Skip to content

Blog

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.
Louise Halford
Feb 17, 2022   ·   4 minute read
Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans

A children law solicitor's perspective on parenting plans   If you have separated from your partner or you are in the midst of divorce proceedings the most important thing to sort out are the child care arrangements for your children. In other words, whether the children will be co-parented or parallel parented or if one parent will be the primary parent looking after the children full time with the other parent having some contact. Whatever child care arrangement you come to, a parenting plan can help both parents understand the ground rules and reduce the risk of fall outs and  court applications for child arrangement orders. We are North West and Online Children Law Solicitors: For specialist family law help call us or complete our online enquiry form. Children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your frequently asked questions on parenting plans: What is a parenting plan? How do I agree a parenting plan? What should go into a parenting plan? How do you change a parenting plan? What is a parenting plan? A parenting plan is a document drawn up by parents to record the parenting arrangements for a child or children after a separation or divorce. A parenting plan can be agreed by parents or can be made after children court proceedings for a: Child arrangement order. Specific issue order. Prohibited steps order. Relocation order. How do I agree a parenting plan? There are many ways that parents can agree a parenting plan. You can use a template and prepare one yourself. Sometimes, that is a bad idea as ‘going it alone’ may make you end up arguing with your ex-partner and polarise your positions. With the help of a children law solicitor or family mediation you may be able to discuss child care arrangements and reach a compromise. What should go into a parenting plan? Every child and family are different so your parenting plan should  be individual to you and your child’s needs. The fact that a family member or a neighbour or friend has a parenting plan should not influence what should go into your parenting plan. That is because your parenting plan needs to set out the best agreement for your family, taking into account your family and personal circumstances and individual preferences. For example, some parents share care of their children with the children spending an equal amount of time with each parent. Other parents prefer their children to have one home base during the week and to share quality weekend and school holiday time. Neither option is the ‘best’ or the right one as so much depends on your family and each parent’s work commitments and the distance between the two homes. Every parenting plan should consider including what has been agreed on topics such as: Home base - unless parenting is to be shared equally. Contact or shared parenting arrangements such as the agreed times for collection and return and drop off points and who will do the collections and returns. The practical points on shared care and regular contact, such as the washing and return of school uniforms or the supervision of homework or who is responsible for clothes and shoes shopping or haircuts. Whether phone contact is to take place between parent and child and, if so, frequency so phone calls do not become too restrictive or intrusive for a parent with the care of a younger child. Special contact (child and parents birthdays and mother’s day and father’s day as well as Christmas and religious observance days) and holidays. Best method of communication between parents if contact or other arrangements need to be changed. For example, mobile, text or email. Communication could be over the need to cancel a visit or to agree a coordinated approach to the buying of birthday presents. Who is responsible for medical and dental appointments and communication about appointments or to say if a child is ill or hospitalised. How you will deal with parent evenings at school or attendance at school plays or sports days. How will you address the introduction of new partners and their children and communication of the information to your ex-partner. This sort of information is helpful so the other parent does not find out about new relationships or remarriage via the child. Whilst you may not want to communicate this type of personal information or receive the news about your ex-partner’s new relationship, a major reason for child care arrangement breakdown is non-communication over adult issues that also affect your child. Holiday plans - if you plan to go on holiday during your holiday contact time, is it agreed that you need to inform the other parent about your planned trips overseas or to a destination in the UK and give agreed key information such as flight times and numbers and hotel details and who else who will be accompanying the child on holiday. For example, a new partner and their children. Parenting plan changes - how you will agree to make changes to the parenting plan. How do you change a parenting plan? Children and their wants and needs do not stay the same. What are appropriate parenting arrangements for a two-year-old who is not in school may be completely different for an eleven-year-old. By the time a child is in their teenage years the arrangements will need to change again. Add to the mix that your circumstances may change with a new job, house or relationship and the arrival of additional children or step-children. Likewise, your ex-partner’s circumstances are likely to change resulting in a need to review the parenting plan. The fact that a parenting plan needs changing should not be a sign of defeat. For example, your five-year-old may not be able to cope with equal co-parenting, even if their cousin or other children in their class do so. Some children are just more adaptable than others. Alternatively, a parenting plan may need changing or tweaking because the only reason that a child is struggling with co-parenting or parallel parenting is different parenting regimes in the two households and two parenting styles that are confusing to the child because as soon as a child has got used to one routine they move to their other parent’s home. A parenting plan can be changed by email or you may prefer a meeting or to even set up an annual chat to review how things are working. The best thing is that if anything over the child care arrangements is ‘bugging you’ that you do not let things fester so things get acrimonious or even lead to children law court proceedings. Instead, it is preferable to agree to review the parenting plan, perhaps with the help of a children law solicitor or family mediator, before the arrangements break down or positions are polarised. It is also helpful to remember that as children get older, they will want to have a say in the parenting plan. For example, the ten o’clock Saturday contact start time may work for you but your teenager may want to stay in bed until noon or go out with their mates on a Saturday night. The key point with a parenting plan is that it should grow with you and your family and just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the best thing for your child or your ex-partner now. How can a children law solicitor at Evolve Family Law help? If you are struggling to agree child care arrangements after your separation or divorce ,or you want to change your parenting plan and your ex-partner is resisting, Evolve Family Law can help you to reach an agreement or secure a child arrangement order. We are North West and Online Children Law Solicitors: For expert family law advice call us now or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Feb 09, 2022   ·   7 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
Childcare Agreements

Childcare Agreements

Northwest Children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your questions on childcare agreements. Whether you are recently separated or if you have been divorced for some time, if you have children with your ex-partner there is always a connection with them. It does not matter whether you are co-parenting or parallel parenting or your former partner only has overnight contact once a fortnight, a childcare agreement is still important as that way you, your ex-partner and, most importantly, your children, all know where you stand and what the parenting arrangements are. Northwest and Online Children Law Solicitors: For specialist family law help call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. In this article our children law solicitors answer: How do we agree a childcare agreement? What happens if parents can't agree on childcare arrangements? How do you apply for a child arrangement order? Can childcare agreements be changed? How do we agree a childcare agreement? When you are feeling upset about a separation or angry because your ex-partner has not paid child support it can be really hard to put your feelings aside and think about the childcare arrangements that best meet your child’s needs. Many parents find it too difficult to reach a childcare agreement on their own. That can be for many reasons, including: You don’t know your legal rights or Your ex-partner won't compromise – it is their way or no way. Your ex-partner was always very coercive and controlling and you are frightened of upsetting them because they will just make your life more difficult. Your ex-partner says that unless you do what they want they won't pay child support or spousal maintenance or agree a financial settlement. Your ex-partner wants to move overseas with the children or to the other end of the country and you don’t know if you can say no. Your ex-partner says they have agreed things direct with the children so you don’t get a say. You are worried about child abduction and fear that your ex-partner could take the children abroad to live without your agreement. If you don’t think that you can reach a childcare agreement direct with your former husband or wife then a children law solicitor or family mediator may be able to help you sort out an agreement or advise you on applying for a court order. With children law advice you can understand the type of childcare agreement you could reach and your options, such as: Co-parenting or parallel parenting where the children spend an equal amount of time with each parent. One home basis where the children live with one parent but the children have weekly or fortnightly overnight contact with the other parent. Relocation where one parent moves overseas or to another area of the country so contact is more limited to school holidays or long weekends. Whatever type of childcare agreement you reach with your former partner it is best to record the agreement in a parenting plan. Your family solicitor can help you draw this up. What happens if parents can't agree on childcare arrangements? If you can't reach a childcare agreement with your former partner then either of you could ask a family judge to decide on the parenting arrangements. A family court can decide on whether your children should be co-parented with an equal parenting regime of shared care or if one of you should be the primary carer and the other should have contact. This type of order is called a child arrangement order. You may be able to agree the day-to-day parenting of your children but not able to agree a specific issue, such as: Whether your children should be privately educated or If your ex-partner should be able to move overseas with the children or If your child should participate in religious observances or If your ex-partner should be prohibited from getting your children vaccinated. These sorts of issues can be resolved by a court making orders such as: Specific issue orders. Prohibited steps orders. Child relocation orders. School fees orders. How do you apply for a child arrangement order? If you can't reach a childcare agreement then you may need to consider applying for a child arrangement order or other type of children law order, for example, a specific issue order. It is best to get specialist children law legal advice before you start court proceedings as a solicitor can look at your prospects of getting the type of court order you want, and if that is not likely, whether a compromise can be reached to avoid children court proceedings. In some situations, you may need to attend family mediation before you can apply for a child arrangement order. A children lawyer can tell you if you fall within the exemption to thus rule and, if not, advise you on how to get the best out of family mediation. They can make sure you know your legal rights and can provide mediation support. A children solicitor can also help you convert any agreement reached in family mediation into a child arrangement order. If family mediation doesn’t work for you then to apply for a child arrangement order you will need to file a court application setting out what court order you want and briefly explain why. During the court proceedings the judge may order that detailed statements are filed at court. The judge can also order a CAFCASS report and expert reports. Depending on the complexity of the issues, the judge could order a finding of fact hearing before the court decides on what child arrangement order to make at a subsequent welfare hearing. If you do decide to apply for a child arrangement order, Northwest children law solicitors say it is best to focus on why the order you are seeking is in your child’s best interests rather than looking at things from your point of view. Therefore, don’t say ‘it is my right to have contact’ but instead give examples of why your children benefit from contact with you. Can childcare agreements be changed? Childcare agreements can be changed either by parental agreement or court order. Whether you need a court order will depend on whether your former partner agrees to the change and if there is an existing child arrangement order, specific issue order or prohibited steps order. Ideally, any change in parenting arrangements should be agreed rather than you making an application to court. However, children law solicitors understand that some issues cannot be resolved by agreement where both parents are adamant that what they want is best for their child. For example, where one parent wants to move to Spain where the child’s extended family lives and where they will have a better lifestyle but the other parent objects as they won't be able to enjoy as much contact time with their child. [related_posts] How can a children law solicitor at Evolve Family Law help? If you need help to reach a childcare agreement after your separation or divorce or you need advice on applying for a child arrangement order or other children law order we can advise you. Northwest and Online Children Law Solicitors: For expert family law advice call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Jan 27, 2022   ·   7 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
Grandparent Rights – Going to Court to See The Grandchildren

Grandparent Rights – Going to Court to See The Grandchildren

The newspapers are reporting that Thomas Markle has given an interview and said that he will take his daughter, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, to court for access to his two grandchildren, Archie and Lilibet. He has reportedly never met his grandchildren following the breakdown of his relationship with his daughter. The news headlines will have made many UK grandparents who have been refused contact with their grandchildren question what their legal rights are. Grandparent rights Grandparents can struggle with seeing their grandchildren for a variety of reasons, from their children moving to the other side of the UK or disagreements with their child or their son or daughter- in-law that leads to little or no contact with their grandchildren. As specialist children law solicitors, we are always reluctant to talk about ‘grandparent rights’ until grandparents have tried to reach an amicable resolution over contact with their grandchildren. If that can't be achieved through direct discussion then you may be able to reach an agreement through family mediation or solicitor negotiations. Talk of rights and court proceedings should only be raised if all other avenues have been explored. You may question why Evolve Family Law doesn’t advocate immediate court proceedings as we are, after all, experts in court representation in contact proceedings. It is because of our expertise that we recommend you try alternatives first as giving evidence in court proceedings can further polarise families. Sometimes pragmatic, inexpensive advice is what you need. Grandparent contact proceedings If you can't resolve matters by agreement, you may have no choice other than to apply to court to see your  grandchildren. If court proceedings are necessary, the children law solicitors at Evolve Family Law will work hard to ensure that the court proceedings are focused on why contact with your grandchildren is in your grandchildren’s best interests and to try to avoid escalating family tensions. If a grandparent wants to apply to court for contact it is a two-stage process. That is because grandparents don’t have a legal right to start an application for a child arrangement Order to secure grandparent contact without first obtaining court permission to make their application. The two-stage process should not deter you from applying to court as most grandparents receive court leave to make a full application for contact. Grandparents applying for child arrangement Orders A child arrangements Order is the new name for a contact or access order. If a parent, grandparent, or other relative wants contact with a child then this is the Order you will need to apply for. When the court looks at the application by a grandparent for permission to apply for a child arrangement Order the court will assess: Your connection with the child. The nature of the application for contact. Whether your application might be potentially harmful to your grandchild’s well-being. Once you have obtained permission to pursue your contact application to obtain a child arrangement Order the court will give directions on your substantive application, such as the filing of statements. At any stage in the court proceedings, you can reach an agreement over grandparent contact so you don’t have to proceed with your application. If you can't reach an agreement then a judge, at the final hearing of your court application, will decide what Orders are in your grandchild’s best interests. The court uses what is referred to as the ‘welfare checklist’ to decide what Order to make whether the application for contact is being made by a parent, grandparent, or other family member. Will I get contact with my grandchildren? ‘Will I get contact with my grandchildren?’ is the question that children law solicitors are asked. It is best to look at the factors that the court considers, and weigh them up, so you know the approach that a family judge will take as that may help you to decide whether to start court proceedings or whether to accept what you view as a compromise over contact with your grandchild.  When the court is deciding a question relating to a child’s upbringing and contact , the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. That means what is best for the child can trump the parent’s views or what you want. The court considers a set check list of factors when making orders relating to a child. The judge will make their decision based on what they think is best for a child. For example, a parent may want their child to have no contact with a grandparent and the grandparent may want weekly contact. The judge may say monthly contact is best because of the child’s weekend sporting or other commitments whilst recognising the importance of the child having a meaningful and ongoing relationship with their grandparents. How Evolve can help with grandparent contact disputes It is hard to accept that you aren’t seeing your grandchildren, especially when your friends talk about what they get up to with their own grandchildren. Getting grandparent law advice on your best options can help you understand what steps you can take to see your grandchildren. [related_posts] Louise Halford is an expert in children law and grandparent rights. She has many years of experience in helping grandparents gain contact with their grandchildren and understands the pain and pressures grandparents feel under when they can't get to see their grandchildren for reasons outside their control. For expert, empathetic advice call Louise or complete our online enquiry form. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.
Louise Halford
Jul 27, 2021   ·   5 minute read