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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 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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How to Protect Yourself as Part of an Unmarried Cohabiting Couple

family lawyer Chesterfield cohabitation agreementsIt’s increasingly common these days for couples to live together and not marry. As people’s priorities, and their preferences on marriage have changed in recent years, it’s not surprising that couples choose to live together, or ‘cohabit’, without tying the knot. Cohabitation can be described as two people who are not married, and not in a civil partnership, living together in a long-term relationship.

Although there’s no actual legal definition of a cohabitee in law in England and Wales, the persons involved are still considered as individuals in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately, this can be problematic for cohabitees who decide to part ways, only to find that they don’t have the same rights as couples who are married or who are in civil partnerships.

What Rights do Cohabiting Couples Have?

Unmarried couples have no legal rights at all, regardless of how long they have been in a relationship and how long they have lived together. Despite the familiarity of the phrase, there is no such thing as a ‘common-law’ wife or husband. Unfortunately, unmarried couples simply do not have the same rights as married couples, including an absence of maintenance rights, rights to their partner’s pension, and automatic inheritance.  Instead, they have to rely on Trusts Law which in today’s society can be viewed as archaic and unfair.

How Can I Protect Myself as Part of an Unmarried Cohabiting Couple?

As experts in matrimonial and family law, we’re well-versed in guiding couples through the process of protecting themselves when they choose to live together, but not marry. Here at Vines Legal, we’ve helped many couples and individuals protect their rights as part of unmarried cohabiting couples. In this instance, a Cohabitation Agreement is the most sensible solution.

Cohabitation Agreements can be drawn up to cover the financial aspects of a couple’s relationship whilst they are cohabiting. For example, this increasingly common legal document can be useful for a couple who choosing to buy a property and intend to formalise who will pay certain bills or debts, or when drawing up what shares in the property the individuals will hold. Cohabitation Agreements are also a sensible idea if the couple chooses to have children. And, in the event of a separation, Cohabitation Agreements are a good way to protect both parties.

As experts in Cohabitation Agreements, Vines Legal can provide expert advice and expertise on the matter. For a free initial consultation with our specialist family lawyers, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01246 555610.

By Vines Legal on 11 Jan 2021

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Complying with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders During the Pandemic

Family lawyer Chesterfield - Child Arrangement Orders During The PandemicThe last few months have been a troubling time for everyone whilst dealing with the chaotic situation that the pandemic has inflicted on families across the world. For some, however, there is another complication to consider when it comes to keeping safe and complying with the rules that have resulted from the pandemic. For separated families with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders in place, careful navigation of the rules and regulations is essential. But don’t worry; here at Vines Legal, we’ve answered some of the most common questions we’ve been asked about complying with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders during the pandemic.

Can Children Move Between the Homes of Separated Parents in the UK?

The Stay at Home Rules were issued on 23rd March. Alongside this, the Government offered guidance which dealt specifically with child contact arrangements. It says: “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”

Obviously, this establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement. But it doesn’t mean that children must be moved between homes. In order to make a decision about whether a child is to move between parental homes, the child’s parents should make a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.

Since the original guidance in March, local restriction tier guidance for England was issued on 2nd December 2020, and states that “exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers” include that for the purposes of “arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians”. This includes moving between tiers for the same purpose.

How Should Parents Comply with Court Orders for Contact in the UK?

In order to ensure compliance with Child Arrangement Orders, the President of the Family Division of the High Court has issued national guidance for parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangement Orders made by the Family Court. This guidance states that parents, acting in agreement, are free to decide that the arrangements set out in a Child Arrangements Order should be temporarily varied. There is further guidance regarding situations where parents do not agree, however, which goes into arrangements in more detail.

The “key message”, the guidance states, should be that “where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child”.

Guidance for Parents with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders During Covid

As you can see, the pandemic has resulted in some variations to Family Court Child Arrangement Orders that can cause confusion if not properly researched and implemented. Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of Child Arrangements Orders, and can help to support families navigating arrangements throughout the pandemic. For guidance and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 28 Dec 2020

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5 Ways to Make the Christmas Holidays go Smoothly

family lawyer Chesterfield - 5 ways to make the Christmas holidays go smoothlyAs Christmas approaches, it’s no secret that this year’s celebrations are likely to be a bit different to those you’ve enjoyed in the past. Navigating relationships over the festive season can be testing at the best of times; adding a global pandemic into the mix, with plenty of restrictions on what you can and can’t do is bound to add another layer of potential tension to the next few weeks.

It’s normal to feel stressed at Christmas time, but there are plenty of things you can do to help the holidays go smoothly. As experts in matrimonial and family law, we’ve put together some useful tips on how to make sure the festive period is as relaxing as possible.

Let Go of Perfect

Dissatisfaction at this time of year can stem from the expectation that the festive season is ‘supposed’ to be filled with non-stop joy and laughter. Try to be more realistic about the days over Christmas; no one can be cheerful 24/7 and it’s perfectly normal to experience fluctuations in mood. It’s been a tough year for many, so go easy on yourself and each other.

Schedule in Some ‘Me Time’

There’s no need to be in each other’s pockets for the whole of Christmas. Although there may be restrictions on socialising this year due to the pandemic, there are ways you can seek out your own space and enjoy some me time. Even if that’s a simple walk, or a hot bubble bath, taking time for yourself is important. If you’re calm and relaxed, then it’s much more likely that people around you will be too.

Don’t Bottle it Up!

Got something playing on your mind? Make an effort to get it off your chest, talk about how you’re feeling, and focus on meaningful communication. Brushing things under the carpet means your feelings are more likely to creep out at a later date. Deal with them now and avoid future meltdowns.

Plan for the Year Ahead

Making plans for 2021 can be a great way to look to the future and get excited about all the things you really want to do next year. Why not block out some time in the calendar for trips and holidays, days out and fun activities? This will give you, your spouse, and your children, something to look forward to in the New Year.

Practice Gratitude

Yes, it’s been a challenging year for many, many families. Take the time to find a quiet spot and try think of something you’re grateful for. It might only be something small, but practising gratitude is a sure fire way to lift your mood and put things into perspective.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. That being said, our first job is always to establish whether a relationship can be saved. A legal separation process should 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 for a free initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 14 Dec 2020

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My Spouse Just Asked for a Divorce. What do I do Now?

My spouse just asked for a divorce, what do I do nowThe breakdown of a marriage is undoubtedly a stressful and difficult time for all involved. Sometimes, the decision to divorce is mutual, and both parties agree that separation is the best course of action. Other times, one spouse may initiate the divorce. If your husband or wife has asked you for a divorce, your next question will most likely be – What do I do now?

Once you have discussed your spouses’ divorce request, you may want to look into mediation. The process of mediation can help you both to communicate in a respectable environment. Despite it being an upsetting and stressful time, mediation can really help to maintain communication between you and your spouse.

Grounds for Divorce

To establish whether your spouses’ divorce request is valid, grounds for divorce must be considered. The only ground for divorce that needs to be established is that the marriage has broken down and cannot be saved. You’ll need to establish one of 5 facts to prove this: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years of separation with the consent of both partners, separation of five years even if one partner does not agree or has refused to cooperate, or desertion.

If one of these grounds can be met, your spouse can then file for divorce. In order to do so, you must firstly have been married for at least one year, and secondly, your marriage must be recognised as valid in the UK. Your spouse’s solicitor will then complete the divorce petition form, and ensure that it is filed with the court. You’ll then receive the completed petition form as well as the notice of proceedings form (which will contain your case number and details of what to do next), along with the acknowledgement of service form.

Seeking Advice on Divorce Petitions

You’ll then need to respond to the divorce petition, and it’s highly recommended that you take advice from a solicitor from this point. Adequate legal representation is essential as errors at any stage can be costly.

If you choose to agree with the divorce petition, you’ll need to fill out the acknowledgement of service form and return it to the court within 8 days. However, if you don’t agree, you’ll need to fill out the acknowledgement of service form, including the part of the form which specifies that you are defending the divorce. You must respond to this within 21 days, and a court hearing will follow which allows both parties to put across their arguments, via their solicitors.

If you have been asked for a divorce by your spouse, it’s understandable that you’ll have lots of questions. Here at Vines Legal, we’re experts in matrimonial and family law and can assist you at every stage to help guide you through what can be a confusing and distressing time. For a free initial, no obligation consultation, please call us on 01246 555610 for immediate, friendly and professional advice.

By Vines Legal on 2 Dec 2020

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Child Arrangements During the Christmas Holidays

Divorce lawyer Chesterfield - Child arrangements at ChristmasAlthough Christmas is traditionally a time for celebration and joy, for separated parents it can be a little more complicated. However, there are plenty of ways that you and your ex-partner can navigate the Christmas holidays to ensure it’s as enjoyable and peaceful as possible. As experts in matrimonial and family law, we’ve put together some useful advice on how to make sure everyone enjoys the festive period.

Coming to an arrangement that works for you

For some separated parents, there will inevitably be stresses and difficulties that come with trying to organise the Christmas holidays around two households. It’s not always easy to amicably come to an arrangement for the children that everyone is over the moon about.

No, it may not be your idea of a perfect Christmas to split the big day itself down the middle, or have to disrupt your holidays travelling to and from your ex-partners house. But by taking the wishes and feelings of everyone concerned into account, and being flexible with timings and arrangements, it is possible for everyone to enjoy at least some aspects of the festive season.

Of course, everyone’s individual circumstances are different, and what works for one family might not be appropriate for another. There’s no right or wrong way to approach this; its about finding an arrangement that works best for all parties involved.

What happens if we can’t agree?

Unfortunately, there may be occasions when, despite the best of intentions on both sides, you and your ex-partner simply can’t come to an agreement about how to organise the Christmas holidays. It’s completely understandable that, following a divorce or separation, your relationship has become strained, or methods of communication have broken down. In this case, family mediation may be a sensible option.

Mediation means that an independent, un-biased third person will work with you and your ex-partner to encourage communication that will help you both come to a decision that you’re reasonably happy with. Of course, there will be some give and take involved, but reaching an agreement together with the help of a mediator can be both an amicable and constructive approach.

However, should you come to the end of the mediation process and you have been unable to reach an agreement that you’re both comfortable with, you can get a family law solicitor to make a formal application to the court requesting what is known as a Specific Issues Order. This order will solely relate to the arrangement in question as an isolated issue, or it may be part of a Child Arrangements Order application which addresses other arrangements too. Rest assured that should we need to formally apply for this type of order for you, the Court will fairly consider the wishes, circumstances, and preferences of both parents, and decide on an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children or child involved.

Advice and support from the experts

Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of Child Arrangements Orders, including Specific Issues Orders, and are well rehearsed in supporting families through these applications. If you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, and want to ensure that arrangements regarding your children are decided upon as smoothly and amicably as possibly for Christmas and the future, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation. We’d be happy to explain all of the options available to you in a friendly, professional manner.

By Vines Legal on 14 Nov 2020

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The 5 Most Common Financial Mistakes Made During A Divorce

The 5 Most Common Financial Mistakes Made During A DivorceMaking sense of the financial aspects of divorce isn’t easy, especially during what is typically a stressful and emotional time for those involved. But financial settlements are a key part of the divorce process, and need to be worked through carefully and sensitively to ensure the best outcome for you and your family.

Here at Vines Legal, we’re well-versed in assisting our clients with financial settlements, and dedicated to ensuring the whole process runs smoothly. With that in mind, we’ve summarised 5 of the most common financial mistakes that clients can make, which we can help you avoid!

1 - Attempting to Hide Assets

It may be tempting to downplay assets that you don’t want your ex-spouse to have a share in following a divorce. But it’s strictly a bad idea; both non-disclosure of an asset, or being dishonest about its true value, means any financial settlement is open to challenges. Even if the settlement has been passed by the court, revealing non-disclosure at a later date could mean that your ex-spouse has the right to take you back to court. You may also be at risk of perjury if you fail to disclose your assets or income in full.

2 – Failing to Plan for the Future

Another common mistake that people make regarding finances is failing to plan for the future. Working out what finances you’ll need to survive on after you divorce is an important part of the process, and one that is key to your future wellbeing. Financial planning should include keeping track of your income and outgoings, as well as establishing what assets belong to the family, and what you need to live on comfortably after the divorce.

3 – Forgetting about Debt

Failing to take debt into account is another common mistake clients make. Unfortunately, you and your ex-spouse can both be held responsible for all debts, even if they are in your ex-spouse’s name. Cutting financial ties during a divorce is incredibly important to ensure that you’re protected in the event that repayments are missed. If you have no joint debts, a ‘notice of disassociation’ can be acquired which removes the financial connection with your ex-spouse on your credit file.

4 – Failing to Split Pensions

It’s easy for you to overlook pensions, but they are a key consideration and need to be included in your financial settlement. Once the value of a pension has been established, there are 2 commonly used options; pension sharing and offsetting. As the options are often complex, it is advisable to seek expert legal and financial advice.

5 – Trying to Save the Family Home

Of course, it is tempting to want to keep some resemblance of stability following a divorce by staying in the family home, especially if there are children involved. But its sometimes far more sensible financially to sell your home and split the proceeds between you and your ex-spouse, rather than trying a maintain a home that once benefitted from two people’s incomes. Buying something that is more manageable for the future, without the painful memories, may be a better option in the long run. Options here, however, need to be carefully tailored to the circumstances of the case and needs of dependent children.

If you want to avoid these common financial mistakes during your divorce, our professional and experienced team at Vines Legal can help. To ensure you achieve the best financial settlement for you, contact us on 01246 555610 for a FREE initial consultation.

By Vines Legal on 27 Oct 2020

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Is My Ex Entitled To Half My Business And Is This Viable?

Splitting a business during a divorceAs matrimonial solicitors, we know that divorce may be one of the most difficult, confusing and stressful times in your life. When you divorce, you and your ex-spouse need to make a decision on how on how to separate your finances. This includes dividing up property, savings, investments, and pensions. If you have children together, financial arrangements will also need to be made to ensure that they are supported, which may include child maintenance payments.

Taking Business Interests into Account

The process of separating finances after a divorce is never simple, but taking business interests into account can add another layer of complexity. There are many things to consider when a business is involved, and determining some of the following points is a good place to start. For example, are you and your ex-spouse both involved in the business? Do you both wish to remain actively involved or, does your business only involve one of you, with the other lacking knowledge of the way it’s run?

Then there’s always the possibility that one spouse established the business before the marriage, or that it may have been a family business that has been inherited. Whatever the circumstances, however, there must be full disclosure of all assets including those jointly and solely owned. Commonly, the main income of either both, or one of the parties, is actively generated by the business. Following the divorce, therefore, it is essential that this income meets the parties’ needs.

How are Business Assets Divided when you Divorce?

Whether you run a limited company, a partnership, or you are a sole trader, the Family Court will take the value of your business into account when dividing up the assets between you and your ex-spouse. An independent valuation of the business may be required. It can be hard to extract cash from the business to pay the other party a lump sum without damaging the business and its ability to produce an income. Care needs to be taken in decisions relating to a business in a divorce.

As you can see, it’s not a straightforward process, and Vines Legal would strongly recommend seeking expert advice in order to successfully navigate you through the process. Although it’s a complex area, our matrimonial solicitors are well rehearsed in divorce proceedings that involve businesses. We’ll assist you at every stage, and help guide you through what can be a confusing and distressing time. Our experienced team will work with you to help ensure you understand the process, and work hard to achieve the best financial settlement for you.

If you’d like advice on ensuring your business is valued fairly and accurately, guidance on how to remove your spouse from the business if they are not actively involved, or advice on dividing the business, we can help. For immediate, friendly and professional advice, call us on 01246 555610 to arrange a free initial, no obligation consultation.

By Vines Legal on 18 Oct 2020

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How Is Child “Custody” Determined?

Divorce lawyer Chesterfield child custodyAfter the breakdown of a relationship, arrangements over the “custody” of children can be set out within a Child Arrangements Order. Of course, making the correct arrangements for your children after a divorce or separation is absolutely crucial to their upbringing, and decisions about where they’ll live and how much time they’ll spend with the other parent are incredibly important.

What are Child Arrangements?

Over the years, you may have heard the terms "custody" and "access" or "residence"  and "contact" used in relation to these circumstances, but they’re now most commonly referred to as ‘child arrangements’ and are a key step to determining the future care of your children. Under the Children Act 1989, both parents normally have a legal responsibility to look after their children, financially and otherwise, until they are 18 years old or have left full-time education.

In an ideal world, parents would decide these arrangements together, but as disputes are common during the breakdown of a relationship, Courts will often assist. In this case, you can apply for a child arrangements order which will determine who the children will live with and the regularity of their time spent with the other parent. Because every case is different, the Court does not have a pre-determined view as to whether the children should live with one parent or the other.

Making Child Arrangements if you Divorce or Separate

As mentioned in our previous blog post, only those with parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. In the event that you do not have parental responsibility, permission from the Court can be requested to make an application.  

The Role of Mediation

If the details of child arrangements cannot be agreed between you and your ex-spouse or partner, mediation can be a useful and sensible option. The mediator will be able to give you impartial advice while you and your ex-partner make decisions about where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, when the contact takes place and how, and any child maintenance payments.

At the end of the mediation process, you’ll get a document showing exactly what you agreed. This agreement is not legally binding, but you can make it legally binding by getting a solicitor to draft an Order  for a Court to approve after mediation. In the event that you can’t agree, even after mediation, you can ask a Court to decide on anything you have not already agreed. Before applying to Court, in most circumstances, you will have to show that you’ve at least attended a meeting to see if mediation is right for you.

Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of child arrangements, and years of experience in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. If you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, and want to ensure that arrangements regarding your children are decided upon as smoothly and amicably as possibly, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation. We’d be happy to explain all of the options available to you in a friendly, professional manner.

By Vines Legal on 6 Oct 2020

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