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Divorce & Separation

No fault divorce - on demand

Philip Hoddell
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The Government’s no fault divorce legislation (“The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation bill” as it now is) is likely to be signed into law very soon, having now concluded its passage through the House of Commons. But what is the actual...

Can I get divorced during lockdown?

Melanie Loxley
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The end of a relationship is generally a very difficult and upsetting time.  For those who are in a failing relationship during lockdown, it must be even harder. If you find yourself in this situation then here are the answers to some questions you may...

Can I divorce during the coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown?

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A common question being asked of family lawyers during the current crisis is whether it is still possible to obtain a divorce whilst the UK remains on lockdown. The simple answer to this question is yes. However, depending on what stage the divorce...

Divorce, pension sharing and the Jersey courts

Philip Hoddell
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A recent High Court case shows how important it is to consider what the courts of different jurisdictions can do when a couple divorces.  The background details to this case is that after a long marriage, the husband left the family home in Berkshire...

Supporting families following parental separation

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On 2 April 2020, a message was issued on the importance of supporting children and families following parental separation from Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division. His message came as a result of a second report published on 12 March 2020...

The impact of Coronavirus on the family justice system

Melanie Loxley
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The impact of the Coronavirus on our everyday lives is huge. Now that much of the UK is working from home or being unable to work, schools closed and our everyday routines and luxuries taken from us. One would be forgiven for thinking that the family...

How do I change my name?

Claire Collins
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The most common method for changing your name is through the use of a deed. The following circumstances would require you to get a change of name deed completed: Changing your Christian name or adding a middle name Changing your name after a gender...

4 top tips for cohabiting couples

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The number of cohabiting couple families has risen significantly in the last decade and, yet, there remains a myth that common law marriage exists and that cohabiting couples automatically have legal rights and protection if their relationship ends or their...

Is coronavirus going to cause a spike in divorces?

Melanie Loxley
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We are hearing reports that coronavirus may be responsible for a spike in divorce rates in certain provinces in China. This could be a side effect of couples being quarantined and the stress associated with being isolated with a loved one for a prolonged...

Coronavirus: a quick how-to guide for co-parenting

Karen Johnson
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We have been looking at some frequently asked questions and one that appears a few times is co-parenting. It’s fair to say that co-parenting effectively, following the breakdown of a relationship can be difficult at the best of times. These are not the...

Domestic Abuse and COVID-19

Karen Johnson
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The current health crisis being dealt with across the globe is placing exceptional strain on people and businesses as Governments fight to contain the coronavirus and protect public health, whilst maintaining key services.  Advice to the vulnerable and...

COVID-19 and the impact on family law

Karen Johnson
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The world is currently facing a global pandemic of proportions and impact that we have never seen in the modern world outside of the movies. The personal and economic consequences are immense, and the coming weeks and months will no doubt bring further...

Divorce is easy (unless it isn't)

Philip Hoddell
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From an early age, all divorce lawyers have drummed into them the fact that you cannot act for both a husband and a wife in a divorce. We will know that under our code of conduct that is a non-negotiable point. It does not stop us often being asked though,...

Compensation on marriage breakdown and divorce

Karen Johnson
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In recent news, there has been talk of a case decided by Mr Justice Moor following a private hearing in London. He awarded a wife compensation of £400,000, in addition to 50% of their £10 million matrimonial pot, to reflect his finding that she...

Court overrules divorce settlement twice

Karen Johnson
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The case of Goddard-Watts v Goddard-Watts was in the news last week. The case is notable because of the highly unusual decision to set aside a financial remedy order, not just once but twice. The millionaire couple, James Goddard-Watts and Julia...

Court proceedings over child arrangements

Karen Johnson
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Figures were released earlier this month showing that Cafcass received a total of 3,284 new private law cases (involving 4,040 children) in December 2019. This was 7% higher than December 2018. This continues a trend of an increased number of private law...

Beware of the online divorce

Philip Hoddell
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Government statistics show that as many as 40% of divorces are now being dealt with online. But what is the background to this and where are the pitfalls of an online divorce?  Online divorce was introduced by the Ministry of Justice in 2018. A lot of...

"National Divorce Day" 2020 - So how was it for you?

Muntech Kaur
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The phrase "Divorce Day", traditionally the first Monday in January, is coined by the media rather than family lawyers. Many who practice family law, including family lawyers who are Members of Resolution , are likely to agree. So, it is...

Do you have rights to contact as a grandparent?

Yolande Millar
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The breakdown of relationships impacts not only on the immediate parties separating and their children but also extended family members. Grandparents are taking on a more involved role with their grandchildren due to working parents and the cost of child...

Will you marry me: the legal implications of marriage

Karen Johnson
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"Will you marry me?" is quite possibly one of the most anticipated questions that many people hope to hear in their lifetimes. It is a question that is loaded with love and hope for a future filled with happiness. It is easy, and completely...

Divorce Day - 6 January 2020

Karen Johnson
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The 6 January 2020 is Divorce Day; the first working Monday of the year, when family lawyers start to receive new enquiries from people who are faced with the prospect of separation and divorce. The reason for this is often put down to families having...

The danger of ignoring divorce papers

Philip Hoddell
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Increasingly, the family court is willing to step outside of strict rules of procedure where it appears fair for it to do so. The decision made in the recent case of Ali v Barbosa demonstrates this. The facts of the case were quite interesting, as the...

Common questions about the divorce process

Francesca Cozens
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What are the procedures to do before filing for a divorce? It is extremely rare for a divorce to be defended in England and Wales. This is because the Law Society has put in place protocols in an attempt for the process to be less antagonistic. Before we...

Common misconceptions about solicitors and how they work

David Feakins
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A lot of people may feel concerned about the prospect of having to speak to a solicitor. It may be that you want to discuss a family issue, a dispute you are having with a neighbour or wanting to prepare a will. Solicitors are here to provide the support...

Two recent cases of parental alienation

Claire Collins
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Parental alienation, as identified by Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), is when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other...

Celebrity divorce - be careful it's a jungle out there!

Philip Hoddell
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I previously blogged about non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and how Paul Hollywood’s girlfriend had allegedly ended their relationship when he asked her to sign one that would effectively have gagged her from talking about their private life. Now it...

Parental alienation - two cases, two very different outcomes

Philip Hoddell
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I previously commented on a case involving parental alienation , and the Judge’s decision in that case to transfer residence from the mother to the father as a result. Last week, two decisions have been published involving the topic, however, with...

Should the divorce courts overrule other courts?

Philip Hoddell
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In divorce, not everything might appear to fit neatly within the jurisdiction of the divorce courts. Couples often run businesses together or one may employ the other. There may be family trusts, or assets held with other family members outside of the...

6 top tips for separated parents over the festive season

Francesca Cozens
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Christmas can be a stressful time of year for many people. For separated parents, child arrangements at Christmas can bring additional anxiety. Family law solicitors across the country are being asked this question – ‘Where should our children...

FAQs on financial issues during divorce - part 2

Melanie Loxley
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In the second of a 2 part series, Mel Loxley, who is a Solicitor and Partner in the Divorce and Separation team of Birkett Long and based in our Colchester office, answers a number of frequently asked questions by those who are facing divorce. Part 1...

Is the Judge's ruling final in divorce?

Philip Hoddell
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In divorce proceedings, very few financial cases get as far as a trial. When they do, the presiding judge often has to conduct a delicate balancing act between competing claims. What the law regards as ‘fair’ between husband and wife would not...

FAQs on financial issues during divorce - Part 1

Melanie Loxley
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In the first of a 2 part series, Mel Loxley, who is a Solicitor and Partner in the Divorce and Separation Team of Birkett Long and based in our Colchester office, answers a number of frequently asked questions by those who are facing divorce. Part 1 focuses...

Celebrity divorces - rumour has it...

Philip Hoddell
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It has been reported this week that Adele was only married to her husband, Simon Konecki, for 11 months before they separated. Divorce proceedings are currently ongoing in Los Angeles and documents reveal that they married on 6 May 2018. Original reports...

What makes a good divorce lawyer?

Lisa Collins
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Our divorce lawyers in Chelmsford have been discussing what they think makes a good divorce lawyer. Do you agree with what they say below? Lisa Collins, Partner and Head of South Essex Divorce & Family team: “A good divorce lawyer will have...

What is domestic abuse or domestic violence?

Karen Johnson
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Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. It can occur between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender...

What happens to my earnings after divorce?

Philip Hoddell
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In an earlier blog, called ‘ For how long should spousal maintenance be paid? ’, I commented on the Court of Appeal case of Waggott v Waggott and the judge’s comments that, “any extension of the sharing principle to post separation...

Who is entitled to what on separation?

Melanie Loxley
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Test your knowledge Lynn and Paul have been in a relationship for 30 years. They lived together over that time in a property owned in Paul’s sole name, which he bought a year before they met. They have two children together, who are now aged 27 and 25...

What happens to my money if my child's relationship fails?

Philip Hoddell
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Getting on the housing ladder has never been more difficult for young couples. It is often the “bank of mum and dad” that steps in to help buy that first property.  But with more and more couples choosing to live together rather than getting...

What happens at the first meeting with a divorce lawyer?

Melanie Loxley
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If you are having problems in your relationship and have decided that you need to seek legal advice from a divorce lawyer, it is likely you have never been in that situation before and that you have some concerns about what that meeting will involve.  ...

Are Generation 'Z' more likely to demand a pre-nup?

Philip Hoddell
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Generation ‘Z’ refers to those born from 1996 onwards, the generation following millennials. A recent YouGov survey suggests that this generation is more likely to take a pragmatic approach to marriage and protect their assets by signing a ...

Don't lose your Decree Absolute

Philip Hoddell
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The Decree Absolute is the final court document which confirms that a marriage has legally ended. We will always send you the original of your Decree Absolute and will recommend that you keep it in a safe place, as it can prove difficult to obtain another...

Is arbitration in family law a good alternative to court?

Melanie Loxley
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Arbitration is an alternative way of resolving disputes outside of court proceedings. It is growing in popularity in family cases, largely, I would imagine, because of the expense, uncertainty and huge delays that we currently face in the family court...

Hiding assets before getting divorced

Philip Hoddell
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Divorce can be a very stressful time and a question I often get asked is, “How can I protect my assets when I am getting divorced?” There will often be a queue of well-meaning friends and relatives lining up to give people advice about what to do...

Divorce: what happens to adult children still at home?

Karen Johnson
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According to the latest information released by the Office of National Statistics, the number of young adults living with their parents is continuing to increase. It is estimated that in 2018, 1 in 4 young adults, aged between 20 and 34, were living with...

What not to do when getting a divorce!

Philip Hoddell
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When going through a divorce process, do not: 1.    Send the divorce petition to the court without consulting your spouse/their legal adviser Within the current system, you cannot get divorced without “pointing the finger” at...

Celebrity separation: Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Philip Hoddell
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Celebrity baker, Paul Hollywood, has certainly hit the headlines this week after his girlfriend, Summer Monteys-Fullam, allegedly dumped him after refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But who is in the right here and what is the legal status of...

Divorce law reform - equality or equity?

Philip Hoddell
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Many people are aware that the government intends to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce. This is with the stated aim of reducing the acrimony that can sometimes accompany marriage breakdown. However, what some people may not know is that Crossbench...

What are controlling behaviour and coercive control?

Philip Hoddell
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Legislation designed to protect victims in abusive relationships has already led to much comment in the press. We are also seeing more and more claims of it being made in divorce proceedings. But what exactly is controlling or coercive behaviour? The...

Collaborative law: a better way...

Melanie Loxley
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I have just completed my training to be a collaborative lawyer. I have to say it has shown me that there really IS a better way to deal with the breakdown of a relationship than the approach that family lawyers have traditionally taken. I have been a member...

Planning a trip abroad with children after separation?

Francesca Cozens
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If your surname is different from your child’s, here is what you need to know when travelling abroad with them. Planning a holiday after separation can bring with it some additional complications. If you are planning to travel abroad with a child and...

Divorce: why not put your cards on the table?

Philip Hoddell
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I have previously blogged about how honesty is the best policy in divorce proceedings , but when and what you can disclose is still a much-misunderstood subject. The High Court has recently issued some further guidance which might help. Divorce lawyers...

No fault divorce is one step closer...

Melanie Loxley
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The Bill to reform divorce law was introduced to the House of Commons yesterday, on 13 June 2019. The Bill, which proposes to overhaul our current divorce law and remove the requirement to rely on your spouse’s behaviour, adultery or a period of...

Domestic abuse victims' treatment in family courts

Philip Hoddell
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Over 120 MPs from various political parties have written to the Government requesting an inquiry into how the family courts in England and Wales treat victims of domestic abuse in court proceedings. This is a very important area which has been the subject of...

10 top tips on getting divorced amicably

Melanie Loxley
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Getting divorced is rarely seen to be a positive thing. Ending a relationship is an extremely stressful life event. As a family law solicitor for the past 18 years, I have advised many people going through a relationship breakdown. Here are 10 top tips on...

What is parental responsibility and who has it?

Philip Hoddell
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Parental responsibility is defined by the law as “the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property by law.” I have many clients ask me, what is parental...

How divorce can impact mental health

Lisa Collins
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As a family lawyer, I deal with clients who are often experiencing significant amounts of stress. They may be going through a divorce or separation, struggling to resolve a financial dispute and/or worrying about what may happen to their children. Divorce...

Prenuptial agreements - assessment of parties' needs

Philip Hoddell
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My previous blog ‘Will they stand up in court’ about prenuptial agreements , concluded that although they are an important feature in divorce proceedings, a court will be willing to rewrite the terms in order to meet genuine financial needs....

6 years of disputing child arrangements after separation

Melanie Loxley
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The case of G (Children: intractable dispute) [2019] EWCA Civ 548 was heard by the Court of Appeal on 21 March 2019. It involves 2 children, who at the date of the hearing were aged 8 and 11. Children Act proceedings were commenced by their mother. The...

Spousal maintenance - how much and for how long?

Philip Hoddell
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In a recent speech, Mr Justice Mostyn reiterated what he believed to be the most significant factors in determining the issue of spousal maintenance in the following 11 points:-  A spousal maintenance award is properly made where the evidence shows...

Parental alienation - a warning to all separating parents

Philip Hoddell
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I was interested to read a recent family court decision concerning parental alienation. Parental alienation concerns the influence one parent has over a child, making them feel a particular way about the other parent. The child may be encouraged to fear or...

Make sure you are divorced before you get remarried

Philip Hoddell
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Any divorce lawyer will tell you that, when you get divorced, you need to look after your decree absolute carefully. This is because you will need to produce it if you want to remarry. But what happens if the decree absolute was granted by the court by...

In divorce, when does a marriage "start"?

Melanie Loxley
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I was interested to read the recent case of IX v IY [2018] which considered the question ‘when does a marriage ‘start’?’ in the context of calculating the length of a marriage for the purposes of the divorce. When a marriage breaks...

Should I think about intervening in my child's divorce?

Lisa Collins
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It is becoming increasingly common for parents to assist their children financially, in particular, when it comes to purchasing a property. Understandably, parents want their child to be on the property ladder as soon as possible. With house prices...

Divorce: Do you pay the penalty because of the extra time?

Karen Johnson
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The former chairman of Swansea City Football Club is suing his ex-solicitors in relation to advice given during divorce proceedings. Huw Jenkins sought advice in 2011 from a firm in South Wales called John Collins and Partners LLP. At the time, Swansea City...

Who gets the dog? Are pet-nuptial agreements actually real?

Francesca Cozens
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‘Who gets the dog?’ is now a very common question for family solicitors to be asked when they first meet clients who are separating from their partners. People form very close bonds with family pets, and no one wants to say goodbye to a beloved...

Money and divorce: But money can't buy you love

Philip Hoddell
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The winners of Britain’s largest ever lottery prize are in the news this week as they have decided to divorce.  Colin and Christine Weir had normal jobs and had been married for 30 years when they won £161m on the Euro Millions in 2011. 8...

Business tycoon faces jail time after breaching court order

Karen Johnson
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I was interested to read a recent article in the press about the issues arising in a case involving Leila Hammoud and her ex-husband Talal Al Zawawi. The parties were married for 12 years and separated in 2017, following which Ms Hammoud moved to London. Mr...

Parental alienation - "My ex is turning our children against me."

Karen Johnson
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Since 2014, the law that the court must take into account when considering child arrangements establishes a presumption that it is in a child’s best interests for their parents to be involved in their lives and upbringing, so long as it is safe....

Covert recordings as evidence in the family court

Philip Hoddell
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Secret or ‘covert’ recordings are becoming a frequent feature within family court proceedings. Nowadays, given the advances in technology, sophisticated recording devices are widely available at modest prices and it is very easy to even use your...

Stop right now thank you very much

Karen Johnson
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Separation can be messy. It raises various issues such as children, finances, where you both will live etc. All of these issues need to be resolved as soon as possible, and yet, are hugely emotive matters which need to be addressed with sensitivity, and at a...

Highest divorce settlement in history

Karen Johnson
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As news broke in January of Amazon Founders Jeff Bezos’ separation from his wife Mackenzie, my previous blog titled “What happens to prime business assets on divorce” explored how the English Courts approach business assets when dealing...

Happily Ever After?

Yolande Millar
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Recent news reports that Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber (formerly Baldwin) are divorcing after 139 days of marriage. Whilst the expectation is that when we marry it is ‘happily ever after’, the reality is that this is not always the...

Martin v Martin 2018 - the business and assets in their divorce

Melanie Loxley
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The case of Martin v Martin 2018, which was reported at the beginning of this year, gave some helpful tips on how the court approaches cases involving wealth that is tied up in a business and also wealth that partially pre-dates the marriage. The Court of...

She fought the law and the law won

Philip Hoddell
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I have blogged before about how divorce courts are increasingly holding couples to the agreement that they reached, even if there is a subsequent ‘change of mind’. Now the High Court has confirmed that the rules are exactly the same for...

Be wary of online divorce legal services

Philip Hoddell
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Getting divorced is a very stressful time for everyone. Sorting out your legal position, making arrangements for the children and splitting finances, all have to be done at a time when you may be feeling unable to cope with very much.  So where to turn...

Recognising domestic abuse in a relationship

Karen Johnson
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In 2012, the government introduced a new definition for the term “Domestic Abuse”. This provided that the term would cover; “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse...

I got 99 problems...

Karen Johnson
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I got 99 problems and enforcing a child arrangements order is one of them! Consider a situation; you separated from your partner some time ago. Whilst there was initially some difficulty is resolving the arrangements for your two young children, there is...

The options for resolving family law issues

Karen Johnson
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When a relationship breaks down, numerous issues arise such as; where both of you and the children will live how you will manage the arrangements for the children how the assets should be divided how, and if, the separation should be formalised by...

What happens to "Prime" business assets on divorce?

Karen Johnson
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Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, last week announced on Twitter that he and his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie, were “parting as cherished friends” and “divorcing after a long period of loving exploration and trial...

Divorce Myth 12 - When I divorce, I'll keep my assets and inheritance from before I was married.

Karen Johnson
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When dealing with finances on divorce, the court has a wide discretion in terms of the orders that can be made. Primarily, the court is looking to divide the matrimonial assets. Matrimonial assets are those that have been built up during the course of the...

Why don't you trust me?

Karen Johnson
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A story of love, of loss and of lessons to be learned… Jack Smith is 27 years old. He is ruggedly handsome and someone most people would consider to be a genuinely nice guy. He works hard but also enjoys spending time with his friends and family....

My ex won't let me see our kids. What can I do?

Karen Johnson
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The breakdown of a relationship is hard on everybody involved. It can have a devastating impact upon the children of the relationship if the issues arising as a result of the breakdown are not dealt with appropriately. It could be said in most cases that...

Divorce Myth 11 - If you have not worked for a long time, your spouse will have to pay you maintenance for the rest of your life

Yolande Millar
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Spousal maintenance is a claim that can be made when dealing with finances on divorce. The level and duration are case specific depending on individual circumstances. How is spousal maintenance calculated? When calculating spousal maintenance, each case is...

Divorce myth 10 - If you're the highest earner, you keep most of it

Muntech Kaur
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Whilst this assertion may seem logical, the division of assets, capital and income between spouses and former spouses takes into account a number of factors. When determining how finances should be divided, the first consideration is given to any children...

Divorce Myth 9 - Once you are separated your spouse ceases to be your legal next of kin

Francesca Cozens
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It is not true that your spouse ceases to be your legal next of kin when you separate. While you remain married, your husband or wife is still regarded as your legal next of kin. What if I die and have not divorced? If you separate but do not take steps to...

Divorce myth 8: You can set out a legally binding agreement in a deed of separation

Melanie Loxley
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You can set out a legally binding agreement in a deed of separation if you do not want to get divorced. Is it true that a separation agreement will do, rather than a divorce? Sadly, it is false. Any financial agreement that you reach with your spouse...

Divorce myth 7: It is impossible to bring a financial claim once you have got divorced

Melanie Loxley
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Mel Loxley considers the myth that it is impossible to bring a financial claim once divorced. Is it impossible to bring a financial claim once you have got divorced? No, it is possible to bring a financial claim against your spouse even after the...

Breaking up is hard to do

Karen Johnson
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People contemplating divorce do not generally do so lightly. Separation involves huge emotional upheaval, whether you have reached that decision together or not. In all cases it throws up issues such as where you will all live, how the finances should be...

Divorce myth 6: If you do not see the children, you do not have to pay any maintenance

Karen Johnson
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Karen Johnson considers the myths around child maintenance, and when you have to pay it. My ex won’t let me see my children, so I don’t have to pay maintenance, right? Whilst, it can be extremely frustrating when there are difficulties in...

What's "fair" in love and war?

Karen Johnson
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At a time when the government has launched a consultation on proposals for a non-fault based divorce process, it is interesting to note that further proposals for the reform of divorce laws are currently in the process of being debated in the House of Lords....

Divorce myth 5: After a divorce children always live with their mother

Muntech Kaur
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Do children always live with their mother after a divorce? In short, no. Neither parent has more “right” over the other. Arrangements relating to the long term care of children from the marriage can be dealt with separately from the divorce...

Divorce myth 4: Everything is usually fine until you consult a lawyer!

Karen Johnson
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If you are thinking about separating or divorce, it is important that you receive the right information and advice to protect yourself and your family. The only person qualified to advise you about your legal situation is a divorce and separation lawyer who...

Divorce myth 3: In the divorce courts wives always get 60% of the assets

Lisa Collins
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It is not true that wives always get 60% of the assets in the divorce courts. When determining how the assets of a marriage should be divided, the court has regard to “all of the circumstances of the case”. There is no set formula. The court will...

Divorce myth 2: Couples who live together without marrying become common law spouses

Philip Hoddell
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How do I become a common law spouse? Put simply, you don’t! The suggestion that a couple’s relationship acquires some sort of legal status because they have lived together for 6 months/2 years/5 years etc is a complete myth. The concepts of...

Divorce myth 1: It is possible to obtain a quickie divorce

Philip Hoddell
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Every week brings news that another celebrity couple has obtained a quickie divorce, where years or even decades of marriage are ended in a matter of seconds.  Are quickie divorces only for celebrities? In fact there is no such thing as a quickie...

Not always the fairy tale ending

Karen Johnson
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I recently read an article in the news about a Princess representing herself in a hearing for a Financial Remedy Order at the High Court in London before Mr Justice McDonald. In 2006, Princess Tessy married Prince Louis, the third son of the Grand Duke...

What happens to our finances when we get divorced?

Philip Hoddell
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I have blogged elsewhere about the Ministry of Justice’s current divorce statistics .  Worryingly, it shows that in the last quarter measured, more than 32,000 divorce petitions were issued but only about a third of them led to financial...

Why does it take so long to get divorced?

Philip Hoddell
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Recently published statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that it is now taking longer to get divorced than at any time since records first began.     So, how long does it take to get divorced?   The average time from the...