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How Does A Divorce Settlement Work?

How Does A Divorce Settlement Work?

The Impact of Domestic Violence On A Divorce Financial  Award In this blog divorce financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at a recent court case involving divorce financial settlement claims and allegations of domestic violence to see how divorce settlements work and how the court treat domestic abuse allegations when making financial settlement decisions. Evolve Family Law are North West and Online Family and Divorce Solicitors For legal help and advice on divorce and family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. The financial settlement A wife, age 55, separated from her husband. They could not reach a financial settlement by agreement and financial  court proceedings were started. Sadly, the scenario of a husband and wife splitting up and going to court to get a financial court order isn’t unusual but what marks this case out is that the wife was a barrister and had a property portfolio in her name, acquired through her earnings during the eleven-year marriage. The husband, age 58, wasn’t working and had not worked independently of the wife throughout the marriage. Again, there isn’t anything unusual about this save for the situation not complying with the unusual gender stereotype. However, the wife said that as well as her being the bread winner in the marriage, the husband had been violent to her on two separate occasions. The wife said that meant the husband should get nothing by way of financial award. The husband argued that wasn’t fair. The domestic violence allegation The financial court looked at the domestic violence allegations. The husband had been prosecuted but was acquitted so had no criminal conviction for domestic abuse. None the less the family court said it could take the allegations of domestic violence into account because the family court had made findings about the domestic abuse. A husband or wife should therefore not assume that just because a spouse did not report domestic abuse to the police that the family court will disregard domestic violence. However, the court also made it clear that just because there has been domestic violence in a relationship that does not mean that the perpetrator of the domestic abuse should end up with nothing. The financial court proceedings The family court ordered the wife to pay the husband £625,000 as a financial court order but the wife disagreed and appealed. She thought the ruling was unfair. The second judge said that £200,000 of the £625,000 award should be a charge to the wife, repayable by the husband’s estate on his death or repayable by the husband to the wife if the husband were to remarry or live with a new partner. The wife asked the court to reduce the lump sum payment to £425,000. On appeal, the court kept the payment at £625,000 and cancelled the charge. This means the wife has to pay the full £625,000. The court calculated that £625,000 was necessary to enable the husband to buy a new house with a budget of £400,000, with £25,000 to buy a car and pay living expenses and £200,000 to cover costs. The appeal judges concluded that the domestic violence findings did not mean there should be no financial  award or a charge back of some of the financial settlement. The appeal judges favoured a clean break financial settlement with no ongoing financial ties between husband and wife.  The costs of not agreeing a financial settlement When determining the appeal, the judge said the family financial  proceedings had become ‘an exercise in self-destruction' because the legal costs had become disproportionate to the family assets so it was hard to achieve a financial settlement that either husband or wife thought was fair. As the appeal court concluded that the findings of domestic abuse made against the husband do not justify making what would otherwise be an inappropriate order the £200,000 charge was removed giving him a lump sum of £625,000. The lessons from the court case The lessons from the court case are that arguing over principles doesn’t always pay as whilst the wife was the breadwinner the husband was nonetheless entitled to a financial  award to meet his needs. Those needs were not extinguished by the finding of domestic violence in the relationship by the family court although it is fair to say that the award is smaller than if no domestic violence allegations had been made. It is therefore important to raise allegations of domestic violence but not to expect that the court will make no award or an award that is lower than an amount that meets the perpetrators basic needs if the other party has his or her needs met. In this case the wife was not only a barrister, she specialised in family law. What that tells us is that it is important to get independent and impartial expert family law legal advice as early as possible. Whilst you may not like the legal advice it may save you a lot in legal costs if that legal advice enables you to reach a pragmatic financial settlement. Evolve Family Law are North West and Online Family and Divorce Solicitors For legal help and advice on divorce and family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. [related_posts]
Robin Charrot
Jan 20, 2022   ·   5 minute read
Mother Having Serious Conversation With Teenage Daughter At Home

Can a Parent Stop a Child From Seeing the Other Parent?

After a separation or divorce many parents want to stop their child from seeing the other parent. Sometimes those feelings are fleeting as a reaction to a parent turning up late for contact or because of an argument. In other families, one parent may believe that it in their child’s best interests to not have contact with the other parent. In this blog children law expert, Louise Halford, looks at whether a parent can stop a child from seeing the other parent after parental separation or divorce.Family and children law solicitors  For legal help and advice on stopping a child from seeing the other parent and contact orders call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.​Stopping contact between child and parent If you are thinking about stopping contact between your child and their other parent then it is best to take legal advice before stopping contact. If there is an existing child arrangement order in place you may be in breach of the court order if you stop contact without first applying to court to vary the child arrangement order to stop the contact. If there is no child arrangement order in force it is still best to get expert legal advice on your options. That is because if you stop contact your ex-partner may apply to court for a child arrangement order and, depending on the current level of contact and the reasons why you want to stop contact, they may even end up with more contact with your child. Should you stop contact between a child and the other parent? There are some scenarios when it is best for the child to stop contact. For example, if you fear child abduction and your child being taken out of the UK without your agreement or you are worried that the other parent is not able to care for the children during contact and doesn’t have the insight into their mental health issues or the extended family support to make contact safe for your child. However, there are other scenarios where it isn’t necessarily in your child’s best interests to stop contact even though the cessation of contact would make life a lot easier for you as you would not have to be in contact with your ex-partner over the contact arrangements.  There are many situations where one parent often wants to stop a child having contact with the other parent, such as: The other parent has not paid child support or spousal maintenance. The other parent has met a new partner and you feel angry or hurt about it. The other parent gives you a lot of hassle and grief over the contact arrangements and you feel they are trying to control you through the communication that they have with you over childcare. You are worried that your ex-partner will be violent towards you at either collection or drop off time. The other parent is always late collecting the child or returning the child. The child does not do any homework whilst with the other parent and always returns tired after a contact weekend meaning that the child finds it hard to settle back into their routine and concentrate on their school work. The other parent won't follow the same parenting routine as you so you are seen as the disciplinarian and no fun. The child comes back from contact saying things about you that they have heard from the other parent. The child says they don’t want to see the other parent because contact is boring and they want to see their friends. The child doesn’t like the other parent’s new partner or their children. All of the above are very valid concerns that need legal advice and discussion with an expert children law solicitor but should not necessarily result in all contact stopping between your child and the other parent. What happens if I stop contact between my child and the other parent? If you stop contact between your child and the other parent then the other parent could:   Apply to court to enforce an existing child arrangement order. Apply to court for a child arrangement order. Still turn up to see the child, for example, collecting the child from school. Not have contact and walk away – the child may not want this and therefore the child may be angry and hurt with you. In addition, the child may think of their other parent in an idealised fashion and as they are no longer having contact with the other parent the child forgets that the other parent was late in collecting them or did nothing with them during the contact visit other than watch television. It can help to discuss the likely outcome of an application for a child arrangement order by the other parent or an application by you for a children order, such as a prohibited steps order. That’s because it is best to understand the approach the family court will take to stopping contact and how they will weigh up what the judge thinks is in your child’s best interests. A children law solicitor can also discuss alternate options, such as: Family mediation to help you explain to your ex-partner your concerns about contact. Protective orders, such as domestic violence injunction orders if your ex-partner is harassing you, or you fear child abduction. Round table meeting with children law solicitors to discuss your concerns and reach a resolution. For example, agreeing a parenting plan with consistent parenting routines for the child or agreeing to supervised contact whilst your ex-partner is experiencing a period of mental ill-health. Family therapy that can involve an older child so they can explain how they feel about contact. Therefore, whilst it is tempting to stop contact between your child and their other parent it is normally best to take some time to reflect and to consider the consequences of the decision.Family and children law solicitors  For expert legal advice on stopping a child from seeing the other parent and applying for or opposing a child arrangement order application call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jul 08, 2021   ·   6 minute read
Affectionate couple announcing their engagement with selfies while sitting at cafe. Happy couple taking a selfie and showing off their wedding ring at coffee shop.

How To Get a Prenup

In a straw poll the majority of engaged couples could see the sense in signing a prenuptial agreement before their wedding but they weren’t sure how to go about getting one. In this article prenup agreement expert, Robin Charrot, looks at how to get a prenup.Family law and prenuptial agreement solicitors For legal help with a prenuptial agreement call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Are prenups unromantic? If you are engaged to be married you may be worried about raising the idea of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancée or fiancé. That’s totally understandable as no one wants to appear unromantic or to cast a pall over the engagement celebrations. Whilst prenups may not be romantic they do show that you care and that you are taking your future seriously. That’s because a prenuptial agreement has to be ‘fair’ to both a husband and wife or to both civil partners. Therefore, if you are the financially weaker party to the marriage or civil partnership, the suggestion of a prenup, whilst not romantic, can offer you peace of mind and financial  security. Who wants a prenup? As prenuptial agreement solicitors we are often initially approached by third parties wanting to make initial enquiries to help sort out a prenup for an engaged couple. There can be many very valid reasons for this, such as: Parents wanting to protect the deposit on the family home because they gifted the deposit money to their son or daughter. Grandparents wanting to make lifetime gifts to a grandchild as part of estate planning and wanting to keep gifted money ‘in the family’. A parent or grandparent, having transferred assets to a child to avoid care home fee issues or to minimise inheritance tax, wanting to ensure that the transferred property is ring fenced in the prenuptial agreement. A family member who has transferred shares in a family business to the younger generation as part of business and retirement planning. The trustee of an onshore or offshore discretionary trust where the trustees anticipate making future capital or income distributions. A family member who has left a substantial legacy in their will to a family member and who wants to ensure that their legacy is protected through the prenuptial agreement ringfencing it. A parent or family member has been through a difficult divorce and wants to protect the engaged couple by ensuring they sign a prenuptial agreement to ensure that they don’t end up in a bitter and expensive court battle over the divorce financial settlement. A parent or other family member is from overseas where prenuptial agreements are common place. An accountant or financial advisor or other professional who wants to ensure that a client is financially protected,  for example, where one party to the marriage has already inherited a lot of money or won the lottery or is a sportsperson with exceptionally high earnings but a time limited career span. In addition, many engaged couples are also proactive in seeking out prenuptial agreement advice. For example, a financially weaker party to the marriage may actively seek a prenuptial agreement to show they aren’t a gold digger or to show extended family that they aren’t marrying for financial reasons. Equally, the financially stronger party to the engagement may want to protect their partner with the security of a prenuptial agreement that meets their needs should the couple take the decision to separate at a later date. How to get a prenup The often-asked question is ‘how to get a prenup’ whereas the question really is ‘how do I get my partner to agree to a prenuptial agreement and how do I tactfully raise the topic?’ Every couple is different so what works for one won’t work for someone else but prenuptial agreement solicitors say it is best to avoid the topic whilst on bended knee or when saying yes. Equally, it is best not to leave the question of a prenup to the last minute when you or your partner are stressing about wedding arrangements and last-minute preparations. In addition, for a prenup to carry weight with the family court, it should ideally be signed twenty-eight days before the wedding. That means the topic of the prenup agreement has to be raised well in advance of the wedding date so that the contents can be discussed and agreed. One of the best ways to raise the topic of a prenup is in a general discussion about your future together. For example, you may be planning to move in with a partner or buy a house together or contemplating starting a family. Another possibility is to raise the topic as part of your financial paperwork. For example, if you are planning on writing a new will in contemplation of your marriage or signing a new power of attorney or taking out additional life insurance. The key point about a prenup agreement is that the agreement should protect both of you as the agreement needs to be fair and meet both of your respective needs to be given weight by the family court. Conditions for a prenup Prenuptial agreement solicitors say unless both of you comply with some conditions for a prenup agreement the document may carry little or no weight and therefore may be a pointless exercise. The conditions for a prenup are: The prenup must be freely entered into. You and your partner must fully appreciate the implications of entering into the prenup. The agreement must not be significantly unfair to one spouse or civil partner. You and your partner must each have your own independent legal advice. You and your partner must each provide financial information about your assets, income and any debts. A prenup should ideally be finalised at least twenty-eight days before the wedding. Prenuptial agreement solicitors say that if you are interested in learning more about the option of signing a prenuptial agreement then the best way forward is to have a chat with an expert so you get a better idea of how a prenup may help and protect your family. ​Family law and prenuptial agreement solicitors For legal help with a prenuptial agreement call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Latest From Our Nuptial Agreements Blog:
Robin Charrot
Jul 01, 2021   ·   6 minute read
When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

When money is going out of your bank account each month in child maintenance it isn’t surprising that many parents question when the child maintenance will stop. Equally, if you are a parent looking after a strapping twenty-year-old who hasn’t got a job and can't get one, then you will have a different point of view about when child maintenance should stop. In this blog children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your questions on when child maintenance stops.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. For help with all your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.When does child maintenance stop? Child maintenance is the financial arrangement between you and the other parent of your child over the money payable to financially support your child after your separation or divorce. Parents make assumptions about when child maintenance stops. Common assumptions include: Child maintenance stops if the parent getting the child maintenance has remarried or is in a new relationship Child maintenance stops if the person getting the child maintenance is earning more than the parent who provides the child support Child maintenance stops if the parent receiving child maintenance refuses child contact and won't let the other parent have a relationship with the child Child maintenance stops if there is someone else helping with financial support for the child, for example a grandparent. All of these assumptions are wrong. It is important to understand that child maintenance isn’t affected by the status of parental relationships or whether one parent is breaching a child arrangement order and refusing contact. You may however be able to stop spousal maintenance or start court proceedings to reduce or stop spousal maintenance or to enforce a child arrangement order. How long is child maintenance payable for? If child maintenance has been calculated by the Child Maintenance Service you will need to pay child maintenance until: Your child is sixteen or Your child is under twenty if they are in approved education or training or The Child Maintenance Service assessment is cancelled. For example, because the child comes to live with you or the care of the child is shared equally or the child is adopted. If you are in any doubt about whether you can stop child maintenance when there is a Child Maintenance Service assessment in place it is best to take specialist legal advice as you don’t want to find out that you are still liable to pay child support and arrears have mounted up. If you are paying child maintenance on a voluntary basis to the other parent then you can stop child maintenance at any time. However, stopping child maintenance early is likely to result in an application for a Child Maintenance Service assessment and you could be assessed as liable to pay more in child support than you were paying on a voluntary basis. Stopping child maintenance payable under a court order The court can only make child support orders in limited circumstances. For example: Where both parents agree to the making of a child maintenance order or To cover the additional costs of caring for a disabled child or To cover private school fees – referred to as a school fees order or To provide child support for a step-child who was treated as a child of the family during the marriage or civil partnership or To provide for additional child maintenance after the Child Maintenance Service has made a maximum award under the Child Maintenance Service assessment process. This is referred to as top up child maintenance. If you are paying child maintenance or receiving child support under a court order it is best to take legal advice before stopping the payments or threatening court action. That is because the type of child maintenance order and the wording in the order may determine when child maintenance will stop or the court options open to you. For example, a child maintenance order may say that the child support order will continue until the children finish their A levels, but if over a year has elapsed from the date the child maintenance order was made you won't be able to apply to court to enforce the order. For example, if an order is made for payment towards the costs of a disabled child the order may not be age limited if the child will continue to need specific disability related provision into adulthood.  Varying child maintenance   Although you may not be able to stop child maintenance you may be able to vary the amount you pay either by: Asking the Child Maintenance Service to vary the assessment Asking the court to vary the child maintenance order Agreeing to a change in the amount of child support that is paid on a voluntary basis. Circumstances justifying a variation could include: You losing your job or taking a pay cut Your caring overnight for the children on a more frequent basis The children going to boarding school The children no longer living in the UK and you having increased travel costs to see them. It is best to take expert legal advice on child maintenance variation to see if you have the grounds to reduce child support rather than unilaterally assuming that you have the power to reduce the amount of child support payable. Remember that child maintenance can be varied upwards as well as downwards.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors For fast friendly family law and child support advice call Evolve Family Law. Our specialist family law solicitors can help you with divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. Call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jun 10, 2021   ·   6 minute read
Boy learning to ride a bicycle with his father in park. Father teaching his son cycling at park.

How Much Child Maintenance Should I Pay?

The question “ How much child maintenance should I pay?” isn’t always a straightforward one or an easy question for a Cheshire family law solicitor to answer. That’s because most family circumstances need exploring before a definitive answer can be given so you understand how child support fits into your overall divorce financial settlement. In this article, children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your frequently asked questions on how much child maintenance you should pay.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.What is child maintenance? Child maintenance and child support are one and the same thing to divorce solicitors. So, whilst you may hear reference to child support it is the same as child maintenance, namely the financial  support paid by one parent to the other parent or primary carer of the child for the child’s upbringing and support. What child maintenance does not cover is: Payment of school fees – if a child is being privately educated and payment of school fees is in dispute you can apply to the family court for a school fees order that the other parent pay all or a proportion of the private school fees and any specified extras Payment of spousal maintenance – if the other parent requires financial support in addition to the child maintenance provided for the child’s upbringing then the parent can apply to the family court for spousal maintenance provided that they are eligible to do so. For example, you cannot apply for spousal maintenance from a former spouse if you have remarried. Child maintenance is in essence the financial arrangement between you and the other parent of your child over the money payable to financially support the child after parental separation or divorce. The amount of child maintenance payable is not dependant on the status of the parent’s relationship. In other words, whether child support is payable and the amount of child support isn’t affected by whether you are in a married or cohabiting relationship. However, under current law an unmarried partner can't claim spousal maintenance whereas a husband or wife or civil partner can do so from their separated or divorced spouse or civil partner. Is child maintenance payable if you don’t see the child? If you are a separated parent and you don’t see your child , either as a result of your decision, a child arrangement order by the family court or you don’t see your child frequently because of distances and difficulties with travel, you will still need to pay child maintenance. Your legal obligation to pay child maintenance only stops if the child is adopted. How is child maintenance calculated? Child maintenance can be calculated and paid under: A private arrangement- this is between you and the other parent Under a court order – in limited circumstances the family court has the power to make a child maintenance order Through a Child Maintenance Service assessment – the Child Maintenance Service is a government body tasked with calculating and securing payment of child maintenance. How long is child maintenance payable for? You will need to pay child maintenance until: Your child is sixteen or Your child is under twenty if they are in approved education or training or Until you agree otherwise if payments are made on a voluntary basis under a family arrangement. Arranging child maintenance with the other parent You don’t have to involve a solicitor or the Child Maintenance Service to sort out how much child maintenance you should pay if you prefer to sort it out direct with the other parent. However, divorce solicitors recommend that you take some specialist legal advice so you understand how child maintenance fits in with the overall financial settlement, such as whether spousal maintenance is payable and for how long or who gets to stay at the family home. It is also important to reality test the proposed amount of any agreed child maintenance to make sure that you will still have enough  to live on, especially when you have rehoused yourself and taken on a new mortgage or are incurring extra costs because of travelling to see the children. The best point about agreeing child maintenance with the other parent is that you can agree any figure that you want to with the child’s mother or father. You don’t have to use the strict mathematical formula adopted by the Child Maintenance Service but instead can look at what the child needs and what you can afford to pay. Arrangements can be flexible and could involve you paying less than what the Child Maintenance Service would assess you as being liable to pay because you have agreed to share the costs of private nursery fees or after school or holiday clubs or you agree to pay an older child a set monthly amount in clothing and pocket money allowance. Alternatively, you can agree that payments should be higher than the Child Maintenance Service would assess you as being liable to pay because you are able to afford a higher figure and you want your child to be able to enjoy a similar standard of living to that experienced whilst you were living together as a family. If you agree child maintenance payments direct it is best to remember that you can't bank on the child maintenance payments staying the same. If payments are made on a voluntary basis they could change, for example, they could go down if the parent paying child support realises that that the agreed figure is unaffordable because they have had to take on a big monthly mortgage commitment to buy a new property. If direct arrangements break down you can try to reach a new agreement using family solicitors or family mediation or an application could be made to the Child Maintenance Service. Using the Child Maintenance Service If you decide to use the Child Maintenance Service the government agency can calculate the amount of child maintenance you should pay or receive. The Child Maintenance Service uses a strict mathematical formula to assess the amount of child support. This formula does not consider the child’s outgoings (such as nursery fees) or the receiving parent or paying parent’s outgoings but instead focusses on the paying parent’s income. Once the Child Maintenance Service has calculated the amount of child support payable the payments can be made direct between parents or collected through the Child Maintenance Service. If you use the Child Maintenance Service to collect and transfer the child support then the Child Maintenance Service will charge a fee. That’s why it is preferrable to arrange payment direct if it is possible to do so. Who can't use the Child Maintenance Service to calculate child support? You can't make an application to the Child Maintenance Service for child support if: You have care of your child and you live outside the UK or The parent who is liable to pay child support lives outside the UK and doesn’t work for a British company or You are seeking child support for a step child. If you are married or you were previously married and the child was treated as a child of the family you may be able to apply to court for a child support court order You need child maintenance to cover school fees or the additional costs arising out of a child’s disability. You may be able to apply to court for an order to pay these costs You agreed a financial court order that includes a child support order for the child and the order is either less than twelve months in age or the financial court order was made prior to the 3 March 2003. How much child maintenance should I pay? The amount of child maintenance that you should pay is calculated by looking at: Your weekly gross income – this could be your salary or self-employed earnings The number of children you need to pay child maintenance for Whether there are children living with you in your new household – these could be step children or children you have had with a new partner The amount of overnight contact time you enjoy with the children you are paying child maintenance for – overnight contact time is averaged over a year rather than looked at on a weekly or monthly basis. You can calculate the amount of child maintenance you should pay or you should receive using the government online child support calculator but it is best to look at child maintenance within the context of your financial settlement so you understand how child support fits in with spousal maintenance and the split of capital or who gets to stay in the family home. It is also important to understand that child maintenance can go up or down or could end if the child moves to live with their other parent or there is a shared care arrangement.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors For fast friendly family law advice call Evolve Family Law. Our specialist family law solicitors can help you with divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. Call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call. ​Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jun 03, 2021   ·   9 minute read
selective focus of couple sitting at table with divorce documents

What Are the 5 Grounds For Divorce?

If you are thinking about starting divorce proceedings you may have read that English divorce law is changing. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to wait before you start divorce proceedings or that it is in your best interests to do so. In this blog, Manchester divorce solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at the current five grounds for divorce.Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from separation to divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact arrangements and representation in financial settlements. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.The 5 grounds for divorce Strictly speaking, a divorce solicitor will tell you that there is actually only one ground for divorce in England and Wales, namely that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, you have to evidence the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage under current divorce law by proving one of five facts.  The five facts are: Adultery or Unreasonable behaviour or Two years separation and your husband or wife agrees to the divorce or Desertion or Five years separation – your husband or wife does not have to agree to the divorce if you have been separated for five years or more. How do you prove you have the grounds for a divorce? Many people are embarrassed at the thought of starting divorce proceedings and having to prove something like adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Equally, if you are on the receiving end of a divorce petition it isn’t nice to think that you have been accused of unreasonable behaviour or adultery. You may also worry about the effect of the divorce proceedings on your financial settlement or the childcare arrangements. Divorce solicitors say that proving that you have the grounds for divorce is normally not as complicated or as difficult as you may envisage. Gone are the days when you had to send a private investigator to a hotel to prove adultery. If you want to start divorce proceedings based on adultery then all you need to say in the divorce petition is that your husband or wife has committed adultery with a person whose identity you prefer not to reveal and that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. The respondent to the divorce petition just has to confirm that adultery took place, without the need to go into further details. Importantly, if you get divorced on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour the basis for the divorce proceedings is only ever relevant in any child arrangement order application or divorce financial settlement proceedings in very rare circumstances. For example, if divorce proceedings are started on unreasonable behaviour and one of the allegations is that the respondent to the divorce petition physically assaulted the child. This allegation would be relevant in any child custody case. However, just because an allegation is contained in the divorce petition that you don’t agree to, it doesn’t mean that you have to defend the divorce proceedings provided that you are in agreement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. When are divorce proceedings contested? As it is possible to agree to get divorced without accepting all the allegations of unreasonable behaviour or without going into a lot of detail about the adultery, most divorce proceedings are not contested. After all, it doesn’t make sense to most people to challenge divorce proceedings if they accept that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and understand that the contents of the divorce petition won't affect the financial settlement or the childcare arrangements. Why is it best to get divorce legal advice? As it is actually easier to get divorced under current law than many people think, divorce solicitors advise that it is best to take specialist legal advice so that: You don’t assume that you should not start divorce proceedings now and instead wait until you can start a no-fault divorce when the new law comes into force You protect yourself, if necessary, by starting divorce proceedings straight away. For example, if you fear that your husband or wife is hiding money from you or transferring assets to other family members or you are worried that your spouse is spending to excess or is at risk of bankruptcy You don’t assume that you need to contest divorce proceedings based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour because the petition is very unlikely to affect either the financial settlement or child care arrangements. In addition, you can preserve your right to challenge any false allegation in the financial settlement or child arrangement order court proceedings You understand your divorce options as, for example, even if your husband or wife has committed adultery you may not be able to start divorce proceedings on that basis if you lived together as a couple for six months or more after they committed adultery and you were made aware the adultery. Sometimes your divorce options may surprise you as you can get divorced on the basis of two years separation if you have lived together in the same family home for two years provided that you have lived ‘separate and apart’ within the same household and your husband or wife consents to a divorce You protect yourself, if necessary, by either not starting divorce proceedings straight away or deferring applying for the decree absolute of divorce You understand the impact of the divorce proceedings and pronouncement of your decree absolute. For example, the impact of your separation and divorce on your immigration status if you are in the UK on a family visa or the effect of your divorce on your tax status and the tax treatment of the transfer of assets between yourself and your former husband or wife. Most divorce solicitors say that it isn’t just navigating the divorce process that is important but also understanding how your divorce fits in with any financial settlement or childcare arrangement that you either agree or ask the court to determine.Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors The friendly team of specialist divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law can help you with your separation and divorce proceedings, child custody and contact and your financial settlement. For advice on your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. The Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.Latest From Our Divorce Blog:
Robin Charrot
May 27, 2021   ·   6 minute read
Can I Pay Child Maintenance Direct to My Child?

Can I Pay Child Maintenance Direct to My Child?

Handing over money to a former husband, wife, or ex-partner can be galling. That’s especially the case when you are paying child maintenance and you don’t think that your former spouse or ex-partner is spending the child maintenance on your child. In this article divorce settlement and child support solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at whether you can pay child maintenance direct to your child.Financial settlement and child maintenance solicitors For legal help with a financial settlement or with child maintenance call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Who do you have to pay child maintenance to? Child maintenance is normally paid to the parent who has primary care of the child. It isn’t paid to the child direct. Normally if child maintenance is paid after an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service, or after a financial court order is made in the family court, the Child Maintenance Service will encourage and the court will order that the child support is paid by direct debit to the receiving parent. If parents reach an agreement over child support, and there is no Child Maintenance Service or court involvement, then it is possible to agree to pay the child maintenance direct to the child. Is it best to pay child maintenance direct to a child? You may think that as child maintenance is financial support for the child that payment of the money should go direct to an older child. However, child support isn’t just about a clothing or an entertainment allowance for an older child. Child maintenance is also meant to contribute towards the main carer’s household bills and other items, such as: The mortgage or rent. Utility bills and other expenses that the child benefits from. For example, the broadband or Sky television package. Food and other essentials. The child’s clothing. The additional costs of looking after a child, such as presents, annual holiday , school trips etc. Whilst you may say that: Your former partner owns their home outright and so has no mortgage or Your former partner lives with a partner who pays all the household bills or You have no confidence that any of the money given to your former partner is spent on the child as the child is poorly clothed whilst your ex-partner has the latest technological gadget or designer clothing or is always off on a weekend away without the child. The bottom line is that most parents say that they want child maintenance to be handed over to them, rather than given direct to the child. That’s because a direct handover of money can: Make the child more aware of the parental conflict. Create anxiety in the child. Create conflict between child and main carer as the child sees all the child support as ‘their money’ to spend on themselves, rather than a contribution towards household expenses. Can you split child maintenance between a child and the parent with care of a child? If you are keen to pay child maintenance direct to your child you could have a conversation about whether you can pay some child maintenance by direct debit to your ex-partner and the balance direct to your child as a personal clothing or entertainment allowance. Does the Child Maintenance Service taken into account money paid direct to a child? If you pay money direct to a child and your ex-spouse or former partner then applies to the Child Maintenance Service for a child support assessment the Child Maintenance Service will carry out a calculation of your liability to pay child support. When calculating the amount of child support payable the Child Maintenance Service will look at your income rather than your outgoings and therefore won't take into account the payments made direct to your child.  Agreeing direct payments to a child If you are able to reach an agreement on paying child support direct to a child then it is best to record that, either in your separation agreement or in your financial court order, as part of the overall financial settlement. However, if financial  circumstances change, the parent with primary care could change their mind and ask for direct payments to be made. Child support and financial settlements If you have separated from a former partner or are in the midst of divorce proceedings with a husband or wife it is best to consider child support as part of your overall financial settlement, rather than look at it in isolation to other aspects such as payment of spousal maintenance and whether you will get to stay in the family home or if it will be sold or transferred to your partner.Financial settlement and child maintenance solicitors For legal help with a financial settlement or child maintenance call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call. Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Robin Charrot
May 16, 2021   ·   5 minute read
Positive senior ladies signing documents at notary. Focus on brunette

How to Prevent Someone Contesting a Will

Most of us like to think that we have protected our loved ones after our death. That may be by taking out life insurance, paying into a pension that includes a spouse or partner pension if you pass away before your husband or wife , or simply making a Will. However, none of these actions may prevent someone contesting your Will after your death. In this article, private client and Will solicitor, Chris Strogen, looks at how to best prevent someone from contesting a Will.Cheshire Will solicitors For legal help with making your Will or estate planning call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Can you contest a Will? Most people think that if they have made a Will setting out where they want their property and money (referred to as their estate) to go to, that their express instructions in their Will can't be ignored or overridden. However, a Will can be challenged. There are two potential ways a Will can be contested: An allegation that the Will isn’t valid. An allegation that the Will doesn’t make reasonable financial provision for a person who has a right to make a claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This Act applies to estates in England and Wales. Stopping your Will being contested on grounds of validity If you get your Will prepared by a specialist Will solicitor it is less likely to face a successful challenge that the Will isn’t valid. A Will can be said to be invalid for a variety of reasons, such as: The Will wasn’t witnessed properly in accordance with current witnessing requirements. The Will maker was coerced or unduly influenced into making the Will. The Will maker lacked testamentary capacity to make the Will. For example, because of age or dementia or another health condition affecting their ability to make decisions or because they were receiving hospital or hospice care and on strong medication when they decided to make their last Will. It is part of the job of a Will solicitor to try to ensure that a Will is valid. They will therefore try to minimise the risk of a Will being contested on the grounds of validity by taking precautions, such as: Giving clear advice on how the Will needs to be signed and witnessed, and if you are planning to get the Will witnessed remotely because of COVID-19, clearly explaining if you can do that and how to comply with remote Will witnessing regulations. Ensuring that the Will maker’s instructions are taken, rather than relying purely on a family member or friend to pass on the Will maker’s instructions as to what should be included in the Will. If the Will maker wants to make a completely different Will to their previous Will or a Will that is perhaps unusual (for example, leaving their entire estate to someone they have just met when the Will maker has a close and supportive family ) then explaining the potential for the Will to be challenged and helping the Will maker write a letter to accompany the Will to explain the decision behind the new Will. Alternatively, an explanation can be included in a Will, for example, that provision hasn’t been made for a spouse because of a separation. It is important that family law advice is also taken as a spouse can still make a claim unless there is a clean break financial court order in place. Checking to see if there any health or other issues that might enable someone to question whether the Will maker lacked testamentary capacity when they signed their Will. If there are any question marks it is sensible to be cautious and obtain a medical certificate to say that the Will maker has capacity. Although someone can challenge testamentary capacity even where there is a certificate, the claim is far less likely to be successful if the point was addressed at the time that the Will was made. Reducing the risk your Will can be challenged because it doesn’t leave reasonable financial provision The best way that you can reduce the risk of your Will being challenged because it doesn’t leave reasonable financial provision to a potential claimant is to be totally honest with your Will solicitor. Sometimes people are embarrassed to say that they have a child from a previous relationship because of the child’s age and other family circumstances or don’t mention a partner as they don’t want family members to know about their partner. Whatever you tell your Will solicitor is confidential and they can't give detailed advice without all the necessary information about your family and potential claimants. In addition, your Will is private and the contents of your Will don’t have to be disclosed to your family. However, explaining your Will to your family may help them understand why it is fair and, in addition, after death a Will becomes a public record. A Will solicitor can advise on potential reasonable financial provision claims that you may not be aware could be made. For example, your estate may be left to your second spouse but your child from your first marriage may have a potential claim. Alternatively, you may leave all your estate to your children but a claim is then made by a former husband or wife against the estate as they were in receipt of spousal maintenance payments at the date of your death. There are lots of things that a Will solicitor can advise on to reduce the risk of claims, including the: Creation of a trust during your lifetime. Lifetime gifting. Creating a discretionary trust in your Will. Preparing a careful letter of wishes to accompany your Will so your trustees can exercise their discretion and hopefully avoid a dependency claim. Taking family law advice, for example, capitalising spousal maintenance or taking out life insurance to cover any potential spousal maintenance claim against the estate. In addition to advising you on potential claims against the estate your Will solicitor can also advise on IHT planning so your Will and estate planning is as inheritance tax efficient as possible, taking into account your family and personal circumstances. ​Cheshire Will solicitors For legal help with your Will or estate planning call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Wills Blog:
Chris Strogen
  ·   6 minute read
Who Pays For Mediation Costs in the UK?

Who Pays For Mediation Costs in the UK?

You may have read in the news that if you are getting divorced you may be eligible to receive a £500 mediation voucher to help pay for family mediation. In this article, our divorce expert, Robin Charrot, answers your questions on the new mediation voucher scheme and looks at the importance of legal mediation support. ​Divorce and Family Law Solicitors For legal help with your divorce and mediation support for your financial settlement or childcare arrangements call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.The family mediation voucher scheme The Ministry of Justice has announced that it has allocated one million pounds to enable up to 2,000 separating or divorcing couples to receive a £500 mediation voucher to help towards the costs of family mediation. Divorce solicitors say that competition for the £500 vouchers may be fierce as the Ministry of Justice says that the vouchers will be allocated on a ‘ first-come first-serve’ basis, rather than on a points or any other type of allocation system. What does the family mediation voucher scheme cover? The mediation voucher scheme covers family mediation on a range of family law issues, such as: Child custody. Child contact. Child maintenance. Financial settlement after a separation or divorce where there is also a dispute over children and either ongoing or potential children law proceedings. Why has the family mediation scheme been introduced? The family mediation voucher scheme has been introduced at this stage to help reduce court applications and to encourage the use of family mediation. That’s because the government believes that family mediation is a better, quicker and cheaper option than separating and divorcing couples starting family court proceedings to resolve child custody and contact issues or to secure a financial settlement. When will the family mediation voucher scheme operate from? The scheme was introduced on the 26 March 2021 under Practice Direction 36V (Family Mediation Voucher Scheme). The practice direction will expire after a year and the mediation vouchers will only be available whilst funding lasts. Does the voucher scheme cover the cost of attending a MIAM? The family mediation voucher scheme doesn’t cover the cost of attending the mediation information and assessment meeting (referred to as a MIAM). This initial meeting with a mediator is designed to check that mediation is suitable before family mediation is commenced. To be eligible for the voucher, both parties to the family mediation must have attended a MIAM on or after the 26 March 2021. One can't have attended the MIAM before the 26 March 2021 and the other after the 26th. Can both parties to the family mediation receive a voucher? The £500 mediation voucher is per family and may not cover the total cost of the mediation sessions as your mediation costs will depend on your choice of family mediator and the number of mediation  sessions that you require. The voucher is paid direct to the mediator, rather than given to either party to the mediation to use to pay the mediator’s bill. The £500 mediation voucher is inclusive of vat.   Is there a financial eligibility cap for the mediation voucher? There are no financial eligibility criteria for the family mediation voucher. Anyone who meets the MIAM date and mediation subject criteria may be able to secure a £500 mediation voucher to cover or contribute towards their mediation costs. Who pays for family mediation if a mediation voucher isn’t available? If you can't secure a family mediation voucher because: One of you attended a MIAM before the 26 March 2021 or You are mediating on a financial settlement only and there are no childcare issues to mediate or The mediation voucher scheme runs out of funds or For any other reason. Then the usually the mediator will check if either one of you is eligible for legal aid to cover the cost of mediation. If neither of you are eligible for mediation legal aid then you will need to agree on how the mediation sessions will be funded. You can either agree to share the mediation costs equally or come to another agreement, such as that one of you will pay for the mediation sessions or that the mediation sessions will be paid for out of your joint savings account. Even if you do secure a £500 mediation voucher, if you go to a number of mediation sessions the voucher may not the total mediation cost. That’s why it is best to agree on how you will share any mediation cost in excess of the £500 voucher. Does the mediation voucher cover the cost of mediation support? The mediation voucher doesn’t cover the cost of mediation support from a divorce solicitor. However, mediation support can be very cost effective. Taking legal advice before and/or after mediation sessions can help you understand: Your legal options, such as the type of court application that you could commence or your former partner could start. The likely range of orders that a court could make if you or your former partner started court proceedings. The potential costs of applying for a court order or responding to a court application and the timescale for completion of the court proceedings. The impact of any issues raised in mediation. For example, financial disclosure issues raised during the mediation process where you are trying to reach a financial settlement. Whether proposals put forward in mediation are within the range of orders that a family court would be likely to make if either you or your ex-partner were to start family law court proceedings. Legal advice on any aspects that are making it hard to reach a compromise in mediation. For example, if one of you believes that you have a legal right to equal parenting or one of you believes that an inheritance or a pension isn’t relevant to any financial settlement discussions. The legal process to sort out your divorce or to draft a separation agreement or to secure a financial court order or draw up a parenting plan and the legal status of a financial court order or parenting plan.   By receiving mediation support and getting the legal advice you need during the mediation process you may be more likely to have the confidence to reach a mediated agreement. Evolve Family Law can help you with independent specialist family law advice before and after mediation to support and guide you, including advice on any of the post-mediation documentation that may be necessary.Divorce and family law solicitors For legal help with your divorce and mediation support for your financial settlement or childcare arrangements call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Divorce & Separation Blog:
Robin Charrot
May 13, 2021   ·   6 minute read