We are separating amicably – do I need a solicitor?

It is always preferable to resolve the child arrangements and the division of assets amicably.

It is often a more cost-effective way to divorce, as well as minimising the stress and disruption that an acrimonious separation can cause. We are always supportive of clients who want to achieve an amicable settlement.

However, do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re on good terms with your former spouse, you don’t need a solicitor and legal advice is a waste of money. It could be a very expensive mistake to make.

What do I need to consider in an amicable separation?

There are many common issues and pitfalls which people encounter when preparing to separate. To avoid them, you need to consider:

  • Are you getting a fair share of the assets?
  • Do you know what assets there are?
  • What pensions do you have, do you understand all the benefits of the schemes and do you understand the implications and rules of them?
  • What income in the short, medium and long term are you going to have and does this meet your expenditure?
  • Do you know the full extent of your spouse’s income?
  • Have you got any liabilities?
  • Who will be responsible for the mortgage?
  • Should the house be sold and how will the proceeds be divided?

The last thing you want is to realise later a few years down the line that you overlooked something significant and are losing out as a result.

Is an amicable separation possible?

In our experience, it certainly is possible to separate amicably and for both parties to achieve a settlement which they are happy with – but legal advice is still an important part of the process.

We would never stand in the way of a genuinely amicable settlement when both individuals have a clear picture of their respective income and assets, and both understand the terms they are agreeing and the implications of that agreement.

However, sometimes one spouse is appearing to be amicable because they want the other to agree to something which is not fair. Alarm bells should ring if you are being urged not to bother getting legal advice.

We strongly recommend getting legal advice before agreeing any terms of settlement. We also strongly recommend that any settlement terms, once agreed, are incorporated into a formal legal agreement or a court order so that they are binding and it is not possible for them to be reneged upon later. Without this, your agreement is unlikely to be worth the paper it is written on.

At Harrogate Family Law, we are highly regarded for protecting wealth and making agreements as water-tight as possible. We also make sure that you are treated fairly and achieve a settlement which meets your needs.

We deal with complex cases on a regular basis and are able to identify all of the possible issues and pitfalls specific to your circumstances, whether that is relating to a family business, school fees, pensions or other factors.

We are also skilled negotiators, with about 95% of our cases reaching an agreement outside of court. Investing in our expertise at an early stage could therefore save you money and time in the long run.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region). He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

I am getting divorced – how do I protect my inheritance?

Most people wish to protect their inheritance if there is a divorce.

How are inheritances treated

Inheritances are treated differently to assets built up during the marriage.  It isn’t usually considered to be a marital asset to be shared.  However, whether it has to be shared depends on many different factors which include the length of the marriage, other contributions to the marriage and the other financial resources available following the divorce.

If the inheritance hasn’t yet been received it may not be taken into account at all or it may be possible to agree that this money should be excluded from the assets to be divided.

How we can help

At Harrogate Family Law we are specialists at protecting wealth and making agreements as water-tight as possible.  We will make sure that you achieve a settlement which meets your needs and is fair to you. We deal with complex arguments about inherited assets on a regular basis and are able to identify and combat all of the possible issues and pitfalls.  As skilled negotiators, the vast majority of our cases settle outside of Court so investing in our expertise could save you money in the long run.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region). He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

My Ex Wants Custody of the Kids – What can I do?

When you’re going through divorce it is quite natural to be worried about how your relationship with your children might change and how much time you will be able to spend together in future. You might also be afraid of losing contact with your children altogether.

Shared parenting arrangements, where children live part-time with both parents, are becoming increasingly common and even where this isn’t practical, there is a strong emphasis in current family law on putting the interests of the child first. In most cases this means ensuring the child can maintain a strong and meaningful relationship with both parents.

This is one reason why the term “custody” is no longer used in family law. People still talk about custody and access, whereas the courts refer to decisions about where your children will live as “child arrangements”.  At Harrogate Family Law, we help parents sort out how to make choices that are in the best interests of the child. This can also include making sure your children continue to see members of the extended family, such as aunts and grandparents.

What does shared care mean?

Shared care does not have to mean strict 50/50 care.  The arrangements can be whatever works best for the children and around the parents’ employment commitments. We can help you negotiate an outcome that everyone is happy with and this will involve looking at things like school holiday plans as well as everyday arrangements. Practical considerations will have a bearing on the decision making. If one parent works longer hours or lives some distance away, for instance, it may be that they are only available to care for the children at weekends or outside term-time.

Even in the most amicable cases, co-parenting negotiations can be emotive. We have a huge amount of experience in helping parents agree child arrangements and if one party is being unreasonable about when and how much time they feel the children should or should not spend with the other, we can help you resolve these issues.

There is a danger that the children themselves can become embroiled in the debate and it is not uncommon for conflict to result in arrangements being made that are far from satisfactory for the family as a whole. It is always better to take advice from us sooner rather than later to avoid this kind of scenario and prevent relationships being significantly damaged.

Will we have to go to court?

At Harrogate Family Law we are highly skilled negotiators and as a result about 95% of our cases settle outside of court. We are accustomed to assisting in cases where a parent is being difficult and we work closely with families to help parents and grandparents agree the arrangements which work for them and the children.  We approach each case in a way which achieves the required outcome but prioritises and protects the welfare of the children.  We have access to a range of options for reaching workable arrangements and close relationships with family counsellors to ensure families get the right support where needed.

If the court becomes involved in child arrangements, family judges understand the emotions involved in these cases and will want to try to build a full picture before making a judgement that they believe is in the best interests of the child.   It is therefore important that the case is presented in the best way possible to achieve the desired outcome.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region). He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

Thinking of remarrying after divorce? We explain what you need to know first

Planning a marriage is exciting but you need to give some thought to your financial arrangements, especially when it is the second time around.

The number of remarriages is on the rise so it’s important for second – or even third – timers to understand the financial implications for them and their family.

Resolving outstanding issues

One of the first questions to ask is whether there are any loose ends from your previous marriage that need tying up. Remarriage may prevent you from being able to resolve these further down the line.

Couples often agree their financial and childcare arrangements informally between themselves and it isn’t until one party wants to remarry that the other decides to challenge those agreements. We can help you formalise your arrangements prior to remarriage.

Another issue to consider is that you may be prevented from making a financial claim against your spouse after you have married again, whereas your spouse may still be able to claim against you. This can be particularly upsetting for your new partner, as it may involve them having to disclose their financial position. Even if you are living together, your former spouse may apply to the Court for information about your new partner’s financial status if they believe it may have altered your household income.

People sometimes embark on a new relationship whilst their divorce is still progressing and in these cases we explain in detail how their financial settlement may be affected and what options are available.

If the relationship begins after your divorce has been finalised, it is still important to speak to us and seek expert legal advice before remarrying.  We will look at all the potential pitfalls prior to your marriage and ensure that a previous divorce on either side won’t throw up any unexpected financial challenges.

Spousal maintenance

If you have a spousal maintenance order, this usually comes to an end on remarriage.  You will therefore need to consider whether you can manage without the maintenance payments.

If you are the one paying spousal maintenance, will you still be able to afford the payments when you are living with a new partner? We can help you re-evaluate your position and, if necessary, reduce your payments. We can also advise you on the best way to proceed if you are concerned that remarriage might mean you will be asked to pay more.

Protecting wealth

Remarriage can also prompt some difficult discussions about future finances, current assets, family interests and inheritance.

People are often torn between wanting to provide for a new partner and protecting their wealth for their children and grandchildren.   They may want to provide for a partner in the event of their death but retain their wealth if the relationship should end.

Legal advice

We recommend that you talk to us as soon as you plan to remarry to check that your financial position is as secure as possible.

At Harrogate Family Law we have a strong reputation for protecting wealth and making agreements as water-tight as possible.  We deal with complex cases on a regular basis and are able to identify all of the possible issues and pitfalls. By investing in expert advice from our family law specialists you know you are entering your new marriage in the strongest possible financial position. You can also be confident that we will help you deal sensitively with any potentially emotive issues that arise, leaving you and your partner to concentrate on planning your future together.

 

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

We are separating – do I have to move out?

Separating after arelationship breaks down is an emotional time in anyone’s life and the issue of whether to leave the family home throws up lots of questions.

You may not be sure if you should leave or if you should ask your partner to leave and what your rights are if you do take this action.

Before taking any steps, it is essential to get professional advice from an experienced family law solicitor about the arrangements for the home,  whether it is rented, owned or mortgaged in both your names or just one of your names.

Sorting out where you are going to live can be very stressful so it’s important to understand your legal position.

Joint home ownership

If you jointly own the property you live in or it’s rented in both names, then both of you are entitled to be in the home.  There are however reasons why a person’s right to occupy the home can end.

If the separation is particularly acrimonious, you may feel there is no choice but for you or your ex-partner to move out, but you will not lose your claim to the equity in the house. However, you do need to take advice before deciding to leave. If you are being threatened with exclusion from the family home it is possible to enforce your right of occupation.

If you have a joint mortgage this remains a joint responsibility but it may not be appropriate for one person to continuing contributing to the payments but there may be consequences of not doing so.

Over time, it will be necessary to sort out the financial arrangements as part of the divorce settlement. For couples who own their home, this may involve one spouse buying the other out or the property may be sold and the assets split.  It can sometimes be possible to postpone the sale of the property especially if it is required as a home for the children.

In cases of rented property with a joint tenancy it may be possible for one person to terminate the tenancy and therefore advice should be obtained as soon as possible. Tenancies can be transferred from joint to sole names in some circumstances.

House in one name

Even if one spouse is not named on the title deeds of the family home, they will have a right to live there and can register their matrimonial rights with the Land Registry Office.

This can help protect their interest in the home until the outcome of the divorce is concluded and a financial agreement is reached. Even if the house is only in one name, usually each party would receive a share of the equity depending on the circumstances.

Divorce settlements

The family home plays a big part in any divorce settlement. The best interests of the children and where they should live will be  the first consideration when it comes to reaching an agreement about what happens to the family home. Each case will be different and the financial needs, resources, obligations and responsibilities of each person are also important factors.

If you are considering leaving the family home, before making any decisions, it’s important to get specialist legal advice. At Harrogate Family Law we are experts in supporting people through separation and getting the best outcome possible which works for you and your children.

 

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

Parental alienation: The dangers of influencing children’s feelings toward their other parent

In some cases, particularly after a particularly bitter or acrimonious divorce, a child’s feeling towards one parent can be psychologically manipulated by the other.

Known as parental alienation, it’s a situation that can be extremely damaging and harmful for those involved. In response, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has begun rolling out a new scheme in a bid to tackle the problem.

CAFCASS represent children in family court cases making sure their voices are heard in family court settings and that decisions are made in their best interests.

What is parental alienation?

At the extreme end of the scale, parental alienation is when one parent deliberately tries to turn a child against their ex-partner with the aim of excluding that parent from the child’s life and cutting off contact.

It’s estimated to occur in 11-15% of divorces involving children and CAFCASS believes this number is rising.

There can be varying degrees of parental alienation from mild to severe. Examples from CAFCASS include: ‘a parent constantly badmouthing or belittling the other; limiting contact; forbidding discussion about them; and creating the impression that the other parent dislikes or does not love the child.’

Serious cases involve a parent trying to damage the child’s relationship with the other parent with the aim of putting an end to contact between them.

Tackling parental alienation

CAFCASS has confirmed that parental alienation occurs in a significant number of the 125,000 cases it deals with every year.

In Spring 2018, in response to the issue they introduced a new scheme called the ‘High Conflict Pathway’ for use in all cases of suspected parental alienation.

The framework will help professionals to assess cases when dealing with high levels of parental conflict and alienating behaviour.

It will also give parents the opportunity to change their behaviour with the help of an intensive 12-week ‘positive parenting programme.’

The scheme has been developed to provide a clear framework for the assessment of such behaviours on children and to help professionals see more closely what is happening on a case by case basis.

Any intervention offered will depend on each individual case and will include therapy to help parents address their behaviour and recognise the impact on the child.

In the most extreme cases, it’s been widely reported CAFCASS will recommend the child should be removed from the ‘alienating’ parent and they may be denied contact.

Parental alienation can be a very complex matter and the impact extremely to harmful to those involved. The new range of measures demonstrate a real commitment to tackle the problem and raise awareness of this issue.

Summary

It’s fair to say the family courts already have measures at their disposal to deal with severe cases of parental alienation, for example changing who the child should live with.

Nevertheless, the new framework demonstrates this issue is being taken extremely seriously, recognising there can be varying degrees of parental alienation which can have a negative emotional and psychological impact on a child.

Until now, parental alienation has been dealt with on a case by case basis. A more defined approach will help to reduce the detrimental effects on the numbers of children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in this position.

Cases of this kind can be very difficult and our solicitors at Harrogate Family Law are experienced in dealing with all the complexities, resolving disputes and supporting parents. It is vitally important to take the right approach from the outset in issues over the care of your children.  This can avoid protracted disputes but, if it doesn’t, you will be in the best position to successfully resolve the issues through the court process. If you have concerns or questions about any of the issues raised in this article please get in touch.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law

Is online divorce really cheaper than a solicitor?

Coverage in recent months about speeding up the divorce process by using fixed fee digital services raises lots of questions about the pros and cons.

The Ministry of Justice announced last year that couples can divorce online – as long as both parties agree – as part of a £1bn change to the justice system.

Whilst the draw of online services is they claim to cut the amount of time and reduce the costs of non-contested divorce, there can be potential pitfalls which are best avoided.

A do-it yourself divorce might look good on paper but it’s always better to instruct a solicitor for the reasons outlined below:

On-going advice & support

Some people may be happy to go it alone but divorce can be one of the most challenging times in someone’s life. It’s important to have support from an experienced professional who can guide you through the process from start to finish. On-going advice and face-to face meetings are key to ensure any complex matters can be thoroughly explored and resolved.  If issues aren’t identified at the outset, it’s possible they could be overlooked and this could have a detrimental effect on the overall outcome.

Paperwork

A DIY divorce looks cheap but those exploring this option should remember in many cases it only covers the paperwork. There are additional fees to be paid including the standard court issue fee of £550 which applies whether you instruct a solicitor or not. A divorce can be delayed if the paperwork is not in order or one party has not completed documents correctly. There can be significant delay because of mistakes in the paperwork and real prejudice if something is omitted. Here at Harrogate Family Law, we go to great lengths to ensure documents are drafted right first time and you can have peace of mind that it’s all dealt with correctly on your behalf.

Financial & childcare arrangements

A digital divorce will cover the fees for the paperwork, but they often don’t include the costs of sorting out the financial and childcare arrangements. In our experience, these are the most complex issues that arise in divorce proceedings. Most couples will need a financial order which documents how assets will be split and may also require a childcare arrangement order. It’s quite usual for a divorce not to be concluded until the financial agreements have been finalised into a formal document or court order signed by a judge because divorce can affect pension claims and inheritance rights.  It is important that the financial agreement is drawn up by a solicitor to ensure it includes everything necessary and provides the protection needed.  This is crucial if you are to avoid a further claim on your finances at a later date.

Experience & legal knowledge

With our considerable legal expertise, we will help you achieve a fair deal and the settlement you deserve. Getting the right advice at the beginning is important and we always aim to keep disputes out of court whenever possible. Negotiating a settlement that works for both parties and therefore reduces costs is better in the long-run for all involved.

Divorce is never easy and, even if uncontested, there can be hidden risks that can arise at any time. A good example is pensions and finding a fair way to divide these. Without proper advice from a solicitor who is looking at the whole picture, it’s easy to see how one party may not end up with their fair share. In some cases, pensions can be as valuable as the family home, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Getting the divorce right is much more than just sorting out the paperwork and, as we mentioned earlier, it’s essential to ensure this is correct and in order.  Our family solicitors are experienced in dealing with all aspects of divorce and will offer support and legal advice throughout the whole process.  We will look at the whole picture and all of the potential pitfalls to help you secure the best outcome for the future.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

How to tell your children you are getting divorced

Research has shown that the memory of how a child first learns about their parents’ divorce tends to stick with them. This is why it’s worth spending a bit of time discussing how you’ll break the news. It will undoubtedly be one of the most difficult conversations you have as a family but, if dealt with carefully, it can smooth the way for greater understanding and easier co-parenting in the months and years that follow.

Finding the right moment

We work closely with Resolution, the national association of family law professionals, and through its work with counselling services and relationship experts the advice is that in most cases it is preferable for parents to sit down with their children together to talk to them about the separation. This ensures that they hear the same message from both parents which can help to avoid conflict in the future. Sometimes it isn’t possible for both parents to be present or it may not be in the children’s best interests.

The place you choose to break the news will depend on your family and circumstances but it can often be best to do it at home, where children feel safe and able to express their emotions naturally. The way your children react to the news is impossible to predict and you will both need to be prepared to reassure and comfort them.

What to say

There is no easy way to say it and whatever words you use, express them as calmly as possible and in a language that your children can understand easily. Tell them that it is a decision that you have reached together and reassure them that you will both continue to be their parents, even if you are not all living together. Encourage them to ask questions and not to be worried about letting you know if they’re finding things difficult to come to terms with. By encouraging openness and understanding, you are creating a positive family environment that will have the best possible chance of enduring after you have separated.

If it is not a mutual decision to separate one parent may feel anger towards the other but the children do not need to know who is to “blame” and it is not fair to your children to try to get them to “take sides”.

Remember to talk about the situation from their perspective. They will want to know how their lives might change and may ask if they will still be able to stay at the same school and keep the same friends. They might have questions about family holidays, how birthdays and Christmas will be affected and whether they will be able to remain in the family home. Whilst it’s important to be reassuring, you should also be honest and avoid making promises you might not be able to keep.

At Harrogate Family Law we understand that there will be difficult conversations like these during your divorce and we’re here to help. One of the ways we can do this is by making sure you are clear about the path ahead. That way, you will be able to talk about the practicalities with your family and make informed choices about the future.   You can also obtain more information about parenting after parting at www.resolution.org.uk.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

 

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

 

6 things people wish they’d known before divorce

Even the most amicable divorces throw up unexpected challenges for families going through the process. Being prepared for some of these obstacles can help enormously and we have put together some of those that our clients mention to us most frequently that they wish they’d known before divorce.

This will all come to an end

Divorce is a process and it will come to a conclusion. It might not seem like it when you’re going through it and that makes it hard to visualise your life beyond divorce, which is extremely important when you are negotiating a fair outcome. It can be tempting to settle for second best just to get things over quickly but remember, you will be divorced for a lot longer than you will be going through a divorce and your future is important.

 Friends may not stick around

Divorce does strange things to a couple’s friendships. If you have socialised with other couples before divorce, the relationships within the group will inevitably change following a break up and each of your social circles will naturally evolve. People tell us that some friends who rallied round in the early days drifted off as the divorce progressed. This can be really hard to deal with but knowing that it’s so common can help it feel less personal. There are also many different sources that can offer emotional support should you need it.

Your ex will act out of character

When you have been married to someone for years you might think that there’s very little you don’t know about them. You’d be wrong. Divorce alters the dynamics between people who have built a relationship on love and trust and the process of becoming two independent people instead of one unit generates survival instincts in both. As well as seeing another side of your spouse, you may notice another side to yourself too. If you expect your other half to be amenable to all your requests as you negotiate a settlement, you are probably not being realistic. Accept that both of you have your own agendas now and you will need to find some common ground to reach an agreement that is fair to both of you.

Your children may be upset 

As a parent your instinct is to protect your child from being hurt. This can mean that you and your spouse go to extreme lengths to make sure they are happy and worry about any signs they show of unhappiness. It is normal for children to feel upset when their parents split up. Acknowledging and understanding their emotions and giving them time to talk about how they feel is an important part of parenting through divorce. Don’t feel guilty about the fact they may feel unsettled and instead channel your energy into supporting them through it.

Know your limits

When you are feeling emotionally drained you will feel vulnerable too and prone to rash decision making. This is why we always advise people to think about their non-negotiables when they are in a calm state of mind before divorce when they are early in the process. These might be that you want a house within walking distance of your child’s school or that you want to take your children on holiday every summer. Whatever it is, take time to think about the areas that you simply won’t compromise on – and the sooner the better. When you have done that, make sure you tell your solicitor so that they can help you achieve the outcome you really want.

Divorce is a grieving process

Even if you are the person who initiated the divorce, you will need to give yourself time to adjust to a new way of life and the loss of your previous one. Nobody enters into marriage expecting it to end and the fact that it has ended can bring with it feelings of failure, regret, guilt and loneliness. It can also be scary at times as you look ahead at an uncertain future. This is where it can help to take time to think about what your future might look like and where you would like to be in five years’ time. By looking beyond your current situation to a time when it is all behind you can help to give some perspective that enables you to make strategic decisions.

Our solicitors at Harrogate Family Law are experienced in supporting people through the divorce process and will help you look beyond the present and plan for the future. Call us on 01423 594 680 to arrange an initial chat.

The Case For No Fault Divorce

There is a growing consensus among many family law specialists that couples should be allowed to divorce without having to apportion blame to one party.

Under the current law enacted in 1973, unless couples have been separated for two years, it’s necessary under the current system to cite unreasonable behaviour or adultery for the marital breakdown.

But what are the options for couples who find themselves in a position where they agree marriage has come to an end and neither is more to blame than the other?

This is one of the reasons why momentum is growing for a ‘no fault’ divorce law to be introduced in the UK.

Why introduce ‘no fault’ divorce?

Family law body, Resolution, is currently campaigning for the current system to be changed. They say it’s time to end the ‘blame game’ because, for one thing, it makes it harder for couples to separate amicably.

Couples often end up having to cite unreasonable behaviour which can have a negative impact on the relationship; it can make reaching an agreement about the future arrangements more difficult and emotional, particularly when children are involved.

It’s widely believed a ‘no fault’ divorce option would allow couples to separate on better terms by reducing conflict, stress and the likelihood of ending up in the courts over the child and financial arrangements.

Allowing one or both spouses the option to give notice the marriage has irretrievably broken down and introducing a six-month cooling off period would help couples to reach a more considered and amicable settlement.

Resolution sums it up: “Removing blame from divorce will not make it more likely that people will separate. It will simply make it easier for people to manage their separation with as little conflict and stress as possible and reduce the likelihood that they will end up in court.”

What are the objections?

Some people object to the proposal on grounds it will make divorce easier leading to an increase in numbers and undermine the sanctity of marriage.

In many countries including America, Australia, the Netherlands and Spain, it is already possible to obtain a divorce without apportioning blame. Scotland introduced no fault divorce in 2006. At first, the divorce rate increased but then it continued to fall. In 1996, an attempt was made to amend the UK Family Law Act but it was never enacted. In 2015 Richard Bacon, a Conservative MP, introduced a private members’ bill proposing no-fault divorce with a year’s cooling-off period, but it failed to get a second reading.

Example case

A recent case in 2017 led many divorce solicitors to call for Parliament to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce. The couple at the centre of the case had been married for nearly 40 years. The Court of Appeal refused to allow the wife’s petition for divorce based on her husband’s unreasonable behaviour because the court felt the grounds were not strong enough. Her husband opposed the break-up and therefore even with the change in the law she would not have had her husband’s consent to a no-fault divorce.  However, many couples cite quite mild examples of behaviour to avoid causing arguments and this case raised the possibility of all divorces having to provide more details of unreasonable behaviour leading to increased bitterness and resentment.

This case is going to appeal before the Supreme Court in July and the decision of the judges is eagerly awaited.

Conclusion

Many family law experts and very senior judges believe divorce without blame is better way of achieving a resolution and avoiding a court imposed one.  Any divorce process is often an emotional rollercoaster for those involved but in a lot of cases, couples are looking to avoid confrontation and dispute. Resolving problems outside the courts, reducing conflict and the burden on the family courts are just some of the reasons why the campaign for ‘no fault’ divorce is gaining a lot of support. Many solicitors argue it would indicate the reason for the marriage break-up is genuine and, rather than assigning blame, allow focus on important issues such as division of assets and future care of the children.

Some people find the current system archaic and unrepresentative of 21st century values. This issue is likely to be under the spotlight for some time to come. Here at Harrogate Family Law we are keen to see any changes that make it easier for families to maintain good communication and positive relationships after divorce and ending the blame culture that exists under the current system can only help us towards that goal.

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

 

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

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