News

HFL Once Again Recognised for Excellence

Harrogate Family Law and Andrew Meehan, its Managing Director, have been ranked as leaders in the field by top legal authority Chambers UK.

The announcement comes following the completion of research for the Chambers UK 2019 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 once again been ranked as a regional leader in family law following last year’s top tier ranking.

“Chambers UK carries out extensive peer research and seeks 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 really care about helping our clients through one of the worst periods of their lives so they can have confidence in their future.   By providing this empathy and support alongside our technical excellence we have differentiated ourselves from other practitioners in our region.”

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

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

5 vital things you need to know about pensions when you are getting divorced

We find that many couples overlook pensions when they’re getting divorced despite being one of or even the main asset available on divorce. To do so is a huge risk and you are gambling with your financial future.

We find that separating couples often do not appreciate that:

  1. They may not be able to look after themselves financially in retirement.
  2. Pensions can be shared in a divorce (i.e. that a part of an individual’s pension can be carved off for their spouse).
  3. There are many different types of pension with different benefits, risks and income and all this needs to be considered.
  4. Pensions can be valued in lots of different ways depending on the rules of each scheme. Therefore, it is very dangerous to assume that pensions have been valued fairly or accurately.  We can check this for you.
  5. There are different ways of sharing pensions to help meet the needs of a spouse in retirement.

We work with you to avoid costly mistakes. When it comes to pensions on divorce we can help pinpoint the most favourable way to approach the pensions, the true value of the pensions and tell you what retirement income you should expect to receive. Without specialist help, you are shooting in the dark and this can cost you a lot of money.

We can make sure that you don’t miss out on something you may be entitled to. It is important that you are advised about the best way of dealing with your pension claims and you have a skilled negotiator on board to secure the pension you need.

We leave no stone unturned so, please call us now on 01423 594680. Do not agree any divorce settlement without getting expert advice, it may cost you for many years to come.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

My ex won’t let me take the children abroad, what can I do?

After parents separate there can be issues over the arrangements for the children and the subject of holidays can be particularly contentious.

There can be genuinely held concerns about the welfare of the children whilst away on holiday and, if so, it is right that these are investigated so that there can be confidence that the children will be safe.

However, issues over the holidays often stem from jealousy and insecurity on the part of the other parent.  This can be because they are not able to afford a holiday; they don’t want the children to enjoy themselves with the other parent; there may be a new partner involved; or they just want to hurt the other parent as much as they are hurting.

Practical steps you can take

You can take the following steps:

  • Be prepared to address the other parent’s anxieties by providing details of the flight, accommodation and facilities together with care and sleeping arrangements.
  • Ensure any disagreements about holiday arrangements are kept way from the children.
  • Ascertain the children’s wishes but remain supportive and respectful of their other parent.

If you still cannot agree over holiday arrangements, then read on to see how Harrogate Family Law can help.

Please do not take your children abroad without the consent of the other parent or you may be breaking the law.

The Law

It can be a criminal offence to take the children out of the country without the permission of the court or the other parent.  Even if the holiday is in this country, taking the children away without the other parent’s consent can lead to severe anxiety on the part of the other parent, whether it is reasonable or not.  It could lead to the police being contacted and/or badly impact on the future arrangements for you seeing your children.

How we can help?

We can:

  • Diffuse what can be a highly emotional situation and put the focus back on your children.
  • Be an independent third party who can reason with the other parent and gain cooperation to help achieve a positive outcome.
  • Advise as to alternative methods of resolving holiday issues including, although usually not necessary, an application to Court. Court is, however, always a last resort with 95% of our cases resolved outside of Court.

It is important that you contact us as soon as possible if you are having problems with holiday arrangements.  Please don’t feel there is nothing you can do because we can help you.

Call us today on 01423 594680.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

Pride month: has the law caught up?

Historically the family justice system has not always been progressive and forward thinking.  Thankfully over the years there has been positive movement ensuring that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

One of our partners, Carol Jessop, remembers when clients such as those who were in same sex relationships or transgender were unfairly discriminated against in children cases.  LGBT+ people were considered to be a risk to the children and contact with them was thought to be potentially harmful.

The law now not only recognises civil partnerships, but also same sex marriage.

Separation and discussions about arrangements for your children can be highly emotional situations and on occasion accusations can be made that your new circumstances mean it is not in the children’s best interests to spend time with you.

We are really pleased that the law has developed and it is important that you know that both parents should have meaningful relationships with their children.

At Harrogate Family Law we fight for everyone to be treated fairly.  If, for any reason, you are concerned about your relationship with your children, do not hesitate to talk to us in the strictest confidence.  We listen, we understand and we care.

Call us today on: 01423 594680.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

3 reasons why you must get legal advice on any financial agreement you reach on divorce or separation

Once an agreement is reached this should be put into a formal document to ensure that the terms of the agreement are clear, fully understood by both of you and will protect each of you from possible further claims in the future.

If there is a divorce or other financial proceedings, the agreement can be approved by the court and an order made in the terms of the agreement.  If there are no proceedings a Deed of Agreement (often referred to as a Separation Agreement) can be prepared.

You must have expert legal advice on any financial agreement you reach to ensure that:

  1. The terms are fair and appropriate to your circumstances. Even if you are content with the proposed terms, the agreement is reached at a time when you are emotionally vulnerable and we can look at the situation more objectively and consider the effect of the terms and any potential pitfalls.
  2. The terms of the proposed agreement can be enforced in the event that there is any problem with carrying it into effect.
  3. The Deed or Order closes off all future potential claims, unless it is necessary to keep any claims ongoing – such as spousal maintenance.

It is preferable for both of you to have representation from separate solicitors when the agreement is being drawn up.  You both need to be sure you understand the effect of the terms and that the agreement works for both of you.  If one person later feels that they have been treated unfairly or taken advantage of it can lead to resentment.

We always suggest exchanging financial information and, if there is a property, we check the title.  The reasons for this are:

  1. Even if you think that you are both clear about your financial circumstances, there can be things that are overlooked which we can pick up on – such as an unused joint account, a debt in joint names, an old pension fund which has been forgotten. These all need to be included to avoid issues later.
  2. There may be problems with implementing the terms of the agreement because of issues you were not aware could be a problem, such as mortgage arrears, a debt which has been repaid but remains on the title to the property, or restrictions on being able to share a pension fund.
  3. In some cases one person can be pretending to be in a worse financial position than they really are and by going through the financial disclosure we can usually identify where there may be additional assets or income which has not as yet been disclosed.

It is essential, even in cases which seem to involve the most straightforward of agreements, to take legal advice and exchange financial information.  Investing in getting good legal advice will ensure that you are moving forward into your future secure in the knowledge that your financial arrangements have been resolved properly and in the best way possible for you.  It may seem an unnecessary expense at the time but it will save you far more expense in the longer term and may avoid several years of worry.

You can trust Harrogate Family Law to help you.  We will be thorough to ensure that you can move forward with confidence that your financial arrangements are the best they can be.

If you need help with your divorce contact us on 01423 594680.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

Fathers and their children

Father’s Day can be a poignant time for separated parents.

All parents worry about their relationship with their children after separation and divorce. There can still be a traditional view that children will live with their mother.  This is because, in the past, mothers have taken on the role of homemaker whilst fathers have been the breadwinners. Whilst mothers often work part time, most families still have similar arrangements. Does this mean that Dad will get to spend little time with the children, perhaps just taking them out for a day at the weekend?

A father’s main fear when facing divorce is that he will lose his children. He may have been working long hours to provide for his family and then it all feels pointless when the marriage breaks down.

The Courts do not follow the traditional stereotype and the law provides for parents to share the care of their children. Both parents are equally important to their children and the children should be able to retain a close relationship with both. The children’s care should be shared as much as practicable. This may not mean equally but both parents should share in the joy and responsibilities of being a parent. This means that fathers can expect to have the children in their care for a significant amount of time.

Mothers should not feel threatened by this or feel that their role has been diminished. Rather than Dad just taking the kids out for the day and ensuring they have a good time, Dad also gets to help with the homework and look after the children when they may be feeling grumpy and tired. Both parents share in the issues of juggling work and child care.

At Harrogate Family Law, we know how important your children are to you. We will help you move forward from being partners or husband and wife into your new relationship as parents. We care about what happens to your children almost as much as you do.

What happens if a Court Order in financial proceedings is not complied with?

There can be two types of court order:

  • one which sets out the terms of the financial settlement and is either agreed by the parties or imposed by the judge and usually comes at the end of the proceedings
  • within the proceedings, there can be case management orders setting out the documents or information required to progress to a final settlement.

Sometimes a party gives a promise to the court to do something which is integral to the terms of the order. A promise to the court is called an Undertaking and failing to keep that promise amounts to contempt of court.

Any of those orders or undertakings can be enforced. There are various stages: a warning about non-compliance, a penal notice to say that if non-compliance continues it can be punished by a fine or imprisonment, and then committal. A committal application is for the person in default to be punished and the usual penalties are a fine, a suspended prison sentence or imprisonment. In addition, the defaulter is usually ordered to pay the legal costs incurred by the other party in the enforcement proceedings.

Enforcement action

The penalties are severe but they are intended as a deterrent to prevent non-compliance of a court order.  It is very rare that someone has to be sent to prison for defaulting on an order. However, on 15 March this year, an 83-year-old man, Mr Hart, was sentenced to 14 months in prison at the High Court in Bristol for his wilful failure to comply with the orders and undertaking following divorce.

Mr Hart had been ordered to transfer one of the family businesses to his wife following their divorce and he had given an undertaking which said that he would do so in a manner which enabled a smooth transfer. He failed to comply with the undertaking. Mrs Hart had to apply to the court for possession of the company premises. When Mrs Hart was finally able to take possession, almost all of the management records were removed which meant she could not efficiently run the business.  Mrs Hart had to apply for these documents to be released to her and there were several hearings about this when Mr Hart said he would provide the information and then failed to do so. Despite the fact he produced many of the documents on the morning of his sentencing hearing the judge felt that his contempt of court was so serious and the effect on his wife and the company was so dire that a financial penalty was inadequate and it wasn’t appropriate to suspend a sentence because of the opportunities he had already had to comply. He was also ordered to pay his wife’s costs of the enforcement application.

Most people accept the authority of the court and comply with orders to the best of their ability. If it is not possible to comply it is important to notify the court and ask to have the order amended.

Divorce cases involving businesses

Cases involving businesses can be complex and it is important to have expert legal advice to ensure that that the terms of any agreement or order are appropriate and fair and can be complied with. There are lots of potential pitfalls which need to be avoided and anyone going through a divorce or separation who has a business should ensure that they have solicitors who are experienced in dealing with complex cases and hidden assets.

 

Harrogate Family Law are the leading firm in North Yorkshire and recommended by highly regarded legal directories Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

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

Can I see my grandchildren?

When parents separate and can’t agree the arrangements for their children, it can be difficult for grandparents to see their grandchildren.

MPs are calling for grandparents to have the right to see their grandchildren following the separation of the children’s parents. This gives the impression that grandparents currently have no rights. This is not correct, although the situation can be improved.

Under the current law, grandparents (or other relatives) can apply to have contact with their grandchildren or apply for the children to live with them. However, unless the child has already lived with them for a year prior to the application, they do need permission to pursue the application.

Permission is usually granted. If it can be shown that there is sufficient connection with the grandparents, the court will allow the application to proceed.

The court will consider whether making an order is in the child’s best interests, taking all of the circumstances into account. It is not so much the grandparents’ right to see the children, but the child’s right to see their grandparents. The court considers the application from the child’s perspective.

Grandparents who are being denied a relationship with their grandchildren should take legal advice before proceeding with an application. There are many options for resolving disputes without going to court but if a court application is required it is 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.

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 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.

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