Vines Legal Logo

Vines Legal Limited

Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

Progressive • Dedicated • Persistent

Call today for your free initial, no obligation, consultation on 01246 555 610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

How to Protect Yourself as Part of an Unmarried Cohabiting Couple

family lawyer Chesterfield cohabitation agreementsIt’s increasingly common these days for couples to live together and not marry. As people’s priorities, and their preferences on marriage have changed in recent years, it’s not surprising that couples choose to live together, or ‘cohabit’, without tying the knot. Cohabitation can be described as two people who are not married, and not in a civil partnership, living together in a long-term relationship.

Although there’s no actual legal definition of a cohabitee in law in England and Wales, the persons involved are still considered as individuals in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately, this can be problematic for cohabitees who decide to part ways, only to find that they don’t have the same rights as couples who are married or who are in civil partnerships.

What Rights do Cohabiting Couples Have?

Unmarried couples have no legal rights at all, regardless of how long they have been in a relationship and how long they have lived together. Despite the familiarity of the phrase, there is no such thing as a ‘common-law’ wife or husband. Unfortunately, unmarried couples simply do not have the same rights as married couples, including an absence of maintenance rights, rights to their partner’s pension, and automatic inheritance.  Instead, they have to rely on Trusts Law which in today’s society can be viewed as archaic and unfair.

How Can I Protect Myself as Part of an Unmarried Cohabiting Couple?

As experts in matrimonial and family law, we’re well-versed in guiding couples through the process of protecting themselves when they choose to live together, but not marry. Here at Vines Legal, we’ve helped many couples and individuals protect their rights as part of unmarried cohabiting couples. In this instance, a Cohabitation Agreement is the most sensible solution.

Cohabitation Agreements can be drawn up to cover the financial aspects of a couple’s relationship whilst they are cohabiting. For example, this increasingly common legal document can be useful for a couple who choosing 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. Cohabitation Agreements are also a 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.

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 Jan 2021

Continue reading

Complying with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders During the Pandemic

Family lawyer Chesterfield - Child Arrangement Orders During The PandemicThe last few months have been a troubling time for everyone whilst dealing with the chaotic situation that the pandemic has inflicted on families across the world. For some, however, there is another complication to consider when it comes to keeping safe and complying with the rules that have resulted from the pandemic. For separated families with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders in place, careful navigation of the rules and regulations is essential. But don’t worry; here at Vines Legal, we’ve answered some of the most common questions we’ve been asked about complying with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders during the pandemic.

Can Children Move Between the Homes of Separated Parents in the UK?

The Stay at Home Rules were issued on 23rd March. Alongside this, the Government offered guidance which dealt specifically with child contact arrangements. It says: “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”

Obviously, this establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement. But it doesn’t mean that children must be moved between homes. In order to make a decision about whether a child is to move between parental homes, the child’s parents should make a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.

Since the original guidance in March, local restriction tier guidance for England was issued on 2nd December 2020, and states that “exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers” include that for the purposes of “arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians”. This includes moving between tiers for the same purpose.

How Should Parents Comply with Court Orders for Contact in the UK?

In order to ensure compliance with Child Arrangement Orders, the President of the Family Division of the High Court has issued national guidance for parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangement Orders made by the Family Court. This guidance states that parents, acting in agreement, are free to decide that the arrangements set out in a Child Arrangements Order should be temporarily varied. There is further guidance regarding situations where parents do not agree, however, which goes into arrangements in more detail.

The “key message”, the guidance states, should be that “where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child”.

Guidance for Parents with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders During Covid

As you can see, the pandemic has resulted in some variations to Family Court Child Arrangement Orders that can cause confusion if not properly researched and implemented. Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of Child Arrangements Orders, and can help to support families navigating arrangements throughout the pandemic. For guidance and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 28 Dec 2020

Continue reading

5 Ways to Make the Christmas Holidays go Smoothly

family lawyer Chesterfield - 5 ways to make the Christmas holidays go smoothlyAs Christmas approaches, it’s no secret that this year’s celebrations are likely to be a bit different to those you’ve enjoyed in the past. Navigating relationships over the festive season can be testing at the best of times; adding a global pandemic into the mix, with plenty of restrictions on what you can and can’t do is bound to add another layer of potential tension to the next few weeks.

It’s normal to feel stressed at Christmas time, but there are plenty of things you can do to help the holidays go smoothly. As experts in matrimonial and family law, we’ve put together some useful tips on how to make sure the festive period is as relaxing as possible.

Let Go of Perfect

Dissatisfaction at this time of year can stem from the expectation that the festive season is ‘supposed’ to be filled with non-stop joy and laughter. Try to be more realistic about the days over Christmas; no one can be cheerful 24/7 and it’s perfectly normal to experience fluctuations in mood. It’s been a tough year for many, so go easy on yourself and each other.

Schedule in Some ‘Me Time’

There’s no need to be in each other’s pockets for the whole of Christmas. Although there may be restrictions on socialising this year due to the pandemic, there are ways you can seek out your own space and enjoy some me time. Even if that’s a simple walk, or a hot bubble bath, taking time for yourself is important. If you’re calm and relaxed, then it’s much more likely that people around you will be too.

Don’t Bottle it Up!

Got something playing on your mind? Make an effort to get it off your chest, talk about how you’re feeling, and focus on meaningful communication. Brushing things under the carpet means your feelings are more likely to creep out at a later date. Deal with them now and avoid future meltdowns.

Plan for the Year Ahead

Making plans for 2021 can be a great way to look to the future and get excited about all the things you really want to do next year. Why not block out some time in the calendar for trips and holidays, days out and fun activities? This will give you, your spouse, and your children, something to look forward to in the New Year.

Practice Gratitude

Yes, it’s been a challenging year for many, many families. Take the time to find a quiet spot and try think of something you’re grateful for. It might only be something small, but practising gratitude is a sure fire way to lift your mood and put things into perspective.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. That being said, our first job is always to establish whether a relationship can be saved. A legal separation process should only be seen as a last resort, but if you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 14 Dec 2020

Continue reading

My Spouse Just Asked for a Divorce. What do I do Now?

My spouse just asked for a divorce, what do I do nowThe breakdown of a marriage is undoubtedly a stressful and difficult time for all involved. Sometimes, the decision to divorce is mutual, and both parties agree that separation is the best course of action. Other times, one spouse may initiate the divorce. If your husband or wife has asked you for a divorce, your next question will most likely be – What do I do now?

Once you have discussed your spouses’ divorce request, you may want to look into mediation. The process of mediation can help you both to communicate in a respectable environment. Despite it being an upsetting and stressful time, mediation can really help to maintain communication between you and your spouse.

Grounds for Divorce

To establish whether your spouses’ divorce request is valid, grounds for divorce must be considered. The only ground for divorce that needs to be established is that the marriage has broken down and cannot be saved. You’ll need to establish one of 5 facts to prove this: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years of separation with the consent of both partners, separation of five years even if one partner does not agree or has refused to cooperate, or desertion.

If one of these grounds can be met, your spouse can then file for divorce. In order to do so, you must firstly have been married for at least one year, and secondly, your marriage must be recognised as valid in the UK. Your spouse’s solicitor will then complete the divorce petition form, and ensure that it is filed with the court. You’ll then receive the completed petition form as well as the notice of proceedings form (which will contain your case number and details of what to do next), along with the acknowledgement of service form.

Seeking Advice on Divorce Petitions

You’ll then need to respond to the divorce petition, and it’s highly recommended that you take advice from a solicitor from this point. Adequate legal representation is essential as errors at any stage can be costly.

If you choose to agree with the divorce petition, you’ll need to fill out the acknowledgement of service form and return it to the court within 8 days. However, if you don’t agree, you’ll need to fill out the acknowledgement of service form, including the part of the form which specifies that you are defending the divorce. You must respond to this within 21 days, and a court hearing will follow which allows both parties to put across their arguments, via their solicitors.

If you have been asked for a divorce by your spouse, it’s understandable that you’ll have lots of questions. Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in matrimonial and family law and can assist you at every stage to help guide you through what can be a confusing and distressing time. For a free initial, no obligation consultation, please call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 2 Dec 2020

Continue reading

Child Arrangements During the Christmas Holidays

Divorce lawyer Chesterfield - Child arrangements at ChristmasAlthough Christmas is traditionally a time for celebration and joy, for separated parents it can be a little more complicated. However, there are plenty of ways that you and your ex-partner can navigate the Christmas holidays to ensure it’s as enjoyable and peaceful as possible. As experts in matrimonial and family law, we’ve put together some useful advice on how to make sure everyone enjoys the festive period.

Coming to an arrangement that works for you

For some separated parents, there will inevitably be stresses and difficulties that come with trying to organise the Christmas holidays around two households. It’s not always easy to amicably come to an arrangement for the children that everyone is over the moon about.

No, it may not be your idea of a perfect Christmas to split the big day itself down the middle, or have to disrupt your holidays travelling to and from your ex-partners house. But by taking the wishes and feelings of everyone concerned into account, and being flexible with timings and arrangements, it is possible for everyone to enjoy at least some aspects of the festive season.

Of course, everyone’s individual circumstances are different, and what works for one family might not be appropriate for another. There’s no right or wrong way to approach this; its about finding an arrangement that works best for all parties involved.

What happens if we can’t agree?

Unfortunately, there may be occasions when, despite the best of intentions on both sides, you and your ex-partner simply can’t come to an agreement about how to organise the Christmas holidays. It’s completely understandable that, following a divorce or separation, your relationship has become strained, or methods of communication have broken down. In this case, family mediation may be a sensible option.

Mediation means that an independent, un-biased third person will work with you and your ex-partner to encourage communication that will help you both come to a decision that you’re reasonably happy with. Of course, there will be some give and take involved, but reaching an agreement together with the help of a mediator can be both an amicable and constructive approach.

However, should you come to the end of the mediation process and you have been unable to reach an agreement that you’re both comfortable with, you can get a family law solicitor to make a formal application to the court requesting what is known as a Specific Issues Order. This order will solely relate to the arrangement in question as an isolated issue, or it may be part of a Child Arrangements Order application which addresses other arrangements too. Rest assured that should we need to formally apply for this type of order for you, the Court will fairly consider the wishes, circumstances, and preferences of both parents, and decide on an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children or child involved.

Advice and support from the experts

Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of Child Arrangements Orders, including Specific Issues Orders, and are well rehearsed in supporting families through these applications. 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 for Christmas and the future, 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 14 Nov 2020

Continue reading

The 5 Most Common Financial Mistakes Made During A Divorce

The 5 Most Common Financial Mistakes Made During A DivorceMaking sense of the financial aspects of divorce isn’t easy, especially during what is typically a stressful and emotional time for those involved. But financial settlements are a key part of the divorce process, and need to be worked through carefully and sensitively to ensure the best outcome for you and your family.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re well-versed in assisting our clients with financial settlements, and dedicated to ensuring the whole process runs smoothly. With that in mind, we’ve summarised 5 of the most common financial mistakes that clients can make, which we can help you avoid!

1 - Attempting to Hide Assets

It may be tempting to downplay assets that you don’t want your ex-spouse to have a share in following a divorce. But it’s strictly a bad idea; both non-disclosure of an asset, or being dishonest about its true value, means any financial settlement is open to challenges. Even if the settlement has been passed by the court, revealing non-disclosure at a later date could mean that your ex-spouse has the right to take you back to court. You may also be at risk of perjury if you fail to disclose your assets or income in full.

2 – Failing to Plan for the Future

Another common mistake that people make regarding finances is failing to plan for the future. Working out what finances you’ll need to survive on after you divorce is an important part of the process, and one that is key to your future wellbeing. Financial planning should include keeping track of your income and outgoings, as well as establishing what assets belong to the family, and what you need to live on comfortably after the divorce.

3 – Forgetting about Debt

Failing to take debt into account is another common mistake clients make. Unfortunately, you and your ex-spouse can both be held responsible for all debts, even if they are in your ex-spouse’s name. Cutting financial ties during a divorce is incredibly important to ensure that you’re protected in the event that repayments are missed. If you have no joint debts, a ‘notice of disassociation’ can be acquired which removes the financial connection with your ex-spouse on your credit file.

4 – Failing to Split Pensions

It’s easy for you to overlook pensions, but they are a key consideration and need to be included in your financial settlement. Once the value of a pension has been established, there are 2 commonly used options; pension sharing and offsetting. As the options are often complex, it is advisable to seek expert legal and financial advice.

5 – Trying to Save the Family Home

Of course, it is tempting to want to keep some resemblance of stability following a divorce by staying in the family home, especially if there are children involved. But its sometimes far more sensible financially to sell your home and split the proceeds between you and your ex-spouse, rather than trying a maintain a home that once benefitted from two people’s incomes. Buying something that is more manageable for the future, without the painful memories, may be a better option in the long run. Options here, however, need to be carefully tailored to the circumstances of the case and needs of dependent children.

If you want to avoid these common financial mistakes during your 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 27 Oct 2020

Continue reading

Is My Ex Entitled To Half My Business And Is This Viable?

Splitting a business during a divorceAs matrimonial solicitors, we know that divorce may be one of the most difficult, confusing and stressful times in your life. When you divorce, you and your ex-spouse need to make a decision on how on how to separate your finances. This includes dividing up property, savings, investments, and pensions. If you have children together, financial arrangements will also need to be made to ensure that they are supported, which may include child maintenance payments.

Taking Business Interests into Account

The process of separating finances after a divorce is never simple, but taking business interests into account can add another layer of complexity. There are many things to consider when a business is involved, and determining some of the following points is a good place to start. For example, are you and your ex-spouse both involved in the business? Do you both wish to remain actively involved or, does your business only involve one of you, with the other lacking knowledge of the way it’s run?

Then there’s always the possibility that one spouse established the business before the marriage, or that it may have been a family business that has been inherited. Whatever the circumstances, however, there must be full disclosure of all assets including those jointly and solely owned. Commonly, the main income of either both, or one of the parties, is actively generated by the business. Following the divorce, therefore, it is essential that this income meets the parties’ needs.

How are Business Assets Divided when you Divorce?

Whether you run a limited company, a partnership, or you are a sole trader, the Family Court will take the value of your business into account when dividing up the assets between you and your ex-spouse. An independent valuation of the business may be required. It can be hard to extract cash from the business to pay the other party a lump sum without damaging the business and its ability to produce an income. Care needs to be taken in decisions relating to a business in a divorce.

As you can see, it’s not a straightforward process, and Vines Legal would strongly recommend seeking expert advice in order to successfully navigate you through the process. Although it’s a complex area, our matrimonial solicitors are well rehearsed in divorce proceedings that involve businesses. We’ll assist you at every stage, and help guide you through what can be a confusing and distressing time. Our experienced team will work with you to help ensure you understand the process, and work hard to achieve the best financial settlement for you.

If you’d like advice on ensuring your business is valued fairly and accurately, guidance on how to remove your spouse from the business if they are not actively involved, or advice on dividing the business, we can help. For immediate, friendly and professional advice, call us on 01246 555610 to arrange a free initial, no obligation consultation.

By Vines Legal on 18 Oct 2020

Continue reading

How Is Child “Custody” Determined?

Divorce lawyer Chesterfield child custodyAfter the breakdown of a relationship, arrangements over the “custody” of children can be set out within a Child Arrangements Order. Of course, making the correct arrangements for your children after a divorce or separation is absolutely crucial to their upbringing, and decisions about where they’ll live and how much time they’ll spend with the other parent are incredibly important.

What are Child Arrangements?

Over the years, you may have heard the terms "custody" and "access" or "residence"  and "contact" used in relation to these circumstances, but they’re now most commonly referred to as ‘child arrangements’ and are a key step to determining the future care of your children. Under the Children Act 1989, both parents normally have a legal responsibility to look after their children, financially and otherwise, until they are 18 years old or have left full-time education.

In an ideal world, parents would decide these arrangements 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 who the children will live with and the regularity of their time spent with the other parent. Because every case is different, the Court does not have a pre-determined view as to whether the children should live with one parent or the other.

Making Child Arrangements if you Divorce or Separate

As mentioned in our previous blog post, only those with parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. In the event that you do not have parental responsibility, permission from the Court can be requested to make an application.  

The Role of Mediation

If the details of child arrangements cannot be agreed between you and your ex-spouse or partner, mediation can be a useful and sensible option. The mediator will be able to give you impartial advice while you and your ex-partner make decisions about where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, when the contact takes place and how, and any child maintenance payments.

At the end of the mediation process, you’ll get a document showing exactly what you agreed. This agreement is not legally binding, but you can make it legally binding by getting a solicitor to draft an Order  for a Court to approve after mediation. In the event that you can’t agree, even after mediation, you can ask a Court to decide on anything you have not already agreed. Before applying to Court, in most circumstances, you will have to show that you’ve at least attended a meeting to see if mediation is right for you.

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 6 Oct 2020

Continue reading

Protecting the Children During A Divorce or Separation

Protecting the Children During A Divorce or SeparationGoing through a divorce or separation is an exceptionally difficult time for all parties involved. But when there are children to consider too, it can be even harder. Making arrangements for looking after your children is a necessary step that must be undertaken in the event of a divorce or separation, and providing you and your ex-partner can agree on these, it may be possible to avoid going to court.

For example, if you can agree on where the children will live, how much time they’ll spend with each parent, and how you’ll financially support them, there’s no need to go to a court hearing. You can, of course, use a solicitor to make the arrangement you have agreed on legally binding, which may be a sensible option.

Ensuring the Best Interests of your Children

Mediation can be a good way to get help agreeing on child arrangements, as the mediator will be able to give impartial advice without taking sides. If this fails, however, and you and your ex-partner are unable to agree on the above points, engaging a solicitor is an effective way of ensuring the best possible arrangements are made that are in the very best interests of your children.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

Formerly known as Residence Orders and Contact Orders, a Child Arrangement Order may be required from the Court to decide where the child will live and what contact they should have with the other parent. If shared care is ordered, this doesn’t always mean that the time is split between the parents in an equal fashion.

What about Parental Responsibility?

Only those with parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. For example, if the father of the children is not married to the mother, and is not registered on the children’s birth certificate, he will not automatically have parental responsibility. If the father is registered on the children’s birth certificate, but this happened before December 2003, he will also not automatically have parental responsibility.

If you don’t have Parental Responsibility of the child, you will need to request permission from the Court to make a separate application for this. However, this can be avoided if the other parent is willing to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement with you.

What Does a Child Arrangement Order Involve?

In short, a Child Arrangement Order involves formalising the decisions of who your child or children should live with, how much time they should spend with the other parent, and the logistics involved in that with regard to timings and contact. 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, a Specific Issue Order can be arranged. 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 without the consent of the other parent.

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 going through a divorce, and want to ensure that you protect 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 14 Sep 2020

Continue reading

FAQs - Your Divorce Questions Answered

Divorce FAQs family divorce lawyer ChesterfieldAs experts in matrimonial and family law, we’ve been asked just about every question possible when it comes to divorce and separation. And as you can imagine, we are well versed in providing factual, trustworthy and honest answers! Questions are bound to come at all stages of the divorce process. That’s why we’ve compiled a summary of frequently asked questions and answers, in an attempt to make what can be an extremely challenging time that little bit easier.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?

Starting the divorce process may seem like a daunting and potentially lengthy prospect. But in reality, it can take between approximately 4 and 6 months to obtain a divorce, although the Coronavirus pandemic has increased these timescales at present. There may be complications, however, that can considerably extend the process, including complex financial issues, child arrangements, assets, property, and pensions.

That’s why we’d always recommend that you seek legal representation right from the beginning. An error at any stage can be costly, sometimes difficult to put right, and may leave you in a worse position than you would have been if you had used a solicitor from the start.

What are the Grounds for Divorce?

The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down and cannot be saved. To prove this, you’ll need to establish one of 5 facts: Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, two years of Separation with the consent of both partners, Separation of five years even if one partner does not agree or has refused to cooperate, or Desertion.

How Must Does a Divorce Cost?

To lodge a Divorce Petition at Court there is a filing fee of £550. The person issuing the petition is obliged to pay the Court fee, but can ask that the respondent makes a contribution to this of the fact relied upon is fault based. In addition, there are solicitor’s fees. We work hard to provide you with the best possible outcome, and appointing a solicitor at this stage is a sensible way of ensuring that you get one to one support when you need it, and a full explanation of all options from the outset.

Do I Have to Go to Court?

The receipt of the final decree absolute legally dissolves a marriage; it would not be usual for the parties to have to attend Court for the divorce proceedings unless the suit is defended or there is a disagreement over a costs claim. However, it is important to note that the divorce proceedings do not include the resolution of financial settlements or child arrangements.

If you are able to resolve financial matters by way of agreement, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be required to attend at court. However, if financial and child arrangements cannot be resolved between the two parties, you may need to go to court. Although this can be a stressful process, rest assured that your solicitor will be there to guide you through all the required forms, statements, evidence and responses, ensuring that you get the best and fairest possible outcome.

If you have further questions regarding divorce, Vines Legal, who are specialists in matrimonial and family law, can help. For a free initial, no obligation consultation, please call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 3 Sep 2020

Continue reading

There are 170 items on 17 pages.