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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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5 Ways to Look After Yourself During a Divorce

Look after yourself during divorceIt’s no secret that going through a divorce is likely to be one of the most stressful events in your life. Even when you have a relatively cooperative and confrontation-free relationship with your ex-spouse, divorce can still be an extremely difficult experience.

That’s why it’s really important to make sure you look after yourself during the process. You don’t need to consistently put on a brave face – your life has changed immeasurably and it’s perfectly natural to go through a process of grieving for the relationship, and the life, that you have left behind.

To make sure you get through what is undoubtedly going to be a stressful time, we’ve put together a few tips to ensure you have all the tools you need to weather the storm.

1. Accept and experience your emotions

There are no short-cuts to getting over the plethora of confusing emotions that inevitably go hand in hand with the separation and divorce process. Sweeping them under the rug or refusing to acknowledge your pain will, more often than not, backfire in the long run.  Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Accept that they are painful. Cry if you need to. Vent your anger to your friends and family. Express your relief. And remember, there’s no right or wrong way to feel.

2. Prioritise self-care

If we could give you just one piece of advice on how to look after yourself during a divorce, it would be to prioritise and practice self-care. If there’s ever a time to be kind to yourself, it’s now. Make time to do the things you really enjoy, and rediscover things you used to enjoy. Treat yourself to that massage, enjoy long bubble baths, visit your favourite restaurant. Taking time to do the things that make you feel happy and relaxed will go a long way in minimising your stress. Obviously, during lockdown, these things need to be things you can do at home, like turning your bathroom into your own spa or reading a good book, watching a classic movie or cooking your favourite meal.

3. Look after your physical health

It’s easy to neglect your physical health when you’re going through a divorce, but taking time to look after it can make all the difference. Emotional pain can rob you of sleep, the desire to eat, and the motivation to exercise. Try to make a conscious effort to eat well, take time to go out for a walk in nature or set up an exercise routine at home, and ensure you give your body and mind the time it needs to rest and recuperate.

4. Call on your support network

You may feel a huge sense of loss during and after the breakdown of your marriage. Now is the time to lean on the one’s you love and that love you too – your family and friends. Hopefully they will be a great source of comfort to you, providing plenty of emotional support and advice to help you through this. Try not to be too wary of burdening people with your problems – these people care about you and will want to be there for you.  

5. Look to the future

The process of separation and divorce can involve a lot of thinking about the past; what might have been, and what you could have done differently. That’s natural and perfectly normal, and it will take some time to move through the grieving process and start to think about rebuilding your life. But the future is right in front of you, and allowing yourself to consider what you want to do with it is a great way to recapture some excitement for the next chapter of your life. 

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, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 22 Apr 2020

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How To Avoid Relationship Breakdown During The Easter Weekend & Lockdown

Relationship breakdown in Lockdown - Divorce lawyer ChesterfieldWith Easter weekend nearly upon us, as we enter week 4 of lockdown, some families may be feeling the pressure of being constantly in one space together.

We thought we'd put together some helpful tips on why people are feeling stressed, ways to alleviate the pressure, what to do if you're in an abusive relationship and what your options are if you have issues with child access during this time.

What is the impact of lockdown on families & relationships?

Due to lockdown, families are thrown together in an intense situation where there is anxiety and uncertainty for the future. A number of stressful situations will present, which will include:

  • Everyone being on top of each other at home with different family members having competing needs
  • Frustration because of the inability to socialise in the usual way with friends and extended family
  • Worry about elderly relatives
  • Worry about catching the virus
  • Financial worries where family members are furloughed due to the crisis and have reduced income or where there is worry about the survival of a business

Each on their own causes stress, but put these together and it's like a big pressure cooker, which could cause a relationship to crack and break down.

So what can be done to try to stop the breakdown of a relationship due to this situation?

People might say, "well, you're a family lawyer - don't you want relationship breakdowns?" Well, actually, in the first instance our job is to see if a relationship can be saved. A legal separation process should only be seen as a last resort. Some of our suggested tips for getting a relationship through lockdown are:

  • Try to give each other some space. Sounds obvious but your wouldn't be around each other all the time in a "normal" situation, so you're bound to wind each other up if you don't give each other space now.
  • Get together for family time by planning an indoor activity like a special meal or a game together.
  • Whether you're a couple with children or not, try and get a "date night" booked in - couple time when the kids are in bed and a bit of relationship pampering.
  • Communication is key! Talk to each other about how you're feeling. Don't let the stress build up into a meltdown situation.
  • If you feel the pressure building, take yourself off to a different space within the house or garden and allow a cool off period.
  • Accept these are challenging times and don't be too hard on yourself or each other.
  • Financial pressures - look into what financial help is being offered during the crisis, from grants, help with mortgages and debt repayments and so forth. Almost everyone will be financially impacted upon in some way from this situation, so don't feel you're on your own.

I'm in lockdown but in an abusive relationship and I'm scared. What do I do?

An abusive relationship can take many forms - it's not just physical abuse.  It can be verbal, psychological, emotional or financial abuse and each is as bad the others. It is indiscriminate between gender and age. It is made worse because people are thrown together at home who may, in normal circumstances, be able to get away from each other by going to work or staying with friends and family. Please seek help if you're in this situation. Here are some options:

  • If you're in immediate fear for your safety or that of the children, then call the police. They have the power to remove the other person and impose restrictions that they cannot return home for a period of time.
  • Consult a solicitor for an injunction which can restrict behaviour or prevent one person from living in the property. At Vines Legal we offer a free initial meeting where options for your particular situation can be discussed.

I am separated from my partner but I have a child arrangements order in relation to my child. It has broken down due to lockdown. What can I do?

There is very clear guidance from the President of the Family Division that the Coronavirus situation in itself does not prevent children from passing between separated parents in the normal way, if it is safe for them to do so and in accordance with Government direction.

Situations will arise where the parent with the child may try to use the current situation as a deliberate excuse to stop the other parent's contact and this is wrong. If it is not possible for the absent parent to have contact because one or either party must self isolate due to the illness then the "spirit" of the order must be kept to and that parent offered indirect contact at regular times through Skype, Zoom or Facetime.  Children will be scared and unsettled at the moment and it is important that the relationship they have with both parents is preserved so they feel stable and reassured. If it was to be found by the Court that a parent deliberately broke a court order without finding a reasonable alternative, then serious punishment could follow.

If help is required, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss concerns and provide advice. Each situation is different.

We hope you've found this advice helpful with the lockdown situation, both for this coming weekend and beyond.

Have a lovely Easter and stay safe.

By Vines Legal on 9 Apr 2020

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What is Parental Responsibility and What Does it Mean to You?

parental responsibility family lawyer ChesterfieldYou may have heard the term ‘parental responsibility’ mentioned, especially when seeking legal advice regarding family law. But what does the term really mean in a legal sense, and who has it?

According to the UK government, all mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent, known as ‘parental responsibility’. This means that the parents have certain rights and powers in relation to the child, as well as important obligations.

Key responsibilities include providing a home for the child, and protecting and maintaining the child. Parental responsibility also includes a number of duties considered essential to the upbringing of the child and your role as a parent. These include a responsibility to discipline the child, choose and provide for the child’s education, agree to the child’s medical treatment, name the child and agree to any change of name, and look after the child’s property.

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their child from birth. But it’s slightly more complicated for fathers. A father will usually have parental responsibility if he is either married to the child’s mother, or is listed on the birth certificate. 

However, there are some grey areas surrounding parental responsibility and what it means to you, depending entirely on your unique situation. To give you some clarity and better understanding of the term, we’ve put together some useful answers to common questions surrounding parental responsibility.

I am a separated parent and have parental responsibility for my child, but don’t live with them. Do I still have the right to spend time with them?

Technically, no. Having parental responsibility for your child, but not living with them, does not mean that you have the right to spend time with them. It does, however, mean that the other parent has a legal obligation to include you when they make important decisions about the child’s life.

A major decision, for example, may include one parent's wish to move abroad with the children. Obviously, this is classed as an important decision and would, therefore, require that both parents with parental responsibility agree, in writing. However, for routine decisions, you don’t always need to get the consent of the other parent.

What if myself and my ex-partner can’t agree on important decisions regarding our children?

When separated parents with parental responsibility can’t agree, it is possible to apply for a Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order. This means that a judge will be involved in making a decision which is in your children’s best interests.

I was married to my ex-partner when our child was born. Does this mean I have parental responsibility even now that we are divorced?

Yes. If the parents of a child are married when the child is born, both have parental responsibility, and both keep parental responsibility if they later divorce. This also applies to children that they have jointly adopted.

I am not married to the mother of my children. How do I get parental responsibility?

There are 3 ways in which an unmarried father can get parental responsibility for his child. The first option is by jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (please note that this only applies from 1/12/2003). The second is by establishing a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, and the third is by getting a parental responsibility order from a court.

I do not have parental responsibility for my child. Do I still have to support them financially?

Yes. Parents have to ensure that their child is supported financially, whether they have parental responsibility or not.

As you can see, parental responsibility, and what it means to you, can depend on a variety of circumstances. For further advice on any of the issues discussed above, or for guidance on your individual situation, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 6 Apr 2020

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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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