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Family Finance Law

Woman meeting notary for advice

Talking to a Family Lawyer

We all fear some appointments, whether it is an appointment with a doctor or dentist, or meeting your family lawyer for the first time. In this blog, family law solicitor, Louise Halford, looks at how to get the most out of your first meeting with your family lawyer. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article we look at: Choosing your family law solicitor Timing your appointment Company at your appointment Preparing for your appointment Talking to your family solicitor Choosing your family law solicitor Before your initial consultation with your family law solicitor, it is best to do some research on whether your family lawyer and the firm are the right fit for you. Just because a friend found a family solicitor wonderful in their divorce, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily be right for you, or that they are experts in the area of family law you need advice on. At Evolve Family Law, we believe in being proactive in helping you choose the right family solicitor for you. That’s why we publish information about the lawyers and our fee guide on our website. We will also speak to you to try and make sure there you are seeing the best solicitor for you at your initial consultation. That’s because family lawyers, just like consultants and surgeons, specialise in different areas of family law. If you need urgent advice about child abduction fears and child relocation orders you don’t want to see a solicitor who has a particular interest in international prenuptial agreements when the firm has expert children law and child abduction lawyers. Timing your appointment It is never too early to have an initial consultation. It can be helpful for you to learn about likely children or financial settlement options should you go ahead with a planned separation. That way you can make informed choices. Taking family law legal advice does not commit you to starting children law or financial court proceedings but it does help you work out the best options for you, through having the information you need to make informed decisions. [related_posts] Company at your appointment If you want to bring a friend or a family member to your appointment that should be fine with your family solicitor. Bringing someone with you can be really helpful as they can make sure that you are asking the questions you want answers to. They can also discuss the advice you received with you after the meeting. All family solicitors ask of you is; to choose the person who comes with you with care. That is because you may be discussing personal issues at your appointment. Your solicitor will not want you to feel inhibited and unable to be totally open about the reasons why you need help and legal advice. Also, a family friend or relative needs to be there as a support, rather than to take over the appointment to discuss their own family law problems or their own views on your relationship or family law issue. If they do that, it is frustrating for both you and your family lawyer solicitor as we both need to focus on you. Therefore, if you want company at your appointment, think about who will provide the best support to help you to get the most out of your consultation. Preparing for your appointment Whilst you are welcome to just turn up to your phone, zoom or office appointment, it can help some people to prepare for the appointment. We don’t mean anything ‘too heavy’ by this. Just have a think about why you need advice and the background. For example, your family solicitor may want to know the date of your marriage or date of separation or when your children were born or the approximate date of when an incident occurred . It is surprising how easy it is to forget dates or to only remember the questions you wanted to ask your solicitor after your consultation. Lawyers like questions, so do bring a list of questions with you. Whilst a family lawyer may not be able to fully answer all your questions at a first meeting, they will be able to tell you what information they need to gather to fully answer your queries. Talking to your family solicitor An initial consultation with a family solicitor is a ‘two-way street’; your family lawyer needs to know a bit about you and about your family law query as well as your goals. Armed with that information a family solicitor can help you get the best out of an initial consultation. Consultations work best when you have the confidence to ask your questions. You therefore should not worry about whether your questions are too basic or whether your solicitor will think you should know the answers. Likewise, your lawyer may need to ask you some questions that you don’t think are very relevant to your family solicitor answering your questions. However, there are some questions that will help your lawyer understand the circumstances so your legal advisor can then work out how best to answer your questions as accurately and as thoroughly as possible. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Mar 17, 2022   ·   5 minute read
side view of concentrated couple reading contract during meeting with lawyer in office

Protecting Money From Parents to Buy a House

According to the BBC news a couple of days ago, the number of first-time buyers relying on mum and dad for the deposit to buy their first home or to climb the property ladder has reached a record high https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39381157 This is not surprising, given that house prices are, on average, seven times salary. The problem is a lot worse in London and the home counties. As a specialist family finance solicitor, with many years experience in dealing with divorce and cohabitation breakdown, I have seen plenty of examples of where parents have helped their son or daughter to buy a property, only to find that when their son or daughter’s relationship breaks down, half or even more of that money goes to their ex. Why is mum and dad’s money vulnerable? Many people assume that just because the money has come from their family, or just because the house is bought in their son or daughter’s sole name, the money is protected. This is not true. Partners and spouses can make financial claims over property, even if their name is not on the title deeds and even if they have not paid the mortgage or the bills. Marriage makes the family money even more vulnerable because normally the divorce court will completely ignore the source of funds used to buy the house. Many people assume that just because the money has come from their family, or just because the house is bought in their son or daughter’s sole name, the money is protected. This is not true. Partners and spouses can make financial claims over property, even if their name is not on the title deeds and even if they have not paid the mortgage or the bills. Marriage makes the family money even more vulnerable because normally the divorce court will completely ignore the source of funds used to buy the house. Increasingly, I am being asked by clients how they can protect the parents’ money from relationship breakdown. There are a large number of ways of doing it, and they each have their pros and cons. However, the key message is that whatever way you choose, it needs to be agreed and properly documented at the time the money is provided by mum and dad. The different ways of protecting mum and dad’s money A loan from mum and dad Mum and dad co-owning the house A gift of the deposit Putting the gift of money into a ‘trust’. The trust can then lend, or give money to the beneficiary of the trust fund to buy the house, or even co-own the house with the beneficiary Mum and dad own the house completely, but let their son or daughter occupy the house The best option will depend on the family’s circumstances. That is why it is important to get specialist advice. For example, if parents are wealthy and know that they have a lot of capital that they won’t get through in their lifetimes the option of a gift or trust fund might be the best way to help the family member get on the property ladder and save on inheritance tax. A record of the gift will help evidence it for the tax man and will also help if the son or daughter later starts to live with a partner at the property. If a family is not wealthy then a loan agreement may be the best way forward. The key to a family loan is that it can be prepared to meet the family’s needs over when the money is paid back and if the loan will charge interest or not. You need a cohabitation agreement (or a pre-nup) Whatever option you choose, it is highly advisable to have a cohabitation agreement (or a pre-nup, if son or daughter are definitely going to get married) before the property is bought, which explains what will happen to the house and the money if the relationship does not work. [related_posts] A cohabitation agreement or pre-nup are absolutely essential if mum and dad are going to gift the money to their son or daughter because it is not being protected in any other way (e.g. a loan or co-ownership). If you ask most parents whether they need a written agreement over giving or lending money within the family they say that raising the topic would make them feel uncomfortable. My own view is that it is the parents’ money, it is perfectly reasonable for them to want that money to stay in the family, and it is therefore perfectly reasonable for the condition of that help to be a cohabitation agreement or a pre-nup. Cohabitation agreements and pre-nups are flexible and bespoke to the couple entering into the agreement. The agreement could say that the non-owning partner won’t have any claims at all on the property or it could say how the joint owners will share the equity in the house if they split up. For example, the agreement could say that mum and dad will be paid back their loan first, with interest, or that the partner whose parent’s provided the deposit will get a bigger percentage of the equity. The important point is that if the options on how to give or lend the deposit are explored and the options of how the couple will own a house are carefully considered and recorded there is far less chance of the family falling out with their son or daughter or their in-laws. Contact us If you would like to ask any questions about pre-nup or cohabitation agreements, please contact us. and take a look at our prices online.
Robin Charrot
Mar 30, 2017   ·   5 minute read