by the third or fourth meeting an agreement is reached. This becomes a Consent Order. See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce? to understand why an Order is always vital.

Your personally tailored agreement and Consent Order will be more relevant to your family than an Order made in Court proceedings. For example you can agree where the children will live and how to co-parent.

Your Collaborative lawyer will help you stand up for your needs and for your children. You will have a positive foundation for the future.

What is Collaborative Family Law?

Contact Collaborative Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation. In this 20 minute session, she will answer your question, “What is Collaborative Family Law?” and show how it can be a beneficial process for you and your family.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors. 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 is Collaborative Family Law? 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 Ministry of Defence (MoD) civilian and military staff are pictured at a meeting in Main Building, London by Harland Quarrington on Wikimedia

Read the article

What comes first divorce or settlement?

What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

What comes first divorce or settlement

The answer is they should be going on at the same time. But it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until the finances have been sorted out. Why? Because if your other half dies after the divorce but before you have a Court order confirming the financial settlement, you could lose out as their widow or widower. And you could miss out on a fair share of their pension. Is this something that particularly concerns you? Get in touch with an expert family lawyer.

How much will the divorce cost

The Court fee is £550.

Need help with the Court forms? A “pay as you go” deal is the answer. This means you ask a solicitor for advice when needed, and limit the expense. But if you hand your divorce over to a solicitor, make sure you know how much they’re going to charge. Can you do the divorce yourself? See below.

What are the grounds for divorce

“Irretrievable breakdown” – and you have to rely on one of five reasons:

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

Unsure which to go for? For more details see my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know.

Can I do the divorce myself, or do I need a solicitor

Yes you can do it yourself.

But don’t be afraid to ask for help to avoid mistakes being made on the papers (and the Court sending them back). See my blog 10 Reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petitionA common problem is service, or forgetting to tick an important box, or failing to grapple with legal definitions of residence – a complication if you’re an international family.

A solicitor can also help if your other half is not acknowledging the proceedings.

How long does it take

Usually about four months but there can be pitfalls – see above.

How is the divorce settlement worked out

The starting point is equal division. But various factors are taken into account including:

  • The children’s welfare
  • Income and earning capacity
  • Financial needs
  • Standard of living
  • Your ages, and length of the marriage
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Contributions to the marriage

It’s an idea to ask an experienced family law solicitor for advice if there are:

Do I have to disclose my finances

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

Do I need a consent order

It’s a good idea. Because if one of you changes your mind, or if one of you comes into money, there’s no going back for a second bite of the cherry. And it’s relatively simple for a solicitor to draw one up. See my blog How do I get a consent order?

What comes first divorce or settlement

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for advice about What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

 

image for What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? Sad Lucy by Tim Dawson on Wikimedia Commons

Read the article

My Husband Has Left Me What Are My Rights?

My Husband Has Left Me What Are My Rights?My husband walked out on me, what are my rights?” This is a question I am asked only too often. Because in the immediate aftermath of a break up in a marriage, there’s a lot to worry about. And it’s not just the emotional fall out – which is bad enough – but the finances too. And particularly if you are the prime carer of the children, and don’t have immediate access to income to keep the family and the home afloat. It can all seem a bit of a nightmare.

Let Me Give You An Example Of The Issues

Judy comes to see me. Her husband, Richard, has discovered she’s having an affair with her Pilates instructor. Richard has left her and says she won’t get a penny of his money. He’s a high earner, and she’s at home looking after their two small children. Richard has his yacht and Ferrari up for sale and has threatened to move all his money abroad. He owns the family home in his sole name and has sent round an estate agent who says it’s going on the market.

Can Judy Stop Richard Selling The Family Home?

Yes. Judy can protect her right to occupy the family home.

She or her solicitor can send an application to the Land Registry for registration of a Notice of Home Rights. Indeed anyone who is not a joint owner should register their home rights as quickly as possible if their marriage has broken down.

Can Judy Stop Richard Selling His Yacht And His Ferrari And Moving All His Money Abroad?

Yes, Judy or her solicitor can make an urgent application to the Court to freeze Richard’s assets.

Can Judy Get Maintenance From Richard On An Emergency Basis?

Yes, Judy or her solicitor can make an application to the Court for maintenance pending suit (sometimes called interim maintenance).

Can Judy Get Maintenance From Richard To Enable The Family To Remain In The Family Home?

Judy will need to use the Child Maintenance Service to get payments for the children. As for ongoing maintenance for herself, that depends on both her and Richard’s financial situation.

Can Court be Avoided?

If Richard calms down and agrees to negotiate, or to mediate, or to use collaborative law, there’s no reason why this has to go to Court.

Although as mentioned above, registering a Notice of Home Rights is always advisable where the family home is not in joint names.

I’m Married, My Husband Has Left Me What Are My Rights?

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on your rights. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

 

image Munaza in a thoughtful look and mood by Rangbaz on Wikimedia Commons

Read the article

Collaborative Law & Divorce: The Importance Of Assertiveness

I have guided many clients through the collaborative law divorce process and I have noticed a common theme. Many simply do not know how to assert themselves. Perhaps this is because they have lived for years with a forthright and dominating partner? Maybe it’s been easier to acquiesce?

But with the marriage over, and the rest of their lives to deal with, the time for acquiescence has gone. It’s time to be assertive.

A Collaborative Law Divorce Can Forge A Positive Future For Families

It can also provide a life changing learning experience in assertiveness.

I remember in particular a client I will call Rebecca. She travelled the world with her husband, Geoffrey. They rarely stayed in one country, let alone one home, for long. Her family – her husband and three tiny children – were her entire life.

But she told me Geoffrey had left her and was eager to negotiate a quick settlement. He wanted to put the marriage behind him. She was tearful and anxious because she simply had no idea what to do. Where would she live? Where would the children go to school? Would their father remain a positive influence in their lives? Would she have enough money?

Collaborative Law Divorce: The Process

I told her about the collaborative process and how I could help her as her collaborative lawyer. She would be able to resolve the issues that concerned her, negotiate the necessary arrangements, and make the right decisions for her family.

I would sit at her side in meetings with her husband and his collaborative lawyer as her voice, support, and legal adviser.

Collaborative Law Divorce And Life Coaching

Rebecca was interested in a collaborative law divorce but said she feared conflict with Geoffrey. She would never find the courage to stand up to him. Furthermore she feared he would simply turn his back on her and the children forever.

And she was anxious about the cost of the divorce. Would the outcome leave her and the children in penury?

I gently reminded her she must try to think long term. Would she consider consulting a life coach? I could recommend one who specialised in the difficulties arising from marriage breakdown. Other clients had found new confidence as a result. They had been able to deal with painful issues, and achieve a level playing field.

Rebecca thought about my suggestion. A few days later she got back to me and said yes, she would like to go ahead.

The Power Of Assertiveness In The Collaborative Process

I introduced Rebecca to a life coach. They made great strides together. It wasn’t long before we were able to start the collaborative process.

Rebecca was now able to face all the issues head on, and state her point of view with conviction. In addition she now realised she had the right to express her views, refuse settlement proposals, and offer her own ideas. It was a pleasure to sit by her side and guide her.

If in the collaborative process you are assertive, and focused on your needs, you will achieve the best settlement for yourself and your family, long term. And as a result the experience will help you manage your family better after your divorce. In particular the unreasonable demands and expectations of others.

The assertiveness you have learned during the collaborative law divorce process will help you plan financially for the future.

In Conclusion

The experience of your collaborative divorce will be your first step to developing your independence and autonomy in your newly formed, separated family.

Phone Us For A Free Consultation …

Phone Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for a free 20 minute consultation on these important issues.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs, including same sex couples and their families.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.

image credit: Woman Pointing by Helmuts Rudzītis (filter etc applied) on Flickr

Read the article

6 Things You Need To Know About “Common Law Marriage”

common law marriage partner1.   There’s no such thing as common law marriage but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Couples who live together have only a fraction of the protection afforded to those who are married.

2.   Unless your home is in joint names, and there’s a declaration of trust, there’s no automatic right to a share, or a fair share. If the worst comes to the worst it may be possible to come to an agreement by negotiation, mediation or collaborative law (or even by going to court) but it’s a legal minefield.

3.   Update your Wills regularly. If your partner doesn’t leave a Will you may end up with nothing and face a complicated and expensive application to the court with no guarantee of the outcome you expected.

4.   Children of separating cohabitees are treated the same when it comes to arrangements for where they’re going to live and who they’re going to see, and the Child Maintenance Service (the Child Support Agency) can help if the absent parent isn’t paying up. But there are significant differences when it comes to lump sum payments, property orders and extra maintenance, and there are special provisions under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.

5.   Nowadays pensions are of utmost importance. Would you be entitled to your late partner’s pension? It’s not guaranteed so don’t leave anything to chance, find out now.

6.   A cohabitation agreement offers some protection but will need regular updating and won’t be binding in court proceedings, particularly if there’s a change in circumstances such as the arrival of children. It also won’t cover for example your entitlement to your partner’s pension if your partner dies before you.

Phone me on 01962 217640 for a free 20 minute consultation on these important issues.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.

Pair of Mandarins by Francis C. Franklin on WikiMedia Commons

Read the article

Why You Need a Family Solicitor

Now’s the time to find a family solicitor because if your relationship has broken down the decisions you make could affect you for the rest of your life. Don’t leave anything to chance – family law is complicated and is always changing.

You may be feeling overwhelmed by all the issues you are facing, their complexity and how they are affecting your life. Your solicitor will help you understand which issues should be dealt with as a priority and, using their experience, guide you through the best process for you to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.

And no, it’s not a good idea to share just one solicitor, whatever your partner says. Imagine you’re playing Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final. You wouldn’t expect Ivan Lendl to be your coach as well as Andy’s would you? You’d want your own coach.

Would you mend your own washing machine? I’d say that doing your own divorce and mending your own washing machine are equally as risky – unless of course you’re a fully qualified family solicitor with a side line in mending washing machines (in which case I may have a job for you!). DIY divorce and DIY washing machine repairs – both equally fraught with danger and definitely best left to the experts.

Go to your friends for emotional support – that’s vital. But there will always be those who have their own take on what you should be doing, probably guided by their own experience. But no two divorces are they same. If you broke a bone you wouldn’t ask your friend what her x-ray showed, or your cousin how her cast was set, would you? You’d go to the hospital yourself.

Have you already reached an agreement between you? I’ve heard this many, many times, and it can be a good starting point. But sadly there are many reasons why it rarely works out. It may be unfair on you. It may be impractical or impossible to put into effect. It may not include all the assets of the marriage. An apparently valuable asset may turn out to be burdened with a huge mortgage. A pension may turn out to be surprisingly valuable and impossible to ignore.

It’s important to get the right family solicitor either through personal recommendation or the Resolution website. Don’t be afraid to ask a solicitor questions. Does she specialise in family law? What is her experience? You need someone who not only specialises in family law, but has done so for a considerable period of time.

Ask her how she can help you. She should tell you she will advise you of your options and how much they’re likely to cost. Ask her what the likely outcome will be. She won’t be able to go into any detail at this early stage, but she’ll be able to give you a rough idea.

A good family lawyer will have been through this dozens and dozens of times, and will be able to advise you and protect you and get the best settlement for you and your family. In the long run a good family solicitor will help you save time and money, and she will obtain a better settlement for you than you could get on your own.

Is your relationship in the ambulance waiting to go into A&E? If there are still sparks of life a good family solicitor will recommend couple counselling. A conversation with a properly qualified counsellor might help your partner see things from your point of view.

A good family solicitor will say, How about mediation? Or she might suggest collaborative law. Both are proven methods of saving time and money and keeping things amicable. You will avoid a lengthy dispute, or, worst case scenario, court proceedings. And remember, the amicable approach is usually the best especially where there are children involved.

So make sure you’ve got the right person in your corner: a family solicitor. And next time, maybe talk to a family solicitor about a prenuptial agreement before the wedding.

Did any of the experiences I mention in this article ring a bell with you? If you have an opinion, please leave a comment below. We would be interested to read it. And please sign up for our next blog by clicking “Notify Me of New Posts by Email”.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.

photo of Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl by Kate on Flickr (photograph resized and brightened)

Read the article