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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Can I Get a Divorce Online?


Can I Get a Divorce Online

Can I Get a Divorce Online?

Yes, of course. The options are:

But did you know that a solicitor can do your divorce for you, often for less than you think?

I want a quick and cheap online divorce

Things to watch out for:

  • Are they properly qualified?  Don’t rely on untrained and unqualified people
  • Don’t go so quickly that you forget to protect your share of the matrimonial finances. There’s the family home, and you don’t want to miss out on pensions or the family business either. See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce?
  • Have you agreed the arrangements for the children?
  • Neither arrangements for the children nor matrimonial finances are addressed in divorce proceedings. Check out your rights with a properly qualified family lawyer. Fixed fees or pay as you go costs are available.

How do I know the online service providers are properly qualified?

Good question. Expert legal help is important but the terminology is confusing: lawyer, solicitor, barrister, paralegal, chartered legal executive, collaborative lawyer, mediator. What does it all mean?

“Lawyer” can mean solicitor, barrister, or indeed any of the above.

A solicitor is highly qualified and experienced and can advise you and represent you in Court. You can find a good one online at Resolutionan organisation of family lawyers who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach.

A barrister can advise you and represent you, but usually your solicitor instructs them, rather than you.

A collaborative lawyer works with you, your partner and their lawyer in face to face negotiations to resolve your family disputes. Collaborative family law can help you shape your own future after divorce, and avoid the heartbreak of Court proceedings.

A mediator can help you and your partner work things out together. They can help you identify the issues between you and help you resolve them. Find a good one at Resolution

A chartered legal executive is similar to a solicitor but tends to have trained in only one area of the law, and must be supervised. Find a chartered legal executive on the CILEx website. Incidentally, the title “legal executive” can be misleading. Check whether they are actually chartered or not.

A paralegal has some legal training but is not a solicitor or chartered legal executive. Find a paralegal on the Professional Paralegal Register

You say go to a solicitor, but they cost too much

Not always! Family solicitors usually offer initially free advice, fixed fees, payment plans or pay as you go. See the How we charge page on our website. Compare these to the charges for online divorce – you might be pleasantly surprised. You will have the assistance of a properly qualified and experienced solicitor with personal knowledge of your case. And if your solicitor is local, you can actually meet her.

Why should I consult a solicitor?

  • A divorce doesn’t sort out the finances or the children. These are separate.
  • Things can get complicated – hidden assets, the risk of child abduction
  • A family solicitor will drop everything to protect you and your children
  • Decisions about property, pensions etc will affect the rest of your life

Can I talk to a proper solicitor please?

Yes, of course.  Joanne Houston at Just Family Law would be delighted to help you. And talking to a solicitor doesn’t mean you can’t have a DIY divorce.

I want a life beyond divorce

Then think about collaborative family law or mediation.

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.

Everyone is entitled to expert, professional advice

So certainly look online, but don’t forget to protect your future and the future of your children by organising a free or fixed cost interview with a family law solicitor.

It’s like when you’re organising a holiday. However independent you want to be in your travel plans, you don’t want to fly the plane yourself. There’s an experienced pilot for that.

Can I Get a Divorce Online?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question Can I Get a Divorce Online? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

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

The topics covered in this blog post Can I Get a Divorce Online? 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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Do Grandparents Have Rights? Practical Steps to Seeing Your Grandchildren Again

DoGrandparentsHaveRightsHeartbreak …

What can be more heartbreaking than the prospect of not seeing your grandchildren? I have met many distressed grandparents whose main concern is for the grandchildren they cannot see: theirs is a uniquely painful situation. But don’t give up hope – there’s lots you can do.

Do grandparents have rights?

Do grandparents have rights? Sadly, no. Parliament has debated a change in the law but that’s not imminent. But there are many practical steps you can take.

Why does this happen to grandparents?

An acrimonious divorce, the desperately sad breakdown of a relationship with your child, the influence of a controlling or jealous new partner… There is much talk of parental alienation and how the breakdown of relationships leads to links being cut with the extended family. But whatever it’s called, and whatever causes it, the upshot is that a previously healthy and supportive relationship with the grandchildren is abruptly ended. This is a guide to what you can do.

What can grandparents do?

This won’t work for everyone but maybe you could be the bigger person and try to start a positive conversation with the parent/s? But, whatever you do, don’t take sides if it’s a divorce case. And please try to make allowances for the raw feelings that will be flying around. Instead concentrate on how you can help out with the grandchildren.

There’s so much at stake, wouldn’t you try anything, even eating humble pie? After all, you could soon be eating apple pie with your grandchildren. And remember, in the early days of a split or disagreement everything is up in the air. Give it a little time and communications will become easier.

It’s important to remember …

… to put the grandchildren first. It’s not about your feelings, or the parent/s feelings, it’s all about the grandchildren.

Put forward a proposal …

For example, to see or look after the grandchildren once a week, or to phone them, or to Skype with them, or to send them presents or cards. But make sure it’s a realistic proposal you can stick to. This avoids disappointment for the grandchildren and misunderstandings between the grown ups.

Mediation

If you can’t sort it out between you, suggest mediation. Mediators are trained to help resolve family disputes.

Going to Court – the facts

Going to Court is always the final option because it’s expensive, stressful, uncertain and it can drive families further apart. Please make sure you take advice from an expert Family Law Solicitor first. The guiding principle in all cases about children is their welfare. So the question is, would it be in their best interests to see you?

Child Arrangements Order

You will be making an application for an Order for example that the grandchildren spend time with you. This is known as a Child Arrangements Order.

But first …

You must attend a “MIAM” and you must apply to the Court for “leave”

Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

Before you start Court proceedings you must attend a MIAM. The parent/s will also receive an invitation and will attend separately. The aim is to give both of you information about how mediation might help.

Applying to the Court for ‘leave’

Complete Form C2 for permission (‘leave’) to start proceedings. (You need leave because you are not the parent). In brief:

  • The Court fee is £215 unless you are eligible to help with Court fees
  • Attach your application for a Child Arrangements Order on Form C100.
  • Send the application to your nearest divorce Court .
  • The Court recognises the value of grandparents but does not automatically grant leave – there is likely to be an enquiry into the circumstances and this may involve a hearing where evidence is considered.

Application for a Child Arrangements Order

If you’re granted leave your application for a Child Arrangements Order will proceed. The initial hearing will provide another opportunity for an agreement to be reached at the “Dispute Resolution Appointment”. You will meet the “Cafcass Officer” (from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) whose job it is to safeguard the interests of children.

A variety of Orders can be made at the first hearing but most likely are:

  • Cafcass to prepare a Report (they will meet you, the parent/s and the grandchildren)
  • You and the parent/s to prepare statements

Fingers crossed the Cafcass report recommends something along the lines of your proposal, and fingers crossed the parent/s accept it. Otherwise there will be a hearing where all are required to give evidence.

Don’t feel alone …

Take advice from an experienced Family Law Solicitor. And there are some great charities and organisations offering support to grandparents such as the Grandparents Association (Grandparents Plusand Family Lives and Citizens Advice. Do grandparents have rights? No, but there are many steps they can take.

Do grandparents have rights?

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on “Do Grandparents have Rights”. In this 20 minute session we will discuss positive steps you can take to seeing your grandchildren again.

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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Financial Settlement On Divorce, How To Get The Best One For You – 5 FAQs

Financial Settlement On Divorce

  1. What’s The Best Way To Tackle Your Financial Settlement On Divorce?

By all means come to an agreement about the matrimonial finances between yourselves. But make sure you obtain advice from an expert family solicitor to ensure it’s a fair deal. This could save you money in the long term because the wrong financial settlement can affect the rest of your life.

Your solicitor should advise you of your options such as negotiation, mediation or collaborative law. But if these don’t work, Court proceedings might be the answer. Your solicitor will tell you how much these options are likely to cost.

  1. What Happens First?

All the matrimonial assets are utilised to provide a fair settlement for both of you. So you both need to provide information about every single one, whether owned in your joint names, or in your sole names:

  • The value of the family home (and any other property) and the size of the mortgage
  • Bank and building society accounts
  • Shares
  • Pensions
  • Any other investments
  • Debts

And you will both need to provide details of your income and outgoings, too.

  1. Which Assets Are Non Matrimonial? 

Can you protect your inheritance on divorce? How can you ring fence your business? How about property owned pre-marriage? You will need expert legal advice to answer these questions. But you must, first of all, disclose the existence of these assets, and their value.

  1. How Are Assets Divided For Your Financial Settlement On Divorce?

The starting point is equal division. But the Matrimonial Causes Act tells us we must also consider various factors, and any one of these could mean an adjustment to income or capital. The list of factors includes:

The Welfare Of Any Children
Income and Earning Capacity

The approach is to achieve a “clean break” between couples by capital adjustment rather than ongoing maintenance.

Financial Needs

If there are children, the parent with whom they live is likely to have a greater need for capital.

Standard Of Living During The Marriage

In rare cases where there is an excess of capital and income, this is an argument for a greater share.

Your Ages, And The Length Of The Marriage

There are different considerations depending on the ages of the couple, and whether it’s a short marriage or a long marriage.

Any Physical Or Mental Disabilities

This could be a case for ongoing maintenance, or extra capital.

Contributions To The Marriage

High achievers can attempt to ring fence their “stellar contribution

5.         Is A Court Order Required?

A Court order means if one of you changes your mind, or if one of you comes into money, there’s no going back for a second bite of the cherry. And it’s a relatively simple matter for a solicitor to draw up an order and to send it to Court. Ask for a fixed fee quote.

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on your financial settlement on divorce. In this 20 minute session we will:

  • Review your matrimonial financial situation and how you can achieve your objectives
  • Give you an overview of how a suitable financial settlement may be achieved by either negotiation, collaborative law, mediation, or Court procedure

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: Lady Judge in Boardroom by Lady Barbara Judge on Wikimedia Commons

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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.

image credit: Meeting by martinc (filter etc applied) on Flickr

 

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Collaborative Law – How Can It Help With Family Breakdown?

collaborative law family breakdownHow can couples move on from relationship breakdown with positive feelings? How can conflict – about money, about children – be minimised?

If I could say one thing, and one thing only, to help people mend the pain of relationship breakdown, and to translate the inevitable hurt feelings into something a lot more positive, I would say “try collaborative law“.

Did you know that collaborative law involves you and your ex, and both of your solicitors, signing an agreement that no one will issue court proceedings? This means that all of you, solicitors included, are totally committed to finding a solution. Any approach which avoids going to court has got to be good.

So how does collaborative law work? The principle is that the four of you, that’s you, your ex, and both of your solicitors, will have a series of meetings, usually three or four, and these will be organised and will proceed at a pace which is right for you. Your solicitor will be there to advise you and will communicate on your behalf with your ex and their solicitor if you don’t feel up to engaging directly yourself.

The first point to make is of course that if you can reach a final agreement over a series of three or four meetings over a period of months (but sometimes even just a few weeks), you will have saved yourself a great deal of time. Court proceedings can take much longer, a year or more sometimes.

At the first meeting you will all sign the collaborative law participation agreement. No one is going to issue court proceedings, and if they do, both of you will have to find new solicitors as the solicitors appointed to act in the collaborative process can’t continue. You also agree to be respectful to each other and to give “financial disclosure”, which means you will both have to provide details and documents proving all your income and assets. This disclosure is required whenever matrimonial finances are addressed – whether this be in negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, or court.

You agree the agenda for the second meeting. This will be the issues that are important to each of you. Every family is different and this is your opportunity to say what you want to achieve. Typically the agenda will include how the family home will be dealt with. If there are children it might be that they’re finding it difficult to adjust to the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. A priority can be exploring how to ease the transition for them.

It’s possible to involve other experts, such as counsellors to help you cope with the breakdown, or to assist the children in the transition, and financial experts who can advise on the valuation of your assets.

There’s an orderly and honest exchange of financial information at the second meeting, the focus still on what the couple want to achieve.

At the third meeting typically all the cards are put on the table. Individual priorities are known; the facts and figures are at your finger tips; you both have your solicitors there to advise and support you. There’s hard talking and inevitably compromise on both sides.

If not at the third meeting, then typically at the fourth meeting a final solution is agreed. There’s been compromise on both sides, possibly even a few tears, but you’ve achieved what seemed like the impossible by communicating and ultimately agreeing with your ex. You’ve laid the foundation for moving on with your life and putting all the heartbreak behind you. Who knows, you might even be able to be friends. You will certainly be in a stronger position to co-parent successfully, which as I have mentioned in an earlier post requires careful navigation.

You have been an active participant in the decision making process – far more empowering and healing than leaving it to a Judge to decide. And unlike mediation you (and your ex) have received advice throughout the process, and your solicitor has been with you to communicate on your behalf if you haven’t felt you wanted to engage directly with your ex.

In the court process there’s only a limited selection of orders that can be made. But in collaborative law, personal tailoring is possible, unique agreements can be reached. When you and your ex decide what’s best for your particular family, you can make agreements not generally available in court proceedings. You can agree the nuts and bolts of how you’re going to co-parent your children, where they’re going to live on a day to day basis, how you’re going to coordinate your care of them, how their individual needs can be met.

If you’re able to talk all this through – the property, the money, the children, the routine of co-parenting – then it makes it more likely that you will be able to continue being a family, a different family of course, but a family none the less, with two parents who work together in the interests of their children.

As you will have made the transition with little acrimony and are moving on with your lives separately but positively, there will be no need for your extended families and friends to take sides. You won’t dread your child’s wedding day, wondering how you and your ex will be able to sit at the top table together, let alone in the same room. You will still be a functioning family.

Collaborative law is the way to move forward positively from the breakdown of your relationship.

Wouldn’t you agree that any approach which avoids going to court has got to be good? If you have an opinion about collaborative law, please do share your comment with us, we would like to hear from you.

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

Visit our website just-family-law.com

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

image by Harland Quarrington on wikimedia

 

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