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What is a good enough reason for getting divorced

For a divorce to be granted by the courts there needs to be evidence that the  marriage has irretrievably broken down – but what’s a good reason for getting divorced and just how far do you have to go in order to prove your marriage is over?

A recent article revealed some of the intimate reasons people have given for wanting a divorce. One father said he had only had children to please his wife and had never been happy about starting a family. Another husband told his wife that he would rather divorce her than live with her political views.

In reality, the reasons you give for divorce don’t need to be too personal or shocking.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Despite popular belief, irreconcilable differences is not a legally accepted basis for ending a marriage and the only ground for divorce permitted by English courts is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. This breakdown must be proved by establishing one of five causes, the most common of which is unreasonable behaviour.

How unreasonable does your spouse’s behaviour need to be?

Most divorces are granted due to unreasonable behaviour. This relies on the person seeking a divorce stating reasons why they can no longer reasonably be expected to remain married to their partner, although the evidence does not need to be extreme. Something as simple as having a partner who frequently spends long hours at the office or pursues his or her own social interests can be enough to satisfy the courts.

Is it better to give more than one reason for getting divorced?

It’s a common myth that divorce applications need to be hard-hitting in their reasons when the opposite is actually true. In fact, the less hostile the claim, the more likely it is that the petition will go uncontested and the divorce will run smoothly. So, even though it can be tempting to list a whole catalogue of complaints, this isn’t usually necessary.   However, a recently reported case involving a Mr. and Mrs. Owens is to be considered by the Supreme Court next year because the Court of Appeal refused Mrs. Owens’ divorce because the grounds were not strong enough.  Mr. Owens is contesting the divorce.  It is hoped that clear guidance will be provided because having to provide a lot of detail about unreasonable behaviour only inflames the already difficult situation between a divorcing husband and wife and, unless it is anticipated that the divorce will be contested, our advice is still to make the details of behaviour as uncontentious as possible.

Will I be awarded a bigger share of the assets if I portray my spouse in a bad light?

Many people also wrongly believe that making a strong case will secure them a better financial settlement. The grounds for divorce are unlikely to be taken into consideration during discussions concerning assets or arrangements for children. At that stage in the proceedings completely separate factors will come into play.

What other causes can I cite?

Another fairly common cause for irretrievable breakdown is adultery but anyone choosing this option must be prepared for the fact that this can be difficult to prove. The final three causes for irretrievable breakdown relate to the length of time a couple have already been apart. If husband and wife have been living apart for two years and agree to divorce they can proceed on the basis that they have already had two years’ separation. After five years’ separation one party can proceed to divorce without the other spouse’s consent. Rarely, desertion is given as the cause in cases where one partner has been deserted by their spouse for at least two years continuously.

Can I have a “no fault” divorce?

Under the law as it stands you can if you have been separated for 2 years and your spouse agrees or if there is no agreement, after you have been separated for 5 years.  There are moves afoot to try to get a change in the law so that consenting couples can divorce without making allegations of blame and without waiting until they have been separated for 2 years.  If this becomes law it will not be for some time.

 

 

Don’t let your divorce solicitor take you to the cleaners

There’s a general assumption that hiring a family law expert is expensive and there’s always somebody who knows someone who has a horror story about how much their divorce solicitor cost.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way and there are steps you can take to make the right decision about who to instruct and to make sure costs are kept under control.

6 Tips for Controlling your Divorce Solicitor Costs

Avoid hiring a lawyer who strings things along to bump up their fees

The longer your case drags on, the more stressful it is for everyone. A skilled and experienced lawyer will be able to negotiate terms of settlement but will also be able to identify if a court ordered timetable is required to make progress.

Here are a few key things to look out for when comparing divorce lawyers:

  • Do they specialise in family law? Divorce is a complex area of law that can throw up issues you hadn’t anticipated. An expert will spot these early and make sure they don’t hold things up or work against you.
  • Are they open about costs? A good family lawyer will discuss the likely fees at the outset and sit down with you regularly to review costs and make sure they’re proportionate to the case and the expected settlement.
  • Are they approachable? A family law solicitor should put you at ease. You will be sharing personal information during the course of proceedings so it’s important you feel completely comfortable with your chosen adviser.
  • What’s their reputation like? One of the best endorsements is personal recommendation. Failing that, ask to see some testimonials or check their rankings with Chambers UK and Legal 500.
  • Are they members of Resolution? Resolution is a national association of family law professionals who abide by a code of conduct. Find out more information at www.resolution.org.uk.

Don’t get petty

Decide what is important to you and do not get side-tracked by smaller issues which are less important.

Compromise on some issues can help with attaining the bigger goal quicker and easier. Even if you think you are in the right, backing down can give you a psychological advantage because of the impact that small “victory” in a dispute may have on your spouse’s outlook and make them more willing to compromise on other issues.

Set some objectives

If you understand your own priorities it will be easier for your solicitor to help you work towards them. It’s possible that these objectives may change as the process moves forward and it’s important to continually review them with your lawyer and make sure that you are both aiming for the same goals.

Work with your lawyer

Your solicitor is on your side and will do everything possible to get you a fair settlement. That process will be easier and cheaper if they have your co-operation.

Here are some things you can do to ensure a swift and efficient divorce:

  • Answer your solicitor’s questions promptly;
  • Sign and return paperwork as quickly as possible;
  • Avoid calling your solicitor with lots of small queries – ideally, aim to deal with several matters in a single communication;
  • Don’t try to hide things – this only increases the distrust and leads to more costs with a more indepth investigation to see if there is anything else which may be hidden
  • Share information – the more detail you can provide about your financial position, the better.
  • Be open – tell your solicitor about your needs and expectations so that you can have an honest and frank conversation about what can realistically be achieved.

Keep an open mind

People often embark on the divorce process with a fixed view about what they expect to get out of it. Listen to your family law solicitor and take on board their advice about what to expect. Your solicitor will help you negotiate for things that are important to you but achieving one outcome may necessitate compromising on another. The more open and flexible you can be during the negotiation process, the better

Get the balance right

In spite of everything I’ve said so far, compromise isn’t always the best option. A good family law solicitor will tell you when an issue is worth fighting for and when spending a little bit more on legal fees will earn you a much bigger share of the financial pot.

The Court process can be very helpful and not something to be scared of. If your spouse is unco-operative, the court will set a timetable that has to be kept to. In the absence of court proceedings you can only reach a settlement on the timescale set by your spouse. Starting court proceedings does not remove your ability to reach an agreed settlement and the courts will only decide the terms if you and spouse are unable to reach any agreement.

And finally …

When you make the decision to instruct a specialist family solicitor to handle your divorce case, you are effectively investing in your future. The money you spend should result in a financial settlement that will enable you to build a life for yourself after divorce. A family solicitor will make sure nothing is overlooked whilst also helping to keep the process moving so that costs don’t mount up unnecessarily.

How unmarried couples can protect themselves when they buy a house together

An increasing number of unmarried couples are buying a home together before marriage, or without any plans to marry, but few are aware of the steps they should be taking to protect themselves if the relationship fails.  

HFL Leads the Field in Family Law

Harrogate Family Law has been ranked as a leader in its field by Chambers UK 2018, a top authority on the legal profession.

The announcement comes following the completion of research for the Chambers UK 2018 guide ahead of its publication in the autumn.

Andrew Meehan, who founded Harrogate Family Law in 2010, said he was delighted that the firm had been ranked as a regional leader in family law following last year’s top tier ranking.

“Chambers UK carries out extensive peer research and analyses feedback from clients during its comprehensive analysis of the legal profession nationwide which makes this ‘Leaders in the Field’ ranking so important,” said Andrew.

“Harrogate Family Law set out to become a specialist and by developing a culture of empathy alongside our strong technical competence we have successfully differentiated ourselves from other practitioners in our region.”

More detailed rankings for individual lawyers and firms will be published by Chambers UK in October.

6 tips for couples divorcing after their children have grown up

The number of couples divorcing after their children have flown the nest has never been higher.

There are many factors prompting people to start a new life at 50 or 60 plus, not least of which is a desire to enjoy life rather than endure it, a philosophy the baby boomer generation has been brought up with.

6 early steps to take when you’re preparing for divorce

When you are preparing for divorce the things you do in the first few weeks can have quite an impact on the financial outcome. That’s why it’s important to take advice before you make any decisions that could affect your long term position.

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