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Evolve Family Law Moves to Employee Ownership

Evolve Family Law Moves to Employee Ownership

North West law firm Evolve Family Law has become an employee-owned business, in a deal supported by Brabners. The family law specialist, which was established in 2015 by Robin Charrot and Louise Halford, is now 100% owned by a newly established employee ownership trust (EOT) which will look after the interests of the firm’s 13-strong team. The deal will preserve the future independence of the £1m+ turnover business, which has offices in Holmes Chapel and Whitefield, with both founding directors continuing to play an active and long-term role in the firm as it pursues further growth under employee ownership. The transition to employee ownership was supported by the corporate team at leading independent law firm Brabners – led by employee ownership specialist Stephen Hadlow. Evolve acts for a wide range of UK and international clients, including high net worths, on family matters such as finances on divorce, cohabitee disputes, nuptial agreements, child arrangements (including relocation and abduction), wills, estate planning and probate. Employee ownership is one of the fastest growing business succession solutions in the UK, following the introduction of EOTs by the government in 2014. One in every 20 private company sales is now to an EOT, with Evolve Family Law joining a network of EOTs in the UK that includes Richer Sounds and Go Ape.   Robin Charrot, founding director at Evolve Family Law, said: “Over the past seven years, we’ve grown the firm sustainably while bringing new people into the fold to share in our success. Our priority has always been looking after our clients and co-workers rather than maximising profit, and that sentiment has been at the core of our decision to become an employee-owned business, which will provide a platform for everyone to contribute and benefit as Evolve grows in the future.   “Louise and I could have sold the firm to an outside party, but we decided that this would not provide the best outcome for our clients or our staff. We have no plans to step away from the business, so we’re looking forward to helping Evolve prosper under employee ownership while we continue to support clients with transparent, trusted advice for years to come.”   Stephen Hadlow, partner and employee ownership specialist at Brabners, said: “Employee ownership has become an increasingly attractive and popular option for business owners, particularly so since the pandemic. At a time when markets continue to consolidate, it offers a route for businesses to preserve their independence and culture, as well as create a long-term, sustainable pathway for succession. With businesses putting a greater focus on their employees, wellbeing and CSR, we’re expecting more and more firms to move to employee ownership models in the coming months.” James de le Vingne, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), said: “We congratulate our member Evolve Family Law on its transition to employee ownership; securing the ethos, values and culture of the business, as well as rooting jobs in the North West. Businesses that give employees a stake and a say in the business build trust and shared responsibility, uniting leaders and employees behind a common purpose, and leaving businesses in a better position to flex and adapt.” Read the EOA press release here: Family law specialist transitions to EO to ‘provide a platform for everyone to contribute and benefit’ as the business grows | Employee Ownership Association
Robin Charrot
Jun 20, 2022   ·   3 minute read
A beautiful wife investigating her husband about hiding money.

My Ex is Hiding Assets in Divorce Proceedings

Do you suspect your ex is hiding assets from you in your divorce proceedings? If your ex is hiding assets there is a real risk you won't achieve a fair financial settlement. If you suspect your ex is hiding assets there is also a strong possibility that you won't be able to reach an agreed financial settlement because of your suspicions. That’s why if you think your ex is hiding assets in divorce proceedings it is best to get expert family law advice on your options. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Is my ex hiding assets in divorce proceedings? Divorce solicitors will tell you that a husband and wife are under a duty to provide full and frank financial disclosure of their assets when negotiating a financial settlement. That’s the case whether you are negotiating through: Direct discussions Solicitor negotiations Family mediation Family arbitration Financial Court proceedings If things are amicable, or your finances are straight forward, you may not want to see reams of paperwork going back years but every family situation is different. You probably know if your ex has hidden stuff from you throughout your marriage or you may suspect that they started to do so when they met someone else or when the marriage got into difficulties and the relationship started to drift apart. If your ex is very keen to reach a financial settlement without providing any paperwork and wants to get an agreed clean break Financial Court Order as soon as possible this may raise a red flag for you or your divorce solicitor as you need some minimum paperwork to check things out. If you feel that you are being pressurised into accepting no or very limited financial disclosure documents, and into accepting your ex’s word for everything, talk to a financial settlement solicitor before agreeing to a division of assets. That’s because whilst your ex might be totally honest and just wanting to ‘cut to the chase’ and get an agreement, you are entitled to see supporting paperwork. It’s important to do so as any financial settlement you reach by agreement can't easily and quickly be unravelled if it turns out that you were right to have your suspicions about your ex hiding assets from you. [related_posts] Why is my ex hiding assets? There are many reasons why an ex may try to hide assets. Divorce solicitors come across these common excuses: It is inherited money It is savings from my income The new house is owned by my new partner so it isn’t really my asset even though the deposit came from me There is no need to get a business or pension or other asset valued as you can take my word for the value Money was owed to a family member and was not transferred to them to hide assets Cash that was put into additional bank accounts was forgotten Property owned abroad or owned before marriage doesn’t count towards the financial settlement so wasn’t disclosed as it isn’t relevant ( in the ex’s opinion) These are all excuses and should not be used as a reason to not provide full and frank financial disclosure. Sometimes an ex will try to hide money that might not be relevant to the financial settlement but you will both spend time and money arguing over the financial disclosure. However, if the asset had been disclosed at the outset your financial settlement solicitor could have advised you about its overall relevance to the financial settlement. For example, a pension accrued before a short marriage with a cash equivalent transfer value of £10,000 may not be of significance and your ex is wasting their time and money by trying to hide an asset that may be of limited relevance because of the duration of your marriage or your ages. However, by failing to disclose the pension, you and the Court may be far more sceptical about how honest their other financial disclosure is, such as, the extent of your ex’s declared self-employed income or the reason they have transferred money to a sibling or new partner. What can you do about an ex hiding assets? If you are separated or getting divorced and you believe your ex is hiding assets you may need urgent financial settlement and injunction representation. That’s because if your ex is hiding assets with the intention of reducing your financial settlement you may need an injunction order to stop them. Examples of when you may require a financial injunction include: Your ex is transferring money or property to a third party Your ex is putting their pension in payment and taking the maximum tax free cash sum to put the money out of your reach Your ex is syphoning money out of the family business by paying a family member for false invoices with a view to making sure the family business has a lower value placed on it as profits will be down Your ex is buying property overseas or transferring assets abroad Your ex is moving money out of joint bank accounts and putting it into cryptocurrency An injunction is a temporary measure to stop your ex from hiding or disposing of assets. It is best to consider a section 37 injunction application rather than assume that in financial settlement Court proceedings a new partner, parent or sibling can be joined into the financial application to try to unravel the transfer of assets. Whilst that is possible it is normally best to stop the transfer taking place in the first place by securing a freezing injunction. If you have not already done so, a divorce solicitor will also advise you to start financial Court proceedings for a Financial  Court Order. Within the financial settlement application, the Court can make financial disclosure orders that your ex will need to comply with. If your ex does not comply with the financial disclosure orders then you can ask the Court to enforce the disclosure orders against your ex or ask the Court to draw inferences. For example, if the Court ordered disclosure of historical bank statements to reveal what happened to the £100,000 after the sale of a buy to let property and your ex flouts the disclosure order you can ask the Court to draw inferences as to why and ask the Court to add back in the £100,000 so you get a greater share of the other family assets. Financial proceedings and ex hiding assets If you have started financial proceedings and you are not satisfied with your ex’s Form E financial disclosure then a specialist family solicitor can review the financial disclosure with you and draw up a list of additional questions and request for extra non-standard paperwork . For example, if your ex is the director and shareholder in a family business and you suspect they have been syphoning money off to their new partner by creative accounting or use of the director loan account, you can ask for a forensic accountant to value the business and look at your accounting concerns as well as asking for an order that your ex disclose statements for their DLA. Alternatively, you can ask the Court to make financial disclosure orders to help you investigate if: Your ex is self-employed and the family lifestyle does not match their declared earnings Your ex has withdrawn significant sums from a business or personal account and that is not their usual pattern of spending Your ex previously mentioned an asset that they said would be a rainy day asset or pension but there is no mention of the asset in their financial disclosure There are lots of ways a tenacious divorce solicitor can ‘get to the bottom’ of financial disclosure, with the assistance of your background information and knowledge of your ex, combined with seeking the right injunction, financial disclosure orders and valuations. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form
Robin Charrot
Jun 23, 2022   ·   7 minute read
Smiling woman talking with divorce coach

What is Divorce Coaching?

When you're getting divorced you can come across a lot of legal jargon and terms you’re not familiar with. Many people feel embarrassed about asking their divorce solicitor questions ( they shouldn’t) but in this blog our divorce solicitors explain what a divorce coach is and how they can work with your divorce solicitor to help you.   For divorce advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.   What is divorce coaching?   Divorce coaching gives you the chance to think and make decisions about your separation or divorce as well as process your feelings in an impartial and non-judgemental setting. It allows you to express and work through all the fears, thoughts, and anxieties that you may not feel ready to talk to those around you about. It can help you navigate the divorce process, empowering you to make decisions and take the action that’s right for you.   It can also allow you to explore how you would like this next chapter of your life to be post-divorce, helping you to see the possibilities and feel confident, positive, and optimistic about the future.   Why do I need a divorce coach if I have a divorce solicitor?   You may have a great divorce solicitor that you trust and feel comfortable talking to but a divorce lawyer is there to give you legal advice and explain your legal options. However good their legal advice is and however supportive they are you can still feel overwhelmed by the decisions you have to make. For example, over the timing of your divorce proceedings, whether you should agree a proposed financial settlement or the proposed post separation parenting arrangements for your children.   A divorce coach works with you so you have more confidence in the divorce, financial and children decisions you are making. With greater confidence you are likely to be better able to either reach compromises or cope with the stress of financial or children law proceedings that may be necessary. For example, if your ex-spouse is refusing financial disclosure or your ex is refusing you contact with the children.   Working with a divorce coach   A divorce coach has a client-centric point of view and works with you, not you and your partner. Coaching sessions are one to one and are confidential. They are usually conducted either at the private office of the coach, or via a platform such as Zoom.   You are your own expert on your life and what is most important to you as you move forward. A divorce coach though can act as a thinking partner and sounding board for you, helping you to make sure you can communicate what you want clearly, whether that is to your ex, your family, your divorce solicitor or your family mediator.   A divorce coach helps you to explore your views about possible options, enabling you to consider different choices. In this self-discovery process you can sometimes discover that there are gaps in your knowledge or gaps in your skills. Together you and your coach can develop a plan on how to close these gaps so that you can be confident not only in the decisions and agreements you are making as part of your divorce. But also, beyond it to help you to build strong foundations for a life post-divorce filled with optimism, potential, security, and excitement.   What are the benefits of talking to a divorce coach?   There are many benefits of divorce coaching, such as:   Reducing feelings of turmoil - getting divorced requires a lot of paperwork and organization — tasks that can feel overwhelming when you’re going through emotional turmoil. A divorce coach help you make sure you have everything you need to get it done so that when you meet with your divorce solicitor you are ready and prepared, meaning your meetings can be as cost effective as possible. Saving you money - working with a divorce coach during your divorce can actually save you money by ensuring that your meetings with your divorce solicitor focus purely on the legal process and decisions that need to be made. It is completely understandable that you want to talk through how you are feeling and work through all your emotions about your divorce. But doing this every time you meet with your divorce solicitor may increase your legal fees without actually moving you forward emotionally. A divorce coach will help you manage your emotions so that you can make decisions that are not clouded by how you are feeling about your ex-partner.   What will a divorce coach talk to me about?   The following isn't an exhaustive list, but does give you a general overview of the sorts of things a coach can work with you on:   You're so fearful about your future that you can't make decisions You are feeling overwhelmed by all the paperwork getting divorced involves You have no idea what you're going to do when the divorce is final You're very angry and are trying to use your children to get revenge You're not familiar with the legal process and feel overwhelmed You're not thinking clearly and it's making it very hard to make any decisions You are struggling to figure out a parenting plan that's going to work You are struggling to figure out how you will co-parent [related_posts] What should I look for in a divorce coach?   When looking for a divorce coach your divorce solicitor will be able to help with a referral but you should be checking that any divorce coach you approach is:   Properly qualified with a recognised qualification in coaching A member of a recognised coaching body such as the Association for Coaching, or the International Coaching Federation. This confirms that they are committed to working ethically and responsibly with you and are appropriately qualified A good fit for you as coaching is a very personal experience and it’s important that you feel comfortable with your divorce coach and that you can work well together. So, check that any coach you contact offers a chance to have a free, no obligation 15- 30 minute consultation with them so that you can ensure they are the right person for you   Final thoughts on divorce coaching   Divorce can be a lonely, stressful, and unsettling time, having a coach to help you navigate through, be on your team and ultimately help you flourish after your divorce is complete is definitely something worth considering.   For divorce advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
May 19, 2022   ·   6 minute read
Confident focused businesswoman, teacher or mentor coach speaking to business people at negotiations, woman leader speaker applicant talking at meeting or convincing hr during job interview concept

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
Worried young woman sitting on sofa at home and ignoring her partner who is sitting next to her

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
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
Save money for home cost

Can I Change Spousal Maintenance Payments?

The news is all about the cost-of-living crisis. North west divorce financial settlement solicitors are getting calls about spousal maintenance and whether spousal maintenance payments can go up to cover increased household bills. Those paying spousal maintenance are equally worried about how they can pay their increased bills and still meet their spousal maintenance payments. In this article our divorce financial settlement solicitors answer your questions: Can spousal maintenance be changed? What triggers a change in spousal maintenance? Cost of living crisis and spousal maintenance Do bigger bills mean more spousal maintenance? Agreeing a change in spousal maintenance Applying to court for a change in spousal maintenance For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form Can spousal maintenance be changed? Spousal maintenance can be changed. It can go up or down or be stopped altogether. The change to spousal maintenance can be made by agreement or the court can vary the spousal maintenance payments. If you are also paying or receiving child support then the spousal maintenance can be changed independently of the child support payments. Child support is normally paid by agreement or after an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service. Spousal maintenance is usually payable by agreement or under a family court order. Spousal maintenance and child maintenance are calculated in different ways. If you are worried about how an increase or decrease in spousal maintenance could affect your child support it is best to talk to your family law solicitor. What triggers a change in spousal maintenance? A variation in spousal maintenance can be triggered by many different changes in your personal or financial  circumstances or those of your former husband, wife, or civil partner. Changes that can trigger a need to review spousal maintenance payments are: The payer or receiver loses their job and can't get another one. A business goes bust or there is a downturn resulting in reduced business profits and less income for the company directors. The re-marriage of the person receiving the spousal maintenance (this automatically stops the spousal maintenance payments). The cohabitation of the person getting the spousal maintenance ( the spousal maintenance court order could say maintenance should stop if the person receiving the spousal maintenance starts a cohabiting relationship and they live with their partner for a specified period, such as six months. In other spousal maintenance orders a new relationship involving cohabitation may not be a trigger for the automatic cessation of spousal maintenance but may justify a variation application). Increased outgoings that are reasonable in nature to incur. For example, the decision to lease a new luxury car may not thought to be reasonable increased outgoings but larger bills on the mortgage or the gas or electricity may be reasonable in nature to incur as you can't be blamed for the price hikes that are outside your control. [related_posts] Cost of living crisis and spousal maintenance The cost-of-living crisis is generating lots of questions about spousal maintenance and financial settlement options. If you are negotiating a financial settlement, it’s important to remember that spousal maintenance can go up or down or that you can negotiate a clean break financial settlement so there is no further financial liability towards your former husband or wife. A Northwest divorce financial settlement solicitor can look at the best financial settlement options for your personal and financial circumstances and can weigh up the potential cost of capitalising spousal maintenance payments at the time of the financial settlement (paying spousal maintenance in one lump sum so your former spouse gets more assets but no ongoing spousal maintenance) or the risks of agreeing to spousal maintenance and variation applications to increase the payment if cost of living rises are beyond inflationary increases. Do bigger bills mean more spousal maintenance? ‘Do bigger bills mean more spousal maintenance?’ Not necessarily. That’s because one of the issues is whether the person seeking the variation in spousal maintenance has looked at the ability of their former spouse to pay more or receive less in spousal maintenance if they too are facing higher outgoings and haven’t received a higher than inflation pay rise and have no ‘spare’ or surplus income. Every spousal maintenance question must be considered carefully as each depends on the financial and personal circumstances.  Agreeing a change in spousal maintenance You can agree a change in spousal maintenance in several different ways: By agreement or Using solicitor negotiations or Through family mediation or An application to court to vary spousal maintenance. If you agree how spousal maintenance will be changed outside the court process it’s important to record your agreement in writing and to secure a financial court order or apply to court, by agreement, to change the wording of your existing spousal maintenance order. Applying to court for a change in spousal maintenance You can apply to court to increase, decrease, or stop spousal maintenance payments. It’s best to talk to financial settlement solicitors before making an application as they can advise on your likely prospects of success or whether it is best to try and negotiate without first making an application to court. An application to the family court to vary spousal maintenance follows a similar court procedure to an application for a financial settlement in that the variation application involves financial disclosure and a series of court hearings to help you either reach an agreement or for the court to determine if the spousal maintenance payments should be varied. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form
Robin Charrot
Feb 03, 2022   ·   5 minute read
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