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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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The Pitfalls of a DIY Divorce

DIY divorces vs divorce lawyer Chesterfield

You’ve decided to divorce your spouse. You know it’s the end, you know there’s no way back; so, what next? Those unfamiliar with the process will naturally find it daunting and confusing. You may have even heard from well-meaning friends or optimistic colleagues that a do-it-yourself divorce might save you some money, and minimise stress.

With the best of intentions and a healthy dose of patience from both parties, DIY divorces require no lawyers, no trials, and all communication is carried out between the couple involved. Sounds simple, right? On the surface, opting for the DIY approach may seem like an attractive option. And for some couples, it can work.

But there are conditions. Firstly, 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. Secondly, you must have resolved all the issues surrounding the arrangements for children, the financial support of those children, and how any property, assets, or debt should be divided. Thirdly, and arguably most importantly, you must have both agreed to willingly participate in the process, have a full understanding of each other’s financial positions, not feel pressurised by the other person and be able to work together.

So, although DIY divorces may seem appealing in theory, make no mistake; there are pitfalls, and unfortunately, they are common. For example:

  1. A Decree Absolute (final Decree of Divorce) does not resolve financial issues between you. For this to be achieved you must have a Clean Break by way of a financial Consent Order.

 

  1. One pitfall of the DIY divorce is the likelihood that key details will be overlooked or forgotten in what can be a long, confusing process. If you’re not an expert in divorce procedures, it’s easy to miss things that may have simply not occurred to you. Failing to tie up loose ends and leaving some matters outstanding, however small, means that you may not get the closure you were hoping for.

 

  1. You may end up worse off in the long term - saving money on a divorce is undoubtedly an attractive option, but in the event that the financial matters don’t go as smoothly as you’d anticipated, there’s a very real chance that you could end up worse off in the long run. Arguments over money and the animosity caused can have a hugely detrimental effect on your future relationship with your ex-spouse – not ideal, especially if you share children and need to keep communication channels open for the future.

 

  1. You don’t agree on absolutely everything - of course, DIY divorces CAN run smoothly if both parties agree on absolutely everything throughout the process. But in reality, the likelihood of this often slim. Dividing property, finances, and debt, isn’t easy. Your marriage has broken down, your future looks very different to the one you imagined when made your marriage vows, and you’re simply not reading from the same page anymore.

 

Then there are savings, investments, shared assets, and even seemingly minor considerations such as treasured possessions and family pets to think of. And what happens if you share children? Can you agree on the final details of custody arrangements, child care, and financial support?

The truth is, DIY divorces, more often than not, prove to be a false economy, leaving you with more problems to deal with than if you had simply consulted a solicitor from the outset. There are many advantages to getting legal help to ensure that divorce proceedings move forward as smoothly as possible.

 If you are going through a divorce or are considering a separation and need some advice, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 24 Mar 2020

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Is technology stealing your marriage?

You get home, it’s been a tough day at work and you want to unwind.  The kids may have been driving you crazy all day and you want to escape.  Reaching for the game controller or your phone to relax and zone out is all well and good but, like all things in life, there does need to be a degree of moderation. When it starts to interfere with your family and marital life it may be time to put the technology down.  Clients are now defining ‘unreasonable behaviour’, the most common ground for divorce in UK law, in increasingly modern ways including being on the internet, social media sites and gaming for hours on end. For the partners of people who are obsessed with video games, it feels as if they are being ignored or even abandoned in favour of the latest computer game obsession.

A few interesting facts…

  • In 2018 the word ‘Fortnite’ was listed in 200 divorce applications.
  • Family lawyers say that video games are involved in 15% of divorce cases.
  • 54% of gamers are men and 46% are women.
  • 57% of people aged between 25 and 34 complain of being snubbed in favour of their partner’s smartphone affecting their romantic lives.
  • Indirectly arguments are also being caused by techology with the lastest "must have" smartphones often costing hundreds of pounds and being put ahead of family holidays.

There’s no doubt that the internet and all its attractions such as social media and gaming are a big part of our lives but the key is not to make it the biggest part and, the same as we all strive for work-life balance, we should try and balance our social media time and family time.

If the above information is striking a chord with you or would like any further advice regarding your personal situation, 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 Vines Legal on 27 Feb 2020

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Valentine’s Day and Divorce?

Centuries ago, during the middle ages, this day was a time when courting was in full bloom and was largely associated with love and romance. While (Saint) Valentine’s Day was originally a liturgical celebration and a feast day, it slowly developed into a day where lovers expressed their feelings through gifts and cards. Today, the day is mostly recognized as a commercial holiday promoted by the card and gift industries. Yet, for some people this day can be depressing because not only are you feeling alone but you may also be grieving the failed relationship or marriage.

Remember Valentines doesn’t have to revolve around romantic love and try some of these instead:

Love yourself – go to the spa for the day and treat yourself to afternoon tea and a massage.

Pet love – no one loves you unconditionally like your pets, why not go for a walk with your dog and get out in to nature for a life affirming break.

Friendship love – invite a few friends round for a movie and take out night.  Pour a few drinks and enjoy a lot of love and laughter.

Family love – Take some flowers to your parents and have a nice family dinner.  Encourage the children to join and have some family time.

Whatever you do, try not to dwell on the past and think about what you ‘should be doing’ on Valentines. Make sure you plan some enjoyable activities. 

 

By Vines Legal on 14 Feb 2020

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

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Z for Zonal Order

A victim of domestic violence may apply to the Court for an Order for their protection. There are two types of Order which the Court can make. You can read more about these Orders in our “I for Injunction” blog . The Courts can also make an exclusion zone, excluding a person from a particular place. These exclusion zones are known as Zonal Orders and typically prohibit a person from going to or entering a defined area. This could include a building, a road or larger geographical area and are chosen specifically to keep the abuser from entering within a certain distance of the victim's place of residence/work place/place of study/child's school etc.

Breaching a Non-Molestation Order including entering restricted areas is actually a criminal offence with penalties ranging from arrest and possible imprisonment with a potential prison sentence of up to five years. After an Order is breached the perpetrator could be arrested and criminal charges may follow.

If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice regarding your personal situation 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 Vines Legal on 11 Feb 2020

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; Y for Yelling!

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Y for Yelling!

Divorce and separation is an emotionally difficult time. You’re upset, he’s angry, she’s worried, he’s frustrated and so it goes on.  When finances and children are involved too everything is magnified. Communication is key but with emotions running high it is very easy to give in to arguing which swiftly can move on to a ‘slanging match’. Whilst yelling at your spouse or partner may relieve temporary frustration and stress, the reality is that it will achieve nothing but to aggravate the other party and inflame the situation.

Getting your point across whilst you are upset and angry can be challenging but being equipped with the right tools and information can prove to be very constructive in sorting things out on separation. One option is mediation. Mediation is a process where you attend a series of meetings with an independent mediator to attempt to resolve issues relating to your children or your finances in an amicable way with the help of an independent mediator. Mediation can prove useful if you both remain on good terms and are keen to reach an agreement without the expense and hostility of the Court process.

 A solicitor will also be able to help. We offer a free initial consultation so, before having a show down or heated discussion, have a chat with us first and we can help point you in the right direction in relation to finances and children etc.

 If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice regarding your personal situation, 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 us on 01246 555610 to arrange your no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Vines Legal on 4 Feb 2020

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; X for Xydhias Agreement

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is X for Xydhias Agreement

A Xydhias Agreement is an agreement relating to financial matters reached during the course of negotiations in family law and which subsequently cannot be reneged upon. Even if the specific terms of a draft Court Order have not yet been agreed and one party tries to back out of the agreement, a Court may be prepared to make an Order in the terms reached, or to decide upon unresolved implementation issues or other minor issues.

The Xydhias Agreement was created and brought in to legal use following the case of the same name, Xydhias v Xydhias 1998.

The details of the case are irrelevant here, but for the fact that during the course of negotiations, the parties concluded a draft agreement, which only left two small issues outstanding. After these negotiations, the wife’s solicitors wrote to the Court requesting them to cancel the final hearing and list the case for a hearing dealing simply with the drafting of an Order. The husband then announced, however, that he would be contesting the case and withdrew all existing offers. The wife applied to the Court for him to “show cause” and explain why he should not be bound by the agreement.

The husband argued that normal contractual principles should apply, and that an agreement should only be considered binding once all details have been finalised.

The Court disagreed with the husband’s argument and stated that family law negotiations do not give rise to enforceable contracts and so the principles of contract law do not apply. The Court concluded that, in the interests of keeping the Court list free of unnecessary hearings, parties should be held to deals if they have substantively agreed and the only outstanding points are either trivial or mechanics.

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 Vines Legal on 28 Jan 2020

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; W for Without Prejudice

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is W for Without Prejudice

“Without Prejudice” is said so often in law offices and written on letters and documents, but what does it actually mean and in what context is it used?

Legally, when used in a document or letter, Without Prejudice means that what is subsequently written cannot be:

  • Used as evidence in a Court case
  • Taken as the author's last word on the subject matter
  • Used as a precedent for future use.

Negotiations will often require allowances and compromises rising to client’s feeling fear and worry that any statement made in the course of negotiations might come back to haunt them later in Court. This can hinder negotiations if the parties don’t feel able to discuss options freely. By marking documents and correspondence with “Without Prejudice” it allows the parties to freely work towards a compromise without the risk that their statements may be used against them later should negotiations fail.

Without Prejudice can also be applied to a Court hearing too.  A Financial Dispute Resolution hearing is held in Court “Without Prejudice”. This means that if matters cannot be agreed during this hearing, the Judge who hears the FDR is not permitted to hear the Final Hearing.

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 Vines Legal on 23 Jan 2020

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; V for Void and Voidable Marriage

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is V for Void and Voidable Marriage. 

What is the difference between a VOID marriage and a VOIDABLE marriage? A void marriage is one that is invalid from the very beginning. As these are considered unlawful in themselves, no formalities are required for it to be terminated. However, on the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that is flawed in its validity but continues to exist.

Proceedings for nullity (voiding a marriage) are extremely rare but may be appropriate where parties have strong religious or cultural reasons for opposing divorce.

Unlike a divorce, an annulment can take place any time after you were married whereas for a divorce you have to wait 12 months.  To start an annulment it is necessary to prove that the marriage was either not valid in the first place (‘void’), or is defective (‘voidable’). Nullity proceedings are more costly than a divorce because a Court hearing will be necessary, nullity proceedings cannot be dealt with ‘on paper’.

Some instances of a Void marriage are:

  • Closely related, i.e. siblings, parent/child.
  • Either party is under the age of 16; or
  • Other grounds for nullity include the instances where, at the time of marriage, either party was already married or in a civil partnership.

Some instances where Voidable marriages may arise are:

  • The marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity or deliberate refusal of one party not to consummate it;
  • Either party to the marriage did not willingly consent and were coerced into marriage in some way.
  • At the time of the marriage one of the parties was suffering a mental health disorder so as to be unfit for marriage;
  • At the time of the marriage one party was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease;
  • At the time of the marriage one party was pregnant by someone else;

There are other reasons why a marriage may be void or voidable and the above is not an exhaustive list. If you think that any of these examples may apply to your marriage, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and one of our experienced solicitors can discuss your circumstances with you to determine if this is the case.

By Vines Legal on 13 Jan 2020

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

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is U for Undertaking. 

Undertakings are a common part of the Court process. They are a legally binding promise to do, or not do, something. It is a promise to the Court which, if broken, is enforceable and can have consequences such as a fine or ultimately committal to prison. Undertakings are commonly given in family law cases, either in financial matters or in respect of children. Giving a legal Undertaking is not a trivial matter. 

A party to the proceedings promising not to drink alcohol whilst having contact with the child, or one party promising to release the other from a joint mortgage are both examples of Undertakings that could be given.

Undertakings are usually contained within Orders and once an Order is made and sealed by the Court it is very rare that these can be varied (altered or changed). The Court encourages that they be seen as “final” and not something people can keep coming back to change. It is, therefore, important to obtain legal advice from a family law solicitor to fully understand the implications of the Undertaking you are entering in to.

Dealing with Undertakings on a daily basis is common practice for our solicitors. However, for clients involved in family proceedings, Undertakings are unfamiliar territory. If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice regarding your specific situation, 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 Vines Legal on 7 Jan 2020

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; T for TOLATA

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is T for TOLATA

Not many people have heard of TOLATA or know what it stands for.  TOLATA is the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (1996) but that doesn’t make it too much clearer, so what does TOLATA mean to you?

Many cohabiting couples purchase homes together, or you may move in to your partner’s home. In the event that the relationship breaks down, a dispute may arise in relation to the ownership of the property, the division of the equity therein or who gets to live in the property. It can be hard to accept the breakdown of a relationship, particularly when your financial future is uncertain. It can also be a shock for separating unmarried couples to realise that they are not protected by the same laws that apply to married couples. 

For separating couples in this situation, an application under TOLATA may be required. In the event the property is owned in the sole name of one of the parties, the other must first establish an interest or entitlement in that property before any question as to the distribution of equity arises. This is different from matrimonial cases where the parties begin with a position of basic entitlement.

The TOLATA legislation gives the Court the ability to assist in resolving unmarried couple’s property disputes. Under this law, some of the orders the Court can make are as follow:

  • Determining what share of a property each party owns,
  • Forcing the sale of land or property, and
  • Enabling one party to regain access to a property when the other party refuses to leave.

This law is helpful to unmarried couples who cannot rely on matrimonial law to deal with their property disputes as, for example, it can secure the sale of a jointly owned property where one party refuses to agree. However, this area of law is much stricter, rather than a principle of overall fairness and wide discretion, the Court must consider what was expressly agreed or what the parties' intentions were at time of purchase.

If you are in this situation or 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 Vines Legal on 24 Dec 2019

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