The case of Mrs. Owens and what it means to anyone applying for a divorce now

It will have been hard to miss the press coverage of the divorce case between Mr. and Mrs. Owens which went all the way to the Supreme Court.  There is much talk of reforming the law so that a divorce can be obtained without making allegations of blame.  Unless and until the law is reformed we need to consider what effect this has on the way divorce applications are made.

It is rare for divorce proceedings to be defended because a pragmatic approach is normally adopted.  What is the point in spending legal costs in fighting a divorce application when one person at least thinks the marriage is over?  It takes two to make a marriage work.

Under the current law it is possible to obtain a divorce without making allegations of blame.  However, you either have to have been separated for two years and you both consent to the divorce. If there isn’t an agreement to the divorce you have to wait until you have been separated 5 years.  This is why Mrs. Owens has to wait until 2020 until she can apply for a divorce now.

The Owens’ case related to a specific part of the divorce law.  There is only one ground for a divorce which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down but it has to be supported by one of five facts.  These include the separation periods referred to above, desertion for a period of at least two years or, if applying for a divorce before two years have passed since separation, adultery or “unreasonable behaviour” as it is usually referred to.

Petitions based on the fact of adultery require the Petitioner (the person apply for the divorce) to show that not only has the Respondent (their spouse) committed adultery with another person but also that the Petitioner finds it intolerable to live with them.  Therefore, if the Petitioner found out about the affair more than 6 months prior to the Petition but they have attempted to make this marriage work during those 6 months the court may not consider that it was intolerable to live with the Respondent and may not allow the divorce.

“Unreasonable behaviour” is a misnomer.  The actual wording is “the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent”.  This is where the dispute lay between Mr. and Mrs. Owens.  Mr Owens accepted that the marriage had broken down.  He did not accept it was through his behaviour.  He said that he and Mrs. Owens had learnt how to “rub along” and the only reason why Mrs. Owens wanted a divorce and didn’t want to live with him was because she has met someone else and wanted to make a new life.

The case went to trial in the Central Family Court in London and the judge decided that Mrs. Owens had not shown that it was unreasonable to expect her to live with Mr. Owens.  She appealed against this judgment but the Court of Appeal found no reason to interfere with the trial judge’s decision.  The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal.

It is important to understand that in the appeal courts are only reviewing whether the decision of the lower court was correct on the information before the judge.  The appeal courts do not look at fresh evidence.

Mrs. Owens’ solicitor and her barrister approached the case in the way that most family lawyers would have done.  The Family Law Protocol, with which lawyers are expected to comply, recommends not inflaming the situation so the details of the behaviour in the petition were fairly mild.  When it became clear that Mr. Owens wanted to defend the divorce, Mrs. Owens amended her petition to include further information but only going back over the previous couple of years.  However, the trial was limited to one day because at the time they would have wanted to limit the costs involved in arguing over the divorce. As a result, Mrs. Owens only elaborated on a few of the incidents set out in her petition.  With the benefit of hindsight I am sure they wish they had done it differently because the whole proceedings were based on the information before the judge in that first trial.

So how does this affect divorce applications for the future based on behaviour?

It is still advisable to try to avoid inflaming the situation so we will try to agree that there is to be a divorce, the basis for the divorce and the details of behaviour to be included in the Petition to avoid any possible dispute.  If the divorce is not defended it will only be necessary to include sufficient information to justify the court granting a divorce in accordance with the law.

If, however, a divorce is opposed we will need to look at what options there are for agreeing separation terms to avoid embarking on very expensive defended divorce proceedings.  If there is no alternative it will be necessary to include as much information as possible in the Petition about the behaviour and there may well need to be a very lengthy trial going through each and every allegation of behaviour to enable the judge to decide whether it is unreasonable to expect the Petitioner to live with the Respondent.

Unless and until there is a change in the law, negotiating your way through the divorce minefield requires expert help and at Harrogate Family Law we have knowledgeable and compassionate family law specialists will be able to guide you through the process.  To find out how 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Survival Guide: How to tell your children you are separating

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.

 

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