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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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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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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; S for Section 8 Orders

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is S for Section 8 Orders

Section 8 Orders sounds technical and official but simply put, they are four orders set out under the Children Act (1989), later amended by the Children and Families Act (2014). These Orders are set out specifically to help resolve issues relating to children, following a marriage or relationship breakdown, which are often the most sensitive and difficult to resolve.

The Section 8 Orders 

  • Child Arrangement Order – this is an Order that regulates the arrangements relating to: -

-    with whom the child should live- previously known as ‘residence’ or ‘custody’; and

-    when a child should spend time with the other parent- previously known as ‘contact’ or ‘access’.

  • Prohibited Steps Order – To prevent someone, not necessarily a parent, from carrying out a particular action without the court’s agreement. For example; removing a child from the jurisdiction, having contact with a named individual, or changing a child’s surname. These orders can normally only be made in relation to a child under 16.
  • Specific Issue Order – Usually relating to education questions, medical decisions and holidays, these resolve a single issue that has or may arise in respect of a child’s upbringing.

Who Can Ask For A Section 8 Order?

There are those who have automatic permission to apply for an Order, such as parents, guardians or those with parental responsibility. This, however, is not an exhaustive list as there are additional categories of people who may automatically apply for an order. If you do not fall within these criteria then you will need to ask the Court first for permission to apply for an order.

What Needs To Be Considered?

When deciding on Section 8 Orders, Judges must consider the ‘Welfare Checklist’ set out in Section 1 of the Children Act (1989). The following aspects must be taken into account:

  • The wishes of the child, taking into account age and understanding,
  • Physical, emotional and educational needs,
  • The likely effect of any change in circumstances,
  • Age, gender, background,
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at possible risk of suffering,
  • The capability of each parent and any other person the court considers relevant, of meeting the child’s needs, and
  • The range of powers available to the court.

Obtaining accurate legal advice and representation is important in securing a Section 8 Order that is most beneficial to you and your child/ren.  If you would like more information about these child related orders; or if you need advice and help with your specific situation please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free consultation where one of our experienced solicitors will be able to assist you. 

By Vines Legal on 17 Dec 2019

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Relationship Stress At Christmas

The silly season is here, and if you feel tension increasing between you and your partner, you are not alone. Christmas can be a very stressful time of year. It starts earlier and earlier every year with trees going up and Christmas nights out in November, extra expenses and long ‘to do’ lists.  All this can often amplify pre-existing issues in a relationship. Little niggles can become big issues. Couples face high levels of stress over the Christmas period, which can lead to increased arguments and relationship break-ups. If the strain on you as a couple is only getting worse, then it may be time for you to consider a separation or divorce.

If a break-up is unwanted, here are a few tips for couples to survive the holiday season together:

1)         Think long term – the festive season is only a few weeks and all the stress of this holiday is normally temporary.

2)         Keep in close contact with others – don’t be smothered by your partner. Make sure you spend time with others and take time out for yourself. Take turns looking after the children while you go out for a change of scenery and activity.

3)         Talk to your partner – all issues around the holidays with extra chores, the in-laws and extended families can put extra stress on the relationship and talking this through with your partner will give you an opportunity to share how you feel and chance to ask for help.

If these tips do not help and the stress of Christmas continues past the holiday season, then we are here to offer you advice. Vines Legal provide a free initial consultation to talk through your problems and help you find a solution. Call us on 01246 555610 to make an appointment.

By Vines Legal on 16 Dec 2019

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Child Arrangements At Christmas

For many families, Christmas is a happy time of year. But for those who may be newly separated or divorced it can be a time of upset and arguments. There is one big important question “who has the children at Christmas?” 

For young children, Christmas Eve is full of excitement waiting for Father Christmas, and fun filled traditions of getting ready for his arrival and leaving goodies for him and his reindeers beside the Christmas tree. Knowing that these traditions and the excitement for Christmas are for a few short years makes the arrangements over this period something that can be emotional and full of turmoil for many parents.

For this reason, it is common for the time to be shared, and alternated between the parents. In most separated families, time over Christmas is divided equally. For example, the period between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day is divided between the parents, with one party spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with the children, and the other spending the afternoon of Christmas Day and Boxing Day with them. The typical arrangement will then alternate each year. This is just one example of how parents can work together.

It’s very important to spend time sorting out an amicable agreement with your co-parent well in advance of the festive period and for both parties to then stick to this agreement.  If this is difficult or you worry arguments will start, this is where a family law solicitor can help.  We can help draw up arrangements not just for the Christmas holidays, but for Easter, the long summer break and other school holidays and special occasions as well as the regular routine term time contact.  This agreement can then be documented in a legally binding Child Arrangements Order, which prevents the need for any further or future arguments over the arrangements as the framework is already set out.

 Some key things to remember when planning the arrangements:

  • Think of your children, what they want and what will make them happy.
  • As children get older ask them what they would like and what they want.
  • Don’t make presents a competition, or try to out-do your co-parent.
  • Stick to arranged collection and drop off times, allow plenty of time for travel if necessary.
  • If you’re upset or unhappy with any arrangements do not show this in front of your children.
  • Try and make your children feel secure and happy in the plans, even if you feel your ex is being unreasonable.
  • Try and keep the lines of communication open with your co-parent, maybe using a Communication Book to keep each other updated and informed.

If you have any queries regarding the above information or if you’re struggling to make child arrangements with your ex-partner contact us on 01246 555610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Vines Legal on 12 Dec 2019

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

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is R for Representation. 

Legal representation is the process of a solicitor representing his/her client in court and the work that the solicitor does during the proceedings. Representation can also be provided by barristers (read more here in our Barrister Blog) and is required at a Final Contested Hearing.

You may be allowed to have someone to help you with the court process by explaining the court process, helping you plan what you want to say in court, and taking notes, but they cannot: speak for you or interfere with court proceedings. You may also represent yourself, known as a ‘Litigant in Person’, however, proper legal representation should be by a legal professional.

Attending court can be a daunting experience as it is one which most people are not familiar with. It can therefore be beneficial to have both legal expertise and support on board and we would strongly recommend using a qualified family law solicitor. It is very important to speak to someone who has a full knowledge and understanding of what can be very difficult and highly emotive situations as well as someone who has the qualifications to practice law. When engaging a Family Law Specialist Solicitor, you are working with someone who has extensive experience in the field and who will work hard to represent you and achieve your desired outcomes.

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 10 Dec 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; Q for Quickie (Divorces)

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Q for Quickie (divorce)

Can I Get A Quick Divorce? 

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a 'quickie divorce' – it is simply media hype. Media has us convinced that a divorce can take seconds. Apparently Cheryl Cole had the UK’s fastest divorce at 14 seconds. Whilst some divorces are quicker than others, the process is broadly the same with the same legal timeline and there are no shortcuts for anyone, no matter their financial standing or celebrity status!  There is no special fast track procedure.

When the media talk about a ‘quickie divorce’ what they are actually talking about is the length of time it takes the Judge to pronounce Decree Nisi in open court where often journalists are waiting to hear the names read out.  However this is only one part of the divorce process.  It is a further six weeks and one day before the Decree Absolute can be applied for.  It is the pronouncement of Decree Absolute that is the actual dissolution of the marriage (for more information see our Decree Nisi Blog)

A typical uncontested divorce where both parties have agreed to the divorce and the grounds for divorce they wish to file upon, usually takes 6 months at the very least, depending on how busy the Courts are.  Matters including sorting out property and finances and children arrangements will extend this time.

Unfortunately, as a divorce is a legal procedure there is no definitive timetable for the length of time it will take to obtain your Decree Absolute and the length of time can differ considerably between each Court and divorce unit.

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 3 Dec 2019

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