Restraining Orders in Divorce Proceedings

There are times when the reason for a divorce is due to threatening behaviour or abuse in the marriage. Domestic  abuse is defined as a pattern of physical or sexual violence or controlling behaviour in a relationship. It may involve physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual abuse and can include violent behaviour or subtle control that makes the victim feel worthless, deprives them of money or prevents them from leaving the family home.

Men and women can both be victims of domestic violence and in these types of serious cases, it can be necessary to consider an injunction. An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do or not do something.

Under the Family Law Act, there are different types of injunctions available that can help clients to gain protection in domestic abuse cases.

Occupation order

This deals with the family home situation; if you consider living with your partner is unsafe, an occupation order may be the best course of action. Essentially, it specifies who is allowed to live in the family home and can prevent your partner from entering the surrounding area. Anyone who is legally associated to their abuser and has property rights to the home may apply for an occupation order. The court will apply a ‘balance of harm’ test when determining whether to make the injunction.

Depending on the case, if the court accepts the abuser has used or threatened physical violence, then a power of arrest may be attached to the order. Injunctions do work differently depending on individual circumstances and evidence will be required to demonstrate there has been a level of harassment to warrant the intervention.

Non-molestation order

This injunction aims to protect you and your children from threatening behaviour and to ensure your health, safety and well-being. You can also obtain an exclusion zone around your home and place of work. Under new legislation, it’s a criminal offence to breach a non-molestation order.

Restraining order

If the case ends up in the criminal courts, the courts can issue a restraining order to protect the victims of crime. A restraining order may: prevent a person from harassing and communicating with you by phone, text or email; restrict them from behaving in a certain way; prevent them from going to certain places such as your home or workplace; restrict them from approaching you. Breach of a restraining order is a criminal offence.

It’s important to get the right help for your situation and discuss the different options with an experienced family law professional. Here at Harrogate Family Law, Andrew Meehan is accredited as a Resolution specialist in domestic violence and can offer confidential legal advice to clients facing these difficult and challenging circumstances.

Contact us on 01423 594680 or email enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor 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.

Why all good marriages should start with a pre-nup

Pre-nuptial agreements may not be one of the most romantic topics of conversation for couples planning a wedding but recent research has found that more than 40% of single men and women think a pre-nup is a good idea. Couples now look on them as a practical step before entering into marriage.

What are the benefits of a pre-nup?

It could make your marriage stronger

A pre-nup gives couples an opportunity to look objectively at their personal, financial and business interests at the start of a relationship. Having an open and honest discussion at the outset avoids arguments further down the line and manages expectations. In this respect, a pre-nup can actually strengthen a marriage.

It avoids conflict later on

A pre-nup doesn’t mean couples are anticipating the failure of their marriage. Just as they might be looking at home insurance – and possibly wedding insurance – a pre-nup is a safeguard that could make things easier and cheaper if the marriage does break down.  Decisions can be made with a cool head at this stage, whereas once problems develop in a marriage, negotiation can become difficult and resolution can be time consuming and costly.

It could protect your wealth

Pre-nups are popular with couples who have already accrued property, wealth or business interests. A pre-nup can set out how all the assets would be divided if the marriage were to break down and can help to protect against future claims.  Those with business interests approach pre-nups from the perspective of controlling risk and minimising the damaging effect that disputes could have on the business.

How to draft a pre-nup

We’ll arrange an initial meeting to discuss your personal situation, the issues affecting you and your partner and how marriage will impact on ownership of assets. There are a number of pitfalls to avoid when drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement and we’ll outline these so that you take all the right steps to make sure your document has the best chance of standing up in court. This is one reason why DIY pre-nups and online forms should be avoided. Attempting to draw up a pre-nup without specialist advice from a family lawyer could put your assets and future earnings at risk.

Ideally the pre-nup should be dealt with well before your marriage so that you can agree it, sign it, put it away and get on with enjoying the build up to your big day. Both parties should have independent legal advice and neither should feel under pressure to sign.

Pre-nups are particularly useful for anyone who has been married before and in such cases they can be used to safeguard assets that have been built up for existing children’s inheritances. They are also often used when one party has already inherited wealth from family.

Even when both parties see the benefit of a pre-nup, the negotiations still need to be handled sensitively. We recognise this and, because we have plenty of experience in this area, we’ll make sure you feel comfortable with everything before signing.

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor 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.

Spousal Maintenance – How Long Can a Wife Expect to Be Financially Supported by her Ex Husband?

A husband who is making regular spousal maintenance payments to his wife will understandably question why he is still expected to pay her regular amounts of money when she has moved a new partner in and no longer seems to be having to manage on her own.

What is spousal maintenance?  

Spousal maintenance is a regular sum of money that is agreed as part of a financial settlement between divorcing parties when one partner has no income or has much lower earnings than the other.

In some cases the agreement will involve regular payments for a set period of time, to give the other partner time to get on their feet financially and become self-supporting. There are also situations where the arrangement is left open, for example when a wife has given up her career to bring up children and is now at a disadvantage on the labour market and unlikely to be able to support herself.

What happens to spousal maintenance when the recipient remarries or starts cohabiting?

Spousal maintenance stops once the recipient remarries. However, if the recipient is cohabiting with a new partner it does not automatically mean that spousal maintenance will no longer be paid.

If you are paying spousal maintenance and believe that your ex-spouse’s financial circumstances have changed as a result of a new partner sharing the expenses, you can apply to the courts for a reassessment. This also applies if your own circumstances change and you are struggling to keep up with payments.

As well as being required to establish that your ex-wife and her new partner are actually living together under the same roof, you will also need to demonstrate that it has had an impact on her personal circumstances and that she no longer requires the level of financial support she once did. Your ex-wife may claim that the new relationship is in its early stages and might not last, or that her new partner cannot afford to support her. However, if the new partner is contributing to household expenses you may be able to argue that the financial situation upon which the original agreement was based is no longer valid.

To find out more about spousal maintenance and how to request a reassessment due to changes in circumstances, contact Harrogate Family Law on 01423 594 680.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor 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.

 

 

Can My Ex Move Away With the Children?

What happens when your ex wants to move away with the children – perhaps also with a new partner – and you object?

We’ve supported a number of clients – mothers and fathers – through this kind of situation, both when they have been concerned about a partner moving away with the kids or when they are the one wanting to move away with their family. Having advised them through their divorce, we are their first port of call when they want to embark on a new beginning in a different area, which may be several years later. Thankfully, most of our past clients understand the importance of seeking professional advice early and they usually approach us for an initial chat before broaching the subject with the other parent.

What are my rights?

If your children live with your partner and he or she wants to move to another part of England and Wales, we would advise them to seek your agreement to the move and not to simply announce that they’re leaving. If you do not agree with the proposed move, your ex may ask the court to make the decision about whether or not they should be allowed to move.

One parent does have the right to try and stop the other from moving and may seek a court order from the court to prevent it from happening. Such an order would prevent the child from moving with until the court has considered the case.

It is far better to talk to your ex first and see if you can reach an agreement by working out how your children will be able to continue to have time with both parents after the move.

What if I’m the one moving? How can I persuade the courts to let me move away with the children?

If you and your ex can’t reach an agreement amicably, you will need to demonstrate to the court that the relocation is in the best interests of the children. You might be moving for a better job or for a more financially secure future with another partner. It may be a better area that offers your children more opportunities for recreation and schooling. You could be moving to be closer to relatives, in which case the children will benefit from a wider family unit. All of these can be valid reasons and may persuade the court to find in your favour.

The court will want to make sure the children’s relationship with the other parent doesn’t suffer. That doesn’t mean it needs to stay exactly the same. It’s impractical to maintain visits every weekend when there might be a distance of several hundred miles to consider. The children will also want to build their own social life locally at the weekends and this could be hampered if they are required to travel to stay with their other parent too frequently. A good compromise can be to arrange longer stays during the school holidays so that regular, quality contact can be maintained with both parents without interfering with the children’s everyday lives.

We won’t have covered every question about the issue of relocation in this article and if you would like to talk about your own situation please pick up the phone and give us a call. Our lawyers have a great deal of expertise in this area and we can help you even if we weren’t your solicitor during your divorce. Call us on 01423 594680.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor 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 Everything Always Split 50/50 in Divorce?

There is no set formula when it comes to splitting assets in divorce but the law provides general guidelines and gives the Courts a wide range of discretion.  The law itself (Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) is nearly 50 years old now but the factors set out in it are still used today. Here’s a summary:

  • The welfare of any children is always the first consideration.
  • Income, earning capacity and other financial resources which are available now or may be available in the future.
  • The expenditure that each has now and is expected to have in the future including liability for debts.
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage (although it may not be possible to divide the money between two households and retain the same standard of living).
  • Health problems or disability which may impact on earning capacity or care costs.
  • The contribution each has made to the welfare of the family, both financially and in looking after the home and children.
  • Conduct, although behaviour has to significantly impact on the financial position of the family before it is taken into account.
  • The value of any benefit, such as pensions, which is being lost as a result of the divorce.

How to prepare for financial negotiations

You will save a lot of time and money if you can do some preparation:

  • Organise all of your financial documents so that they are easily identified and in date order.
  • Apply for statements showing the current value of any pension funds.
  • Think about where you see yourself living in the future. If you need to move – how much would it cost to buy a different property and what would the purchase costs, stamp duty and moving costs be? How much can you borrow on a mortgage on your own?
  • Prepare a list of your monthly expenditure – what are you actually spending now? Include everything.  Also prepare a similar budget for the future and do a separate schedule for everything you need to pay out for your children.
  • If you are on a low income use a website like Turn 2 Us to calculate whether you will qualify for financial help from the state.
  • Use the Child Maintenance Service’s online calculator to check what your liability or entitlement for child maintenance may be.
  • If you are not currently working or working part time think about whether it is practical to get a job or increase your hours. If so, what would be able to earn? Would there be child care costs if you were working?
  • Take advice from a specialist family lawyer at an early stage. We can give you an overview of what you can expect, the options available to you to help you achieve a settlement and what to do as the next steps.

 

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor 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 it possible to divorce without going to court?

No matter how bitter the divorce, few people want to have their future decided by the courts unless it is absolutely necessary and there are a number of ways to avoid going to court.

Although there are many similar issues that come up time and again when we are advising clients, no two cases are ever exactly the same and the approach that suits one couple may not suit another. That’s why we discuss a range of different approaches and advise on the best way forward according to the circumstances of each family. The steps you take in the early stages of your divorce can also have an impact on how smooth the process is. Read our article 5 things you need to know before you divorce.

Is mediation an option?

A mediator is trained to help the couple explore what is important to each of them and try to help them find a solution which they are both comfortable with.  This can be really effective if both have a willingness to try to find a compromise.  It is recommended that a family lawyer advises alongside the mediation process so that the agreement is workable and meets the needs of both parties.

What if I’d rather not negotiate over money with my spouse directly?

Many people still prefer to have their lawyers negotiate the terms of the settlement so that they don’t have to talk money with their husband or wife and they can concentrate on helping the children cope with the separation.  We will help you through the process of exchanging financial information and then discuss the possible ways in which the property, money, income and pensions can be divided so that we can put forward proposals for settlement.  We can do this through letters and emails, phone calls with the other lawyer and sometimes having a meeting with the lawyers and husband and wife so that we can discuss it all together.  It depends on what works for each individual client.

I have heard of Collaborative Family Law – what is this?

With Collaborative Law, discussions are within four way meetings with the husband and wife and their collaboratively trained lawyers. Each spouse instructs a Collaboratively trained lawyer, such as Andrew Meehan at Harrogate Family Law, and enters into a Collaborative Agreement about the process. It is a very constructive process where both the husband and wife retain a high degree of control over what is discussed and how the matter is resolved.  Those that go through this process usually come out the other side feeling very positive and able to work well with their husband and wife.  It is not for everyone because if an agreement cannot be reached and court proceedings are required, they each have to start again and instruct different lawyers.

What if we can’t agree?

If you cannot agree and prefer not to go to court an arbitrator can be appointed. The arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding. It is also possible to use arbitration to deal with just a single issue if everything else is agreed.  Both parties have to agree to the appointment of the arbitrator and the arbitrators fees have to be met by the parties.  However, it can be much quicker and more focussed than court proceedings and therefore more cost efficient overall.

5 Things You Need to Think About Before You Divorce

When you first start thinking about divorce and all the challenges that lie ahead it can all feel pretty overwhelming.  In our experience, the way things are handled in the initial stages before you divorce can also have a big impact on the outcome and how long the whole process takes.

Here are 5 things to think about to put you on the right track before you divorce:

Where do I start?

Most people who seek our advice are completely at a loss to know where to start first.  They don’t know what to expect both in terms of the outcome or how to get there. Naturally, they are worried about the future and what it might hold for them. Some may have no idea what money there is available because the other handled the finances during the marriage. Don’t let this stop you from taking legal advice. We can help you understand how to move forward and by seeking advice early, you are putting yourself in the best position to secure a fair outcome for you and your family.

I’m more concerned about my children than the money

For most parents the financial arrangements are secondary to the arrangements for the children. This is understandable and when people first approach us we spend time helping them plan how they will discuss the divorce with their children and how they will continue to parent together after divorce. Sorting out the arrangements for your children can be very emotional and our job is to make sure you don’t lose sight of the financial negotiations, so that you and your family can enjoy a secure future once all this is behind you.

I don’t want to fight for every penny

Most people we see want to reach an agreement with their husband or wife quickly and don’t want to fight about it but they are also worried about what the future holds and want to be financially secure. Don’t feel guilty about seeking legal advice about finances early on.  You will be better informed about your options when you are discussing arrangements with your husband or wife and that knowledge may help you reach a workable agreement and avoid you agreeing something which may leave you vulnerable. If you are keen to remain amicable throughout read our advice on how to avoid going to court.

How do I find out what money there is?

You will need to be open with one another and share your financial documents. This can be hard when trust has been lost and emotions are raw and this is where we can help to secure financial information on your behalf. If you suspect money may have been hidden we can undertake a thorough investigation of your financial position to make sure that everything possible is known. Tempting as it might be to go through your spouse’s personal files, it is unlawful to access someone’s private information without their consent, even if you are their husband or wife.

Is it the right time?

If you have been unhappy for some time and have built up the courage to tell your husband or wife you want to separate you will be keen to resolve the arrangements for the children and money as soon as possible.  However this may be unexpected from your spouse’ point of view and they will need time to come to terms with your decision before they can possibly think about plans for the future.  It is recommended that you take legal advice at an early stage but, unless there is something urgent which needs to be resolved, we would normally recommend waiting a little while before trying to negotiate arrangements.

Andrew Meehan and Carol Jessop are the only family lawyers based in Harrogate accredited by Resolution for dealing with complex financial arrangements following divorce.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor 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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