Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

considering divorce

Considering divorce? Here are some quick pointers to set you off in the right direction.

1. Everyone will have an opinion

Yes, that’s your family and friends, your neighbours and your colleagues at work. Even your Facebook friends. This can be distracting if you’re trying to figure out what to do. Struggling to see the wood for the trees? Time to get advice from an experienced family lawyer.

2. Try not to make a drama out of the divorce petition

A divorce petition can simply be a means to an end. You want to get divorced? – filling out the paperwork is how to go about it. Only you, your ex and the Court are ever likely to see the divorce petition, so try if you can not to fall out about it. If possible, agree which one of you is going to issue it and agree what it’s going to say. See my blog, Grounds for Divorce, 5 Things you Need to Know.

There are so many other more important things to focus on right now.

However if there’s been domestic abuse, or you believe the children are at risk, please seek immediate advice from an experienced family lawyer.

3. Address the finances

You can’t just leave things hanging, not indefinitely, because you will both be moving on. Important decisions need to be made about the assets – who gets what – and about child maintenance. See my blogs How do you Split Assets in a Divorce and What are your Child Maintenance Options? 

The divorce and the finances can run in parallel, see my blog What Comes First, Divorce or SettlementIf you can agree it all between you, that’s great. But please get legal advice on your rights – a one off appointment won’t cost much. After all, this is the rest of your life.

You both need closure and certainty when it comes to the finances. This means a Court order. But this doesn’t mean you have to attend at the Court, or that it will cost you a fortune – it can be a simple process. See my blog How to get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide.

4. The lawyers don’t have to win

Try to talk to your ex even if it’s really hard. If you fall out you may have to put everything into the lawyers’ hands. Worst case scenario, it all ends up in Court. This could cost you a great deal. Try these alternative approaches:

5. Pension or family home?

If you’re thinking you want to stay in the family home, come what may, take a moment to think. A share of your ex’s pension might be more valuable to you, long term. In many years time when you retire, you might discover that your ex is sitting pretty with a huge pension. Whereas you’re scrabbling around with a tiny pension and a big house that needs lots of maintenance.

This might be an opportunity to plan for the future. Perhaps you can downsize, release some capital for your ex, and get a share of their pension in return? This may take a little extra effort but might be worth it in the long term. Speak to an experienced family lawyer.

6. Ring fencing assets, your inheritance, pension, business …

Can you ring fence your assets? It depends. See my blogs Ring Fence and Protect Assets on Divorce and How to Protect Inheritance on DivorceDo you have to throw your business into the melting pot? See my blog, How to Protect Business on Divorce.

Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know. 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 Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know 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 Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know A rayas by Juanedc on Wikimedia.

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Ten Top Tips for Divorce: What Should You Do First?

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

The holidays can sound the death knell for a relationship. But what should you do first? Here are Ten Top Tips for Divorce.

1. Consult

Arrange an initial consultation with an experienced family law solicitor. This can be low cost or even no cost, and can set you off in the right direction.

2. Talk

Try to talk to each other about arrangements for the children and finances. Talking, however painful it might be, could help you reach a less stressful, quicker, less expensive solution.

3. Avoid Court

Try to avoid Court proceedings about the children and finances. See my blog How to avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration.

4. Ground rules

If you’re still under the same roof and able to communicate, try to agree some ground rules:

  • sleeping and eating arrangements
  • payment of bills, the mortgage
  • care of children
  • how soon can one of you move out? This will lessen the strain for each of you and for the children

5. Can’t talk?

Under the same roof but you can’t communicate? Probably a good time to consult a family solicitor.

6. Domestic abuse

Has there been violence or any other form of domestic abuse? Take legal advice ASAP.

7. What comes first, divorce or finances

I’ve written a blog answering this question: What Comes First, Divorce or Settlement.

8. Start divorce proceedings

This makes a mark in the sand for those who are finding it difficult to accept the relationship is over. It can also kick off discussions about finances. But in order to keep matters as amicable as possible try to agree who is going to start the divorce. Even better, agree what the reasons for divorce are. See my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know. 

9. Financial disclosure

Disclose your financial information, there’s really no way around this. See my blog, Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things you need to know.

10. Alternatives

Can’t agree about the children or the finances? Sometimes Court Proceedings are the only answer. But please make sure you’ve tried one of these alternative approaches first:

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Ten Top Tips for 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 Ten Top Tips for 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.

image for Ten Top Tips for Divorce Unhappy Couple by Skedonk on Wikimedia

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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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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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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.

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