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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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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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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; P for Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series. Today’s topic is P for Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements

Nuptial agreements (pre-nups and post-nups) are more commonly associated with the rich and famous and can often be sensationalised on-line and in magazines. This has led to common belief that nuptial agreements are unfair, worthless and unromantic, when they can actually be a sensible, fair and transparent way to discuss the financial picture and agree the outcome if the marriage were tobreak down.

A Prenuptial Agreement is an agreement made between two parties before marriage or civil partnership takes place. It can be used to set out how the couple wish their assets to be divided between them if they later separate or divorce. This can be important if the parties to the marriage have particular family assets that they wish to be kept within the family, for example, a family business, property or family heirlooms. You can list nearly anything you want. For example, stating that you will try mediation if you decide to divorce. Even a settlement about pets can be included. But there are also limits and legally you cannot demand things like child support or predetermine child custody arrangements.

While not yet legally binding under English law there have been a number of cases where the Court has taken into account prenuptial agreements and essentially, the position now would be that if in the event there is a pre-nuptial agreement the court would be asking ‘why should we not follow this agreement?’ In fact it was as far back as in 2010 that the UK Supreme Court recognised pre-nups for the first time in the now famous case of Radmacher v. Granatino. Since that time pre-nup enquiries to family law solicitors have increased 70%.

Pre-nuptial agreements will usually be upheld by an English court if they have been carefully negotiated with the benefit of independent legal advice. Unless the Court believes there are compelling grounds for it being ‘unjust’ to hold the parties to their agreement, the parties’ autonomy in entering into the agreement will be respected.

With 42% of all marriages in the UK ending in divorce, an increasing number of people are considering pre-nup agreements, especially those entering into marriage for a second time. However, 1 in 4 couples who look into having a pre-nup do not go through with getting married.

The Postnuptial Agreement, just like a pre-nuptial agreement, spells out how a couple’s assets are distributed in the event of divorce or death. The difference being, as the name suggests, a post-nup can be undertaken at any time after the marriage has occurred. Like pre-nups, post-nups aren’t legally binding but they do carry weight in English Courts, providing they have been signed by both parties freely without duress and alongside legal advice.

For both pre and post nuptial agreements it is also important for each person to make full disclosure of their assets (including property, money in bank accounts, pensions and income) at the time of the agreement. All of this should be done before the agreement is signed.

Arming yourself with accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. If you are considering a pre or post nuptial agreement or your partner has requested it, call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Administrator on 26 Nov 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; O for Oath

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is O for Oath

What is an Oath in law?

Before giving evidence in court you will be asked if you wish to take an oath or make an affirmation that your evidence is true. To take the oath means to swear to the truth of what is written by you, or said by you, on either the bible or other religious book of your faith.

The difference between an oath and an affirmation is that the oath is a religious commitment where as an affirmation is non-religious.

Below are examples of the types of oaths and affirmations used in court.

Witness Oath

"I swear by .......... (according to religious belief) that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Witness Affirmation

"I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Sworn testimony is evidence given by a witness who has made a commitment to tell the truth. If the witness is later found to have lied whilst bound by the commitment, they can often be charged with the crime of perjury. Lying under oath is a criminal offence and in the United Kingdom, perjury is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

For another legal “O” topics read about an Occupation Order in our Injunction blog here.

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 Administrator on 20 Nov 2019

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Festive Colouring Competition

Christmas is coming to Vines Legal and we want you to be part of our festive season! 

This year we’re inviting your children to join in our colouring competition. All entries will be displayed in our office.

Nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren are welcome too so please share this email with your friends, family and colleagues

The more the merrier!

There are four pictures attached to choose from and all the entry details are below.

Download:

 

 

By Administrator on 15 Nov 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; N for Nisi

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is N for Nisi (Decree Nisi)

What is a Decree Nisi?

The decree nisi (a Latin phrase meaning 'rule, unless') is an interim decree of divorce pronounced when the Court is satisfied that a person has met the legal and procedural requirements to obtain a divorce.  In other words, the Court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Following the pronouncement of decree nisi, the marriage still exists and you are not yet ‘divorced’.

The person seeking the divorce must then wait at least six weeks and one day after the declaration of the decree nisi before making their application for the decree absolute. This period can only be reduced in certain exceptional circumstances. The applicant can wait up to 12 months to apply for the decree absolute however any longer than that will require an explanation to the Court.  The decree absolute is the final decree which actually dissolves the marriage. Once this has been granted you are ‘divorced’.

Please note the above only applies to ending a marriage. The process for dissolving a civil partnership is virtual the same as obtaining a divorce but some of the terminology is different. Instead of pronouncing a decree nisi, the court grants a conditional order and rather than granting decree absolute, the court grants a final order.

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 Administrator on 12 Nov 2019

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Bullying and Coercive Control

Today sees the start of Anti-Bullying Week 2019 but bullying isn’t all about children.  Coercive control is a form of bullying and is a crime and can affect anyone at work or at home

Domestic abuse isn’t always a physical attack. Coercive control is behaviour that includes ongoing acts of physical assault, threats and/or threatening actions, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This controlling behaviour is intended to make a person dependent on the abuser by isolating them from friends or family support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive control creates an emotional paralysis and a sense of fear that infiltrates all aspects of a victim’s life. At the most basic it can make a victim doubt themselves and at the very worst coercive control can be compared to being taken hostage advises expert Evan Stark. As he says: “the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.”

 

How do you know if this is happening to you?

Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

Intimidation – Making you afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, smashing things or destroying property, abusing pets or displaying weapons.

Emotional Abuse – Putting you down and making you feel bad about yourself, calling you names, humiliation, playing mind games.

Isolation – Controlling what you do, where you go, who you see and talk to. Using jealousy to justify behaviour. Limiting or preventing contact with family or friends. Taking away internet access or telephone.

Economic Abuse – Preventing you from having a job, controlling access to money or only giving an allowance, taking money away.

Using Threats – Making or carrying out threats to hurt you, threatening to leave her or commit suicide, threatening to report you to social services, making you carry out illegal actions or forcing you to drop charges.

Using Children – Using child arrangement visits to harass you, relay abusive messages, threatening to take the children away.

Minimising – Making light of any abuse, denying any abuse took place, shifting responsibility and convincing a victim it is their fault.

 

Who Is Affected?

Please remember coercive control and bullying can affect both men and women and can occur in both opposite-gender and same-gender relationships.

 

In April 2018 the first woman to be accused and charged with domestic abuse against her male partner made headlines.  Read the story here

 

About 25% of LGBT people suffer through violent or threatening relationships with partners or ex-partners.

 

The list above is not exhaustive. If you are worried for yourself, family member or friend or if you have any queries regarding the above information 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.

 

Sources: www.womensaid.org.uk, Duluth model, www.endthefear.co.uk, www.mensadviceline.org.uk

By Administrator on 11 Nov 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; M for Mesher Order

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is M for Mesher Order.

This is an interesting topic today as we are sure most people have never heard of a Mesher Order. So what is it?

A Mesher Order is a Court Order that directs how the family home will be dealt with after divorce. A Mesher Order allows the sale of the family home to be deferred for a certain length of time or until a specific event takes place; such as when the child/ren leave school.  It effectively allows one spouse and the child/ren to remain living in the family home until the date the Courts have decided upon.

One of the advantages of the Mesher Order is that it fulfils the statutory requirement that the Court is to give first consideration to the welfare of any child of the family under 18 years of age. Also, it does not cause any destabilising effect upon the child or the child's carer by forcing a sale of the home at a time that will undoubtedly have been emotionally stressful. The postponement of the sale at a time when the finances of the parties may be significantly stretched has the added benefit of delaying incurring immediate moving costs and other costs associated with the sale of the property.

Should the occupier of the property wish to sell the home and purchase another, provision will need to be made in the Order to allow for this and for the costs of sale to be provided for. The new home will ordinarily be held on the same terms as the previous home.  Conditions should be made in the Order instructing how any financial gain or loss should be dealt with.    Consideration should also be given to, and provision made for, the occupier to purchase the other spouse's interest in the property and there will need to be provision for the valuation of the property and treatment of the costs of sale.

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 Administrator on 5 Nov 2019

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; L for Lump Sum

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is L for Lump Sum Order 

A Lump Sum Order is an order that requires one person to pay the other person a lump sum of money. This could be for the ex-spouse’s benefit or for the benefit of the child/ren. For example, a lump sum can be ordered when there is a transfer of ownership of a property, typically the family home. The property would be transferred into one person’s name and a lump sum would be paid to the other person for their share of the equity of the property.  Lump sum orders are available on divorce and on the dissolution of a civil partnership alike.

Every case is different and how the payment is made is usually specific to the needs of those involved. The payment could be made in instalments or in one lump sum. If payment is to be made by instalments, then these are variable and can be ordered to be secured. How the payments are secured will depend upon your individual case. Other factors will be considered such as which other assets are available against which the lump sum can be secured, eg against a property owned by the person paying.

The lump sum order can be defined as a specific sum on a specific date and it should be noted that penalties for late payment of lump sums can be ordered, which can accrue interest, generally at the judgment rate of 8%.

If you need help with your finances during divorce or separation why not come in and have a chat with one of our experienced solicitors.  Call 01246 555 610 to book a free consultation today.

By Administrator on 29 Oct 2019

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