What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 3

after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

This week I’m explaining the difference between a First Appointment and a FDR Appointment after Financial Disclosure in Divorce. Why is this important? Because if you understand the difference you can “speed up” the Court timetable and reach an early conclusion. I’ll explain it as clearly as possible but if you’re at all unsure what to do, please get advice from an expert family lawyer.

The Court timetable

Here’s a reminder of the Court timetable. In last week’s blog – What happens after financial disclosure in divorce – part 2 – I dealt with the first three documents but not the fourth.

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

  1. concise statement of the issues
  2. chronology
  3. questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
  4. notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR Appointment”

So what is document number 4 all about?

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 complete. But first you need to know what’s likely to happen at the First Appointment. And you need to understand the importance of the FDR Appointment (“FDR” stands for Financial Dispute Resolution).

First Appointment

What’s the First Appointment all about? I’ll give you some pointers. But it’s important to remember that if your case involves valuable property, a business or pensions, and/or your ex is uncooperative, it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert family lawyer.

Before the hearing

  1. You’ll have exchanged your documents with your ex and both of you will have filed them in the Court.
  2. Don’t forget to fill in Form H with details of your costs.

At the hearing

  1. Hand you Form H to your ex and to the Court.
  2. Ask the Court to order expert evidence, often vital for pensions and businesses. Also helpful if eg
    • you can’t agree the valuation of the family home
    • your ex is saying they can’t earn an income because of poor health and you don’t agree
  3. You will also ask the Court to order your ex to answer the questions you have raised in your questionnaire.

Matrimonial finances in the “fast lane”

But it’s possible to ask the Court for a FDR Appointment instead of a First Appointment. How? You fill in the “Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR Appointment” sent to you by the Court. This means you will “leapfrog” to the next hearing and so speed up the Court process.

What’s the FDR Appointment

At the FDR the Court will:

  • encourage you to come to an agreement and
  • the Court will give you an indication of what it thinks a fair outcome would be.

This can be a real wake up call for some.

When to bypass the First Appointment and aim straight for the FDR

  1. You’re happy with your ex’s financial disclosure, and you
  2. Don’t need expert evidence, but
  3. Can’t agree a financial settlement.

What happens if you can’t agree a settlement at the FDR

This is the subject of my next blog.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 3. 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 3 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 Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3 Mavericks by Shalom Jacobovitz Wikimedia Commons This image has been digitally manipulated

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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.

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

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Does splitting up affect tax in the UK?

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

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

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

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

Why is the date of separation important

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

Are there tax advantages to staying together

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

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

Are there tax advantages to splitting up

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

The married couples allowance

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

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

The transferable allowance for married couples

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

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

Treatment of joint asset income

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

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

High income child benefit charge

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

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

Capital gains tax exemption

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

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

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

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

Does splitting up affect tax in the UK

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

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

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

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When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

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

What is no-fault divorce?

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

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

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

Why has the Government decided to act?

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

Why is no-fault divorce a good idea?

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

How will no-fault divorce work?

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

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

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

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

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

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

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

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

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

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Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? You deserve a “little bit of help” …

Can I go to Court without a SolicitorBefore you rush off to Court please take a minute to understand the options open to you.

Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? 

Yes, you can deal with the Court papers and represent yourself in Court. But it will be a stressful and often bewildering experience and you might not end up with the result you expected. You might be left with the nagging feeling you could have done better if you’d had a little bit of help from a solicitor.

But I can’t afford a solicitor!

Employing a solicitor to do the whole thing is way out of reach of a lot of people’s pockets. So how can you get that vital little bit of help? I suggest you cherry pick the help you need and agree a price up front.

How can I cherry pick help from a solicitor?

Many offer pay as you go costs. This covers all aspects of family law including children cases. See my post Pay as you go costs

Decide what you would like a little bit of help with. For example:

  • Will you win your case?
  • How to show your case to its best advantage
  • Assistance –
    • filling in Court forms
    • issuing your case
    • Court procedure
    • Court orders

Free initial advice from a solicitor

Initial advice from a solicitor is usually free. So chat to a couple, find the one you like, and agree a fee. They can give you a little bit of help. You will know they are at the end of the phone if you get really stuck.

What are the other options?

Are you eligible to Legal Aid? Or to help with Court fees.

If you simply want someone to sit with you in Court for moral support and to take notes, ask a friend or family member to be your McKenzie Friend.

Otherwise there are charities and organisations who offer help for free:

What is a McKenzie Friend?

This is someone who gives you a hand with your case, sits with you in Court, takes notes etc. A Professional McKenzie Friend will charge you.

What are the pros and cons of using a solicitor, a charity, a McKenzie Friend?

Solicitors have years of legal training (which they have to keep up to date). They are:

  • knowledgeable and have daily, frontline experience in the law
  • fully regulated and insured
  • able to take steps in Court proceedings
  • able to be your advocate in Court
  • all too familiar with what you are going through because sadly they have seen it so many times before.

A charity or advice organisation?

They will help you as much as they legally can. They can give you moral support, take notes, coach you on what to say.

But unless they are qualified they cannot take steps for you in the proceedings or be your advocate in Court without the Court’s permission. And they may not want to get this involved. If they are not qualified they won’t necessarily have up to the minute knowledge of the law and how Court cases play out. They might not be insured in case they get it horribly wrong.

This goes for a non professional McKenzie friend, too, such as a friend or family member.

A professional McKenzie Friend?

As per charity and advice organisations above. Except they aren’t free. Some are insured and self regulated, but some are not.

What’s the answer?

You get what you pay for. If you are having a scrap with a debtor who owes you a couple of thousand, by all means do the whole case yourself.

But if your marriage or civil partnership has broken down and you can’t agree the arrangements for the children or the finances, please get a little bit of help from a solicitor. And the same goes for grandparents who are suffering the heartbreak of not being able to see their grandchildren.

If you can’t afford a solicitor to be your advocate in Court by all means ask a friend or family member to be your McKenzie Friend, or employ a professional McKenzie Friend. But please check them first. Are they part of a self regulated group? Are they insured? How experienced are they in the area of the law you are involved in?

And don’t forget about the voluntary and charitable organisations that can help you.

Can I go to Court without a Solicitor?

Yes, of course. But make sure you get a little bit of help from a solicitor.

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on your options, and an honest, straightforward answer to your question, Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? 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 law solicitors offering pay as you go costs. We offer collaborative law which provides solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? 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 New Age Children by Sarah Zeghraba on Wikimedia

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Change in US Tax Rules for Alimony


Change in US Tax Rules for AlimonyA big change in US tax rules for alimony is coming up in December 2018.

Do you live in the UK and your ex in the US? Or do you live in the US and your ex in the UK?

This change might apply to you and you may need to take urgent action.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017 applies after 31 December 2018. Currently, payment of alimony (as maintenance is known in the US) is tax deductible. And those who receive alimony (the lower earner, so generally the wife) pay tax on it.

The change will mean husbands (generally the higher earner) will get no tax advantage and wives will no longer pay tax.

Two Ways of Looking at Change in US Tax Rules for Alimony

International families are rushing to finalise their financial arrangements to preserve the tax position. But there are two ways of looking at it.

Some say it’s a bad thing. Husbands will lose the tax advantage and may want to pay less alimony. And as wives won’t have to pay tax why should husbands pay them so much anyway? If you look at it this way you can understand why some international couples are panicking.

The UK went through similar tax changes in 1989. Lawyers were initially nervous. Would husbands be less willing to pay? Would wives miss out?

But in the long run the change in UK tax law didn’t make too much difference. Maintenance is calculated in the UK on the basis of need. How much does the wife require to support herself and the children? And what is the shortfall between her requirement and her income? This figure generally indicates the sort of maintenance that is required. See my recent blog Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce.

Since 1989 there hasn’t been the head scratching and the complicated calculations – if he pays this much, how much tax relief will he get? So shouldn’t he pay more and pass over some of the benefit? And what about the wife, will it push her into a tax paying bracket? How much tax exactly will she have to pay? None of this applies anymore. In the UK it’s now a simple case of “What You See Is What You Get“.

Change in US Tax Rules for Alimony – Long Term & Short Term

Short term, couples will want to take advantage of the existing tax system. But hopefully the impending change won’t tip wavering couples into divorce.

Long term, it’s possible the change won’t make a fundamental difference. And it might save on professional fees as it will be simpler to work out what is actually paid and received – because they will be one and the same.

Change in US Tax Rules for Alimony and International Tax Rules

If one of you is US or UK based, and the other in a country where tax remains relevant, such as Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands or Portugal, make sure you take advice from an expert international family lawyer.

Prenuptial Agreements

If you are in an international family and you have an existing prenuptial agreement you should seek advice on the impact of the change in US tax rules for alimony.

Don’t Delay!

Anyone wanting to take advantage of the existing system should make sure they take advice now. There may still be time to secure a maintenance or alimony order – whether by consent or in Court – prior to 31 December 2018. And please note that the detail of the changes coming up in the US tax rules are complex and far reaching, and go well beyond the scope of this article. So please don’t delay taking expert advice.

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on the forthcoming change in US tax rules for alimony. 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.

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Do I Need A Will? Here’s One Very Good Reason …

Do I Need A Will“Do I need a Will?” Yes, you do, you need to make sure you benefit the right people: your family, your best mate, your dog. Because if you forget to make a Will all your property and savings could end up going to a distant relation you don’t like or have never even met.

People leave everything to their pets?

Yes they do. In 2004 Leona Helmsley famously left billions to her dog, Trouble, an appropriate name as this unusual Will ended up being disputed in Court. And that’s what we all want to avoid isn’t it, the money going to the lawyers. This can happen if you mess up when it comes to making, or not making, a Will.

But seriously, what could a Will mean for you? Read on for answers to the following questions:

  • Writing your own Will, what could possibly go wrong?
  • Do I need a Will? “Intestacy” and why it’s a bad thing
  • Good things a Will could do for you
  • Wills for the young and the young at heart – online accounts and social media
  • Owning a property or planning to buy – Inheritance Tax!
  • Special rules for Wills if you are getting divorced

Writing your own Will, what could possibly go wrong? 

Without expert legal advice you risk paying Inheritance Tax at 40 percent on anything over £325,000. And you will need legal advice if you have complicated family arrangements or are financially supporting someone, or if you estate includes:

  • foreign property, bank accounts, investments
  • a business
  • finances which are anything other than straightforward 

And did you know if you leave your home to your children your tax-free threshold can increase to £450,000? Make sure you check out the rules with an expert.

Writing your own Will? The resulting legal dispute could end up in Court and cost a fortune.

Do I need a Will? “Intestacy” and why it’s a bad thing 

Intestacy is when someone dies and there’s no Will. The intestacy rules set out a list of family members who benefit in strict order. But if you haven’t got any close relations your estate could end up going to someone you’ve never met.

And if you don’t have any relations, worse case scenario, everything could go to the Crown – no, not the TV series but the state, Parliament, our nation. Do you want your few pennies worth to drop into the bottomless pit of the UK balance of payments deficit? 

Good things a Will could do for you 

Put your mind at rest. Make sure your family and friends know you thought about them. Save them the agony (and huge expense) of going to Court if there’s a dispute about who should get what. Save inheritance tax.

Or perhaps you want to benefit charity? Doing something good in the world after you die might be a top priority (it’ll also save inheritance tax). Or donate your body to science.

Or give a couple of thousand to a group of friends to celebrate your life with a weekend away in Amsterdam.

A woodland burial might be just right for you – mention it in your Will.

But the most important thing is the right people (or pets!) will benefit from your estate.

Wills for the young and the young at heart – online accounts and social media 

Wills aren’t just for rich old people, they’re for everyone. You’re never too young to make a Will. Everyone has something to pass on even if it’s just social media and other online accounts. Otherwise bank accounts could be overlooked and your social media memories and photographs lost forever.

Own a property or planning to buy? – Inheritance Tax!

You can easily become liable to Inheritance Tax (40 percent on anything over £325,000) but with a solicitor’s help you can reduce it or avoid it altogether. With house prices in the UK shooting up more and more of us will be caught. Look at these stats about average property values (from Zoopla):

  • Hampshire £360,532
  • Winchester £553,508
  • Dorset £332,138
  • UK £235,021 

Special rules for Wills if you are getting divorced 

Did you know? Getting divorced will revoke your Will. So this could mean your new partner losing not only you but your home.

Can it get any worse? Not having a Will, or a Will written by an expert, can leave your loved ones with a mess to sort out and solicitors’ bills to pay

Did you know you can protect joint property whilst you are divorcing? If you die before you have a financial Order your ex could inherit your jointly owned property. This is a complicated subject and you should speak to an expert family law solicitor about taking a simple step called “Severing the Joint Tenancy” and making a Will.

See my blog about how to protect your financial settlement with an Order Quick Divorce or Safe Divorce? How To Protect Your Financial Settlement 

Do I need a Will?

Contact expert Wills solicitor, Karen Layland, on 01202 798199 or by email karenlayland@just-family-law.com  for free advice on the topics raised in “Do I Need A Will”. 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. 

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Brexit White Paper and Family Law – What You Need To Know

Brexit White Paper and Family LawWhat is the Significance of the Brexit White Paper for Family Law?

See February 2019 update, What Does Brexit No Deal Mean For Family Law 

Few will have missed that the Brexit white paper published 12 July 2018. But what does it mean for family law?

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act became law on 26 June. This means that although the EU will no longer legislate for the UK, we retain all the helpful EU regulations which apply to family law. But there’s a problem.

On 29 March 2019 we leave the Court of Justice of the European Union (the ECJ) and we will no longer be bound by ECJ decisions. So even though we have all the EU rules for family law, these will gradually move out of sync as the ECJ will make law we do not recognise.

This could affect key areas such as the recognition and enforcement of family law judgments. See my earlier post Brexit, Family Law & Divorce – March 2018 Update

What Does Family Law Need From Brexit?

We need our rules to stay in line with the remaining EU countries in vital areas of family law. These rules relate to:

  • The country in which divorces, matrimonial financial cases, and children cases must start. Otherwise cases can be started in two different countries at the same time. At the moment, for example, cases about children start in the country where they live.
  • The recognition and enforcement of UK orders in remaining EU countries and vice versa.
  • The Hague Convention in relation to child abduction cases. EU rules impose the following rules:
    • A stricter timetable
    • The children’s home country must make the final decision
    • The Court will hear evidence from the child.

The Brexit White Paper And Family Law

The white paper proposes we sign up to the Lugano Convention. But because the Convention is old and out of date, the white paper also proposes we reach a deal with the EU to bring it up to date.

What Is The Lugano Convention?

The Lugano Convention originated in 1988 as an agreement between the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Its current incarnation dates to 2007 and its signatories are:

  • The EU
  • Iceland
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Denmark

All the members must agree to new states joining.

What Does The Lugano Convention Do?

It ensures members apply the same rules and pay regard to how each other’s Courts interpret these rules. But even the white paper acknowledges some of the Lugano Convention’s provisions have been “overtaken” and are “limited in scope”.

This is because under the Convention there is no guarantee case law on regulation will be aligned between the signatories. All it requires is for the signatories to “pay due account” to each other’s case law (including the EU’s ECJ). So we could still fall out of sync.

It’s possible of course for the EU to revise the Lugano Convention to make sure it does its best for international families but of course all the signatories will need to agree.

Brexit White Paper And Family Law – What Is Needed

Specific proposals for making the Lugano Convention fit for purpose are required. But with the Government dealing with trouble in the ranks, negotiations with Brussels, and balancing all of this with trying to make new trade deals, it’s anybody’s guess if and when this might happen.

What Is The Brexit Timetable?

The EU target date for agreeing Brexit terms is 30 September. It’s probably quite important the Government sticks to this timetable as it will need to start post-Brexit trade talks in the autumn prior to making new trade deals before we leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Unless of course there is an agreement between the UK and the EU to extend the period for negotiations.

Does The White Paper Recognise The Difficulties International Families Face?

Yes, to a certain extent.

“Cross-border families benefit from clear rules to resolve disputes in sensitive matters quickly and efficiently.”

(Paragraph 1.7.7 sub paragraph 145).

But Please Remember …

If you are keen to divorce in a particular country for financial reasons you should seek legal advice without delay

Brexit, Family Law And Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on Brexit, Family Law and Divorce. 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  Servizio fotografico by Paolo Monti on Wikimedia

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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

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How To Protect Business On Divorce – Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Ltd Co

 

How To Protect Business On Divorce

    How To Protect Business On Divorce

A client came to see us here at Just Family Law the other day. Let’s call him Ted. He and his wife were fine, he assured me. But he wanted to know what would happen to his business if they split up. “Would she get her hands on it?” They both enjoyed the highlife: holidays in Florida, villa in Spain. But it was all down to him, wasn’t it. There was no way she was getting a share.

“It all depends,” I said.

    Is The Business Shared Out On Divorce?

I told him his wife, let’s call her Sheila, wouldn’t automatically get a share of the business on divorce. Or rather I should say “his” business, as he was keen to remind me. But there were questions I needed to ask him first. Was it a partnership? A limited company? “No,” said Ted, “I’m a sole proprietor. Like I said, it’s my business.”

It was doing brilliantly, he told me, never better.

“So what is your business?” I asked him. “IT,” he said. He is responsible for the IT systems of a number of large businesses. One’s even a household name. He has an office full of “youngsters”, or so he calls them. They run the help desk. “Does Sheila have a role in the business?” I asked. No, she stays at home and spends the money.

Each morning brings a van load of online purchases to their front door.

    Business Valuations On Divorce

I advised him Sheila would want the business valued if it had assets. Valuations can be controversial and expensive. Maybe his company accountant could provide a valuation? Sheila might agree it. But if she didn’t, she would want a forensic accountant involved. Ideally they would jointly instruct one.

If it had a significant value Sheila could receive a larger share of other assets. Such as the savings or the family home. This would compensate her. And she’d have a hefty claim for maintenance too.

That’s if Ted’s eye watering boasts of his income were to be believed.

    Dealing With A Family Business On Divorce

He told me he had one final question. What difference would it make if he merged his business? A company was sniffing around. The managing director was planning his retirement. He’d promised Ted a shed load of shares. And a role for Sheila, too. And she reckoned she could make an even better job of running the business than Ted.

I advised Ted this could change everything. If the two of them ran it together she might want a share of it if they divorced. This applied to a limited company or to a partnership. But what would happen if the business couldn’t be split? The options were for one or the other to buy the other out. Or they could sell the business. They would need a valuation.

I reminded him about capital gains tax. 
The full tax implications should be considered if they decided to sell.

Ted wasn’t happy.

I told him maybe it wasn’t that bad. Perhaps he should consider a postnuptial agreement. He and Sheila could decide how all their assets should be split. And this could include their business assets and income. Collaborative law could help if they had trouble agreeing.

He said he liked the sound of that and would have a word with Sheila.

    How To Protect Business On Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How To Protect Business 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 Protect Business 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.

Image by Pierre Dalous on Wikimedia Commons

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