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.

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How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK …

The bad news is your marriage or civil partnership is over. But the good news is it’s now a lot simpler to get divorced thanks to the online system. I’m going to explain what you need to look out for and what it all means.

There’s rarely any need to attend Court and the whole process takes only four to six months but this doesn’t include the finances and and it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until they’re sorted out.

But if you would rather a lawyer do the divorce for you make sure you chose one who is committed to a non confrontational approach to family problems, such as Just Family Law’s Joanne Houston.

How a divorce starts …

One of you fills in a divorce petition (the petitioner) and the Court serves it on the other (the respondent).

What a divorce does …

It ends a marriage or a civil partnership but it doesn’t sort out the finances or the arrangements for the children.

Take the bull by the horns …

Did you know that divorce, finances and the arrangements for the children can all be addressed at the same time? See my blog What comes first, divorce or settlement?

If you can’t agree between yourselves you have the following options:

  • Help from a lawyer
  • Start Court proceedings yourself
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law

Collaborative law is an opportunity to build a positive future for you and your family. See my recent blog What is collaborative law?

What’s needed to start a divorce …

  • Marriage certificate
  • Court fee of £550 unless you’re eligible to exemption from fees
  • The respondent’s address

Here’s a link to an application form to help with Court fees

How to fill in the divorce petition …

The online divorce service is on the GOV.UK site, here’s a link

It’s straightforward to fill in but there are some tricky questions. For example if you weren’t born in either England or Wales or if you live in another country. Or if you don’t know the respondent’s address. There are notes to help you but don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

The grounds for divorce …

The most popular is unreasonable behaviour. The least contentious is two year’s separation with consent. See my blog, Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Financial claims …

The form asks, “Do you want to apply for a financial order?” To be on the safe side tick Yes as the Court will take no action but it will leave it open for the future. Don’t risk missing out on pensions or the business or being left with debts that aren’t yours. And a Consent Order recording your financial settlement is essential to protect you.

Don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

Costs …

How to answer, “Costs – if you wish to claim costs from the respondent.” There are a number of things to bear in mind:

  • the expense of the Court fee to start a divorce which is currently £550
  • the availability of exemption from fees (see above “What’s needed to start a divorce”)
  • whether the respondent can afford to pay a costs order
  • the likelihood of the Court making a costs order

If you aren’t eligible to exemption from fees, and the respondent can afford to pay a costs order, see if the respondent will agree to pay or at least contribute.

Risks …

The respondent defends the petition. See my blog No fault divorce, your questions answered about the Owens case and the risk of the respondent defending an unreasonable behaviour petition.

What happens next …

The Court serves your divorce petition on the respondent and they acknowledge service of it, which means they fill in a form saying they’ve received the petition. Once you receive the acknowledgment of service from the Court you can fill in a statement in support.

Next the Court will set a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi. You don’t have to attend Court for this.

The decree nisi …

Your marriage isn’t over yet but it’s an important stage if you are sorting out financial matters as a Consent Order recording your settlement can now be sealed by the Court.

Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute. But there are pros and cons. Should you wait until you have obtained a Court order confirming the financial arrangements between you? See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce? How to protect your financial settlement

The decree absolute …

  • You are no longer married
  • You can remarry or enter a civil partnership
  • Your consent order about the finances comes into force

How to File for Divorce in the UK

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

 

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Collaborative Family Law Protects Divorce Finances And Property

How Can Collaborative Family Law Help You?

Collaborative Family Law protects divorce finances and property. Could this apply to you and your family?

Divorce is the final straw for many. Hence numerous unhappy couples stick together for fear of the emotional and financial fall out. Because splitting up will just make everything even more difficult – won’t it? And in addition, seeing a lawyer – how can anyone afford that?

The solution to protecting your finances and your children on Divorce may be to instruct a Collaborative Family Lawyer.

Collaborative Family Law Prioritises The Family’s Interests

Everyone involved focusses on ensuring your relationship remains amicable and respectful.

And the process is much quicker and cheaper than Court. Also much less rigid because you can come to an agreement individually tailored to your family’s needs.

Some find Collaborative Family Law even better than mediation. This is because you have your own Collaborative Family Lawyer at your side at every four way meeting.

What Makes The Collaborative Family Law Process So Successful?

An expert always by your side …

Your Collaborative Family Lawyer will advise you at every four way meeting. Most importantly, she will speak for you if you so wish.

You and your partner agree to be open, and not to blame …

Both of you, and your lawyers, start off with a Participation Agreement. You will agree upon:

  • Openness
  • Full Disclosure
  • Constructive Discussion
  • An Absence Of Blame

You commit yourselves to avoiding court…

That’s both you and your partner, and both of your Collaborative Family Lawyers. In fact if the process doesn’t work, you will both have to find new solicitors. This is because they can’t act for you in a Court process as well. So that’s a tremendous incentive to make it work.

You and your partner will not be dwelling on the past …

Your Anchor Statements set out the issues you want to address, and your aspirations for the future. Both of you will look forward rather than dwell on the past.

Collaborative Family Law Protects Divorce Finances And Property

Legal costs are limited …

Detailed agendas control each four way meeting. Legal work in between meetings is limited. Costs are under control.

You won’t have to go to Court …

You won’t have to face the lottery of going to Court. Most importantly, a Court Order won’t be imposed on you.

Phone Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for a free 20 minute consultation on how Collaborative Family Law protects divorce finances and property.

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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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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Short Marriages – 10 Things You Need To Know


divorce financial settlement short marriage

Short Marriage Divorce

In this post we look at divorce after a short marriage and all its implications. Common questions we receive on this subject that we will seek to address are;

  • Short term marriage divorce settlements
  • Divorce after 1 year – what am I entitled to?
  • Married 2 years – what am I entitled to?

You will gain a good understanding of the issues, implications and financial considerations. Visit our services page on short marriage divorce to obtain further professional and always discreet legal advice.

Short Marriage?

1.    A short marriage is one which lasts for less than five or six years. Why is this important? Because when considering the divorce settlement the length of the marriage is vital.

2.    But did you know you have to stay married for one year before you can start your divorce? Unless you were married bigamously or the marriage has not been consummated, in which case it may be void or voidable. The only other option is to apply for a Judicial Separation. You remain married but able to apply to the Court for the finances to be sorted out.

Short Marriage And Finances On Divorce

3.   The initial approach is identical in all cases, irrespective of the length of the marriage: full and frank financial disclosure is backed up by documentary evidence.

4.    The starting point for division of the matrimonial finances is equal division. But there’s a checklist laid down by Parliament to ensure fairness, and it includes the important question of length of marriage. It also mentions

  • wages and earning capacity
  • needs
  • standard of living during their marriage
  • contributions to the marriage
  • the ages of the couple
  • their health
  • the care of minor children

Short Marriage Preceded By Cohabitation? What Happens On Divorce?

5.    Periods of cohabitation are added to length of marriage where the relationship moves seamlessly from one to another. But what about time since separation? This is not counted towards duration of the marriage.

A Recent Court Case May Affect Finances On Divorce After A Short Marriage

6.    Until recently in the case of a short marriage if one of the couple brought more assets into the marriage, the other would only get a fraction of them. But they would share equally in assets built up during the marriage. A recent case changes this approach.

7.    In Sharp v Sharp [2017] the couple were married for about six years including eighteen months of cohabitation. Mrs Sharp received work bonuses totalling more than £10m. The Court of Appeal decided Mr Sharp would not receive fifty percent of the assets built up over the course of the marriage. The Court said this was because the couple had no children, both worked, and always kept their finances separate.

8.    Couples in short marriages may no longer be entitled in equal shares to the assets generated during the marriage. But, of course, each case depends on its individual circumstances.

How To Protect Your Assets On Divorce

9. You may have special concerns, for example a valuable inheritance, or business. See my recent blogs on these issues.

What’s The Answer? A Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

10. For a predictable outcome the answer is a Prenuptial Agreement. And if you haven’t got one it’s never too late to come to an agreement. For example a Postnuptial Agreement or a Separation Agreement.

How can you achieve this? Negotiationmediation or collaborative law all have proven track records.

Short Marriages – 10 Things You Need To Know

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice about short marriages. 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.

Yellow-billed oxpeckers (Buphagus africanus africanus) on zebra, Senegal  by Charles J Sharp on WikiMedia

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