Did you know that almost forty percent of people questioned admit to keeping money secrets from their partner? That information comes from a survey conducted by the Money & Pensions Service. In this blog we look at keeping money secrets during a separation or divorce.Manchester and Cheshire Divorce and Financial Settlement Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialises in divorce and financial settlements. For information on divorce and financial settlement options call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. We offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.What the Money & Pensions Service Survey Reveals About Us
The Money and Pensions Service survey questioned 5,200 people across the country about their financial habits and personal finances. The key findings are:
Those in the age range 25-34 are the most secretive age group, with three in five not revealing financial details to loved ones
Whilst nearly twenty five percent of those surveyed thought their husband, wife or partner was hiding financial things the reality is that nearly half said that they had hidden things themselves
It is most common to hide credit cards and credit card debt – nearly forty percent of those replying to the survey had done so
Undisclosed loans are the second most popular thing to hide from family with just over twenty per cent of those surveyed doing so
Around twenty percent of those responding to the survey had a secret savings account.
As the Money and Pensions Service acknowledged there are many reasons why someone might hide money or not reveal their financial situation whilst in a relationship, such as:
Wanting to build up a safety net of savings that their partner won't spend. That way there is a rainy day savings fund in case of redundancy or a large unforeseen bill, such as replacing the boiler
Feeling the need to save money so that there is an escape route from an abusive relationship where the partner secreting the money is afraid that without hidden money if it will be impossible to leave their controlling partner
Hiding credit card debt or loans because you know that your partner will worry about the debts
Feelings of embarrassment of having incurred debt, sometimes the debt was incurred before the new relationship and it now feels ‘too late’ to mention it.
The Money and Pensions Service encourages people to talk about their finances as, by doing so, it can make money worries more manageable, especially when you are concerned about other matters such as redundancy or the impact of Covid-19 on the prospects of your getting a 2020 bonus from your employer.
Financial secrets and separation and divorce
As Manchester divorce solicitors we have to ask about financial matters so we can give the best advice on financial settlement options. Sometimes people are reluctant to mention undisclosed credit card debts or loans as their husband or wife doesn’t know about them. However, it is important that you do so as those debts may affect your ability to take over the mortgage on the family home or to secure another mortgage to buy a new property.
In cases where there is debt then in financial settlement court proceedings the court rarely wants to undertake a forensic exercise into how the debt was incurred and whether, for example, you should have bought the shoes or motorbike but instead will ask:
Is the debt family debt – in other words whilst the debt was hidden from a husband or wife was the loan or credit card money used for the benefit of the family. For example, a credit card was used to clothe the family or to pay for family holidays or a family car
What impact does the debt have? The court will want to know if the debt will stop a husband or wife from being able to buy another house or stay in the family home or meet their other needs.
In addition to debt and divorce, when it comes to financial disclosure on separation or divorce there is an obligation to provide what is referred to as full and frank financial disclosure of all your assets. That includes secret bank accounts that your husband or wife doesn’t know anything about or money given to a family member to ‘hold’ for you or cash that you keep.
Failure to provide full and frank financial disclosure may mean you are less likely to reach a financial settlement by agreement as your husband or wife probably won't believe your financial disclosure or a court drawing inferences or making findings against you in a financial settlement court hearing. For example, if your family business generates cash but according to your accounts you receive an income that amounts to less than your essential outgoings (mortgage payments, utility bills or other known expenditure) then the court could make inferences or findings against you.
Therefore, whilst there may be many reasons why you would want to keep things secret during a relationship, when it comes to a separation or divorce there is a court imposed obligation to be both ‘full and frank’ in your financial disclosure.Manchester and Cheshire Divorce and Financial Settlement Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialises in family law and divorce and financial settlements. If you have questions and need advice on your divorce and financial settlement options call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. We offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.Latest From Our Family Law Blog:
The Sunday Times recently ran a piece on ‘emotional labour’ and here at Evolve Family Law that sparked a debate about what emotional labour is and to what extent it plays a part in UK divorce proceedings. If you aren’t sure what emotional labour is and how it could affect your divorce proceedings then read on.Online and Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors
Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in family law and divorce proceedings. If you need advice about any aspect of family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.
What is Emotional Labour?
Apparently the term ’emotional labour’ first began to be used back in 1983 to describe repressed feelings and emotions at work. Whilst we may not have head of the term we have all bitten back a sharp comment or retort to a work colleague at one point or other, knowing that a sarcastic reply won't help with the need to work together. Fast forward to 2020, and the term emotional labour is now being used in the home environment. I am sure all of you will have suppressed your first thoughts and replies when asked about whether you want the bins taken out, the dishwasher emptied or what time the meal will be ready for as your other half has plans for the evening (that don’t include you).
Emotional labour isn’t just about suppressing your first response to your partner when asked if you want the dishwasher emptied when there are no clean cups or plates in the cupboard and you have just come off a ten hour shift with your other half and the children looking expectantly for their evening meal. It is also about all the other things in a relationship that can quietly drive you crazy as you feel obliged to hide your true feelings for the sake of your partner’s feelings and/or the children’s feelings. Examples include:
Having to have the mother in law to Sunday dinner each week when she clearly can't stand you and never reciprocates with an invitation back
Always having to select the children’s birthday presents but not say anything when the children assume that the present was chosen jointly
Taking sole responsibility for taking the children to rugby practice when you can't stand sport or the biting wind, and would also much prefer a Sunday lie in (like your partner) having worked hard all week and not being the parent who’d encouraged the child to try for a place in the rugby team in the first place.
Do any of those examples ring true in your relationship? Manchester divorce solicitors say that it is often only when the decision to separate has been made that either a husband or wife will realise and acknowledge that they are doing the work of two people in the relationship.
Does Emotional Labour Lead to Divorce Proceedings?
Whilst you don’t currently hear husband or wife's saying that they are getting divorced because of ‘emotional labour’, it is undoubtedly the case that emotional labour is behind some marriage breakdowns and the commencement of divorce proceedings based on the unreasonable behaviour of either a husband or wife.
Can anything be done to stop emotional labour and the breakdown of a marriage? Divorce lawyers are positive that in the right scenario there is help available such as:
Family or couple therapy to discuss how you feel and the need for change
Individual therapy to help you accept your husband or wife's behaviour and the fact that they aren’t likely to change
Professional help to ease the load on one partner in the relationship, whether that is a housekeeper, cleaner or au-pair.
If you can't stop the emotional labour (and can't live with it) then it may prompt divorce proceedings. The divorce proceedings could be based on your partner’s unreasonable behaviour as, in 2020, it is clear that a relationship needs to be if not an equal division of work and home labour then at least a fair one so one partner doesn’t feel they are hard done by and has to suppress emotional labour as that isn’t healthy for the individual and will eventually lead to the start of divorce proceedings unless the problem can be acknowledged and change occurs.
At Evolve Family Law we are grateful to the Sunday Times for giving a name to ‘emotional labour’, something that we are all aware of and with an understanding of just how pernicious the problem can be when you are caught up in a long standing relationship where one partner’s feelings and emotions just don’t count.Online and Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors
Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in family law and divorce proceedings. If you need advice about any aspect of family law, from divorce to your financial settlement or childcare arrangements, call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.Latest From Our Marriage Blog:
In 2020 it is difficult to plan a wedding with all the uncertainties about Covid-19 and the impact of coronavirus on your ability to organise your wedding and with the threat of localised lockdowns and the requirement to practice social distancing. However, Manchester family solicitors say that it is still possible to sign a prenuptial agreement as part of your wedding planning. In this blog we look at whether a prenup is a good idea.Manchester Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors
Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in relationship agreements and prenups. If you need advice about a prenuptial agreement or any other aspect of family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.
Is a prenup agreement a good option?
Manchester prenup solicitors are often asked what the point of a prenuptial agreement is if it isn’t legally binding in the English divorce court. However, although a prenup agreement isn’t binding on the English family court, Manchester prenup agreement solicitors say that provided the prenuptial agreement is drawn up properly it could be given substantial weight. In real terms, if you are a high net worth Individual, a prenup could save you millions. If you aren’t a high net worth individual, a prenup agreement is still a good idea because:
The prenuptial agreement could ring fence or safeguard pre-marriage acquired assets, such as a family inheritance, a trust fund, a family business or farm or a pension that you contributed to many years before your planned marriage
The prenup could protect children from an earlier marriage or relationship by making sure that if you get divorced your second wife or husband doesn’t walk away with assets that you brought to the marriage or that you need to provide for your children from an earlier relationship
If you draw up a prenuptial agreement before the marriage and the terms are fair to both of you the agreement should reduce animosity and legal costs if you take the decision to separate at a later date.
When will a court follow what is in a prenuptial agreement?
If you are contemplating signing a prenuptial agreement then it is essential to know when a court will, or is likely, to follow what is in the prenuptial agreement when ordering a financial settlement as part of divorce proceedings.
There are three potential scenarios if you sign a prenup and either you or your spouse later start divorce proceedings:
The divorce court ignores what is in the prenuptial agreement – either because the court doesn’t think that the agreement was drawn up with safeguards in place or doesn’t meet one spouse’s needs
The divorce court places weight on the prenuptial agreement and although the agreement isn’t followed to the letter the divorce court makes a financial settlement award that is less generous than it would have made had the prenuptial agreement not been signed
The divorce court follows the agreement recorded in the prenup and makes a financial settlement and financial court order in accordance with the provisions in the prenup.
You are more likely to get the divorce court to follow options 2 or 3 if the court is satisfied that the prenup was freely entered into by each party to the agreement with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing at the time of the separation or divorce it wouldn't be fair to hold the parties to the terms of their prenup agreement.
How do you freely enter into a prenuptial agreement?
It is often assumed that there is no free will involved in signing a prenuptial agreement as either the intended husband or wife has all the power and the other party feels that they have little alternative but to sign the prenuptial agreement if they want to get married. However, prenup solicitors say that every prenuptial agreement should be freely entered into to avoid the divorce court ruling that one party didn’t understand the agreement and therefore shouldn’t be bound by its terms.
To give the prenuptial agreement the best chance of being upheld in any subsequent divorce and financial proceedings, the following requirements should be met:
The terms of the prenup must be fair and meet the needs of the parties and any children who are dependent on them. If the agreement isn’t fair it isn’t likely that the agreement will be fully upheld or even partially upheld. A good prenup solicitor can advise on the fairness principle that the divorce court uses to guide you on what provisions to put in the agreement
The prenup was entered into voluntarily with no undue influence or duress and of your own free will and signed and executed as a deed
There is financial disclosure of each other’s financial circumstances. Whilst you may be wary to detail the full extent of your net wealth or your partner may be embarrassed about their debts or income, financial disclosure is essential as unless you know what the other has you can't make informed choices about what should go in the prenup and what would be fair provision if you were to separate
The prenup should be signed in advance of the wedding. The recommendation by the Law Commission report is that prenuptial agreements should be entered into at least 28 days before the marriage or civil partnership
Independent legal advice on the prenup is taken. That is to ensure that you both understand the legal consequences of signing the prenup and what you might be gaining or losing by entering into the prenuptial agreement.
Should I sign a prenup?
You should only sign a prenup if you are willing to be bound by the terms of the agreement. You should not enter a prenuptial agreement thinking that you can argue, in any subsequent divorce proceedings, that the terms of the agreement are unfair to you. That argument may not succeed if the agreement was drawn up properly with the safeguards in place.
Likewise, if you have substantial pre-marriage acquired wealth or you want to ring fence specified assets or you don’t want financial arguments at the time of any divorce proceedings a prenup can be a sensible option for both you and your intended husband or wife.Manchester Prenup Solicitors
Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in preparing relationship agreements and advising on prenuptial agreements. If you need advice about a prenuptial agreement or any type of relationship agreement or other aspect of family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.Latest From Our Nuptial Agreements Blog:
Emotional abuse is one of those tricky topics. Many people don’t like to admit that they are being emotionally abused because it makes them seem weak or thin skinned. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the confinement of lockdown at home has made many people realise that it is time to confront emotional abuse in their relationship. In this blog we look at emotional abuse and your options on what to do about emotional abuse in your marriage.Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
The family law team at Cheshire and Manchester based Evolve Family Law can talk you through your options if need advice about emotional abuse or want to separate or divorce. For a confidential discussion call us on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Is it emotional abuse?
As we gradually start to emerge from lockdown people are asking questions about their relationships, often because they have spent far more time with their partner in a relatively confined space than at any other time. Sometimes that experience has brought out the best in a relationship and at other times people have experienced far more physical or emotional abuse than they would normally have if their partner had been working or able to see friends and family. Sometimes, the stresses of working on the ‘’front line’’ in a key worker role has meant that a partner has brought their fears home with them and their behaviour has had a very negative impact on their partner and children.
Family law solicitors say that unless it is an emergency situation you should take time to think before you make any major decisions about your relationship. It is important to reflect on your partner’s behaviour and consider if it is emotional abuse. Whilst it is best not to make a rapid decision to separate it is equally sensible to look at whether what you are experiencing is emotional abuse and to ask yourself if there is any prospect of your partner or spouse recognising their behaviour as abusive and doing something to change their behaviour.
Sadly, for many husbands, wives, and partners, emotional abuse can become part of their daily life so they become inured to it. Often, it when their partner’s behaviour has turned on the children during lockdown, with the children being at home and underfoot all day, that the behaviour is seen for what it is; emotional abuse.
What is emotional abuse? It is difficult to define emotional abuse because unlike physical violence there is no obvious slap mark, bruise or fracture. The effects of emotional abuse are often not obvious but they are equally damaging as physical abuse.
Emotional abuse is all about control through the manipulation of your emotions. It isn’t a one off experience but is normally a slow and invidious process until it gets to the stage that you haven’t got the strength to leave the relationship. Sometimes it takes something as dramatic as the Covid-19 lockdown or seeing your partner start to emotionally abuse your child that is the ‘’wake-up call’’ to get help.
Emotional abuse isn’t about having rows, shouting at one another, or saying words you regret. We all do that in relationships, especially if we are under pressure because we are confined at home or are worried about work and financial matters. Emotional abuse is best described by example as it can be subtle. Examples of emotional abuse and controlling behaviour include:
Constantly belittling you from telling you that you are a fool, ‘’incapable of doing that’ ’and judging your efforts
Giving directions on what you should wear, how much you should eat, when you should speak, who you should see and if you can go out
If you challenge the behaviour, telling you that you are insane and that no one will believe you if you speak out
Refusing to speak to you or leaving the family home for days if you ask them to change their behaviour
Taking over control of almost every aspect of your life from money management and access to funds to making all the important decisions about the children and to making the decisions for you from who you vote for to your choice of hairstyle
Restricting you so you are not able to speak on the phone to friends and family as phone and internet activity is monitored and not able to meet with family because your movements are tracked or you fear that you will betray yourself and let something slip about having spoken to a friend.
Sometimes those in emotionally abusive relationships also experience physical violence. Many say that the physical violence is easier to cope with than the constant emotional abuse or living with a partner who is silent and won't speak for days because you have committed some minor misdemeanour.
Emotional abusers can temper their abuse with gifts and kind words thus giving you hope that they have changed or that they can't help their behaviour because they love you so much. This type of abuse is so subtle and powerful that people from all walks of life can find themselves caught up in an abusive relationship and not know how to get out.
What help can you get if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship?
Many people think that they can't ask for help because what they are experiencing isn’t ‘’domestic violence’’ or that ‘’no-one will believe me’’ or that ‘’I can't afford to leave’’. None of those statements are true.
An experienced and understanding family law solicitor will talk you through your options. Importantly they won't try to control your decisions or tell you what you must do. However they can guide you and support you, whether you decide to stay with your partner or decide that a separation or divorce is the best option for you and your family.
Many divorce and family law solicitors work with professional counsellors and therapists who can offer:
Joint sessions for you and your partner to see if the problems within your relationship can be addressed or
Individual help to an emotional abuser to get them to accept their behaviour for what it is or
Individual help for you to help you recover your self-esteem and confidence after years in an emotionally abusive relationship.
A family solicitor can help you with:
Advice on a temporary separation including whether you should stay in the family home and financial matters such as spousal maintenance and child support and short term parenting arrangements and contact (child arrangements order)
A long term separation or divorce with help with a separation agreement, divorce proceedings, child custody and contact and a financial settlement
Court orders to protect you such as an occupation order so you can stay in the family home or a non-molestation order.
Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
Whether you need legal advice about any emotionally abusive relationship, a separation, divorce, maintenance, an injunction, financial settlement or children order the specialist but friendly and supportive team of family lawyers at Evolve Family Law can help you. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. We will set up a video conference, Skype or telephone appointment for you or arrange a meeting at our offices in Holmes Chapel Cheshire or Whitefield Manchester.Latest From Our Marriage Blog:
A divorce court ruling on a Sharia law marriage has called into question the validity of Sharia law marriages conducted in the UK. You may question why that is important to you as, after all, if you celebrated an Islamic marriage ceremony, witnessed by all your friends and family that is what counts as you are married in the eyes of God.
Whilst Manchester divorce solicitors would not disagree with the significance of the marriage ceremony to you, in the English family court you may not be legally married. Your status as a husband or wife or as a cohabitee could make the difference between whether you get half the family wealth or nothing if you separate. Manchester divorce solicitors
If you are contemplating separating from your husband or wife but are worried about the legal status of your relationship or need advice about the financial consequences of your Islamic marriage then the Manchester divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law in Whitefield can help you. Call us on 0345 222 8 222, complete our online enquiry form or email email@example.comThe case of Mr Khan and Mrs Akhtar
The legal status of Islamic marriage in the UK is in the news headlines again because of the long running case of Mr Khan and Mrs Akhtar. In the high court Mrs Akhtar sought a divorce from her husband, Mr Khan. He opposed the divorce petition on the basis that they weren’t legally married. Although you would have thought it obvious that they were married because the couple had participated in a Nikah ceremony in a London restaurant conducted by an Imam with about 150 guests, Mr Khan said the marriage wasn’t legal as whilst it might be a legal marriage under Sharia law it did not meet the requirements of English marriage law.
The first judge ruled that the marriage was a marriage but classed it as a void marriage. This decision allowed Mrs Akhtar to start financial proceedings as the wife of Mr Khan, something that she could not have done if the high court had ruled that the couple were not legally married. Although the court ruled that the marriage was still a marriage (even though it was void) back in 2018 it has taken until February 2020 for the court of appeal to hear the case and conclude that the couple were not legally married under English law.
Interestingly the appeal wasn’t brought by Mr Khan but by the Attorney General who is joined as a party to court proceedings where the validity of a marriage is called into question. The court of appeal ruling is making Manchester divorce solicitors ask where the decision leaves Mr Khan, Mrs Akhtar and their four children and, just as importantly all those other husband and wife's who have celebrated a Nikah marriage ceremony recognised in Sharia and Islamic law but not under UK marriage law.
Is an Islamic marriage valid in the UK?
The court of appeal held that the marriage of Mr Khan and Mrs Akhter was invalid (rather than void) and therefore the Islamic marriage isn’t a legally recognised marriage, notwithstanding the 150 guests who attended to witness the marriage ceremony.
The court of appeal ruled that the Sharia law wedding wasn’t a valid marriage because the ceremony took place at a venue that isn’t registered as a wedding venue and therefore no registrar was therefore present to conduct the ceremony. Back in 2018, the high court took a different approach and ruled there was a valid marriage recognised in both Sharia law and under English case law because although the couple hadn’t complied with English marriage law requirements they both held themselves out as a married couple. The court of appeal said that this wasn’t enough as they both knew that they needed to participate in a registered civil marriage ceremony to comply with English marriage law.
Does it matter if your Islamic marriage isn’t recognised in the UK?
You may question whether it matters if your Islamic marriage isn’t recognised in the UK family law as a valid marriage because, from your perspective, it is your marriage under Sharia law that is the important ceremony to you and your family. However, if you separate and you try to start divorce proceedings you may find yourself in the same position as Mrs Akhtar; told that there is no need for English divorce proceedings because you are not legally married under English law. That means, that for the purposes of your financial settlement, in English family law you will be treated as a cohabitee or unmarried partner.
If your marriage is legally recognised then within divorce and financial proceedings a husband or wife can bring financial claims for a share of:
The family home
Any other property you own – this property includes houses or commercial property owned in your joint names or in your sole name
Your business – your spouse does not need to hold shares in your company or to have worked in the business to be able to make a financial claim against business assets
Your pension – your spouse can claim a share in your pension even if your pension was set up prior to your marriage
Your savings and investments – your husband or wife can claim a share of your savings and investments even if they are owned in your sole name
Your income – a claim can be made for the payment of ongoing spousal maintenance.
By contrast, if you are an unmarried partner or cohabitee you won't be able to claim:
A share of your partner’s pension
Any other assets unless you can prove that you are an owner of that property or that you were promised a share in the property.
If you have children with your partner you can try to claim housing provision and child support for your children but Manchester divorce solicitors say it is a lot harder to bring a financial claim if you are a cohabitee rather than a husband or wife whose legal status in recognised in English law.
What should I do if I have an Islamic marriage?
If you have an Islamic marriage and you are concerned that your marriage won’t be legally recognised in English law it is best to take legal advice from a Manchester divorce solicitor. A discussion about your legal relationship status does not commit you to making any decisions and is completely confidential.
Islamic marriages and prenuptial agreements
If your husband or wife does not want to participate in a legally recognised marriage ceremony because they appreciate the extent of the financial claims that can be made by a husband or wife on separation (in contrast to an unmarried partner) then one option may be to look at signing a prenuptial agreement to record a fair financial settlement should you separate at a later date. It is vital that you take expert legal advice before committing to sign a prenuptial agreement. Manchester Divorce solicitors
If you are concerned about the status of your Islamic marriage then whether or not you are contemplating a separation or starting civil divorce proceedings you should take legal advice on your situation and options. The specialist divorce law team at Manchester divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law in Whitefield can help you. Call the Whitefield divorce solicitors on 0345 222 8 222, complete our online enquiry form or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Whitefield based Evolve Family Law solicitors are approachable and friendly, providing pragmatic expert divorce, children and financial settlement law advice. Call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 and let us help you.Latest From Our Marriage & Divorce Blogs:
A Manchester businessman has lost his appeal to change a financial court order made in divorce court proceedings. The court had ordered him to pay spousal maintenance at the rate of £1,850 a month until he gave his wife a Get.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that Alan Moher must make ongoing periodic payments or spousal maintenance to his wife, totalling £22,000 a year, until he provides the Get.
The Manchester family and financial proceedings court made the original spousal maintenance order. Mr Moher’s appeal used the argument that it was wrong to order him to pay spousal maintenance until he gave a Get as that introduced a strong element of compulsion into something that should be made on a voluntary basis under Jewish law.
The Court of Appeal disagreed with this legal argument and dismissed the appeal over payment of spousal maintenance as well as Mr Moher’s appeal over the amount of capital awarded to Mrs Moher.
The Court of Appeal made it very clear that, in the court’s view, a family judge does have the power and the jurisdiction to order periodical payments to continue until the husband has sorted out securing a Get.
Robin Charrot, divorce and financial settlement solicitor at Evolve Family Law’s offices in Whitefield, Manchester says:
‘’Obtaining a Get can sometimes be hard notwithstanding the 2002 Divorce Act which states that a husband can be prevented from obtaining a civil divorce until he has done what is required to provide a religious divorce or Get. This Court of Appeal case is likely to generate a lot of interest in Whitefield and North Manchester but every family situation is different. A divorce court is only likely to order payment of spousal maintenance to a wife if the court considers that it can financially justify the periodical payments order. However the Court of Appeal decision may make husbands think twice when deciding if and when to apply for the Get.’’
For information and advice about Jewish divorces or financial settlements call Robin Charrot on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email Robin at email@example.com.
Appointments are available in Whitefield, Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire
A heterosexual couple, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld appealed to the Supreme Court to decide whether none same sex couples should be allowed to enter into civil partnerships.
Why? Most straight couples wouldn’t think about a civil partnership ceremony when they have the opportunity to get married. For homosexual couples the rate of civil partnerships is falling as same sex couples now have the option of marriage as an alternative to registering a civil partnership.
So why is the option of civil partnership so important to Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan? The press report that the couple have an ‘’ideological objection to the concept of marriage‘’. I can understand that. In my job, as a family solicitor I meet many couples who are wary of marriage and ‘’tying the knot’’, either as a result of a parent’s bitter divorce battle or because it is their second or third marriage, with all the complexities of step children and grandchildren or joining finances together. Most couples just accept that if they are in a heterosexual relationship the only available legal stamp to a relationship is that of marriage. Is that fair when a homosexual couple have the choice of civil partnership or marriage?
The Supreme Court has answered the question, with all five judges saying that the current civil partnership legislation isn’t compatible with human rights legislation. Put bluntly, you can't treat couples differently based on their sexual orientation. It was that philosophy that eventually led to a change in the law to allow same sex couples to marry.
Prior to the Supreme Court decision being published the government had announced a long consultation process on the future of civil partnerships. The suggestion was that, after consultation, civil partnerships could be scrapped altogether, having fulfilled their purpose as the first legal stepping stone in the recognition of same sex relationships.
Why not extend civil partnerships so that they are available to all couples? Since 2014 heterosexual couples who don’t want to get married have said that they are discriminated against because, unlike homosexual couples, they don’t have the choice of entering into a civil partnership to legally recognise their relationship. What is so important about the legal recognition of a relationship? There are many, not just the perceived benefits for children of having a stamp of authority on their parent’s relationship but financial benefits, such as inheritance tax breaks.
The government has said that it will take a four year consultation process to be able to make an informed decision on whether to scrap civil partnerships for all couples or to extend them to heterosexual couples. The Supreme Court has said that is too long for the inequality to continue. Why not just extend civil partnerships to all adults, especially as the number of ceremonies has fallen to just under 900 a year? Well, there will then be calls that the availability of civil partnerships for all hits at the sanctity of marriage and furthermore will reduce marriage rates. The option of extending or scrapping civil partnerships is fraught with political difficulties but the Supreme Court is clear that consulting over the choices shouldn’t take as long as envisaged by government and politicians.
As a family solicitor, I am in the fortunate position of advising on family law options and then allowing individuals the time and space to decide on whether cohabitation, civil partnership or marriage is the right legal option for them and their family. Whatever the status of a relationship from a lawyer’s perspective the important thing is that the family is protected, that can be in the form of a cohabitation agreement, civil partnership agreement or a prenup agreement or will.
For advice on any aspect of family law please call +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A week in family law: civil partnership scrap, surrogacy battle and Court confirms jail time for breaching a family Court order
It has been a busy week in family law with cases and proposed reforms of family law hitting the headlines:
Civil partnerships could be scrapped in new family law proposals
As a heterosexual couple head to the Supreme Court to argue that they should be legally able to enter into a civil partnership it’s been revealed that there’ll be a consultation process on the future of civil partnerships which has an impact on family law.
My first thought, when reading the article, was how things have changed in a relatively short period of time. Normally changes in the law seem to take more than a lifetime to get through parliament.
Civil partnerships for gay couples were introduced in 2005 and, at a very fast pace for family law reform, same sex marriages were legalised in 2014. Since 2014 heterosexual couples who don’t want to get married have rightly said that they are discriminated against because, unlike gay couples, they don’t have the choice of entering into a civil partnership to legally recognise their relationship and with the consequent financial benefits , such as inheritance tax breaks.
The government is reviewing civil partnerships as there has been a fall in demand from gay couples, now they have the option of getting married. There will however always be some couples, whether gay or heterosexual, who prefer to recognise their relationship without the label of ‘’ marriage’’. As the conservative party is keen to uphold the sanctity of marriage and to stop the marriage rate falling you can foresee that ,in time, civil partnerships may be scrapped for all rather than extended and made available for all couples.
The papers are reporting on a case of a birth mother who entered into a surrogacy agreement with 2 men. One of the men died during the pregnancy leaving the child’s biological father believing that he would bring the child up on his own. The surrogate mother has other ideas and now believes that the baby should be brought up by her as the father can't offer a 2 parent home and she has formed a bond with the baby.
Under current surrogacy laws the surrogate mother has legal rights in relation to the child until a parental order is made. Changes to surrogacy law have been proposed to bring the law up-to-date and fit for today’s purposes. It is rare for a surrogate mother to refuse to hand over a baby and ultimately it will be for the family Court to decide what is in this baby’s best interests.
The Court of Appeal has decided that a Court was right to imprison an 83 year old man, Mr Hart, for not cooperating with his ex-wife and sorting out money. Mr Hart had been placed on bail pending his appeal but he will now face his 14 month jail term. Harsh for an octogenarian? Maybe but the Court of Appeal was keen to show that the Court does have teeth and has the power to enforce its Court orders.
For advice on any aspect of family law please call +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email me at email@example.com
Spousal maintenance: wife loses Court of Appeal battle for more maintenance as Court ends her spousal maintenance for ‘’life’’
Spousal maintenance is always a thorny topic, in many cases the person making the payments thinks that they are paying too much and for too long and the person receiving the spousal maintenance thinks that they are getting too little, taking into account child care responsibilities, lifestyle during the marriage or lack of qualifications or career experience over a long marriage.
A husband and wife locked in a Court battle over maintenance payments after their separation in 2012 have hit the news after a Court of Appeal ruling. The couple, William Waggott and his former wife, Kim Waggott split up in 2012, after a 21 year marriage. Mr Waggott was ordered to pay his wife a lump sum of nearly 10 million and spousal maintenance for life at the rate of £175,000 a year. The one thing that the husband and wife were agreed on was that the original Court ruling was unfair; the husband thinking that spousal maintenance for life gave Mrs Waggott no financial incentive to get a job and the wife thinking the amount was too low and needed to be adjusted by the date of the Court of Appeal hearing to take into account cost of living increases and Mr Waggott’s income.
The battle lines were drawn with Mr Waggott applying to Court to stop the spousal maintenance for life and Mrs Waggott asking the Court for more maintenance. The Court of Appeal has ruled that Mrs Waggott’s spousal maintenance payments shouldn’t continue for life but instead end in three years’ time. The Court has also said that the amount of maintenance won't increase. As well as losing her spousal maintenance in three years Mrs Waggott also faces substantial legal costs.
Reasoning behind the Court decision
Mrs Waggott argued that her former husband's earnings capacity had been created during their 21 year marriage and that it was only right that she should continue to share the fruit of the marriage as her ex-husband's ongoing income was still a ‘’matrimonial asset’’.
It was also argued, on Mrs Waggott’s behalf, that she should not have to invest some of the near 10 million she had received in 2012 to generate an income for herself, instead of getting ongoing spousal maintenance. It was said that would mean she was using her share of the capital of the marriage to live off when the 10 million was her entitlement to the family assets generated during the marriage.
Mr Justice Moylan ruled that the former husband's future earnings capacity is not a ‘’matrimonial asset’’ and accordingly it doesn’t have to be shared with Mrs Waggott and that the wife could invest some off her lump sum and live off the interest or get employment.
The Court is always keen to achieve what is known as a ‘’financial clean break’’ to sever the money ties between a husband and wife as soon as possible after a divorce. That will be achieved in the Waggott’s case in three years’ time when the maintenance payments stop.
What does the ruling mean?
In the press the Waggott Court of Appeal decision has been hailed as a victory for bread winners and the end of ‘’the meal ticket for life’’ of spousal maintenance.
Does the decision mean that? The leading judge was careful to say that he acknowledged that long term maintenance can be required as part of a fair outcome in a divorce . There is therefore a danger in saying that the Waggott decision means there will be an end to spousal maintenance for life.
In Mrs Waggott’s case she had received nearly 10 million and both she and her former husband had bought new houses for about 2 million each. That meant Mrs Waggott still had capital and, as importantly, had previously enjoyed a good career and so she could, in the judge’s opinion, adjust to the termination of her spousal maintenance payments without undue hardship.
That won't be the case for many families where the economically weaker spouse has used all of their capital sum to pay for a new house, perhaps with a mortgage, and therefore doesn’t have the option of living off interest or the prospect of getting a well-paid job that will pay enough to cover the mortgage and bills.
The frustrating thing about family Court decisions is that whilst they lay down principles of law the principles can't be applied rigidly to every family situation. Each Court decision is based on the individual’s personal and financial circumstances. That is why it is so important to get objective legal advice on what a ruling might mean for you and your family. Why? Because there is normally a range of Court orders that a Court could reasonably make in a given family situation rather than one ‘‘right answer’’. That’s why Court litigation is such a lottery as there is always a risk that you could be a loser in a Court battle.
In light of this decision many breadwinners will want to review whether they should apply back to Court to stop their spousal maintenance payments for life and others will want advice on how to negotiate a clean break figure following the Court ruling. Equally those receiving spousal maintenance will need legal advice as Mrs Waggott’s case is a clear reminder, to both husband and wives, of the risks and costs of Court litigation.
For advice on any aspect of divorce and family finances or to discuss an existing spousal maintenance order please call me on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org