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

Local Professional committee appointments for Harrogate Family Law Solicitor

Harrogate lawyer Emma Doughty has been appointed to the committee of Young Resolution (YRES) in West and North Yorkshire. YRES work alongside the regional committee to encourage professional best practice and promote supporting families to resolve difficulties constructively.

Emma is actively involved in organising a wide range of seminars, training and social events to provide members with opportunities to strengthen professional relationships and stay up to date with the latest developments in family law.

Emma said: “it is a huge honour to be a committee member of such a well-respected organisation with a mark for reassurance and quality. Not only does this platform give me the opportunity to contribute to positive change within the family justice system but it also greatly assists my on-going personal growth and ability to guide families towards the best solution for their individual circumstances.”

Emma of Harrogate Family Law, is also an active member of her local legal community having recently joined the committee of Harrogate District Law Society (HDLS). Emma is about to launch an all-inclusive Junior Professionals Networking Event in association with HDLS. The first social event will take place on 12 April 2018 and seeks to encourage Junior Professionals to be proactive at establishing a network of contacts they can trust to deliver an excellent service for their clients. If you or anyone you know are interested in attending future events, please contact Emma at: emma.doughty@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk to be added to the mailing list.

Emma said: “There is such a high calibre of legal professionals within the Harrogate area and I am keen to be involved with raising the profile of Harrogate as a Centre of Legal Excellence.”

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.

7 Unexpected Divorce Costs and How to Prepare for Them

Most people think about divorce costs in terms of legal fees and the expenses involved in selling the family home but there are a number of hidden costs that can hit the newly separated hard if they are unprepared.

This is one area where it pays to have a good family law expert on your side to help you anticipate the unexpected divorce costs and financial pressures that lie just around the corner.

Recent research by Aviva found that each year separating couples in the UK spend £1.7bn getting back on their feet. This figure doesn’t include the cost of buying a new home.

Selling the family home

When a relationship is under stress, there can be a strong temptation to sell cheaply in order to move quickly. A good family lawyer will advise you not to compromise the value of your property for a swift sale. A far better option is to take some time to invest in its appearance before it goes on the market. A few thousand pounds spent on redecorating and tidying up things like grouting in the bathroom and loose rendering outside may be an unexpected divorce cost but it could add a lot more to the asset pot ultimately.

Buying a car

Even if there is more than one vehicle in the family, the spare car is often a small run around or company car and most couples share the use of a family-sized car to ferry the children to school and activities. When you split, you might need to consider investing in a family car each so that you can do the school run independently.

Paying for childcare

Depending on the age of your children, how close you will be living to one another and the care arrangements you put in place, you may need to arrange more private childcare after your divorce. This is a cost that is often overlooked when couples are working out how much they will need for future living costs.

Feelgood factors

The Aviva study found that many of the unanticipated costs of divorce involved lifestyle activities such as joining a gym or buying new clothes. One in seven people treat themselves to a post-divorce holiday and many also spend money on learning a new skill or hobby. Far from being frivolous, these kinds of costs are all part and parcel of rebuilding an independent life after divorce.

Planning for financial security

We receive a lot of positive feedback from clients about our prudent handling of their pension assets during divorce. This is an area where we add real value and it has been proven time and again that investment in expert legal advice from a family law firm like ours which specialises in pensions and financial settlements can make a huge difference to the outcome. Read our previous article for more information about dividing pensions on divorce

Seeking out expert financial advice can be particularly helpful for those who haven’t been financially independent before. It’s important to recognise that your financial future needs to be secure right through to retirement and not just for the short to medium term. Our clients often tell us that they have found the input of a financial advisor to be particularly helpful in identifying their long term financial needs and priorities, both during and after the divorce process.

The loss of bulk savings

Running a single home on two incomes is far more cost effective that running two separate homes. Married couples can buy groceries in bulk and share bills between them. One of the biggest shocks for divorcing couples is the fact that running two separate households is not just a case of splitting the finances and leaving each person to carry on with their own share. Even if two properties can be purchased from the sale of the marital home, the combined running costs of each are likely to be considerably higher than the costs of running one property.

Fair split  

One of the other unpredictable factors about divorce and money is how the assets will be split. This can have a massive impact on the amount of wealth each person comes away with. Our article about the factors used to determine the division of assets and whether a 50-50 split is fair gives a good summary of the way financial settlements are negotiated. Again, an experienced divorce solicitor will go through this information with you in detail and will ideally help you reach an amicable and fair agreement that eliminates nasty surprises and uncertainty.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2015 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2016 (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 divorce when you run a family business together

Divorce can be difficult no matter the circumstances but when you run a family business together, there are even more complications. It’s important to consider what are the best options for you and your family business if your marriage comes to an end.

There are many compelling reasons for seeking legal advice early when couples make the decision to divorce and this is particularly true when business interests are involved.

Find common ground

It may be possible, with support from your solicitor, to reach an amicable resolution covering how the business relationship will be resolved. Where possible and with careful negotiation, this is often the best way forward. We prefer, where possible, to agree a settlement out of court because the Judges have a wide range of discretion and the outcome can be unpredictable.  It is far better to have a negotiated settlement which both parties know will work for them. In some cases, ex couples decide to continue to run the family business together and are able to maintain a good working relationship. This is not always possible, of course, and there are other options when deciding on the future of the business.

Split the assets

Without previous legal documentations such as a pre or post nuptial agreement, the starting point in divorce proceedings is to look at whether an equal split of assets is fair. An equal split is not inevitable though. We will always discuss your individual circumstances with you to try and achieve the best possible outcome. If one partner has had a more active role in the business, this can lead to further issues.  The courts may not, for example, grant a bigger share because you were the person who established or spent more time building up the business. Any agreements that have been previously drawn up specifying who owns what shares and documenting loans, for example, could play an important part in any negotiations or proceedings.

Buy out

If the family business is to be split, one option might be to buy out your ex partner’s share. One partner may retain ownership and pay the other spousal maintenance, or borrowings could be used to make a lump sum payment. There are a number of possibilities and pitfalls and we would urge you to make an appointment to come and see us so that we can guide you through the process.

We would always advise, if you co-own a business with your spouse, to have precise legal documentation drawn up so that in the event of a divorce it is easier to achieve a fair settlement that reflects the contribution both partners have made.

 

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.

 

 

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