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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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

How to Avoid Court in Disputes Involving Children

divorce lawyer Chesterfield - How to Avoid Court in Disputes Involving ChildrenGoing through the process of a divorce or separation is undoubtedly one of the most stressful things you’ll endure in your adult life. Unfortunately, it can be even more complex if there are children involved. However, there are steps you and your ex-partner can take to help proceedings run as smoothly as possible.

Of course, this may not be feasible or realistic if your split was acrimonious, but it is possible for separating couples to avoid court. As specialists in matrimonial and family law, here’s our advice on keeping matters involving the future care of your children out of court.

Parenting Plans & Consent Orders

If you and your ex-partner agree on child arrangements, you do not have to complete any official paperwork. But you can write down what you’ve agreed in a parenting plan so that you have a record of the agreement. You can also make your agreement legally binding by engaging a solicitor, who will be able to guide you through the paperwork and draft a ‘consent order’.

This legally binding document basically confirms your agreement in the eyes of the law, and typically includes details regarding where your children with live, when they’ll spend time with each parent, and when and what types of other contact will take place. Once drawn up, you and your ex-partner will both be required to sign the draft consent order, and you’ll also need to get the consent order approved by the Court.

Although you’ll technically need to apply for a court order to get your consent order approved, which a solicitor can help you with, you’ll usually not be required to attend a court hearing, or show that you’ve tried mediation. A judge will then approve your consent order to make it legally binding, as long as they conclude that you’ve made the decisions stated in the consent order in the best interests of your children.

Family Mediation

If you and your ex-partner are unable to come an agreement on child arrangements, family mediation can be a very effective way of reaching a resolution. This service has been available in England and Wales for over 30 years, with the practice expanding to cover all areas of divorce and separation. The main advantage of engaging with a mediator is that they are able to guide towards resolution without taking sides, which can be incredibly useful in situations where emotions may be running high.

At the end of the mediation process, you’ll be presented with a document drawing up everything that you have agreed on. Although this agreement is not legally binding, you can ask a solicitor to draft a consent order at this point for the court to approve.

As you can see, there are several ways in which it’s possible to come to an agreement involving child arrangements without having to attend a court hearing. Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce, including coming to arrangements involving children. 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 8 Jun 2021

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Explaining the Misconceptions of ‘Common Law Marriage’

divorce lawyer Chesterfield misconceptions of common law marriageAccording to findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey carried out by The National Centre for Social Research, 46% of people believe that cohabiting couples automatically form a so called ‘common law marriage’. Despite a huge increase in the number of cohabiting couples, figures have remained largely unchanged since 2005, when 47% believed the same. As experts in matrimonial and family law, we do come across many people who have a similar misconception of common law marriage. So, what does the law say?

Individuals in the Eyes of the Law

As the law stands in England and Wales, there’s no actual legal definition of a cohabitee. This means that the persons involved are still considered individuals in the eyes of the law, despite sharing a home. This can inevitably cause problems for cohabitees who decide to separate, and then find out that they don’t have the same rights as couples who are married or who are in civil partnerships. Despite being widely considered as unfair, the government have made no plans to change the law.

In this modern day and age, more and more people are choosing not to be get married. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), marriages between men and women in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level ever. This may, therefore, present many cohabiting couples with potential problems should they decide to part ways. Despite the common misconception of the common law marriage, because unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples, they’re exempt from maintenance rights, rights to their partner’s pension, and automatic inheritance (unless there is a will in place).

How to Protect Yourself as an Unmarried Couple

If you have chosen to cohabit with your partner, but have no current plans to get married, there are still ways in which you can protect yourself in the event of a separation. For example, a Cohabitation Agreement is often the most sensible solution in this situation, which can be drawn up to cover the financial aspects of your relationship whilst you live together. It is a legal document, therefore needs to be drawn up by a solicitor, but taking the time to complete one can save huge amounts of money on litigation fees should a separation occur in the future.

Cohabitation Agreements

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. Many matters can be covered in order to suit your individual situation, including details on the payment of household bills, the ownership of your property, and the care of shared pets.

If you are cohabiting, or thinking of cohabiting, and do not have such an agreement in place, it may be time to seek advice on how to protect yourself in the event of a separation. A Cohabitation Agreement will offer you the legal protection you would need should the worst happen, and can save an awful lot of time, money, and stress, in the long term.

For further advice and expertise surrounding Cohabitation Agreements, contact Vines Legal. An initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers are free, so please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01246 555610.

By Vines Legal on 29 May 2021

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How to Support Your Children During a Separation

divorce lawyer Chesterfield support children through divorceGoing through a divorce or separation is never going to be easy for the children you share. No matter the age of your children at the time of separation, there are bound to be difficult questions to answer and future arrangements to consider.

As experts in separation and divorce, we’ve helped many separating couples to navigate what is a difficult time for the whole family. With this in mind, here are a few helpful tips on how to support your children during a separation.

Communication is Key

It’s common for children to be unhappy when their parents are separating, and many want their parents to remain together. That can inevitably cause unhappy feelings that may result in low self-esteem and a natural sense of loss.

By taking the time to talk to your children about why the separation is happening, showing that you love them, and reassurance that regular contact will continue, these feelings should disappear fairly quickly. The key here is to be honest within the boundaries of what is appropriate to share and avoid blame or judgement of the other parent.

Remember, lots of families go through separation or divorce and eventually adapt, going on to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

Making Arrangements for the Future

Making firm arrangements regarding where your children will live and how much time they spend with each parent can really help to make sure your children feel safe and supported, as well as establish a good routine.  Providing you and your ex-partner can agree on these arrangements, it may be possible to avoid going to court. If help is needed, mediation is an excellent way come to child arrangement agreements. Failing that, you and your ex-partner may wish to engage a solicitor.

As experts in Child Arrangement orders, Vines Legal has seen first-hand how agreements such as these can benefit families by establishing firm arrangements for the future that are in the very best interests of the children.

What if You’re Not Married?

It’s worth noting that in order for a Child Arrangement Order to be put in place, both parents must have parental responsibility. However, 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 this happened before December 2003, he will also not automatically have parental responsibility. In this case, you’ll be able to request permission from the Court, who’ll be able to make a Parental Responsibility Order, unless the other parent is willing to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement with you.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce, and we work hard to ensure that the best possible arrangements are made in your child’s best interests. For further help and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation where we can explain all the options available to you.

By Vines Legal on 10 May 2021

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What is Family Mediation and How can it Help With Child Arrangements?

divorce lawyer Chesterfield - family mediationDuring the process of separation and divorce, you may need to make decisions about the future of your children after the separation, including where they will live, child maintenance payments, and how to divide property and money. Mediation is a good way to get help agreeing on child arrangements, as the mediator will be able to give impartial advice without taking sides.

Family Mediation has been available in England and Wales for more than 30 years, and the practice has expanded over that time to cover all areas of divorce and separation. So, how does the family mediation process begin?

The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

For any parent wishing to begin court proceedings in relation to  children, attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is required and encouraged. . This ensures that all parties have an opportunity to find out about mediation, and other forms of family dispute resolution

This initial meeting provides an opportunity to meet the mediator, who will generally provide information on the process of mediation itself, begin to clarify the areas where there are disputes and provide options for resolving them, and identify other sources of support including financial, emotional, and legal for all parties involved that may aid in the process of reaching a settlement.

Discussions may take place with the parties separately, at least until or unless it is deemed safe for meetings to take place together. As well as providing information about what mediation can provide, the mediator is also making an assessment about the parties’ ability to mediate.

Unfortunately, in some cases, mediation might not be suitable. However, mediation does work well for many people, and can be an effective way of reaching a consensus on child arrangements. Of course, it requires both patience and some negotiation on both sides, which is why it isn’t always suitable for separated couples. When it does work though, it can be extremely helpful for helping the parties involved develop skills for working together in the future as separated parents.

Do I Have to Attend Mediation?

It’s worth noting that the mediation process (following on from the initial MIAM) is voluntary, and that both the clients and the mediator have to agree that mediation is suitable, and sign an ‘agreement to mediate’ form.

If this fails, and you and your ex-partner are unable to agree, or the matter needs to proceed to Court then engaging a solicitor is an effective way of ensuring the best possible arrangements are made, which are in the very best interests of 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 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 30 Apr 2021

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5 Tips for Avoiding Divorce Disasters

Divorce Lawyer Chesterfield - 5 Tips for Avoiding Divorce DisastersThe breakdown of a marriage is a difficult and stressful time for all involved. Emotions may be running high and it’s common for even the most level-headed of us to feel like we’re losing control. With help, it is possible to deal with separation and divorce in a constructive, non-confrontational, and even cost-effective way. But, unfortunately, there are many mistakes possible to make. So, with that in mind, here are 5 useful tips for avoiding divorce disasters!

Plan for the Future

Taking the time to work out what the financial implications of your divorce are is key to your future wellbeing. For example, how much will you need to live comfortably on after you divorce? Planning for the future in this way will ensure your financial stability, so addressing financial planning head on at the start of the process will give you the best chance. Keep track of your income and outgoings, establish what assets belong to the family, and take the time to calculate exactly what you’ll need once the marriage is over.

Revenge is not so Sweet

A common mistake that inevitably ends in divorce disaster is trying to use the court as a way of getting revenge against their ex-partner. Whether it’s deliberately trying to prolong the process, intentional failure to compromise when it comes to financial matters, or fighting for assets for the sake of it, there are plenty of ways that divorcing partners can use the legal system to exact revenge. There are many reasons why this is not recommended; from increasing the legal costs involved, to impacting the lives of your shared children, not to mention your own peace of mind and wellbeing.

Avoid Hiding 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.

Don’t do it Yourself

In theory, DIY divorces require no lawyers, no trials, and all communication is carried out between the couple involved. This can work for some, but, in reality, it’s hardly ever that simple. There are also plenty of conditions. Your case must be considered as an ‘uncontested divorce’, meaning that both parties agree to the termination of the marriage and the reason for it. You must also have resolved all the issues surrounding shared children, how they are financially supported, and how any property, assets, or debt should be divided. You and your ex-partner must also have agreed to willingly participate in the process, have a complete understanding of each other’s financial positions, and be able to work together in an amicable way.

It might seem like an attractive option to find the quickest route out of a marriage and opt for a DIY divorce. It is possible for you to undertake the divorce process yourself and agree such things as child arrangements between you, but a solicitor will be required for the financial part of the divorce as they will need to draft the consent order. It is possible to go online to get a solicitor to draft your financial order, but this will include no advice as to whether or not you have included everything required or if the agreement you have come to is fair for both parties.

Consult a Solicitor

Not only can a qualified, experienced divorce solicitor guide and support you through what can be a stressful process, they’ll work their hardest to get you the best possible outcome from your divorce. There are many advantages to getting legal help to ensure that divorce proceedings move forward as smoothly as possible. So, if you want to avoid divorce disasters, professional, legal guidance is key.

If you are considering a separation or divorce, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 16 Apr 2021

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How Could a Divorce Affect My Business?

divorce lawyer chesterfield - how divorce could affect businessThere are many financial decisions to make when it comes to embarking on a divorce. In addition to dividing up property, savings, investments, and pensions, and perhaps considering child maintenance payments, there may also be business interest to take into account. Although this can undoubtedly feel overwhelming, here at Vines Legal, we have plenty of expertise, and experience in dealing with financial matters such as these. Although business interests are an added complexity, there’s no reason why they cannot be navigated smoothly with the correct support and advice. With that in mind, here are some key considerations when it comes to a divorce and the potential impact on your business.

Day to Day Disruption

The process of separation and divorce is undoubtedly a difficult time, and unfortunately can often impact the day to day running of a business, your management responsibilities, or even just your ability to concentrate on the day to day tasks. Finding the time to meet with your solicitor, schedule appointments around correspondence regarding the valuation of your business, tax returns, and so forth, can be challenging. Allow yourself to be guided by a legal professional, who will take you through the process step by step.

Financial Impact

Although it really does depend on the couple in question and the individual circumstances of the couple and the business involved, there are often financial implications on your business when embarking on a divorce. In short, the divorce court would have to assess and decide on whether your enterprise is a 'matrimonial asset’ which will need to be divided on divorce.  How this should be done is also a very important consideration.

Even if your business is classed as a non-matrimonial asset, your spouse may still be entitled to a financial share if it is deemed that their needs require.

There are many things to consider but asking yourself the following questions may be a good place to start:

  • Are you and your spouse both involved in the business?
  • Do you both wish to remain actively involved following the divorce?
  • Does your business only involve one of you, with the other lacking knowledge of the way it is run?
  • Was the business established before the marriage?
  • Is it a family business that has been inherited?

Whatever the circumstances, it’s absolutely essential that there is full disclosure of all assets including those jointly and solely owned. It’s often the case that the main income of either both, or one of the parties, is generated by the business. Careful consideration must be given, therefore, to the most financially viable way of handling the business in the divorce.

If you’d like advice on ensuring your business is valued fairly and accurately, guidance on how to remove your spouse from the business, or advice on dividing the business, we can help. Call now for your free initial, no obligation, consultation on 01246 555 610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 29 Mar 2021

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What is a No-Fault Divorce?

divorce lawyer Chesterfield No Fault DivorceThere are, of course, many reasons why a marriage may break down and ultimately end in divorce. To establish that the marriage has broken down and grounds for divorce have been met, historically one of these five facts must be proven: Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, Two years separation by consent of both partners, Separation for 5 years, or Desertion.

However, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which passed into law on 25 June 2020, has introduced what is referred to as a "No Fault" divorce in England and Wales. Although this new statutory framework has been approved, there are still a vast number of notes, procedures, and forms that will need to be implemented to ensure the changes run smoothly, as well as substantial changes to the IT system of the courts.  Unfortunately, there has been no formal announcement of a date by which the new law will come into force, but it is expected that the new legislation will apply from Autumn 2021.

Ending the Blame Game

The law as it currently stands requires elements of blame, in some cases, to be involved to initiate a divorce. Adultery and unreasonable behaviour need to be proven if the couple require an immediate divorce, which both rely on blame-based facts to prove that the marriage has broken down and is beyond repair. The other options include much longer timeframes, including waiting for at least two years (if both parties agree to the divorce) or five years (if one party does not agree to the divorce).

Obviously, forcing divorcing couples to assign blame in what is no doubt an already stressful situation can be extremely painful, and does nothing for keeping ex-spouses amicable for the future. This can be especially damaging where there are children involved, and good future co-parenting relationships are necessary for the future upbringing of those children.

Many agree that the No Fault divorce is much more in line with modern society and its changing attitudes towards marriage. This new law has, in fact, taken over 20 years to be accepted. As of the Autumn, the legal concept of a ‘No Fault divorce’ in the UK will finally match that of Scotland, the USA, and Australia.  

If you would like to find out more about current divorce proceedings, and the changes coming into force later in year, Vines Legal can help. We offer a first free consultation and can use that time to fully explain the options available to you now, and in the future. Get in touch today on 01246 555 610.

By Vines Legal on 8 Mar 2021

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How to Protect your Relationship from Lockdown-Related Breakdown

divorce lawyer Chesterfield avoid lockdown breakupThere’s no doubt that the last year has taken its toll on a great many aspects of our lives, including our relationships. Despite the good news that that there is now an end in sight to the UK lockdown, there are still several weeks to go before life begins to look more normal.

Sadly, the pandemic has put a huge strain on relationships with our partners and spouses. According to the International Association of Marriage and Family Counsellors, the number of couples seeking relationship counselling has dramatically increased during lockdown. The stresses of juggling work, home schooling, and domestic chores, as well as the ongoing worries surrounding health, job security, and the general effect the pandemic is having on the world as a whole, has equated to a perfect storm in many households, putting relationships to the test like never before. So, we’ve put together some useful tips on how to get through the next few weeks, keeping your relationship intact along the way.

Time Out

With fewer opportunities to leave the house and access that much needed me time away from your spouse or partner, it’s important to create space for yourself at home. Remember that you and your spouse or partner still need some time apart from time to time. That doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate one another or enjoy their company, it’s simply that spending every waking moment together just isn’t necessary in a healthy relationship. Spending some time alone will also keep the romance alive when you do spend time together.

Plan for the Future

It may seem like the current situation is never-ending and that the end of lockdown is still a long way away. But it will end, and making plans for when it does will help you to look to the future and get excited about all the things you’ll be able to do again. Keep in mind this is a temporary situation and putting plans in place for the future will remind you of this.

Gestures of Love

During the stressful, anxious time that the pandemic has created, the simplest thing you can do is to show your partner or spouse how much you care about them. This might be cooking a nice meal, scheduling in some quality time with your spouse or partner, or perhaps a gift. Whatever it is, make sure its heart felt and speaks to your other half.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. Our first job, however, is always to establish whether a relationship can be saved. A legal separation process should really 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 and we can offer our advice and support in a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 1 Mar 2021

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How to Protect your Pension During a Divorce

divorce lawyer Chesterfield protect your pensions during divorceIf you’ve decided to begin the process of divorce, you’ll no doubt be overwhelmed with everything that you have to consider and may have some anxiety about the tasks ahead of you. Here at Vines Legal, it’s our job to guide people through the process, and we’ve got plenty of experience in making sure our clients have ticked all the necessary boxes during what can be a painful and confusing time.

Often, a large part of reaching a divorce settlement revolves around finances. Understandably, both parties will be keen to ensure that their futures are financially secure when they go on to lead their separate lives. One of the most important financial considerations in this instance is your pension, which should be included in your settlement. Despite this, it’s commonly overlooked. Pensions can often be a person’s single biggest asset, so protecting it in the event of a divorce is a must.

Is my Ex-Spouse Entitled to a Share of my Pension?

Assets that you and your spouse have acquired during the course of your marriage will be divided in a divorce, and this includes pensions.

How Much is my Pension Worth?

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 we always recommend support in this area. Investing in an independent pension sharing report has its costs, but can be helpful for managing expectations and a necessary document for lawyers when considering complex pension schemes.

Pension Options Upon Divorce

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.

Here at Vines Legal, we know that receiving good advice at this stage is key to your future financial security. 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 7 Feb 2021

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Navigating Pre-Nuptial Agreements

family lawyer Chesterfield prenuptial agreementsWhilst few people enter into a marriage with the expectation that it will end, sometimes we just don’t know what direction our life is going to take. Circumstances can change and unexpected things do happen. If a divorce were to happen, Pre-Nuptial Agreements provide both parties with much greater certainty and peace of mind. These agreements simply mean that your assets would have a much better chance of being divided in a way that is considered fair for both parties in the event of a divorce or separation.

What is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a contract entered into both freely and voluntary by a couple before marriage, civil partnership, or same-sex marriage. In the event of a divorce or separation, a Pre-Nuptial Agreement would decide what were to happen should the couple separate or divorce.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements are assessed by the Court on a case by case basis, and are dependent on the circumstances surrounding the contract. Contracts drawn up by family law solicitors are considered much more legally sound provided certain criteria are met, so proper legal advice is very important to ensure that the right precautions are taken.

Are Pre-Nuptial Agreements legally binding in the UK?

Although Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not actually legally binding in the UK, the terms of these Agreements are often decisive in the event of a dispute that is dealt with by the court, unless the effect of the agreement is deemed to be unfair. Recent case law has shown that judges are prepared to give these agreements substantial weight, and therefore uphold them; providing they are drafted correctly, and that certain precautionary steps were taken when the Agreement was drawn up and signed.

If you are looking for advice and expertise surrounding Pre-Nuptial Agreements, Vines Legal can help. For a free initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01246 555610.

By Vines Legal on 24 Jan 2021

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