News

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.

My ex is turning the kids against me

When parents separate it is important that the children continue to have a good relationship with both parents.

It’s a challenging time for everyone involved, particularly if a divorce has been acrimonious or if there are issues over the child arrangements.

Sometimes one parent tries to turn their children against the other intentionally and sometimes they are just so negative about the other parent it impacts on the child’s opinion of the other parent.

Known as parental alienation, there is growing awareness about the issue in the Family Courts and it’s estimated to occur in 11-15% of divorce cases. There are varying degrees but at the extreme end it involves trying to cut off contact with the other parent.

The emotional impact on children who find themselves in this position is extremely detrimental to their well-being.

So, what can you do if you think your ex is turning your child against you?

Possible signs of parental alienation

The whole issue is very complex because children experiencing a huge life change such as a divorce may well be feeling very angry and upset, and end up lashing out at you. It doesn’t necessarily mean your ex is trying to turn them against you.

Possible signs may include:

  • Your ex-partner reduces your parenting time without good reason
  • Your children make excuses about why they don’t want to visit
  • Only receiving limited information about your children
  • Your child may be reluctant to show you affection
  • Your child’s behaviour towards you is different when the other parent is present

It will be heart-breaking to feel that you are losing your children.

Supporting children through a divorce

When looking at this issue, it’s helpful to think about the ways you can best support your children through a divorce. It’s widely agreed that children are far better off maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with both parents.

It can be a confusing and unhappy time for everyone and children can even blame themselves for the break-up.

The NSPCC offers the following advice for helping children deal with divorce:

  • Remind them that they are loved by both parents.
  • Be honest when talking about it but keep in mind the child’s age and understanding.
  • Avoid blame – don’t share any negative feelings the adults have about each other.
  • Keep up routines such as going to school and specific meal times.
  • Let them know they can talk about their feelings with you – explain that it’s okay to be sad, confused or angry.
  • Listen more than you speak – answering questions will help them to open up.

Why legal help is needed quickly

  • The can children end up in the middle of conflict between their parents being used as weapons.
  • If one parent is prevented from seeing the children for a period of time this can become the new “normal” and it can become more difficult to reinstate contact arrangements the more time that passes
  • The parent being denied contact with their children will feel frustrated but if they tackle it on their own the other parent may well make allegations of harassment or abuse which they may use to help justify their decision to reduce or stop contact.

Cases of this kind can be extremely complex, and our solicitors at Harrogate Family Law are experienced in dealing with all the issues, 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.  We recommend you take advice as soon as possible to obtain guidance to avoid making the situation worse.

 

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

Harrogate Family Law continue commitment to support the community

The team at Harrogate Family Law have thrown their weight behind the local community this year with a range of initiatives aimed at supporting the town and its services.

As well as renewing its annual support for Harrogate International Festivals and Saint Michael’s Hospice, Emma Doughty and Laura Mounsey are to share their specialist expertise by providing training to volunteers at Harrogate Citizen’s Advice Bureau on the most common family law pitfalls and how best to avoid them.

Emma said: “We are acutely aware that the availability of Legal Aid is extremely restricted and that free valuable services such as Citizen’s Advice and University Law Clinics are relied on to plug the gap.

The difficulty for volunteer advisers is that Family Law is extremely discretionary and fact specific and there are a number of practical considerations that need to be borne in mind from the outset. Decisions such as moving out of the house, paying the bills in the interim before your divorce is complete and dividing up assets can all cause problems if they are not approached in the right way.

We will train advisers about the steps that families can take to keep their legal costs to a minimum and assist them with recognising the areas which require expert input.”

Laura and Emma have also been invited to deliver tailored training to the local Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) Team to explore how Family Practitioners and IDAS can best work together to support vulnerable individuals with a range of Family Law issues.

Emma added: “Harrogate Family Law are delighted to collaborate with these fantastic local services and hope that by working together we can be better equipped to assist members of the local community with the different stages of relationship breakdown and the associated challenges.”

The team will also be involved in a number of charity events throughout the year, including a Three Peaks Challenge which Andrew Meehan will take part in with Harrogate International Festivals to support their fundraising.

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.

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