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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.

Navigating Child Arrangements During the School Holidays

Navigating Child Arrangements During the School Holidays family lawyer ChesterfieldThe school holidays are a welcome break for many children who have been working hard all year. But it’s safe to say the holidays come with a few complications for parents, from childcare issues and financial pressures to keeping the kids entertained for weeks on end. For separated couples, there may be added complications. Trying to organise a six week break between two households can be a challenge, especially when it comes to keeping all parties happy with the schedule. As experts in family law, here’s our advice on navigating child arrangements during the holidays.

Plan Ahead

If you’re thinking about taking your children away for a summer holiday, whether abroad or in the UK, considering dates early in the year and well in advance of the school holidays is a must. It’s courteous and respectful to the other parent to give them plenty of time to plan their own breaks with the children, allowing them to spend quality time with both family units over the summer. By agreeing on the child arrangements at the beginning of each year, or at least by Easter, everyone will have plenty of time to plan who will spend what time with the children during each of the school holidays. 

Prepare the Details

In order to keep both parties informed and comfortable with holiday plans over the summer, make sure you provide the other parent with the full details of the holiday as soon as you have them. As a minimum, dates, location, accommodation and flight details should be shared.

Agree on a Contact Plan

Whilst your children are away with the other parent, you may wish to keep in touch with them periodically, and they you. Agreeing in advance when you will contact them and vice versa is a good idea to keep everyone feeling connected and happy, whether that’s by phone, text or Zoom, for example. If you’re likely to be in an area with poor signal, make sure you advise the other parent of this to avoid any unnecessary worry.

Get Legal Advice if you Need It

As family lawyers, we understand that not all parents are able to come to arrangements between themselves. For example, after an acrimonious split where emotions are still running high it might be impossible to talk about child arrangements over the school holidays in a calm, civilised way.

Vines Legal can provide advice and support on how to best put the arrangements in place and how to negotiate the time that you wish your children to spend with you during the summer holidays. Sometimes dealing with a third party can take the emotional stress out of the discussions and allow both parties to come to an agreement that suits everyone. And if you can’t agree, Vines Legal can support you through recommending mediation, or implementing Child Arrangements Orders should this be needed. Please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation and we’d be happy to explain the options available to you in a friendly, professional manner.

By Vines Legal on 25 Jun 2022

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How to Avoid Relationship Breakdown During the Summer Holidays

avoid relationship breakdown summer holidays family lawyer ChesterfieldThe summer holidays can be a stressful time for families, with expectations running high. You’ve scheduled some time off to spend with your family, spent some money on a holiday, and are looking forward to what you imagine will be a relaxing break. Just like at Christmas when you have high expectations of the perfect family get together, when things don’t go to plan, it can be extremely disappointing.

Relationship charity Relate experience a spike in calls during after the Christmas period, but also in late August and September, straight after the summer break. Some couples may think their summer holiday is a chance to sort things out, but sadly find they are unable to. As experienced matrimonial and family lawyers, here are our tips on how to avoid relationship breakdown during the summer holidays.

Don’t Neglect ‘Me Time’

The summer holidays often mean that families are forced to spend much more time together, often in close proximity, for an extended period of time. This can be stressful and overwhelming for some, especially those who value their alone time to recharge. There’s no need to be in each other’s pockets for the whole of the summer holidays. So why not seek out your own space and enjoy some me time? Whether it’s a solo swim, simple walk, or a quiet coffee away from the hustle and bustle, 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.

Stick to a Routine

During term time, families are often used to a tight routine. During the summer holidays, this typically becomes far more relaxed and there’s much more pressure to keep children entertained. This naturally leads to frayed tempers. But there are many activities that you can plan together as a family to keep some structure in place. That might be a walk before dinner every evening, a daily board game, or a scheduled hour of arts and crafts.

Reconnect

As parents, it’s really common to fall into the trap of not seeing their friends as much, particular when your children are very young. Everyone is busy and life gets in the way. But summer can provide the perfect chance for reconnecting. Lighter evenings mean there are more opportunities for outdoor activities, like games, picnics and barbeques, where parents and children from different families can get together and enjoy themselves.

Switch off from Work

If you have booked some time off work during the holidays, try to ensure that it really is time off. Make an effort to avoid checking emails or taking calls, providing your job allows, and focus on enjoying time with your family.

Here at Vines Legal, we offer a free initial consultation. If you are experiencing relationship breakdown, please contact us on 01246 555610.

By Vines Legal on 17 Jun 2022

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Frequently Asked Questions About the UK’s New No Fault Divorce Laws

no fault divorce FAQs, divorce lawyer ChesterfieldAs of April 2022, the UK has introduced landmark reforms to divorce laws, introducing a new no-fault divorce option which is aimed at reducing conflict between separating couples. As experienced divorce lawyers in Chesterfield, this is undoubtedly a welcome change to the law in the respect that it effectively removes blame from the divorce process, therefore alleviating stress on both separating couples and any children they may share. So, here a few answers to the most pressing questions we’ve been asked about the new law.

How Exactly has the Law Changed?

Described as the biggest shake up in divorce law for more than half a century, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020) ends the need for separating couples to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage. Before the law changed, one spouse would have to make accusations about the other’s conduct, such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or adultery, or alternatively face years of separation before the courts would allow a divorce to be granted, regardless of whether they had mutually decided to separate. This new law essentially negates the need to place blame, so a spouse or a couple jointly can now apply for divorce by simply stating their marriage has broken down irretrievably. 

Why Has the Law Changed?

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, the intention was to “reduce the acrimony couples endure and end the anguish that children suffer.” Identifying that the breakdown of a marriage can be a stressful time for all involved, especially children, the new law “allows couples to apply for divorce without having to prove fault, ending the blame game, where a marriage has broken down irretrievably, and enabling couples to move on with their lives without the bitter wrangling of an adversarial divorce process.”

Why is Abolishing Blame so Important?

In essence, the law has been changed in order to remove any unnecessary finger-pointing and tension at a time where emotions are already running high. It also spares children from witnessing their parents’ mudslinging and becoming embroiled in any animosity. In addition, it stops one partner from vindictively contesting a divorce and locking their spouse into an unhappy marriage. For example, domestic abusers could previously use their ability to challenge the process to further harm their victims, but these reforms will put an end to this behaviour.

What Else has Changed?

In addition to ending ‘the blame game’ associated with divorce, the new law introduces a minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to a conditional order of divorce being made. This allows more time for couples to agree on a variety of practical arrangements for the future. Another welcome change is the simplification of the language used. Divorce language has previously been tricky to understand, so the changes include replacing the terms ‘decree nisi’, ‘decree absolute’ and ‘petitioner’, with ‘conditional order’, ‘final order’ and ‘applicant’.

How Can Vines Legal Help?

It’s clear that the new divorce law will inevitably make the process less stressful, it’s still strongly advised that a solicitor is involved to ensure each party has representation to act on their behalf throughout the process.

Vines Legal offers a FREE, no obligation initial consultation where we will explain everything in full, including all the options available to you. Click here to complete our enquiry form so we can book you in for your free Consultation, or call the office today on 01246 555 610.

By Vines Legal on 29 May 2022

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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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