Divorce

selective focus of couple sitting at table with divorce documents

Should I Sign a Separation Agreement?

As North West divorce and family finance solicitors, we are often asked the question ‘’should I sign a separation agreement?’’ The stock answer is ‘’that it all depends’’. However, our answer hinges on your plans and the specifics of your separation agreement. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form. Should I Sign a Separation Agreement or Get Divorced? In many family situations, a husband or wife will suggest the signing of a separation agreement as they want to split up and divide their property and assets but they do not think that they have the grounds to start divorce proceedings. There is still a common misconception that to start divorce proceedings you or your husband or wife need to be at fault in some way or you need to have been separated for at least 2 years. The introduction of no-fault divorce proceedings in England means you no longer need to explain why you want to get divorced and you do not have to have been separated for a minimum period before you can apply for a divorce. Under the new no-fault divorce proceedings process an application may be made jointly by a couple or individually by a husband or wife. The process to obtain your final order of divorce is similar whether you apply as a couple or as an individual. Although you may now be able to apply for a no-fault divorce there may be reasons why you do not want to get divorced. For example, you may not want to do so for religious reasons. If your spouse wants to apply for a divorce then you have very limited grounds to object because of the rules surrounding no-fault divorce. Talk to a Family Law Solicitor.   Talk to a family law solicitor before you sign a separation agreement or decide to start divorce proceedings as it is best to take advice on whether a separation agreement or divorce proceedings and a financial court order are in your best interests. In most family situations you do not need a separation agreement and a divorce and financial court order because the financial court order will deal with everything that goes into the separation agreement. However, there are some situations where you may need both. For example, if you have separated from your spouse and agreed to a sale of the family home but you have found a buyer before you can obtain a conditional order of divorce and a financial court order by consent. [related_posts] Why is a Financial Court Order Preferable to a Separation Agreement? Divorce solicitors often think a financial court order is preferable to a separation agreement because: A financial court order is legally binding. It cannot be changed (save for maintenance orders) unless there was fraud, misrepresentation or non-disclosure A separation agreement is not legally binding but it will carry a lot of weight if either spouse subsequently decides to start divorce proceedings and make a financial claim that is not consistent with what was put into the separation agreement Although you can agree to share pensions in a separation agreement the pension share cannot be implemented by the pension administrator until a pension sharing order has been made by a court in divorce proceedings and the final order of divorce has been obtained If you intend to get divorced but you want to sign a separation agreement first then you will incur separation agreement legal fees and later spend more on legal costs in sorting out your divorce and getting a financial court order. The separation agreement costs can be avoided altogether if you know you want a divorce as you can start no-fault divorce proceedings It is not all just about the legal fees; instructing a North West divorce solicitor to prepare a separation agreement and to later start divorce and financial court order proceedings is potentially more stressful than instructing your divorce lawyer to sort out the divorce and financial court order When Should You Sign a Separation Agreement?  A separation agreement may be a good option for you if you have no plans to get divorced for religious or other reasons. You should only sign a separation agreement after there has been financial disclosure so you can make informed choices about what goes into the agreement. You should also only sign a separation agreement after you have taken advice from a family law solicitor on the contents. Although separation agreements are not legally binding on the court, they do carry a great deal of weight if either a husband or wife brings a financial claim in later divorce proceedings. You should therefore only sign a separation agreement if you intend to be bound by it. How Can Evolve Family Law Help You. Our family law and divorce solicitors can help you with: Advice on whether you need a separation agreement and the contents No-fault divorce proceedings Financial court orders by agreement after direct discussions or after family mediation Financial court order applications if you are not able to reach a financial agreement Children law orders if you cannot reach an agreement on residence or contact arrangements for your children Converting your existing separation agreement into a financial court order Amicable divorce – one lawyer divorce service Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney if you have separated or you are starting divorce proceedings Our divorce solicitors will provide expert advice tailored to your personal and financial circumstances. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Feb 16, 2024   ·   5 minute read
Will I get Half in a Divorce Settlement UK?

Will I get Half in a Divorce Settlement UK?

When you are going through a separation or divorce you need to know what you are likely to end up with as your divorce financial settlement. Without that information, or at least a broad idea of what you might reasonably expect to get, you may find the whole process of separating and getting divorced that much more traumatic. In this blog, our family law solicitors answer your questions on whether you will get half in a divorce financial settlement and explain why some people may end up with more or less than half. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form. Does everyone get half the assets when they divorce? There is no guarantee that you will get half the assets when you divorce. You may get less than half or you may get more than half. Every family is different and although the court starts from the premise that assets should be shared equally there are many reasons why a financial court order might be made that does not equally divide the assets and money equally between husband and wife. Who decides if you get half the assets? In an ideal world, you will reach a financial agreement with your separated husband or wife after having spoken to a family law solicitor or you will ask the solicitor to negotiate an agreement for you. Another alternative is to go to family mediation and reach an agreement in mediation. If you reach an agreement your financial settlement then needs to be converted into an agreed financial court order as part of the no-fault divorce proceedings. If it is impossible to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse then either you or they can apply to the family court for a financial settlement. After financial disclosure and a series of court directions hearings, a final hearing will take place where the judge will hear evidence from each of you. The court will then make a binding financial court order. The court will decide what percentage of the assets you will get based on statutory criteria and case law. As well as deciding whether you will get half the value of the family assets the court can decide if the family home should be sold or if you should get to keep the house but not get to receive a share of your spouse’s pension or the value of their investments or shares in the family business. There are normally many different ways in which a judge can split assets equally between husband and wife. Who works out what half is in a divorce financial settlement? Your husband or wife may tell you that they want to keep things amicable and split the money and property equally but to do that fairly you may need assets to be independently valued.  For example, if your spouse says that you can keep the family home you need to know how much equity there is in the property if your spouse’s financial proposals are based on them keeping their pension or their shares in the family business. You will also need to know the true value of your spouse’s pension fund or the value of the family business. To get an accurate valuation of assets you may need to instruct a surveyor, pension actuary or forensic accountant to carry out valuations. If assets are not accurately valued then you may not end up with half unless your agreement says every single asset will be sold and the money divided equally rather than some assets being retained by one of you as part of the negotiated deal or financial court order. [related_posts] Could I get more than half the property and assets? There are some scenarios where you could receive more than half the money and property as your divorce financial settlement. For example: If you signed a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement that said you would get to keep more of the assets and the court thought it was fair to uphold the prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement in its entirety or partially You owned a house or pension or family business before your marriage, the marriage is relatively short and your spouse can have their reasonable needs met without having to share all or some of your pre-marriage owned assets You agree to receive more than half the assets but the deal is that you do not get ongoing spousal maintenance as your spouse is getting less than their half share of the property or other assets You are the main carer of the children and you need more than 50% of the total asset pot to buy a new home for the children taking into account your reasonable housing needs and your mortgage capacity Your spouse received an inheritance during the marriage and their housing or other needs can be met by using this inheritance whilst you need more than half of the family assets to meet your needs Should I argue that I want half the assets as my divorce financial settlement? A family law solicitor will tell you if you have a good case to get half or more than half the family assets as your divorce financial settlement. You can then decide whether it is worth the time and the potential legal fees of going to court and asking a judge to make a financial court order in your favour if your spouse will not agree to your requested financial settlement. You may decide that it is best to compromise and reach a negotiated financial settlement or come to the view that as your estranged spouse is being so unreasonable about financial disclosure and the financial settlement that you have no alternative to ask the court to order that you get half the assets as your divorce financial settlement. Your best option is to talk to a family law solicitor so you understand your rights and options to help you reach a fair divorce financial settlement. For expert family law advice call our team for an appointment or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
  ·   6 minute read
How to Deal With Parental Alienation

How to Deal With Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is one of those topics that parents feel embarrassed to talk about. If you are being prevented from seeing your child after a separation or divorce you may be worried that family, friends and colleagues will judge you assuming you must be the one at fault if you cannot get to see your child. At Evolve Family Law our solicitors are experts in child arrangement order applications involving allegations of alienating behaviour. If you are being stopped from seeing your child our family law solicitors can help you sort out post-separation parenting arrangements for your child or enforce a child arrangement order if your ex-partner still will not let you see your child. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form. Are you to blame for parental alienation? Lots of people assume that if parental alienation has taken place the parent who is not having contact with their child must have done something ‘’bad’’. However, the definition of parental alienation is one parent turning the mind of a child against the other parent and the child’s negative view of the parent is not justified by any parental behaviour. Instead, the child is being alienated from one parent by the other parent’s deliberate or unintentional psychological manipulation of the child. How to deal with parental alienation Sometimes it is obvious to everyone involved with a child, from family to schoolteachers and health professionals, that parental alienation is taking place. In other families, the process is more subtle but just as insidious. For parents who fear parental alienation is taking place there are some tips on how to deal with parental alienation and maintain a relationship with your child. We recommend that you:  Take legal advice quickly If you think, your ex-partner or former husband or wife is talking inappropriately about you in front of your child it is important to act quickly.  If you wait then the situation may get to the stage that the child is so alienated that they say that they do not want to have contact with you. If you are not able to speak to your former partner directly then you could try speaking to a family member or you could suggest a referral to family mediation or family counselling. If those options do not solve the difficulties, do not delay in taking legal advice and looking at the option of applying for a child arrangements order. If you delay in acting then if the parental alienation behaviour continues it will become harder to resolve the situation and repair the psychological damage experienced by your child. Do not blame the child It is normal to think ‘’my daughter is behaving just like her mother’’ or to say ‘’the apple does not fall far from the tree’’. When a child is playing up or refusing to speak to or see you, it is easy to transfer your frustration with the situation onto the child. After all, why can’t your child stand up for themselves and demand more contact with you or why can’t they at least look cheerful when they do see you? As frustrating as it is, blaming a child or showing your exasperation with the situation is likely to make the situation worse. Do not blame the parent When you get frustrated about parental alienation, it is easy to think that the solution is to tell your side of the story. In the process, you are likely to denigrate the other parent. Taking that approach is likely to make your child more insecure and anxious, and less inclined to have contact. Do not walk away The statistics of how many parents lose contact with their children after a separation or divorce are appalling. Many of those cases do not involve parental alienation but it is sometimes easy to think that your child would be ‘’better off’’ without you. Most children law professionals believe that a child needs and deserves a loving relationship with both parents, even if that has to be achieved through the making of a child arrangements order. Find time for other things in your life If you experience parental alienation, it is easy to obsess over your ex-partner and their behaviour. By doing that you can play into their hands. It is important that you find time to enjoy other aspects of your life during any children court proceedings. [related_posts] What will the court do if it thinks that alienating behaviour is taking place? If you make an application for a child arrangement order the court will carefully consider whether contact is in your child’s best interests. If a child is saying that they do not want contact because of parental alienation, the court can take some proactive steps to try to help you rebuild a relationship with your child. In extreme situations, where a judge finds that the alienating behaviour has caused emotional harm and that the primary carer does not understand the damage created by their actions, the judge can make an order to change the primary carer of the child. How can Evolve Family Law help you? Evolve Family Law is a specialist family law firm with offices in Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester. Whatever your children or family law concern, Louise Halford and the children law team at Evolve Family Law solicitors will work with you to help you reach a solution. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
  ·   5 minute read
Home for sale. Sign in front of new home

Divorce and Selling the Family Home

As Manchester divorce and family finance solicitors advising separated couples we get a lot of calls from husbands or wives concerned about divorce and selling the family home. In this blog, our family law solicitors look at the issues and your best options when it comes to divorce and selling the family home. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form. Should I sell the family home? Sadly, some divorcing couples don’t have a choice: the family home has to be sold. For others, you can make the financial or personal choice to either sell up, transfer the property to your husband or wife or keep the property yourself. Often people have a strong knee-jerk reaction that they must keep the family home at all costs whilst others are equally adamant that they don’t want to stay in the family home because of the memories associated with it. Undoubtedly selling a family home involves hassle so it is best to consider all your options and the practicalities of a move, such as: How much is the family home worth and how much will I need to spend to buy a new property? If I stay at the family home would the mortgage company agree to transfer the mortgage into my name? If I sell and buy another property what is the maximum mortgage that I could get? Can I afford the monthly mortgage payments and the upkeep on the family home if I get spousal maintenance or child support or if I have to make those payments out of my salary? Is it better to make a fresh start or to downsize so I can have some cash to spend on holidays or little luxuries? Will my husband or wife agree to the sale of the family home? The effect of market conditions on your decision to sell the family home. Experienced family law solicitors encourage separating couples to look at whether they should sell the family home or not from a short and long-term perspective so you make the right decision for you and your family. However, the current housing market conditions may inevitably have some influence on your decision-making process because: You are worried about the time to achieve a sale and getting your sale price You are concerned about getting the mortgage on the family home transferred to you or taking out a mortgage on a new property and mortgage rates You don’t feel that your job is secure or you are worried that your husband or wife could be at risk of being made redundant and redundancy will affect their ability to pay you child support and spousal maintenance With or without the pressures of a cost-of-living crisis the decision to sell the family home, or resolving which one of you should stay at the family home, is always stressful. That is why it is best to take time over your decision and not be too influenced by the views of teenage children who may be leaving home to go to university soon leaving you with a house that is too large for you and without sufficient money to pay for life’s little luxuries or to pay for car repairs. If you end up with the family home the trade-off may be that you don’t get a share of your husband or wife’s pension. That may mean you eventually have to sell the family home to fund your retirement. However, the released equity on the sale of the family home won’t necessarily give you the same income return that a pension sharing order would have done. That’s why it is best to carefully consider if the short-term hassle of selling the family home and moving is in your long-term best interests if it means you get a pension sharing order. [related_posts] The best way to divorce and sell the family home. If you are getting divorced and thinking about selling the family home here are our tips on selling the family home whilst separating from a partner or getting divorced: Is it realistic for you both to live at the family home until it is sold bearing in mind that once the property is sold it will take time for the conveyancing process to reach completion? It is advisable to always take legal advice before leaving the family home as doing so may make your husband or wife less keen to achieve a sale. However, if the atmosphere at home is affecting you, then one option would be for one of you to rent a property or stay with family until the family home is sold Consult with your husband or wife about the sale price and choice of estate agent and make sure that the estate agent keeps you both informed about viewings and feedback from prospective buyers. That way if the estate agent recommends a reduction in the sale price your spouse is more likely to be willing to consider this Get your paperwork in order as requests for documents from your buyer’s solicitor can delay the sale of the family home. If you have had work carried out at the property you need to locate your planning and building regulation documents, electrical, gas and FENSA certificates or organise duplicate paperwork Agree on how you will divide the household contents as the last thing that you are likely to want to do is try and sort out household contents at the date of the sale. It is best to list the household contents and both sign the agreed schedule and the division of contents between the two of you and highlight what items, if any, will be sold with the house Think about whether you want to sell the family home if you haven’t reached a financial settlement with your husband or wife. It is common for a sale of the family home to be achieved before you reach a full financial settlement including how pensions, business assets and investments are split as well as whether spousal maintenance should be paid and for how long. If you are happy with the sale price of the family home and fear that you will risk losing your buyer if you delay you could agree with your husband or wife that the net proceeds of the sale (after discharging the mortgage, conveyancing solicitor and estate agent fees) are kept in a joint account or by a solicitor until an agreement is reached or a financial court order is made. In some situations, you can agree to the release of some extra money to allow you to buy your planned new property or to discharge family debts If your spouse won’t agree to a sale of the family home get a court order. If you are certain that the family home has to be sold as it isn’t financially possible for either of you to take it on because the mortgage company won’t transfer the existing mortgage into one of your names or you won’t be able to afford the mortgage on one salary then speak to Evolve Family Law about starting financial proceedings for an order for sale of the family home. If your husband or wife won’t cooperate with the sale of the property then a family judge has the power to make orders about the sale price, and the choice of estate agent. The judge can even sign the paperwork to sell the property if your ex-partner refuses to sign the contract to sell the house or the deed of transfer How can Evolve Family Law solicitors help? At Evolve Family Law we recognise that deciding to separate and sell the family home is hard. Often, the decision is finely balanced so you need specialist help to look at all your financial settlement options and work out whether the option of selling the family home is the best one for you. We will support you in negotiating a financial settlement with your ex-partner so you can move on with your life. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.  
Robin Charrot
  ·   7 minute read
Planning Together for Children

Planning Together for Children

Planning Together for Children is the name of a course run by the organisation CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support) for separated or divorced parents.    In this blog, our children law solicitors look at the Planning Together for Children course and explain your options if you are a separated parent struggling to reach an agreement with your ex-partner on post-separation parenting arrangements for your children.  For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Planning Together for Children has replaced the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) If your friends have told you that after they separated from their spouse, they went on a SPIP (or Separated Parents Information Programme) then you need to be aware that the Planning Together for Children has replaced the SPIP.  Can you use the Planning Together for Children resource? Access to the Planning Together for Children resource is limited to those parents and carers who are ordered by a family court judge to attend the course or who are referred to the course by a Family Court Advisor in children law court proceedings.  You therefore cannot access the online E-learning resources or attend the Parenting Together for Children workshop if you are a separated parent who is looking for information to help you reach an agreement about the parenting arrangements for your children. Nor can you use the resource if you are struggling with sharing parenting responsibilities with your ex-partner but neither of you has applied to the court for a child arrangement order, prohibited steps order, specific issue order or relocation order.  Options if you cannot use the Planning Together for Children resource If you want help in parenting together after separation there are a lot of useful books and online resources. If you need help with family dynamics speaking to a family therapist or counsellor may help as they may be able to assist you both in understanding the priorities of the other parent and help you focus on the best interests of your child when reaching a compromise about shared care, contact arrangements or parenting styles.  If you are struggling to reach an agreement about parenting after a separation or divorce you may not need to apply to court for a child arrangement order as you may be able to reach an agreement through:  Solicitor round table meeting  Solicitor negotiations  Family mediation   Once you have reached an agreement it is a good idea to record what you have agreed in a parenting plan. These types of plans need to be reviewed as your child grows up or circumstances change. For example, if your child wants to go to football sessions on a Saturday or ballet on a Wednesday after school or if one parent has to move house out of the area because of a job move.  You might also be interested in:   [related_posts] A Planning Together for Children referral If you are ordered by a judge to attend the Planning Together for Children course or a Family Court Advisor makes a request to the court for a referral there is no charge for accessing the online resources or going to the workshop.  Whilst you may not be a fan of e-learning or workshops it is important to try and get as much as possible from the course to give you the best shot possible of reaching an agreement with your ex-partner or being able to tell the family judge that you did so.  If you do not go to a Planning Together for Children course when ordered to do so by a judge the court may reorder your attendance on the course. This may delay your court application. Any delay or refusal to attend may make it less likely that the court will make the type of child arrangement order you are seeking.  What does the Planning Together for Children course cover? The e-learning section of the course will look at matters such as:   What happens if you go ahead with the child arrangement order or specific issue order court application?   How a separation and how you handle the separation can affect your child   Conflict and its impact on your child     Looking at the family situation from your child’s perspective   Supportive co-parenting – what it is and how it works   Communication skills to help you listen to your child and co-parent    Once the e-learning section is completed you move on to a workshop. This will normally take place online. Although the workshop is normally held online there are never more than 6 parents in a workshop group. Your ex-partner will not be in the same workshop as you.  The workshop focuses on the negative impact of parental conflict on children, how best to manage conflict and how to improve communication with your child and ex-partner so you can effectively co-parent.  The course will encourage you to discuss and agree on a parenting plan for your child to set out the residence, contact and other important care details for your child to avoid the need for you or your ex-partner to go ahead with your child arrangement order application.  How can Evolve Family Law help you? At Evolve Family Law all our family law solicitors are committed to resolving parenting disputes outside of court wherever possible. For example, through providing legal support during family mediation or helping you negotiate a parenting plan. Reaching an agreement is not always possible. For example, if you fear child abduction as your ex-partner has threatened to take your child overseas or if your ex-spouse is displaying alienating behaviour and refusing to let you see your child, or if you are concerned about contact arrangement because of a history of domestic violence.  Our family law solicitors will listen carefully to your needs and priorities and help you secure the agreement or court order you need for your children.   For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.    
Louise Halford
Jan 29, 2024   ·   5 minute read
Divorce Agreement Decree Document Break up

Can I Get a Divorce Online?

Evolve divorce solicitors can confirm that you can get divorced online with us. However, many of our North West family law clients like to pop into one of our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire or North Manchester to meet their divorce solicitor face-to-face.  The decision is yours to make – whether you are divorcing online or meeting with us at our offices you get a named divorce solicitor to handle your no-fault divorce and to answer any queries. Of course, you get the same level of excellent client service whether you decide to meet with us or not.  If you need help with applying for a no-fault divorce call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   The no-fault divorce   With the introduction of no-fault divorce proceedings, the divorce process in England became a bit more streamlined. Sadly, the divorce timescales have not speeded up as you are still looking at around 7 months from the start of your divorce application until you get your final order of divorce.  The process and timeframe are the same whether you are applying purely online or after meeting with your divorce solicitor. It takes around 7 months to get divorced because the law imposes time delays on how quickly you can finalise your divorce. Our divorce solicitors understand that these delays are frustrating when you know your own mind and you do not want to back track on your decision to divorce your husband or wife.  The good thing about the no-fault divorce process is that you can choose to apply jointly for a divorce with your husband or wife. There is no requirement to do so. Whether you apply as a sole divorce applicant or jointly with your husband or wife the divorce process is very similar. In addition, even if your spouse does not agree to the divorce there are very limited ways to oppose the divorce.  [related_posts] Why see a divorce solicitor if you can divorce online?   ‘Why see a divorce solicitor if you can divorce online?’ is a good question. There are many different reasons why you may want to meet us in person. For example, your divorce is an immensely distressing personal experience for you and you do not want to feel like a ‘number’. Alternatively, you may feel confident about Evolve Family Law handling your no-fault divorce online but you want to meet with a specialist family law solicitor to discuss the parenting, custody and contact arrangements for your children or the potential financial settlement.  Sometimes nothing beats sitting down with your family law solicitor to understand your legal options and to work out the solution that works best for you and your family. It may be that you are comfortable having discussions online after a first meeting or that you need the reassurance of a face-to-face meeting to help you make some of the most important decisions that will affect your life and that of your children. For example, will the care of the children be shared by co-parenting or will the children reside with you? Will you keep the family home or should you agree to the sale of the property and to the making of a pension sharing order? Should you agree to a clean break financial court order and what would that type of court order mean for your family if you lost your job and could not return to work?    A personal online divorce   Whether you instruct us online or in person we provide a personal and professional divorce service.  At Evolve Family Law we recognise that every client and family is different. That is why we discuss with you how you want us to work for you. It could be online, email, phone, in person or even using old-fashioned post. We aim to find the divorce process that is the least stressful for you.   How much does a divorce cost?  If you apply for a no-fault divorce as a sole applicant or jointly with your spouse, we can provide a fixed-fee divorce service.  We offer a range of other fixed-fee services. For more information on our fees Download Our Price Guide.  If you need help with applying for a no-fault divorce call our team or complete our online enquiry form. 
Robin Charrot
Jan 23, 2024   ·   4 minute read
Angry frustrated tired senior couple sitting separately on home couch in silence, looking away, ignoring, thinking over relationship problems, divorce, breakup, marriage crisis

Can My Ex-Wife Make a Claim on My Estate?

Many people assume that once they get their final order of divorce their ex-spouse has no further claims against them or their estate. Family lawyers and Will solicitors say that is not correct.  In this article, our lawyers look at when an ex-wife can make a claim against an estate and what you can do about it to protect your estate and your beneficiaries.  For expert family law and Will advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Financial claims after a separation or divorce     When you separate or divorce your ex-partner their financial claims remain intact until you reach an enforceable agreement or the court makes a financial court order.  Even if you reach an agreement or the court makes a financial court order your ex-spouse may still retain all or some of their financial claims. That is why it is essential to use a family law solicitor to help you negotiate a financial settlement or to draw up your financial court order. It is equally important that your solicitor explains what the wording of the order means.  The only way you can achieve finality with no risk of further financial claims is if the court makes a clean break financial court order.  What is a clean break financial order?    A clean break financial court order can be made by agreement ( you and your ex-spouse ask a family judge to convert your agreement into a binding court order) or after a contested court hearing. Clean break orders can be confusing as there are 2 types:  Immediate – as soon as the court order is made your ex-spouse cannot make any further claims or they cannot do so once the order is implemented. For example, an order will be implemented after the sale of a family home, the agreed division of equity, and the pronouncement of your final order of divorce   Deferred – the clean break comes into effect when an event occurs. For example, if you are ordered to pay time-limited spousal maintenance the clean break may come into force when the spousal maintenance payments end. A deferred clean break can be confusing as the court order may allow the person receiving the spousal maintenance to apply to the court to extend the length of the spousal maintenance order or the person receiving the spousal maintenance may ask the court to make a lump sum payment or pension sharing order in their favour instead of them continuing to receive ongoing spousal maintenance. Some court orders do not allow the person receiving spousal maintenance to apply to court to extend the maintenance term    As clean breaks are complicated it is best to take legal advice on your financial settlement to see if you are likely to be able to achieve one and whether it is in your interests to do so. For example, if your ex-wife is in a new relationship and you think she will remarry you may not want to give your ex-wife more money to buy off her spousal maintenance claims. Why? Spousal maintenance automatically stops on re-marriage and it cannot be revived if the ex-wife’s second marriage breaks down. However, if an ex-wife cohabits rather than remarries you will only achieve a clean break if the spousal maintenance order provides for this.  Your priorities and goals    It is important that your family law solicitor takes their time to understand your priorities and goals. Some people are adamant that they want a clean break. There may be reasons for this, such as a bad experience in a first divorce, the future anticipated sale of a business, or wanting to protect your children from your ex-wife making a claim against your estate. Other people may be more sanguine about negotiating a clean break order. For example, if you do not have children and are not worried if your ex-wife tries to make a claim against your estate as you are leaving most of your money and property to charity and know that your executors can fight the claims in the unlikely event that your ex-wife brings a claim against your estate.  [related_posts] Can your ex-wife make a claim against your estate?  Whether your ex-wife can make a claim against your estate will depend on whether you have a financial court order, its precise terms, and whether your ex-wife has remarried.  If you are concerned that your ex-wife may have a claim against your estate under the Inheritance Act then talk to a Will solicitor.  She will still have a potential claim even if you make a Will and cut her out. That is because under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 anyone who falls into one of these categories of people has a potential claim against your estate:  A wife, husband, or civil partner  A former wife, husband, or civil partner (provided they have not remarried)  A child or someone treated as a child by the deceased   Someone who was living with the deceased for the 2 years before the deceased’s death  Anyone who immediately before the deceased’s death was financially dependent on them   A private client solicitor can provide you with estate planning advice and draw up a Will that reduces the risk of your ex-wife bringing a 1975 Act claim. They can also work with a specialist family law solicitor so you can explore whether it is worth asking the court to make your existing financial court order into a clean break order. This may be possible if, for example, the court left spousal maintenance open-ended because your ex-wife might need spousal maintenance in the future but she has been in a long-term cohabiting relationship so you think the time is right to secure a clean break.  At Evolve Family Law our family law solicitors work closely with our private client and Will lawyers and recommend that when you separate you think about making a Will or changing the terms of your existing Will.    For expert family law and Will advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.    
Robin Charrot
Dec 28, 2023   ·   6 minute read
IZMIR, TURKEY – Jan 01, 2018: Young muslim bride and groom wedding photos, Islamic wedding of bride and bride groom

Islamic Marriage and Divorce in the UK

If you got married in an Islamic wedding ceremony in the UK or overseas, are you treated as legally married in England? Can you get divorced in the UK?  The divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law answer your questions on Islamic marriage and divorce in the UK.  For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Islamic marriage in the UK  Whether your Nikah is classed as a legal marriage and recognised in English family law depends on where and how the marriage took place.  A Nikah that took place in the UK is not treated as a legal marriage unless there was also a valid UK civil ceremony. If you had a Nikah in the UK without a civil ceremony it is best to check with a family law solicitor to see if you are legally married or not under English law. It is important to check this out and, if necessary, get married legally under UK law. That’s because if you are not legally married under English family law you do not have the financial rights and claims of a husband or wife but of an unmarried partner.  If your Nikah took place overseas you are treated as legally married in the UK provided the country where you got married treats Islamic marriages or Nikahs as legally valid. That means you do not need to have a civil wedding ceremony in the UK as you are already legally married.  Family law solicitors acknowledge that the UK family law on the validity of Islamic marriages can be confusing.  The English court does have the power to declare that you are legally married if there is a dispute but it is best to avoid declaration proceedings unless there is no alternative. For example, if your spouse is denying your marriage and your financial claims as a spouse.  Divorce in the UK   If you are legally married and you want to get divorced you can apply for a no-fault divorce. If your wedding was a Nikah under Sharia law and it took place in England without a civil marriage then you won't need to apply for a no-fault divorce as you are not treated in English law as legally married. You may want to get divorced under Sharia law.  If you thought you were married then it may be worth checking out if you can get a declaration of marriage. That is because:  Under Sharia law your financial  claims may be limited  In English law, if you are not legally married, your financial claims as an unmarried husband or wife are limited to property rights and claims under trust law. Instead of being able to claim half the assets you may be able to claim nothing or very little in comparison to the sort of financial settlement a husband or wife might expect the family court to order as a financial court order   [related_posts] The financial claims of an unmarried partner    If your marriage is not legally recognised in the UK, you can potentially make 2 types of claims, depending on whether you have children with your partner.  Under Schedule 1 of the Children Act, you can bring court proceedings for an order to provide your children with a home to live in whilst they are of school age. The ownership of the house will then revert to your partner. You can also ask the court for a lump sum to meet the financial needs of your children and to make a top-up child support order if your partner is a high earner. The Child Maintenance Service may also be able to award you child support.  Whether or not you have children you may be able to make a claim under The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). You can bring a TOLTA claim if your partner owns a property jointly with you or if they own a property in their sole name but you can evidence that you have what is referred to as a beneficial interest in the property owned by your partner.  Get expert family law legal advice   It is essential that you take expert legal advice on the status of your marriage from specialist family law solicitors. That’s because if your Nikah is a valid marriage (or you can secure a declaration of marriage) you may be able to secure a financial settlement including spousal maintenance, a share in property, savings, a family business or a pension sharing order.    For expert family law advice complete our online enquiry form.  
Robin Charrot
Dec 07, 2023   ·   4 minute read
The Autumn Budget Statement and Pensions for Life and Divorce

The Autumn Budget Statement and Pensions for Life and Divorce

On 22 November 2023 the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, unveiled plans that could eventually give pension holders one pension pot for life.  Accountants and independent financial advisors are all questioning how easy it will be to bring in the scheme for UK workers. However, family law solicitors at Evolve Family Law are delighted by the news because if the proposals are implemented it will make it easier and cheaper for divorcing couples to share pensions as part of their financial settlement.  For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Pensions – the forgotten asset in divorce proceedings     When you separate or start divorce proceedings you also need to reach a fair financial settlement with your estranged husband or wife to divide and share your assets.   You will not forget the existence of the family home or a shareholding in the family business but you may forget to disclose an old pension and your husband or wife may not realise that you have 2 or more pensions.   The Pensions Policy Institute estimates that the total value of lost pension pots was almost £27 billion in 2022. That is not surprising with so many people moving jobs and homes and not keeping records. It is also equally unsurprising that pensions get forgotten in divorce proceedings.   The Fair Shares project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, provided information and data on divorcing couples. Their recent research highlights that about a third of divorcees did not know the value of their pension fund and only a tenth of pension pots that were not in payment were made the subject of pension sharing orders.    The research information from the Fair Share Project emphasises the need for divorcing couples to understand the value of pension pots and how they should not be ignored in divorce financial settlements.  Pension pots and financial disclosure in financial settlement negotiations  If you do not disclose an asset when providing divorce financial disclosure, including a pension, your husband or wife may be able to ask the court to review the terms of a financial court order years later because of the non-disclosure.   It is therefore essential to provide full financial disclosure even if you have several small pension pots from employment prior to your marriage.  Think how much easier it would be for divorcing couples and their family law solicitors if a husband and wife each only had one pension fund. Now a husband and wife can each have 5 or more pensions, all of which need to be disclosed and valued as part of the financial settlement negotiations.  The portable pension pot  The chancellor is proposing one pension pot that an employee takes with them when they change their employment. Whilst employers and pension providers are already flagging up the complexities of portable pension funds family law solicitors can only see the advantages.  With numerous small pension pots, it takes time for pensions to be disclosed and valued as part of divorce financial settlement negotiations. When pension pots are small a husband or wife can be encouraged to ignore their value because the pensions are ‘’not worth the hassle’’. That is often not the case but spouses can be persuaded to ignore them.  Even if a small pension is disclosed and valued a husband or wife may be told that it is uneconomic to share the pension because the pension administrators will charge to implement a pension sharing order.  [related_posts] The lifetime pension pot   The Treasury will be asking for evidence on the “lifetime provider” pension model rather than adopting a policy of portable pensions straight away. It is likely to be some time before the consultation starts and even longer before further pension reforms are made.  Until we get to the age of the lifetime pension pot it is essential to disclose all your pension pots when getting divorced and to understand your pension options when negotiating a divorce financial settlement.  Pension sharing orders   The family court can make a financial court order that includes a pension sharing order. The pension administrator will need to implement the pension sharing order once they are served with the financial court order, pension sharing annex and the final order of divorce.  If the value of a pension is small then it may be uneconomic to share all the pensions. Instead, your family law solicitor may suggest that you get a 100% share of one pension pot rather than pay a pension admin fee to share each pension. That may work for you provided that the pensions are valued correctly. For example, the transfer value of a private pension pot may be the same as a final salary scheme pension but the eventual pension returns may be very different. That’s why you need specialist input from a divorce solicitor and pension actuary or advisor.  A pension sharing order is not your only option. You could agree to offset the value of pensions so you get more from the equity in the family home or you get to keep all your pensions but your spouse gets to keep their savings.  Get help with your divorce financial settlement   Evolve Family Law provides a fixed fee no-fault divorce service and offers a relationship breakdown consultation for a fixed fee to discuss your relationship breakdown and offer initial guidance.  Our ‘relationship breakdown comprehensive initial review’ is priced at £300 inclusive of VAT. It covers one meeting with a qualified lawyer and an assessment of the best routes to resolving your situation.   If you want to know where to start with your separation or divorce or your divorce financial settlement our specialist divorce solicitors can help.  For information on our fixed fees and pricing have a look at Our Prices | Standard Fixed Fees.  For friendly expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.  
Robin Charrot
Nov 23, 2023   ·   5 minute read