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Child Arrangement Orders – Your Questions Answered

Child arrangement orders have been around a long time but we still get lots of questions from worried parents who are in the midst of a separation or divorce about their child custody rights or asking questions about residence and contact or access orders. In this article, children law expert Louise Halford answers your frequently asked questions on child arrangement orders. For expert Divorce and Children Law advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. What is a child arrangement order? A child arrangement order is a Court order that sets out parenting arrangements for children when there is a dispute between parents. The order is a combined order as it will set out where the children will live ( this used to be referred to as a custody order or residence order) and the contact arrangements (this used to be referred to as an access order or contact order). Do I need a child arrangement order? You only need a child arrangement order if you can't agree on the parenting arrangements for your children. If you can't reach an agreement direct then your children law solicitor can help you sort things out by negotiation or by providing legal support during family mediation. The Court will not routinely make a child arrangement order just to record what you have agreed unless there is a history of dispute or a real reason for the order. Will a child arrangement order let me take my children abroad? If you are named as the residential parent in a child arrangement order you can take your children abroad on holiday for up to four weeks without needing the other parent’s agreement. However, even with a child arrangement order, you can't move overseas with your children without the other parent’s agreement or Court order. If the other parent won't agree to your plans to relocate overseas with the children, then you need to apply for a relocation order. Can you change a child arrangement order? A child arrangement order can be changed either by both parents recording that they agree the parenting change or by applying back to Court to vary the child arrangement order. For example, if you agree that the children should be returned home at 6pm rather than at the old time of 5pm, the agreement to the change could be recorded in a text or email without needing to go to the expense of a Court application. However, if your child wants to move to live with you and the other parent won't agree then you will need to apply to Court to vary the child arrangement order. You should not change the child arrangement order without taking advice as you do not want to be accused of breaching the Court order. Does a child arrangement order include child support payments? A child arrangement order does not say if child support should be paid by one parent to the other parent. If you can't agree on what child support should be paid the Court has limited powers to make a child support order but the Child Maintenance Service can be asked to carry out an assessment of child support liability and can arrange payment. [related_posts] Shared care and child arrangement orders A child arrangement order can specify the parent the children will live with and set out the contact arrangements with the other parent. Alternatively, a child arrangement order can say that parenting is shared and specify how the shared parenting works. It does not necessarily have to be a fifty per cent split of each week. Ideally a child arrangement order will also set out how holiday contact will be arranged. For example, that parents will have alternate year Christmas day contact or that school holiday contact will be divided equally on dates to be agreed between the parents. With a child arrangement order can you make all important decisions? If you have a child arrangement order it does not allow you to make all the important decisions for your child, such as choice of school or faith. The other parent is likely to have parental responsibility for your child so you both have equal rights and responsibilities over major decision making. That means if you can't reach an agreement over an aspect of parenting then either you or the other parent will need to the Court for a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order. The Court will make a decision based on what the judge believes to be in the child’s best interests. Who can apply for a child arrangement order? It isn’t just parents who can apply to court for a child arrangement order. There are others who have an automatic right to apply for a child arrangement order such as step parents, a relative if the child have been living with the relative for twelve months or anyone who has looked after the child for three years or more. In addition to those with an automatic right to apply for a child arrangement order, others can apply for permission to apply for a child arrangement order. This typically covers the situation where a grandparent wants an order to have contact with a grandchild. If you need help with a child arrangement order application our specialist children law solicitors are here to help you. For expert Divorce and Children Law advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 28, 2022   ·   5 minute read
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Making a Will and the Family Home

Will solicitors say when people decide they don’t need a Will it is often because they think that the family home will automatically be inherited by their husband or wife. When people decide that they do need a Will it is normally because they are concerned about inheritance and the family home and want to make sure their partner can continue to live at the property. Will and private client lawyer, Chris Strogen, says that it comes as a surprise to many people that if they jointly own a family home, their share in the property won't necessarily pass by their Will (or under intestacy rules if they decide to not make a Will). Whether your share in the family home passes under your Will or not depends on whether you own the jointly owned property as joint tenants or as tenants in common. For expert estate planning and help with your Will call our team of specialist Will lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article we look at: Joint property ownership and estate planning The family home and your Will Severing a joint tenancy The family home and estate planning options Reviewing your Will Joint property ownership and estate planning When you make a Will, it is crucial to check if you own any jointly owned property as joint tenants or as tenants in common with your co-owner. The jointly owned property could be: The family home A holiday home A buy to let property Investment property Commercial property Whatever the nature or purpose of the property, a quick check can establish if you and your co-owner (or co-owners) own the property as joint tenants or as tenants in common. The difference in type of joint ownership is very important because property owned as joint tenants is automatically inherited by your co-owners. Jointly owned property that is owned as tenants in common is different. If one co-owner passes away then their share in the tenancy in common owned property passes by their Will. If they have not made a Will then their share in the property passes under intestacy provisions. The family home and your Will Many people think they don’t need a Will as their house will automatically pass to their partner. That may be the case if you are married or you own the property as joint tenants. It won't be the case if you own the jointly owned family home with your unmarried partner as tenants in common and you don’t make a Will. That is because your share in the property will pass under intestacy rules and your unmarried partner will not benefit under those rules. Your unmarried partner might be able to bring a claim against your estate if they fall within the definition of a ‘dependant’ and there is a lack of reasonable financial  provision for them. However, that involves uncertainty and extra expense and worry; all of which can be avoided by taking private client advice, estate planning and getting a Will drawn up. Severing a joint tenancy If you jointly own a property with a co-owner, you may realise that you don’t want your co-owner to inherit your share in the property. For example, you may own a family home with your former husband or ex-wife or you may own an investment property with a sibling or friend. To avoid your co-owner inheriting your share of the jointly owned property you can sever the joint tenancy so you hold the property as tenants in common. You don’t need your co-owner’s agreement or consent to sever the joint tenancy. If you sever the joint tenancy there are two points to note: You need to make a Will as without a Will your share in the property will pass under intestacy rules. If you have an existing Will you should consider reviewing the Will to make sure that it is still up to date and that it is inheritance tax efficient and you have minimised the risks of your Will being challenged. If you sever the joint tenancy and your co-owner passes away, their share of the property will pass under their Will or under intestacy rules. If the joint tenancy had not been severed the property would have passed automatically to the co-owners. [related_posts] The family home and estate planning options If your family circumstances are complicated you may be concerned about making a decision on whether to make a Will or review your Will or decide on whether to jointly own your property as joint tenants or as tenants in common. You may be concerned about leaving your share in the family home to a new partner as you feel that need to balance the needs of your new partner with the needs of your children from a previous relationship. There are a range of estate planning options to help you achieve a balance that you are comfortable with. For example, you could give your partner a life interest in your share in the family home so they can continue to live in the property but if they sell up or pass away then your share of the property will pass to the beneficiaries named in your Will. Reviewing your Will You may have made your Will many years before you bought your jointly owned property or the value of your estate may have changed. That is why it is important to review your Will to ensure your share of your property passes to the person or people you want to leave it to. By reviewing your Will on a regular basis, as family and financial  circumstances change, you can minimise the risk of your Will being challenged and protect your loved ones. For expert estate planning and help with your Will call our team of specialist Will lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
Apr 21, 2022   ·   5 minute read
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Treatment of Family Loans in Divorce and Financial Settlement Proceedings

Getting divorced and reaching a financial settlement can be hard, even where there are only two of you involved in reaching a financial settlement and securing a Financial Court Order. It can be even harder when family members have given or loaned money, with disputes over whether the money was a gift or a loan and how the loan should be treated in the divorce and financial settlement proceedings. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. The recent financial settlement Court case of P v Q (Financial Remedies) [2022] EWFC B9 (10 February 2022) has confirmed how the Courts should treat family loans in a divorce. The case emphasises the importance of extended family members taking legal advice if they intend the transfer of money to be a loan or want a gift to be ring-fenced in the case of separation or divorce. Family loans in financial settlement proceedings If a member of the extended family gives money to a husband or wife during their relationship then undoubtedly at the time of the gift or loan the money is very welcome. When a couple split up, family loans can complicate things where there is a dispute about: Whether the money was a gift or loan. Whether the gift was to the husband or wife or to the couple jointly. If the money was a loan, the repayment terms. If the money was a loan, whether the debt should be included as a debt in the asset schedule. If the money has been repaid to the extended family member because of the divorce, whether the money transferred to the relative should be added back into the asset schedule. Whether the extended family member should intervene in the financial settlement Court proceedings. Things can get very acrimonious when family money is in issue, with one party saying the money was a gift and the other a loan. Expert divorce and financial settlement solicitors say it is best to: Get help from an experienced divorce and financial settlement solicitor. They will give you an unbiased view on whether the family Court will say the money is a gift or a loan. Whilst you may not like their opinion about the treatment of the family money, you don’t want to waste time or money on an argument that you are not likely to win. Look at the cost of arguing whether the family money was a gift or loan as you don’t want to spend more in legal costs arguing the point if the costs will be more than the amount to be gained in your likely financial settlement. [related_posts] The case of P v Q (Financial Remedies) [2022] EWFC B9 The case of P v Q involved an international family based in the UK and Germany. The wife was German, living in England. The husband was English, living in Germany with the couple’s two children. The case had many unusual points, including the value and liquidity of company shares, particularly as the case was heard at a time when Russian forces were massing at the Ukraine border and there were expectations of share price volatility because the shares were held in an energy company. Divorce and financial settlement proceedings were started in the UK. The wife said the husband had given his mother £150,000 to reduce the amount the wife would receive as a financial settlement. The husband said he had given his mother the £150,000 to repay a loan and that the money should not be added back into the asset schedule. The judge acknowledged he had to consider the factors set out in Section 25 and Section 25A Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 together with any relevant case law when deciding how to split the assets and how to treat the family loan money. Section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 broadly says it is the duty of the Court when making a Financial Court Order to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family who has not attained the age of eighteen. Amongst other things, and of particular relevance to family money and loans, the Court should have particular regard to: The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the Court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. In the case of P and Q , the husband’s mother gave each of her three children the sum of £150,000 to help them with housing. No loan documentation was drawn up. There was no evidence that the husband's mother had gifted the money as part of an estate planning strategy. No demand was ever made for repayment of the £150,000 and there was no discussion about the circumstances when repayment was required. In evidence the mother said she hoped the family would repay the money to her if she was in need. The husband repaid the £150,000 to his mother without his mother asking for the money. The wife argued the transfer was a device to remove £150,000 from the asset schedule so she lost out, using the sharing principle of a 50:50 split, of £75,000. The judge had to consider if the £150,000 (and other family monies) were gifts or loans. The judge held that for money to amount to a gift there must be an intention to give away – with no expectation of repayment. Accordingly, the £150,000 was a loan. The arguments didn’t stop there as the judge, using case law, then had to go on to consider the nature of the hard or soft loan to determine if the £150,000 should be added back into the asset schedule. When looking at the treatment of loans in financial settlement proceedings, the judge said the family Court needs to consider: If a judge concludes there is a contractually binding obligation by a party to the marriage towards a third party, the Court should then consider whether the obligation is a hard obligation debt or a soft debt. There is no set test to decide if a loan amounts to a hard or soft debt. A common feature of family loan analysis in financial settlement proceedings is to consider if the obligation to repay will be enforced. Factors pointing to a hard loan include that the terms of the obligation feel like a normal commercial arrangement, there is a written loan agreement and a written demand for payment, a threat of litigation or intervention in the financial settlement proceedings, there hasn’t been a delay in enforcing the debt and the amount of money owed is such that it would be less likely for a creditor to waive the obligation to pay. Factors pointing to a soft loan include that the debt is owed to a friend or family member who remains on good terms, the loan is informal without a commercial arrangement feel to the loan, there has been no written demand for payment despite the loan repayment date having passed, there has been a delay in enforcing repayment, and the amount of the money is such that it would be more likely for the creditor to be likely to waive the obligation to repay. Using these principles and looking at the facts of the husband's loan from his mother, the judge concluded the loan fell into the ‘soft’ category of loan. For the financial settlement, that meant the loan monies were added back into the asset schedule, thus increasing the amount to be shared between the husband and wife by £150,000. Divorce and private client considerations when making or receiving family loans If you are thinking about making a gift or loan to a family member, it is sensible to take private client advice to try to ensure your gift is either tax efficient for inheritance tax purposes or ring fenced and protected in case of divorce through the use of a loan document, preferably combined with a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Apr 14, 2022   ·   8 minute read
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A Guide to No-Fault Divorce

A look at all you need to know about no-fault divorce Divorce law is changing. It is a big deal to divorce solicitors as they are interested in divorce law but, if you are thinking about a  divorce, you don’t want to know all about the old divorce law, the rationale for divorce reform, and the interesting quirks in the new divorce legislation. You just want to know if you can get divorced and, just as importantly, if you can get custody or contact with the children and what will happen to the house and other assets. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. At Evolve Family Law, our divorce solicitors believe in keeping things simple, so divorce and financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot, provides a quick guide to no-fault divorce. Your divorce questions answered on: What is no-fault divorce? What are the grounds for a no-fault divorce? Who can apply for a no-fault divorce? The no-fault divorce Court process How long does a no-fault divorce take? No-fault divorce and child custody and contact No-fault divorce and financial settlements What is no-fault divorce? No-fault divorce is the name for the new divorce law. As you can probably guess from the name, fault has been removed from divorce proceedings so you can no longer start divorce proceedings based on your husband or wife's adultery or unreasonable behaviour. What are the grounds for a no-fault divorce? To apply for a no-fault divorce, you need to file a divorce application and state that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. You do not need to say why and you don’t need to have been separated for a specified period. As the grounds are simplified it is no longer possible to contest or oppose a divorce other than in very unusual circumstances. Who can apply for a no-fault divorce? With a no-fault divorce application, you have three options: You and your spouse can apply jointly for a no-fault divorce or You can apply on your own for the divorce or Your husband or wife can make the divorce application Whether you apply jointly or individually, it is a similar divorce process. If you apply together you are referred to as applicant one and applicant two. If you make the application, you will be the applicant and your husband or wife will be the respondent. From a divorce solicitor perspective, we would probably prefer you to either make the application jointly or to make the application yourself, just so you are in control of the divorce process and so that it does not get stalled if you want to get your no-fault divorce as quickly as possible. [related_posts] The no-fault divorce Court process The no-fault divorce process consists of four steps: You apply for a divorce – this could be a joint application or an application made by one of you. The applicant confirms they want to go ahead with the divorce. The Court makes a conditional Order – this used to be called the decree nisi of divorce. After a wait of six weeks, the applicant can apply for the final Order – this used to be called the decree absolute of divorce. In between steps one and two there needs to be a twenty week wait. That period can't be shortened as it is part of the new no-fault divorce law. How long does a no-fault divorce take? Divorce solicitors say no-fault divorces will take about six months from start of the divorce proceedings to final divorce Order but the timescales could be a bit longer if there are delays between the four stages. For example, because you want extra time to reflect or because you don’t want to progress the divorce proceedings over the Christmas period. A no-fault divorce is therefore not a quickie divorce but it does have advantages. For example, as there is no need to blame your husband or wife for the marriage breakdown, a no-fault divorce may reduce acrimony and help you reach an agreement on child custody and contact or the financial settlement. No-fault divorce and child custody and contact In a no-fault divorce, the Court is not asked to decide on the residence and contact arrangements for your children after your divorce. Ideally you will be able to agree the parenting arrangements either direct, through help from family law solicitors, or in family mediation. If you can't do so then either you or your husband or wife can make a separate application for a child arrangement Order. This Order will say if the care of the children is shared and will specify the residence and contact arrangements. If you are concerned about child abduction or you want to move overseas with your children after your divorce then you can apply to Court for a prohibited steps Order or relocation Order. No-fault divorce and financial settlements In a no-fault divorce the Court is not asked to decide who gets what assets in a financial settlement unless either you or your husband or wife ask the Court to do so. If you are able to reach a financial settlement by agreement you can jointly ask the Court to approve a financial consent Order. If you can't reach a financial settlement by agreement either one of you can file a document, called a form A, to start financial proceedings. There is then a series of Court hearings to ensure that financial disclosure takes place and assets are valued before a judge holds a final hearing to decide on the financial settlement and make a financial court Order. At any stage in the financial  proceedings, you can reach an agreement and ask the Court to approve a financial consent Order. The fact that divorce proceedings are based on no fault will not affect the amount you receive as a financial settlement because if a husband or wife has behaved very badly you can refer to this in the financial  proceedings. However, behaviour has to be very extreme to affect a financial settlement and the behaviour needs to be linked to financial matters. For example, allegations of domestic violence may be relevant to the financial settlement if the victim of domestic abuse cannot work and needs spousal maintenance for a period of time because of the physical or emotional impact of the domestic violence on their ability to work. If you have questions about the no-fault divorce Court process or need advice on children or financial settlement issues the divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law are here to help.     For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Apr 06, 2022   ·   6 minute read
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Talking to a Family Lawyer

We all fear some appointments, whether it is an appointment with a doctor or dentist, or meeting your family lawyer for the first time. In this blog, family law solicitor, Louise Halford, looks at how to get the most out of your first meeting with your family lawyer. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article we look at: Choosing your family law solicitor Timing your appointment Company at your appointment Preparing for your appointment Talking to your family solicitor Choosing your family law solicitor Before your initial consultation with your family law solicitor, it is best to do some research on whether your family lawyer and the firm are the right fit for you. Just because a friend found a family solicitor wonderful in their divorce, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily be right for you, or that they are experts in the area of family law you need advice on. At Evolve Family Law, we believe in being proactive in helping you choose the right family solicitor for you. That’s why we publish information about the lawyers and our fee guide on our website. We will also speak to you to try and make sure there you are seeing the best solicitor for you at your initial consultation. That’s because family lawyers, just like consultants and surgeons, specialise in different areas of family law. If you need urgent advice about child abduction fears and child relocation orders you don’t want to see a solicitor who has a particular interest in international prenuptial agreements when the firm has expert children law and child abduction lawyers. Timing your appointment It is never too early to have an initial consultation. It can be helpful for you to learn about likely children or financial settlement options should you go ahead with a planned separation. That way you can make informed choices. Taking family law legal advice does not commit you to starting children law or financial court proceedings but it does help you work out the best options for you, through having the information you need to make informed decisions. [related_posts] Company at your appointment If you want to bring a friend or a family member to your appointment that should be fine with your family solicitor. Bringing someone with you can be really helpful as they can make sure that you are asking the questions you want answers to. They can also discuss the advice you received with you after the meeting. All family solicitors ask of you is; to choose the person who comes with you with care. That is because you may be discussing personal issues at your appointment. Your solicitor will not want you to feel inhibited and unable to be totally open about the reasons why you need help and legal advice. Also, a family friend or relative needs to be there as a support, rather than to take over the appointment to discuss their own family law problems or their own views on your relationship or family law issue. If they do that, it is frustrating for both you and your family lawyer solicitor as we both need to focus on you. Therefore, if you want company at your appointment, think about who will provide the best support to help you to get the most out of your consultation. Preparing for your appointment Whilst you are welcome to just turn up to your phone, zoom or office appointment, it can help some people to prepare for the appointment. We don’t mean anything ‘too heavy’ by this. Just have a think about why you need advice and the background. For example, your family solicitor may want to know the date of your marriage or date of separation or when your children were born or the approximate date of when an incident occurred . It is surprising how easy it is to forget dates or to only remember the questions you wanted to ask your solicitor after your consultation. Lawyers like questions, so do bring a list of questions with you. Whilst a family lawyer may not be able to fully answer all your questions at a first meeting, they will be able to tell you what information they need to gather to fully answer your queries. Talking to your family solicitor An initial consultation with a family solicitor is a ‘two-way street’; your family lawyer needs to know a bit about you and about your family law query as well as your goals. Armed with that information a family solicitor can help you get the best out of an initial consultation. Consultations work best when you have the confidence to ask your questions. You therefore should not worry about whether your questions are too basic or whether your solicitor will think you should know the answers. Likewise, your lawyer may need to ask you some questions that you don’t think are very relevant to your family solicitor answering your questions. However, there are some questions that will help your lawyer understand the circumstances so your legal advisor can then work out how best to answer your questions as accurately and as thoroughly as possible. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Mar 17, 2022   ·   5 minute read
No-Fault Divorce

No-Fault Divorce

Divorce solicitors have campaigned for years for divorce law reform and it is finally happening. Whilst that is great news, in this article we take a look at what the reforms mean and whether you should wait to apply for a no-fault divorce and the potential benefits of not waiting when you can apply for a divorce now. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article, divorce and financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot answers your questions on your divorce options and the importance of getting the timing of your divorce right. Your divorce questions answered on: What is no-fault divorce? When is divorce law changing? Can you get a no-fault divorce now? Do the ground for your divorce matter? Should you wait for divorce law change or divorce now? What is no-fault divorce? No-fault divorce is when you get a divorce without having to blame your husband or wife for the marriage breakdown in the divorce petition. It is possible to get a no-fault divorce now, but no-fault divorce will become the norm when the law changes. Even if you do not have the grounds to get a no-fault divorce now, you may be able to divorce amicably and quickly without having to wait for the no-fault divorce law to come into force. The timing of your divorce can have long term financial and other implications for you, so it is best to talk to a divorce solicitor about when to start divorce proceedings. When is divorce law changing? The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 reforms divorce law in England and Wales with the introduction of no-fault divorce. Couples will be able to apply for a no-fault divorce under the new law from the 6th April 2022. However, if you don’t want to wait for the change in divorce law, you may be able to get a no-fault divorce now or get divorced amicably. Can you get a no-fault divorce now? Under current divorce law you have to file a petition for divorce that says your marriage has irretrievably broken down and cite one of five facts. Two of those facts can give you a no-fault divorce now. They are: Separation for two years or more and your husband or wife agrees to a divorce or Separation for five years or more, in which case you don’t need your husband or wife's consent to the divorce. There are three points to make about divorce based on separation: You do not need to have lived in a separate house to your husband or wife for the two or five years provided that you have lived separate and apart in the same household. A divorce solicitor can explain what this means and if this fits with your circumstances. Even if you have not been separated for long enough to get a divorce using the current divorce law on separation, you can still reach an agreement about your future divorce by signing a separation agreement and parenting plan. This will make things easier for you when you do start divorce. proceedings and you can start to implement your financial settlement now. For example, by arranging for the family home to go on the market for sale or starting the ball rolling with getting the house and mortgage transferred from joint names to one name. If you have not been separated for long enough to get a divorce using the current law on separation and divorce, you can probably still get an amicable divorce without having to go to court to get your decree absolute. [related_posts] Do the grounds for your divorce matter? If you want to get divorced now, and you have not been separated from your husband or wife for at least two years, you can still start divorce proceedings now if your marriage has irretrievably broken down and your husband or wife has: Committed adultery or Behaved unreasonably or Deserted you. There are six points to make about ‘fault divorce’: You do not need to name a third party in the divorce proceedings based on adultery. A divorce on one of these three reasons takes the same time for the divorce court to process the divorce as a divorce based on separation. Divorce solicitors can normally agree the allegations of unreasonable behaviour so they don’t cause upset to your husband or wife. You will not have to go to a court hearing for your divorce if your husband or wife agrees to the divorce. The fact that you have started divorce proceedings using adultery or unreasonable behaviour or desertion will not affect the financial settlement or the children arrangements. There may be reasons why it is best, in your circumstances, to get divorced now rather than wait. A divorce solicitor can explore why it may be better for you to get divorced straight away rather than wait until after the 6 April 2022. Should you wait for divorce law change or divorce now? There are many reasons why it may be in your best interests to start divorce proceedings now rather than wait. Every family situation is different so speak to a divorce solicitor about what is best for you in your individual circumstances. Some reasons why it may be best to start divorce proceedings now are: Emotionally you can't wait and you want to get on with your divorce. Your husband or wife doesn’t mind unreasonable behaviour or adultery divorce proceedings being started as they know the divorce petition is a ‘means to an end’ and they can't see a reason to wait. Your children feel as if they are in limbo or think that you and your spouse will get back together as you are not getting divorced straight away. Your husband or wife won't agree to the sale of the family home or other assets and you can only apply for a financial court order if there is a divorce petition filed at court. You want to remarry as soon as possible because you are expecting a child with your new partner or your new partner is in poor health. The tax consequences of divorce and financial settlements mean that in your financial circumstances it is better not to wait until the new tax year. You are in an abusive relationship. You are in need of urgent financial support and spousal maintenance as your husband or wife won't pay towards the mortgage or household bills. You fear child abduction or have other urgent children law related worries. You think that you husband or wife will sell or transfer assets to their family or friends to try to reduce your financial settlement by continuing to hide assets or syphon money. You are concerned that your husband or wife could start divorce proceedings in another country and the financial settlement that you would receive from a court in the other country would not be fair or meet your needs. There are special considerations if your family has overseas connections and you need international divorce You are worried about the consequences of delay as your husband or wife is running up debts and you fear they may be made the subject of a bankruptcy petition. You husband or wife is due to get their cash free lump sum pension payment and you are concerned that they will not preserve the money so you won't get a fair financial settlement. There are special considerations for divorce in retirement. There are many other reasons why you may want to divorce now. Our divorce solicitors will talk to you about your family and financial circumstances and work out which approach is best for you. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Mar 10, 2022   ·   7 minute read
shareholders agreement

Shareholder Disputes and Divorce

It’s bad enough to separate or divorce but even harder to going through a shareholder dispute as well. Northwest divorce financial settlement solicitors recognise that if you are in business with your husband or wife you may be facing a shareholder dispute in addition to court proceedings over your family law financial settlement. In this article, divorce and financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot answers your questions on shareholder disputes with your former partner when you are going through divorce proceedings and trying to reach a financial agreement over how your family assets are divided. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Your divorce shareholder dispute questions answered on: Are business assets relevant to divorce proceedings? What happens when spouses are shareholders in a family business? Can a divorced couple agree to continue in business together? Can I ringfence business assets so they aren’t relevant to divorce proceedings? Role of a shareholder agreement in divorce proceedings Valuing a business in a shareholder dispute or divorce proceedings Are business assets relevant to divorce proceedings? Business assets are potentially relevant to divorce proceedings and will need to be disclosed as part of your financial disclosure. That’s the case whatever the length of your marriage. However, when the family court makes a financial court order the family law judge will take a range of factors into account, including your respective needs, the length of your marriage and whether you owned the family business before your marriage. The weight given to these and other factors will depend on your personal and financial circumstances. Business assets are relevant to divorce proceedings if you are a shareholder or a partner in a business or sole trader. The fact that your husband or wife or civil partner has played no role in the business doesn’t mean that the family court won't say that your business is a family asset. Even if the court concludes your business isn’t a family asset, in the divorce proceedings a court can still use the value of a non-family asset in the financial settlement where there is a need to share non-family assets to meet needs. It’s best to not get too tied up into arguing over whether your business is a family asset or not and instead take get some expert help on the likely overall financial settlement and on how the impact of the financial settlement on the business can be minimised. What happens when spouses are shareholders in a family business? If you and your husband or wife are both shareholders in a family business then you need to make sure both corporate and family law is followed. Divorce financial settlement solicitors say family law trumps company or corporate law because even if company law says your husband or wife owns fifty percent of the business, in the divorce financial settlement proceedings the family court has the power to order the sale or transfer of shares. If you are getting divorced and you are in business together it can be particularly tough when you both work in the same environment. It’s best to try and keep business and private stuff separate, if you can, so the business isn’t affected by your separation as it’s unlikely to be in either of your interests for the business to suffer because you are struggling to work together until a financial settlement is reached. If you can't work together, even on a temporary basis, then you need to look at whether one of you working from home or other strategies can help you both remain in the business whilst you sort out the divorce financial settlement. [related_posts] Can a divorced couple agree to continue in business together? A divorcing couple can decide to remain in business together after their divorce. A financial court order should set out post-divorce ownership of the business and a shareholder agreement should be drawn up so there is agreed procedure on important points, such as dividend policies or share voting rights. Can I ringfence business assets so they aren’t relevant to divorce proceedings? You can try to ringfence your business assets so they aren’t relevant to the divorce proceedings by either signing a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. The weight given to this type of agreement will depend on a variety of factors, including whether there was financial disclosure as part of the prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement process. Role of a shareholder agreement in divorce proceedings The fact that you have a shareholder agreement that says your husband or wife must transfer their shares to you for one pound if you separate or divorce doesn’t mean that your spouse won't get a fair financial settlement or even a share in the value of the business assets. However, it is still sensible to have a shareholder agreement but it’s important to understand it won't totally protect you from business related financial claims on divorce. Valuing a business in a shareholder dispute or divorce proceedings Valuing a business in a shareholder dispute or financial settlement divorce proceedings normally involves a valuation by a forensic accountant so there is an accurate assessment of the share value, the net value after tax, and the potential income stream if you continue to hold shares in the business. The fact that a family court orders a valuation doesn’t mean that the court will order that the shares are sold but the court will want to know the net value of the shares so the court has an idea of the total extent of the family assets and any non-family assets. The court can then use that information to make a financial court order, after having weighed up all the statutory factors to reach what the court considers is a fair financial settlement. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Mar 03, 2022   ·   6 minute read
Selective focus kid boy putting pound coin on a moneybox isolated on white background, Adorable boy counting his saved coins and looking at cameara, Child learning about saving concept

How Much Does A Child Contact Order Cost?

It's hard to put a price on seeing your children. It is also hard for a children law solicitor to put a price on the cost of a child contact Order or child arrangement Order. In this blog expert children law solicitor, Louise Halford, takes a look at the cost of a child contact Order. Evolve Family Law are Cheshire, Manchester and Online Family and Children Law Solicitors. For legal help on family law and children law proceedings call us or complete our online enquiry form. Are child contact Orders worth the cost? Whether a child contact Order is worth the cost depends on who you speak to. Recently, ‘I am a celebrity’ winner and former EastEnders actor, Jo Swash, reportedly said that the money he spent in legal fees to get an Order to see his eldest son was ‘the best he’s ever spent’. We don’t think Jo Swash likes paying lawyers, it was more that he felt that it was only when his children law solicitors secured a child contact Order for him that he got to develop the sort of relationship that he wanted with his eldest son. It is undoubtedly always difficult when a couple split up and one person forms a relationship with someone who already has children or the new couple go on to have children together. The feelings of hurt can make it harder to agree contact arrangements and prompt court proceedings to secure a child arrangement Order so a parent can get to see their child. We don’t know exactly why Jo Swash and his ex-partner ended up in court or why they were not able to agree the child contact arrangements via children law solicitors or in family mediation. What children law solicitor, Louise Halford, does say is that she always tries to discourage children law court proceedings because of the cost ; to your purse and to your emotions. That may sound very odd coming from an experienced children lawyer. However, if you are able to reach a compromise and agree the contact it is normally better for both parents and the child. That is the case however much money you have available to spend on a child arrangement Order application. However, there are some situations where it is best to spend money on a child custody or contact Order, whether that is a child arrangement Order, specific issue Order or prohibited steps Order. For example: One parent is refusing to agree to any contact. A parent is alienating the child against the absent parent so the child is being turned against you. You are concerned that the child is at risk of harm (physical or emotional) by either living with or having contact with the other parent. You are worried that the child may be taken overseas to live against your wishes and that you won't get to find the child if they disappear in a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention. You may need a prohibited steps Order to prevent child abduction and to protect the child. You were in an abusive relationship and you fear that your former partner is using contact with the child as a means of seeing you and exercising control over you. Their behaviour may make you feel at physical risk or may have such an impact on your emotions that it affects your parenting. One parent is refusing to change the contact arrangements. For example, refusing to let an older child stay overnight with you or go on holiday with you and your new family. There are many other reasons why you as a parent may have no alternative other than apply to the family court for a child arrangement Order to sort out the child custody and contact arrangements but it is best to get independent and impartial children law advice before you make an application to court. The cost of a child contact Order It is difficult for any expert children law solicitor to tell you how much a child contact Order will cost you, however transparent a pricing structure they adopt. That is because in some situations the threat of starting court proceedings is sufficient to get a parent the sort of shared parenting or contact arrangements they want. In other scenarios, a parent can make allegations that the other parent isn’t expecting and firmly disputes. If those allegations go to the heart of whether a child should live with one parent or why a child should have restricted or no contact with the other parent then they need to be investigated by the court. This could involve a series of court hearings including a finding of fact hearing. At a fact finding hearing a family judge will decide if they can make a finding about an allegation. The standard of proof is lower than at a criminal hearing but a family court finding can have significant consequences for the current children law application and any future applications. After any findings have been made at a fact finding hearing the judge will then hold a separate hearing to look at what Orders are in a child’s best interests. For example, a judge might find that domestic violence occurred in the parental relationship but that the child is not at risk of domestic abuse and contact can be managed in a way that means the parents don’t come into direct contact with one another. The costs of a children law custody or contact application can't or should not be measured in purely financial terms. If there is a court hearing with both parents giving evidence it may further polarise the parents or it may create additional stress for an older child who is aware of the court application, possibly because they have been interviewed by a CAFCASS officer appointed by the court to find out the child’s wishes and assess what orders are in the child’s best interests as sometimes what a child wants (or says they want if there is an element of coaching) may not actually be best for the child. An expert children law solicitor can help you look at things from the perspective of a family judge so you have the understanding you need about child custody or contact proceedings  to decide if they are worth it to you or that you have the confidence to reach an agreement in family mediation or during solicitor negotiations. Evolve Family Law are Cheshire, Manchester and Online Family and Children Law Solicitors. For legal help on family law and children law proceedings call us or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Feb 24, 2022   ·   6 minute read
Help for Cohabiting Families

Help for Cohabiting Families

At Evolve Family Law the family and private client solicitors have often commented on the very different ways that married and cohabiting couples are treated when it comes to UK family law and the laws on Wills and estate planning. The wholly different treatment can create many injustices. The saddest aspect is that when deciding whether to cohabit or get married most couples don’t realise the significance of their choice because they are not family solicitors or private client lawyers. Instead, they make their decision on whether to get married purely on personal preferences without a full appreciation of the legal implications. Recently one of the perceived injustices has been righted as the Department for Work and Pensions has announced plans to extend bereavement support to cohabiting couples with children. We are Manchester, Cheshire and Online Family and Private Client Solicitors. For legal help and advice on family law and Wills for cohabiting couples call Evolve Family Law or complete our online enquiry form. Bereavement support for cohabiting families You would think that if you were bereaved with dependent children, you would need financial support, whatever the legal status of your relationship. The law previously said financial help was only available to claim if you were a bereaved parent with dependent children and you were either married or in a civil partnership. You could have been married a month and be able to make a claim but a five or fifteen-year committed cohabiting relationship was not recognised when it came to bereavement help. The government  has now announced that the Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payments will be claimable by the cohabiting partner of a deceased who had children living with their partner at the time of the partner’s death. The announcement may appear to be very limited in scope but it is estimated that more than 22,000 families will be able to claim this bereavement financial support. To be eligible to make a claim a person in a cohabiting relationship with dependent children will just need to have been living with their partner at the time of their partner’s death. The announcement isn’t law yet. The law will need to be changed by Act of Parliament. However, the government has said that if the law is changed it plans to allow bereaved cohabitees to make backdated claims to the 30 August 2018. Cohabiting couple advice If you are in a cohabiting relationship, it remains vital that you understand the basics of how your relationship will be treated in law if your relationship breaks down either because one of you decides to leave or if your partner passes away. If you are cohabiting with a partner and you split up your rights and financial claims are limited and based on property law. To protect yourself and your children you need to understand your rights and preferably get a cohabitation agreement drawn up to safeguard yourself and your children. If you are cohabiting it is also vitally important that you each make a Will and power of attorney. That is because, under the law, a cohabitee is not treated as their partner’s next of kin. That means that if your cohabitee dies without leaving a Will you won't receive anything under intestacy rules and instead you will have to make a claim against the estate. Likewise, if your partner loses capacity because of an accident or ill health you won't be able to make decisions on their behalf as under the law you aren’t their next of kin. A health and welfare power of attorney and a financial  power of attorney gives you the right to step in and help if your loved one is incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions on what is in their best interests. [related_posts] How can Evolve Family Law help you? At Evolve Family Law our family law solicitors and private client lawyers can help you with: Cohabitation agreements. Resolving property and cohabitation claims if a relationship breaks down. Mediation support if you are going through family mediation because your cohabiting relationship has broken down. Wills for cohabiting couples including the appointment of testamentary guardians for dependent children. Advice on estate planning for cohabiting couples including inheritance tax and the importance of pension and insurance nominations. Powers of attorney. The creation of life time trusts to protect loved ones Cohabitees and claims against an estate.
Catherine Hazeldine
Feb 17, 2022   ·   4 minute read