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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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Tips on Limiting the Financial Impact of Divorce

Tips on Limiting the Financial Impact of DivorceThe breakdown of a marriage is understandably upsetting and worrying for all parties involved. As matrimonial lawyers, Vines Legal have helped many families navigate the complexities of divorce and separation, and with professional support and advice, there is a way through. One of the many important areas of divorce to navigate is the financial impact it can have on you and your family. Using our vast experience, we’ve put together a few important tips on how to limit the financial impacts of divorce.

Take Debts into Account

Taking all debts into account is extremely important when going through the process of divorce. Even if debts are just in yours or your (ex)spouse’s sole name, they may still be considered part of the matrimonial pot. Cutting financial ties during a divorce and reaching an agreement as to how the debts are to be repaid is a key component of your overall financial resolution.  To ensure that your financial association with your (ex) spouse is severed , a ‘notice of disassociation’ can be acquired which removes your financial connection with them on your credit file.

Declare your Assets

Although it may be tempting to minimise, or even hide assets you don’t want your ex-partner to have a share in, doing so is almost guaranteed to spell disaster. Non-disclosure of an asset or being dishonest about its true value will mean that any financial settlement you do receive will be open to challenges in the future. Even settlements already passed by the court that reveal non-disclosure afterwards could mean that your ex-partner can take you back to court. Failing to disclose your assets or income in full can even put you at risk of perjury action.

Consider Pensions

Pensions can often be a person’s biggest asset, therefore protecting them will limit the financial impact of a divorce. Assets that you and your spouse have acquired during the course of your marriage will ultimately be divided, and this of course includes pensions. There are three main options when it comes to dealing with pensions in a divorce: pension offsetting, pension sharing orders and pension attachment orders. It’s worth noting that seeking legal advice from a matrimonial solicitor before deciding upon an option is a must.

Seek Professional Advice

Possibly the most important piece of advice we can give for limiting the financial impact of divorce is hire a professional matrimonial law specialist. It can be tempting to try to take control of the financial settlements yourself to save money, but there are many problems with this approach. An expert will be extremely well rehearsed in the complexities of financial settlements and following professional advice from day one will almost certainly save you time and money in the long run. It’s even more important to seek professional advice if you and your ex-partner cannot agree on a settlement between yourselves, as the court may need to become involved to reach a resolution.

If you want to limit the financial impact of divorce, our professional and experienced team at Vines Legal can help. To ensure you achieve the best financial settlement for you, contact us on 01246 555610 for a FREE initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 16 May 2022

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My Ex wants to Move my Children Aboard. What are my Rights?

moving children abroad divorce family lawyer ChesterfieldThe process of separating from your partner is never going to be an easy time, especially when there are children involved. It can take time to come to an agreement involving the future upbringing of shared children, and indeed make a decision that not only both parties are comfortable with but is also in the best interest of your children. But what happens if your ex suddenly decides that they want to move your children abroad? As experts in family law, Vines Legal are here to explain your rights.

Do you Have Parental Responsibility for your Child?

Firstly, it is important to establish whether or not you have parental responsibility for your children. For example, a father will not automatically have parental responsibility if he is not married to the mother and is not registered on a child's birth certificate. If the father is registered on the birth certificate, but it happened before December 2003, he will also not automatically have parental responsibility. However, even if you do not have parental responsibility for the child, you can still object.

Is the Child Habitually Resident in the UK?

The law in the UK on taking a child to live abroad can be complicated. But, if the child in question is habitually resident in the UK and the court has jurisdiction over them, then one parent cannot take the child abroad to live unless they have the other parent with parental responsibility’s agreement to the move or a court order.

What Happens if I Object to the Move?

So, what can you do if your ex wants to move your children abroad and you choose to object? In this case, it is possible to apply to court for an order prohibiting the child being taken out of the UK. Commonly named a Prohibited Steps Order, this type of order can be issued by the court to prevent a child’s parent from taking a particular action concerning the child, including moving abroad.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if the other parent does move abroad with the child without the other parent’s agreement or a UK court order giving permission for the child’s relocation, they have broken the law. In fact, it may amount to the criminal offence of child abduction, and potentially could lead to the child being brought back to the UK under the Hague Convention.

Further Help & Advice

If you think that your ex is going to move your children away, we advise that you get legal advice straight away not only to determine your rights, but to get support with taking immediate action if needed. Please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 25 Apr 2022

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5 Things you Need to Know About Cohabitation Agreements

cohabitation agreements divorce family lawyer ChesterfieldIt’s much more common now to choose to live with your partner before getting married. Of course, you may decide that marriage is not for you, and continue to live together throughout your life. In fact, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type according to official figures.

Despite the changing circumstances of families across the UK, many people still believe that by simply living with a partner, or having children with them, that they are automatically entitled to a share of the other’s wealth when the relationship breaks down. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in the eyes of the law. If you’re cohabiting and wish to put in place some level of protection, a Cohabitation Agreement may be the answer. As experts in family law, here are 5 things you need to know about Cohabitation Agreements.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A Cohabitation Agreement is essentially a legal agreement which can be drawn up to regulate the terms of your relationship and decide, in advance, what would happen to your assets, finances, and family, if you and your partner choose to separate in the future.

But what about ‘Common Law Marriage?’

Despite the common misconception, there is no such thing as a ‘common-law’ wife or husband; unmarried couples do not actually have any legal rights at all, regardless of how long they have been together. As the law currently stands in the UK, unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples. This includes an absence of maintenance rights, rights to their partner’s pension, and automatic inheritance; unless, of course, you have made a will.

What can be Included in a Cohabitation Agreement?

Many matters can be covered to suit your individual situation, including details on the payment of household bills, the ownership of your property, and even the care of shared pets. For example, if you choose to buy a property and intend to formalise who will pay certain bills or debts, or when drawing up what shares in the property the individuals will hold, a Cohabitation Agreement is a great solution.

Can we have a Cohabitation Agreement when there are Children Involved?

Yes, certainly. Cohabitation Agreements are a really sensible idea if the couple chooses to have children. And, in the event of a separation, Cohabitation Agreements are a good way to protect both parties.

Will a Cohabitation Agreements Protect me if we Separate?

That’s the idea! Taking the time to draw up a Cohabitation Agreement from the outset can save huge amounts of money on litigation fees in the future, not to mention stress, should a separation occur.

As experts in Cohabitation Agreements, Vines Legal can provide expert advice and expertise on the matter. For a free initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01246 555610.

By Vines Legal on 11 Apr 2022

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What are Prohibited Steps Orders and How can they be Used?

prohibited steps orders children family lawyer ChesterfieldHere at Vines Legal, we know relationship breakdowns are hard, especially when there are children involved. As emotions run high, sometimes tensions build during a separation and there may be times when you and your ex-partner simply can’t agree on arrangements you need to make for your child/children. Of course, keeping in mind their best interests is always a top priority, a Child Arrangements Order may be made following an application to the court. 

Child Arrangement Orders and Specific Issues Orders

In the event that a Child Arrangements Order is needed, it will typically cover who your children should live with and how much time they spend with the other parent. However, the Court will not have an automatic view as to whether the child or children should live with their mother or father. For any specific decisions regarding your child’s upbringing such as where they go to school, decisions surrounding medical care, or whether they should receive a religious education, it is possible to apply for a Specific Issue Order.

Prohibited Steps Orders

It’s also possible to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, which is issued by the court to prevent a child’s parent from taking a particular action concerning the child. This is a helpful resource if you have a strong objection to your child’s other parent making a certain decision, and you can ask the court to make an order preventing this. The child in question must be under the age of 16, and an order will usually only last until they are 16.

What Issues do Prohibited Steps Orders Cover?

A Prohibited Steps Order will typically cover an issue that could have a substantial impact on the child’s life or on their relationship with the other parent, for example: changing a child’s surname, moving to a new home a significant distance away, or moving a child to a new school.

It’s worth noting that Prohibited Steps Order can be made against anyone, not just a child’s parents. In fact, aside from parents, an application for a Prohibited Steps Order can be made by a child’s guardians, anyone named on a child arrangements order, and anyone with parental responsibility for the child, such as a stepparent who has acquired it. It’s also important to remember that unless there is a good reason to the contrary, the court usually prefers children to have contact and relationships with both parents, therefore the act of moving a child away simply to stop you seeing them is very unlikely to be granted.

How do I Apply for a Prohibited Steps Order?

In order to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, a C100 form will need to be filed with the court. But before the application is made, the parents are required, in most cases, to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting. The court’s main consideration when deciding on whether to grant an order will be the child’s welfare. 

Although applications to the court are usually made as a last resort when parents can’t agree after mediation, it’s important that you seek expert advice from a family law specialist. At Vines Legal we offer specialist advice. Of course, if you are worried that your ex-partner is intending to take action that you deem unacceptable for your child, we would always advise that you seek legal advice. In some instances, it may be possible to negotiate an agreement without the need for court proceedings. But if legal action is necessary, we can also help. Feel free to contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation where we can explain all of the options available to you.

By Vines Legal on 1 Apr 2022

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Can I Change my Child’s Name without Permission from my Ex?

Can I Change my Child’s Name without Permission from my Ex?As family lawyers, we’ve helped many couples to navigate the process of separation when there are children involved. Unfortunately, there may be cases where you and your ex-partner are not able to agree on various arrangements for your child/children. For example, sometimes one parent may wish to change a child’s name without the agreement of the other parent. So, what is the legal stance in circumstances such as this?

Parental Responsibility

Having parental responsibility for your child means that the other parent has a legal obligation to include you when they make important decisions about the child’s life. The law says that a person with parental responsibility for a child is able to change any part of that child’s name, whether that’s their forename, surname, or both. They’re also legally allowed to add or remove names or change the spelling. However, consent of both parties with parental responsibility is required.

Distinguishing Between a Legal Name and a ‘Known As’ Name

A child’s legal name will be the name on their birth certificate which is used for legal, administrative and official purposes, and can be done by deed poll. However, there is also something called a ‘known as’ name. Although a legal name may be on the birth certificate, GP’s and schools, for example, often give parents and carers the option to register a ”known as” name as well as the child’s legal name. Although the legal name will be used on documentation such as school and medical records, the known as name can be used on less official documentation, and teachers could address the child by their known as name. 

How do you Change a Child’s Name?

The process of changing a child’s name happens via deed poll. If the child is under 18, all those with parental responsibility must agree to the change in surname and a Court Order is needed to enrol the change in surname at the Royal Courts of Justice. However, what if you want to change your child’s name but your ex has parental responsibility and doesn’t agree?

In an ideal world, parents would make decisions like this together, but as disputes are common during the breakdown of a relationship, Courts will often assist. In this case, you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order which will determine a number of factors, for example, who the children will live with, the regularity of their time spent with the other parent, or indeed, what their legal name should be. Where there is a Child Arrangements Order in place, the child cannot usually use a known-as name as the legislation prevents any person causing the child to be known by a different surname other than if they have the written consent of everyone with parental responsibility for the child or consent from the court.

It’s also worth noting here that it is possible to apply for a Specific Issue Order which can decide a particular issue, such as where the child is to be being educated or medical treatment a child is to receive. There’s also the option of a Prohibited Steps Order, which can prevent one parent doing something, such as changing your child’s name or moving abroad without the other parent’s consent.

Child Arrangement Orders and More

Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of child arrangements, and years of experience in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. If you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, and want to ensure that arrangements regarding your children are decided upon as smoothly and amicably as possibly, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation. We’d be happy to explain all of the options available to you in a friendly, professional manner.

By Vines Legal on 17 Mar 2022

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Progressive, Dedicated, Persistent – What Do Our Core Values Mean to You?

progressive, dedicated, persistent - divorce lawyer in Chesterfield, DerbyshireAs a small team of Family Law Solicitors, Vines Legal has firmly believed in the importance of Core Values from day one. In our latest blog post, we talk to our very own Director and Principal Solicitor Catherine Wenborn about the root beliefs that Vines Legal strives to operate from, and what they mean to her and her clients.

“Our core values have always been extremely important to us as a business. They are the beliefs that really drive us from an individual perspective too, and a solid set of guidelines for our behaviour. We chose Progressive, Dedicated, and Persistent as our values with much care and always endeavour to apply them to every aspects of our working life.

For example, we are progressive as a business in terms of technology. The pandemic has truly changed the way we interact with our clients and being unable to meet face to face for quite some time was initially a challenge. We have, however, utilised technology in such a way that we were still able to provide a personal, high-quality service by quickly adapting to virtual meetings.

We are progressive in terms of how we use different forms of dispute resolution. In my 20 plus years’ experience specialising in Matrimonial and Family Law, I know there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach! We’re also progressive in the way that we have grown organically as a team. We’re really proud of the way that we take on people at the early stages of their working lives, supporting them through their qualifications and into their future careers within the business. Many of the team have been a part of Vines Legal since its creation in 2009 and are extremely proud to be a part of a growing and ambitious law firm.

Moving on to our core value ‘Dedicated’, we are extremely dedicated to working as hard as we can to carefully look after our clients’ best interests. Of course, each of our clients and their circumstances are different. In the same way that everyone is an individual, our service is equally bespoke and tailored towards the needs of that individual and their unique circumstances.

Finally, I am proud that Vines Legal is both persistent and robust in the way that we operate. We strive to be always pragmatic, as well as sensible, while offering realistic advice to our clients. We always strive to achieve a negotiated outcome for clients wherever possible, adopting a robust position where necessary and working vigorously on behalf of clients to protect their best interests.”

As a small team of Family Law Solicitors, Vines Legal is committed to delivering excellent service to our clients. We’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce, whilst upholding our core values of Progressive, Dedicated, and Persistent during the course of our work. For further help and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 10 Mar 2022

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5 Things you Need to Know about Pension Sharing Orders

pension sharing orders divorce lawyer ChesterfieldAlthough there are many things to consider during a divorce, it’s no secret that a substantial part of the divorce proceedings will focus on finances. Both you and your ex-spouse will inevitably want to make sure that your futures are financially secure when you part ways.

Here at Vines Legal, we know that one of the most important financial considerations is your pension. It’s common for pensions to be one of the biggest assets you have, therefore protecting your pension in the event of a divorce is a real necessity.

The most common and effective way to fairly split a pension, in the event of a divorce, is a pension sharing order. This is when one spouse obtains a share of their ex-spouse’s pension by court order. We’ve highlighted 5 things you need to know about pension sharing orders.

1. What are Pension Sharing Orders?

As stated above, pension sharing orders result in one spouse legally obtaining a share of their ex-spouse’s pension. This is enforced by a court order, and typically calculated by referencing several important factors. The agreed share is then debited from one party’s pension pot and credited to the other party’s pension pot.

2. Only a Court can Issue Pension Sharing Orders

As a court must issue the pension sharing order, it’s vital that you discuss pension sharing with a matrimonial law specialist in the first instance. They will be able to correctly initiate the process for you and avoid any mistakes or oversights along the way.

3. Pension Sharing Orders Can Allow for a Clean Break

Pension sharing is a popular course of action as it allows for a clean break. Again though, it is advisable to seek legal advice on this course of action as it can be a more complicated process depending on individual circumstances, the ages of the parties and whether a clean break is appropriate.

4. Marriages and Civil Partnerships

It’s worth noting that pension sharing orders can be used in the context of divorce but also when dissolving a civil partnership.

5. Pension Valuations

Before a couple can establish exactly how much they will each receive from a split pension, a valuation is necessary. Valuing a pension is a complex process, which is why, in appropriate cases we recommend investing in an independent pension sharing report.

If you are considering a separation or divorce, it’s key that you know your rights when it comes to splitting your assets to minimise the financial impact that your divorce will have on your retirement. Here at Vines Legal we offer expert legal advice.

If you are in the process of a divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and support on how best to arrange your finances, including your pension. For a free initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers, please contact us on 01246 555610.

 

By Vines Legal on 15 Feb 2022

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Meet the Latest Addition to the Vines Team, Paralegal Catrin Jones

Catrin Jones - Paralegal at Vines Legal family lawyer in ChesterfieldCatrin started working at Vines Legal as a Paralegal in August last year, after completing an undergraduate degree in Law at the University of Derby. Alongside her work at Vines, she is currently undertaking her Legal Practice Course and master’s degree in law, also at the University of Derby. The 2-year course consists of most Saturdays spent at University alongside 4 days a week working and a study day. Catrin has a packed but thoroughly enjoyable schedule!

“Working at Vines Legal alongside my studies is busy, but well worth it,” explains Catrin. “I am able to put everything I learn into practice, applying theory to my work every day. If there’s anything I want to delve deeper into with regard to my studies I am in the perfect place to learn from those I work with; there’s always help if I need it. It’s such a valuable way of learning. Not only do I get a good grasp of all the basics, but I also get to put that basic understanding into both practice and theory. Supporting the other solicitors as a Paralegal is just the perfect way to learn.”

Catrin decided on a career in law after spending her gap year in Australia and talking to friends about their own career goals. “I’ve been told that I’m really good at looking at situations from many different angles and getting my point across in an effective way. So, for me, law seemed like a great way to use those natural skills and develop them further.”

During the 3rd year of her undergraduate degree, Catrin embarked on a volunteering role in the University Student Legal Advice Centre, primarily focussed on family law. “I really enjoy the personal aspect of family law,” explains Catrin. “It’s nice to be able to get to know the person involved face to face, and actually see who I am helping. I enjoy working through the process and seeing the result at the end. Often people’s lives will be very different and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help them through what are often tough situations.”

Catrin is looking forward to her future career at Vines Legal, focussing on completing her training and becoming fully qualified. Speaking of Vines Legal and her future ambitions, Catrin said: “It’s fantastic to be part of a vibrant, growing law firm. I am surrounded by great people who inspire me and allow me to imagine where I could be career wise in a few years. Everyone gets on so well and the atmosphere is supportive and welcoming. It’s definitely my ambition to stay at Vines and progress my career.”

To contact us for a free initial, no obligation consultation, please email  enquiries@vineslegal.co.uk or call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 9 Feb 2022

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Are you Ready for Love?!

pre-nuptial-agreements-lawyer-in-chesterfieldIf your Valentine’s Day culminates in proposal, will you be considering a prenup?

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many couples are planning big changes such as moving in together, buying a property, or getting married. Getting engaged on Valentine’s Day might seem a cliché to some, but for many it’s the perfect day for a marriage proposal. According to statistics, there are an average of 12,100 Google searches each month for ‘how to propose’, and in February 2018, this surged to a whopping 22,000!

But what about prenups? Often thought of as unromantic documents written up by the rich and famous to protect their assets, prenuptial agreements have become increasingly common in the UK over the last few years. So, are they worth it?

Of course, there’s every chance that your marriage will be long and happy. But if the worst did happen, would you want to be prepared? If circumstances were to change, a Prenuptial Agreement would provide both parties with much greater certainty on the outcome of any divorce, and make sure your assets were divided fairly.

If Valentine’s Day brings a proposal and it’s not your first marriage, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d want to look after your assets. Perhaps there are children or dependants involved from previous relationships, and you’d like to ensure their future financial stability? Or maybe there’s an imbalance in your financial provision as a couple and you’d like to protect yourself?

Cohabitation agreements lawyer in ChesterfieldAlternatively, if you and your partner have decided to move in with each other this year, and are not quite ready to tie the knot, you may wish to consider a Cohabitation Agreement. Taking the time to draw up a Cohabitation Agreement from the outset can save huge amounts of money on litigation fees in the future, not to mention stress, should a separation occur, and are a sensible way to protect your rights when you live with someone. Not only can you enjoy peace of mind and avoid confusion; future decisions regarding property, money, children, and pets will be pre-determined in the event of a relationship breakdown.

For adxvice and expertise surrounding Prenuptial Agreements or Cohabitation Agreements, look no further than Vines Legal. We offer a free initial, no obligation consultation, for immediate, friendly, and professional advice, whatever Valentine’s Day holds for you.

By Vines Legal on 1 Feb 2022

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How to Decide Where your Children Live after a Separation

Decide where children live after separation divorce lawyer ChesterfieldIt may seem as though there is a never-ending list of things to arrange, and a mountain of difficult decisions to make when you embark on the process of a separation. Throw in decisions regarding the future of your children and it can be understandably overwhelming. As Family Law solicitors with expertise in child arrangements, Vines Legal have a wealth of experience in working to ensure that child arrangements after a separation are made in everyone’s best interests.  It’s not always a clear-cut decision as to where your children will live after the separation but don’t worry, with the right advice and support, the right decision can be made.

Consider Family Mediation

If you’re struggling to decide where your children will live after a separation, mediation can be a useful resource to access. Parents who wish to begin court proceedings in relation to children must usually attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) which will help to ensure that all parties are well informed on both the subject of mediation and other forms of family dispute resolution. The mediator will be able to give impartial advice without taking sides, therefore mediation can be a valuable resource to access when coming to an agreement on child arrangements.

What if we Can’t Agree?

If you and your ex-partner can’t agree on the arrangements for your child or children, an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order will likely be required. It’s worth bearing in mind that the Court will not have an automatic view as to whether the child or children should live with their mother or father. Every case is different, as are everyone’s family circumstances. In the event that a Child Arrangements Order is needed, it will typically cover who your children should live with and how much time they spend with the other parent.

For any specific decisions regarding your child’s upbringing such as where they go to school, decisions surrounding medical care, or whether they should receive a religious education, it is possible to apply for a Specific Issue Order. You can also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to stop the other parent from making a decision about the child’s upbringing, for example, moving abroad or changing the name of the child without the consent of the other parent.

The Best Outcome for your Children

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. If you are considering a separation or a divorce, and want to ensure that you get the best outcome for your children during the process, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation where we can explain all of the options available to you.

By Vines Legal on 18 Jan 2022

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