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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; E for Equity

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Equity and Equitable Accounting. 

What is equity?  Most people would answer it's how much your house is worth. Equity actually has several meanings. In Accountancy, ‘Equity’ is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something that is owned. ’Equity’ is also a name given to an area of law.

Most commonly, when using the word ’equity’ in family & matrimonial law and cohabitation cases, we are using it to work out the beneficial interest in an asset, such as the family home. If, for example, there is to be a transfer of the family home, or indeed any property, to one party then the solicitors will need to calculate the transferring parties equitable interest in that property.  

"Equitable accounting" is also another common phrase that is used to determine whether or not there should be some further re-adjustment of any sums payable, this is done after it has been determined whether or not a party has a share in the property and if so what that share is. This normally takes into account the fact that one person has continued to live in the property and possibly continued to pay the mortgage on his or her own. Such adjustments can make a significant difference to the outcome of these types of disputes. There are three different matters that are usually or more commonly looked at:

  • Occupation rent: Should the person who has remained in the property pay to the other a contribution having regard to the fact that he or she has had sole occupation of the property?
  • Mortgage installments: If one person has continued to pay a greater sum to the mortgage than the other, is he or she entitled to repayment of that contribution?
  • Improvements: If the person who has remained in the property has improved the property after the other has left should that party receive some additional contribution in respect of those costs or the equity the improvements may have created?

If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice remember obtaining accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. Call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Administrator on 17 Sep 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; D for Divorce

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Divorce. 

Have you or a loved one been thinking of divorce? Divorce, it’s a scary word but it’s ok, read today’s blog which will give you some good tips to prepare, tell you about the five stages and finally a glossary to tell you what all these new words mean. 

HINTS AND TIPS

It’s a good idea to read up on divorce and get yourself familiar with what’s to come next. Here are some tips for preparing for divorce:

  1. Be absolutely positive you want a divorce
  2. Accept that your divorce is what needs to happen
  3. Get yourself a good solicitor
  4. Get support from friends and family
  5. Set realistic goals for the future
  6. Try to act civil with your spouse
  7. Hope for the best but also prepare for the worst
  8. Know that you will be okay no matter what the outcome may be

 

THE DIVORCE PROCESS IN FIVE STAGES

1. The Petition

The divorce process starts with one party sending their Petition to the Court., It can sometimes be a a good idea for the other spouse to see a copy of the divorce petition before it is sent to the Court. Once the petition has been sent to the Court it will be given a case number and copies will be sent to the other party. This is known as issuing. It can take two to three weeks for the Court to issue the divorce papers and send them out.

2. The response

Once the other spouse receives the papers they must then respond to them by filling in a form called an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’. This is sent to the Court within seven days and will confirm whether or not they agree to the petition continuing and what their position is regarding any claim for costs.  

If your spouse fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service your Solicitor will talk to you about the next steps.

3. The Decree Nisi

Once the acknowledgment of service has been returned to the Court, sealed and sent to the petitioner, the petitioner can then apply for Decree Nisi. This is the procedure by which the District Judge is asked to consider the petition and other papers and decide whether or not the petitioner is entitled to a divorce. To apply for Decree Nisi the petitioner needs to complete an application form and a statement confirming the contents of the petition are true.

If the District Judge is satisfied with the papers they will issue a Certificate confirming the time, date and place of the Decree Nisi pronouncement. It may not be necessary for either the petitioner or respondent to attend Court on the pronouncement.

4. Order From The Court

Once the Decree Nisi has been pronounced the solicitor will receive the Order from the Court. The Decree Nisi is the first decree in the divorce proceedings but it is not until Decree Absolute is pronounced that the divorce is finalised and you are no longer married.

5. Decree Absolute

Six weeks and one day from the date Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute, to complete the divorce proceedings. If the petitioner does not apply the respondent (other party) must wait a further three months before they may apply to the Court.

From start to finish the divorce process can take between four and six months, depending on the issues involved and the availability of the Court. If one of the parties decides not to co-operate or there are complicated financial issues it can take much longer to finalise matters.

 

GLOSSARY

When getting divorced or ending a civil partnership, you may hear or read legal words that may confuse you and make the process even more intimidating. Here are some of the key words you may see and their meanings.

Petitioner - or ‘applicant’ although both terms are often used. This is the person applying for the divorce.

Respondent - The person who receives the divorce petition/ application or some other application to court, such as in financial proceedings.

Petition - Now known as an Application for Divorce although both terms are still used. This is the application form you complete to request that the court grants you a divorce.

Prayer This the ‘summary’ section of the petition that asks the court to make an order for the marriage to be dissolved, that the respondent pay the costs of the application and that a Financial Order may be granted at some point.

Particulars - If an application for divorce is based on unreasonable behaviour or adultery, it has to set out details. This can be upsetting and, in some cases, offensive. It is nearly always best to try and agree the particulars before the application is sent to the court.

Acknowledgement of service - A standard form that the respondent (and any co-respondent) must sign and return to the court to confirm that they have received the petition/application and saying whether or not they agree to the divorce.

Decree Nisi - The interim decree or order of divorce indicating that the court is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Six weeks and one day after Decree Nisi has been made, the applicant/petitioner can apply to the court to make Decree Nisi absolute (decree absolute) and the marriage is then terminated.

Decree absolute - The final order of the court, which dissolves the marriage.

Statement in support of divorce - This statement poses a number of questions aimed at ensuring that the contents of your petition remain true and correct and that there have been no changes in circumstances that may affect your ability to support the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. This statement has to be filed at court when you apply for your Decree Nisi.  

Arming yourself with accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. If you are considering a divorce and just wish to talk through the options then call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.    

By Administrator on 12 Sep 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; C for Cohabiting

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Cohabiting. 

Cohabiting in the UK is defined as an unmarried couple who are living together in a long-term relationship, which resembles a marriage. The cohabiting couple may or may not have children together, jointly own a property or share bills.

Many people think that cohabiting couples have the same rights as married couples believing they are “common law spouses” and should the worst happen they will be afforded the same protection under the law as married couples.

The fact is, common-law marriages have not existed in England since 1753; however, many still think that a period of living together (seven years is popular, but some guess two or four years) grants them legal protection. This is entirely incorrect.

Therefore, if a cohabiting couple separates, they do not have the same legal rights as a married couple. In general, unmarried couples cannot claim ownership of, or an interest in, the other's sole property or assets in the event of a breakup, except for any assets or property which they own jointly.

With unmarried cohabiting families becoming the fastest growing type of family in the UK and because unmarried couples have fewer legal rights than married couples, many may now be seeking a Cohabitation Agreement.  A Cohabitation Agreement is a form of legal agreement reached between a couple who have chosen to live together.  These agreements can cover things such as, how they pay rent, mortgage or household bills, arrangements for children, finances and property that may have been owned before or bought while living together. 

If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice remember obtaining accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. Call 01246 555610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Administrator on 10 Sep 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; B for Barrister

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Barrister. 

What is a Barrister?  Well most people might say a “fancy solicitor that wears a wig” or the “person in Court they see on television”. Actually there is a bit more to it than that. 

A Barrister is a lawyer who has recognised skills in advocacy (speaking on your behalf), who may represent you and act on your behalf in Court if there is a dispute about money or children. The Barrister can also provide you with additional specialist advice in relation to the legal aspects of your case.

The Barrister will speak in Court and present your case to the Judge. In contrast, a Solicitor not only speaks in Court but generally meets with clients, does administrative work and provides legal advice. Not everyone will require a Barrister.

In most cases, to instruct a Barrister you need to go through a solicitor, who will be responsible for the litigation part of a case (taking the initial instructions, issuing proceedings, gathering the evidence, the preparation of a case for trial, and of course the instruction of counsel (Barrister).

A Barrister's physical appearance in Court depends on whether the hearing is "robed" or not. In England and Wales, criminal cases in the Crown Court almost always have the Barristers wearing robes and wigs but nowadays there is more movement in civil cases to not wear them. The vast majority of County Court hearings are now conducted without robes, although the traditional outfit continues to be worn in High Court proceedings.  Whether or not a Barrister wears the robe is not in any way indicative of their level of skill or expertise.

If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any advice relating to family or matrimonial matters remember that obtaining accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter, and can make the process less stressful. If you would like to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors then call our office today on 01246 555 610.

By Administrator on 6 Sep 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; A for Adultery

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series. Today’s topic is Adultery. 

What is Adultery?

Well, that may sound a very obvious question but actually the Law has a very narrow definition. We know those who have experienced this may feel very strongly about what it is and isn’t considered infidelity but, quite specifically, Adultery as defined by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is “consenting sexual intercourse between either the husband or wife and another person of the opposite sex”.

When is adultery not adultery?

This has a lot more answers; for example using an internet dating site is not. Meeting up with someone for a drink or meal may be a date but also this isn’t classed as adultery. “Sexting” or frequent texting of an intimate nature isn’t considered adulterous even though the intention is there. Actual sexual intercourse needs to be involved. 

Did you know?

  1. You cannot commit adultery with someone of the same sex? Even if your spouse has consenting sexual relations outside of marriage, if it is with someone of the same gender, this cannot be classed as adultery.
  2. You cannot petition based on your own adultery.
  3. Adultery can only be used as a reason for divorce if the proceedings start within 6 months of the adultery coming to light. Therefore there is only a short time in which to decide whether or not they can forgive their partner. Couples try to move on, but find that they can’t and by that point it is often too late to rely on their adultery.

Many of these situations may feel like a case of adultery, but won’t be legally recognised as a reason for divorce. If this is the case, and you would like to petition for a divorce, then you may be able to use ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead.

 If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice remember obtaining accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. If you are considering a divorce or your partner has requested it, call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Administrator on 3 Sep 2019

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“Nowt so strange as folk…”

Just occasionally we lawyers are baffled as to the reasons why people want to divorce their other half. The gold star for this, however, has to go to a lady in the United Arab Emirates, who filed for divorce from her husband because she alleged he “loved her too much”. He was accused of choking her by extreme love and affection and for helping her clean the house. Further it was reported by the Kaleej Times that his agreeable nature had left her life a “hell”.

The lady was reported to have also said that she longed for a day of dispute. Her husband was reported to have told the court “it’s not fair to judge a marriage from the first year, and everybody learns from their mistakes”. It is reported that the court ordered an adjournment to allow an opportunity for reconciliation.

Our comment – what a nice problem to have and one which we rarely see in practise! We hope this couple are able to sensibly resolve their differences and have a happy life together.

 

By Emma Newman on 28 Aug 2019

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SPECIAL OCCASIONS FOR SEPARATED PARENTS

 Special occasions for separated parents can be very difficult to talk about and arrange, especially when you don’t get on with your ex. But planning these days are important, they should not be stressful for you or the children. The prime idea is to plan these days in advance and ensure you make the ideal decision for everyone, not just yourself. However, sometimes it might not be possible for your children to spend time with you, so try to think about ways that you can share the celebration with your children at another time or even just a phone call can be helpful for both you and your child to feel involved.

If you are struggling to reach an agreement with your ex in relation to spending time with your child(ren), then you can act to resolve this. The best way is to try to communicate with the other parent to see if you can reach an amicable agreement. However, if communication has broken down and an agreement cannot be reached, then speaking with a solicitor can help you to understand your rights as a parent and come up with a proposed plan to spend time with your children.

If you’re having problems with making an agreement regarding children then call us on 01246 555610 to book in for a free initial consultation.

By Emma Newman on 14 Jun 2019

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NO FAULT DIVORCE – WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

You may have seen that there has been extensive talk in the news about bringing a ‘no fault divorce’ into action; this has now been authorised by the UK government. This means that couples will soon be able to get a divorce without putting the blame on each other. Previously, and until the new law comes into play, if a spouse wished to begin divorce proceedings soon after a separation they must prove that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, by relying upon either adultery or unreasonable behaviour particulars. If they did not wish to rely on either of these, they would have to wait 2 years following the separation, but they still could only use this if the other spouse consented.

Justice Secretary David Gauke advised that ‘While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples. So I have listened to calls for reform and firmly believe now is the right time to end this unnecessary blame game for good.’

This new law is expected to help the divorce process become less acrimonious for those who wish to begin divorce proceedings but do not want to place blame on their spouse .We understand that this new law will be brought into action as soon as parliamentary time becomes available. We will keep you updated.

If you are going through a divorce or are considering a separation and require advice, then please contact us for a free initial consultation.

By Emma Newman on 23 Apr 2019

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'LANDMARK' OVERHAUL FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE LAWS?

New domestic abuse legislation could be coming into power soon, which could be more helpful for victims than the current law.

Domestic abuse victims will receive new measures to protect them in what ministers say will be “landmark legislation”.  The new law will create a legal definition of domestic abuse, to include economic abuse and control, outside crimes of violence where there are victims who are psychologically manipulated, as well as those who have no control of their finances. The long-awaited legislation will also ban abusers from cross-examining victims in family courts.

The draft bill going before MPs will also include:

  • New powers to force abusers into behaviour-changing rehabilitation programmes
  • Making the victims automatically eligible for special protections when they are giving evidence in criminal trials
  • Setting up a national "domestic abuse commissioner" tasked with improving the response and support for victims across public services

However, given that the Government is currently pre-occupied with Brexit, it is not clear when there will be Parliamentary time to turn the measures into law.

Here at Vines Legal, we provide a free initial consultation to talk through your problems and help you find a solution. Call us on 01246 555610 to make an appointment.

By Emma Newman on 22 Jan 2019

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Mother’s and Father’s Day for Divorced Parents

Most divorced parents are content to agree that their child should spend Father’s Day with their Father and Mother’s Day with their mother; even if you don’t get on with your ex, you should be allowing your child to celebrate with them! Here are a few tips for days such as these:

  1. Talk to your child about the upcoming day and get them excited about Father’s/Mother’s day! Children should be happy on these days, it’s a day of celebration and appreciation for their mother/father.
  2. Don’t tell your child that “Mummy/Daddy are going to miss you” when they leave with the other parent, as this could make them feel guilty about leaving.
  3. Take your child to buy their other parent a present or card, put your private feelings aside because this is teaching your children how to be caring and respectful.  
  4. Lastly, make some plans for yourself on that day so that you’re not feeling lonely or down.

If you are unable to reach amicable agreements with your ex in relation to child arrangements, take advantage of our FREE initial meeting; call us today on 01246 555 610 to book in.

By Emma Newman on 22 Jan 2019

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