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Vines Legal Limited

Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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The Risks of Cohabitation

Recent data from the National Office of Statistics has shown the rising popularity in cohabitation; since 1996 the number of unwed couples raising children together has risen to 1.3 million – an increase of 132%. According to the Marriage Foundation, it is expected that more than half of the 20-year-olds in the UK will never marry. And it is not only in the UK, the trend is also rising similarly across Europe.

This evidence shows us that perhaps we are living in a society where couples are contented in their relationships and feel secure enough not to need to formalise their relationships, religiously or legally. Albeit admirable in many people’s opinion, cohabitees have virtually no financial rights if the relationship breaks down.

“Common-law marriage” is an absolute myth and there is still a huge misconception that living long-term with your partner offers similar rights to marriage. In the eyes of the law, cohabitees are practically treated like strangers and nothing is enforceable as a result of their relationship.

Therefore, individuals making financial sacrifices, presuming they would be taken care of in the eventuality of a break up, could be in for a nasty shock. What you accumulate during your married life e.g. properties, savings etc. is seen as marital property and would generally be split 50%/50% if you divorce. This does not apply for those couples who remain unwed.

Although it may be considered somewhat unromantic, it is advisable that cohabitees gather as much information about their rights in the event of a separation as possible and use this knowledge to draw together plans that would soften the financial impact.

There are many ways to safeguard your future if you don’t want to marry and want to continue cohabiting with your partner. Cohabitation agreements can be drawn up, outlining both of your rights, as well as arranging property ownership to keep both parties safe should the worst occur.

At Vines Legal, we understand that every couple is different and not everyone wants to marry, but we also value the importance of safeguarding your future. If you would like to discuss cohabitation agreements or are having issues with an ex-partner and would like to discuss your rights, call us on 01246 555 610 for a free initial consultation.

By Claire Clark on 26 Nov 2015

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Father’s solicitor ordered to pay a portion of mother’s costs in cross-Atlantic custody battle

Recently, the solicitor representing a father in a custody battle was ordered to pay the mother £1,250 or 25% of the costs she had incurred to attend the custody hearing.

The hearing took place after year-long legal proceedings in both the UK and the United States. Mother and son moved across the Atlantic in 2013, after the mother remarried an American man. In July 2015, the father decided to end the legal proceedings in the UK and instead proceed in the American Courts. However, this information was not clearly communicated to the Court and a three-day hearing was held the week before last. It was only then that the Courts were made aware that the father had decided to withdraw from the process.

Neither the father nor the mother were correctly prepared for the hearing; the father had not filed his final evidence; the Court was only made aware of the situation on the first day of the hearing and the Court had not received all the necessary documents from his solicitors.

Although the Court believed that both parties were completely unprepared for the hearing, they ultimately ruled that the father’s solicitors should provide a written reason as to why they had not fulfilled all the necessary requirements. The written response from the solicitor in question was unsatisfactory and the Judge ruled that the solicitors ‘had failed to act on the present occasion with the competence reasonably to be expected of ordinary members of the profession’ and ordered them to compensate the mother with either £1,250 or 25% of the costs she had incurred, whichever was a lower sum.

This case shows the importance of finding competent and trustworthy representation. At Vines Legal we understand the severity and significance of child custody cases and represent our clients with professionalism and the knowledge required to achieve the best possible outcome. To discuss your situation with us, book a free initial consultation on 01246 555 610.

By Claire Clark on 24 Nov 2015

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5 of the Most Bizarre Marital Laws from Around the World

Marriages can break down for a number of reasons, but in some parts of the world divorce laws can be imposed for the strangest reasons. Here are our top 5:

1. Saudi Arabia

A woman has legal grounds for divorce if her husband fails to bring her fresh coffee every morning.

2. Samoa

In Samoa, it is technically legal for a woman to file for divorce if her spouse forgets her birthday.

3. Colorado

In the state of Colorado, an old law states that a man can be thrown into jail for scowling at his wife on a Sunday.

4. Australia

Traditionally, if an Aboriginal woman in Australia wanted to separate from her husband, she could try to persuade him – or she could just go right ahead and wed another man to immediately end her marriage.

5. Utah

Old laws in Utah state that when a man is with his wife, he is legally responsible for her actions.

By Claire Clark on 19 Nov 2015

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How to Make Your Divorce Less Stressful: Part Two

Divorce can cause problems such as stress and anxiety. These problems can lead to a lack of sleep, causing a lack of energy and concentration. Here are a few tips to try and make the process easier, to minimise any impact upon your health.

1. Develop strategies to help you grow stronger

Identify what your strengths and weaknesses are, for example, if you know that you are going to feel lonely, think realistically about how you are going to cope with this. Put a strategy into place. This will help build your confidence, self-esteem and managing your emotions.

2. Managing emotions

The divorce process is difficult and can trigger strong emotions such as grief, fear, anger, resentment, doubt, regret and guilt. Giving yourself the time and space to manage these emotions, along with help and support from family and friends, is essential to moving forward.

3. Accept the reality of the situation

As difficult as it may be, being realistic with yourself is something that will help you achieve a more positive outlook, sooner rather than later. Although it may be painful to accept harsh realities, continuing down a path of denial will only lengthen the recovery process.

4. Have the right people on your side

Divorce is a challenge; mentally, physically and emotionally. One of the most important things you can do, is ensure that you are happy with the people that represent you throughout the process.

At Vines Legal, we have a combined total of 21 years’ experience and we appreciate that every situation is unique; we provide a bespoke service which is tailored to the individual needs of each case. Being confident that your legal support will guide and advise you properly, through each and every stage, can be a great relief and comfort. Call us today on 01246 555 610 for a free initial consultation to discuss your situation.

By Claire Clark on 18 Nov 2015

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The Claws Are Out in Chinese Tiger Charity Divorce Settlement Dispute

Former banker, William Bray, and ex-wife, Li Quan, have made the headlines this week over disputes regarding the charity they set up to save the endangered Chinese Tiger. It was the love of animals that brought them together, but ironically, what eventually tore them apart, as they separated due to “disagreements over the future policy and precise presentation of the (tiger) project”.

Miss Quan claims that Mr Bray invested £25 million into the South African-based project and insists that this should be counted as marital property. On the contrary, however, Mr Bray claims that his entire fortune, less just over £1 million, went into the project and believes that it should not be divided as part of the divorce.

Last October, High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge stated that he could see “no evidence of past, present or future benefit to either the wife or the husband”, but now Lord Justice Briggs and Lady Justice King have granted Miss Quan permission to appeal this finding. Her QC Richard Todd claims Mr Bray has “spirited away tens of millions of pounds and left the wife bereft’.

Mr Bray has chosen to represent himself and told the Appeal Court judges that “this is a dispute over the running of a charity, not a family dispute”. He also claimed that Miss Quan was “seeking to destroy” the charity work they had done for the Chinese Tigers, although outside Court she denied any such allegation. The judges will now decide whether the case will have a full Appeal Court hearing or whether it will be considered further by the High Court.

If you would like advice about your divorce or divorce settlement, do not hesitate to make a free initial consultation on 01246 555 610.

By Claire Clark on 12 Nov 2015

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How to Make Your Divorce Less Stressful: Part One

How to make your divorce less stressful

Divorce can cause problems such as stress and anxiety. These problems can lead to a lack of sleep, causing a lack of energy and concentration. Here are a few tips to try and make the process easier, to minimise any impact upon your health.

1. Set targets and goals for the future

Trying to stay positive during a divorce will undoubtedly be a challenge, but envisaging a bright and happy future full of positive changes will make the process a lot easier. Divorce is a huge change in itself, but it is a great opportunity to re-evaluate the things that you want from life. Setting goals and making plans is a great way to keep positive and make the most of a new start.

2. Try to keep communication effective

Divorces are complicated and difficult, meaning that tensions often run high. If communication with your ex-spouse is challenging, ensure that you think carefully about what you want to achieve from your conversations. Maintain calmness, try not to get angry and stay focused on the outcome of the exchange – this way you can avoid being drawn into old arguments or disputes.

3. Deal with financial issues and practical matters

It is important to consider your financial situation going forward. After divorce, it is bound to change so creating a budget will help you to see what your new outgoings/incomings will be. This can help avoid any financial difficulties further down the road.

It is also a good idea to think about practical matters, such as household tasks and maintaining your property. If your ex-spouse did the majority of the cooking, learning to cook would be a prudent idea. Equally, if they dealt with problems with the car or house, it would be a good idea to invest some time in learning about these issues and their solutions.

4. Allow your family and friends to help

Identify who your support network are and let them be there for you. Don’t shy away from help or support. Although some friendships may become more complicated post-divorce (mutual friends, for example), it may also be the perfect time to make new friends or reconnect with old ones.

At Vines Legal, we have a combined total of 21 years’ experience and we appreciate that every situation is unique; we provide a bespoke service which is tailored to the individual needs of each case. Being confident that your legal support will guide and advise you properly, through each and every stage, can be a great relief and comfort. Call us today on 01246 555 610 for a free initial consultation to discuss your situation.

By Claire Clark on 11 Nov 2015

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The World's Top 7 Most Bizarre Prenuptial Agreements

1. Who gets the dog?

In today’s society, man’s best friend is becoming a more and more frequent addition to prenup clauses. This can include custody and visitation rights should the couple split.

2. Who gets the nanny?

With good help so hard to find, deciding who will keep which employee after a break-up is now becoming a trend. You get the gardener; I get the nanny!

3. The in-laws

One prenuptial agreement barred in-laws from staying the night. Another saw one man having to pay $10,000 (£6,550) each time he was rude to his wife’s parents and in yet another bizarre in-law related clause, one man capped the amount of time he and his wife would spend with their in-laws to a maximum of 2 consecutive days.

4. The football

One football-hating wife limited her husband to watching 1 football match with friends per week.

5. Weight watching

One wife’s prenuptial agreement limited her weight to a maximum of 8½ stone. The penalty for gaining weight is forfeiting $100,000 (£615,515) worth of her separate property.

6. High infidelity

Not unlike many celebrity couples, Catherine Zeta-Jones is rumoured to have an infidelity clause included in her prenup. This would mean compensation of several million pounds should husband Michael Douglas be unfaithful.

7. The kids

Some prenups include specifics such as whether their children will be raised vegetarian or what school they will attend. In some multi-faith marriages, couples dictate religious upbringings in advance. Some prenups even stipulate that the couple will never have children!

Are you considering putting a prenuptial agreement into place? Contact Vines Legal to book a free consultation on 01246 555 610.

By Claire Clark on 4 Nov 2015

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Preparing for Christmas – putting in place a Parent Plan

Christmas can be a difficult time after a separation, which is why National Family Mediation are urging separated parents to begin putting Parent Plans into place to avoid stress and confusion during the festive season.

Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said: ‘For separated families, far from being a time of joy, Christmas can heap tension upon tension. Reminders that Christmas is fast approaching are all around us, but many separated families are dreading December, and with good reason.

Christmas places huge pressures on families, and it’s a time when separated couples often find settlements imposed by divorce courts don’t work.

As a result, the child is caught helplessly in the middle, leading to a thoroughly miserable Christmas.’

A Parenting Plan can be as basic or as intricate as you wish, but should always reflect what is best for the children involved. By planning in advance, you can ensure that their needs and wishes are put first and that the result is manageable and clear to everyone.

At Vines Legal, we understand the difficulties of separation and the impact it can have on family life. To further discuss separation with us, book a free consultation with us on 01246 555 610.

By Claire Clark on 29 Oct 2015

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The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…………

For those who have been dishonest in their divorce and financial proceedings involving their spouse there may be reason to panic after the recent Judgment made at the Supreme Court this week.

Two woman won their cases after being deprived of what was rightly theirs during divorce proceedings. The Sharland case significantly highlights the fact that Courts will take a “zero tolerance stance” from husbands or wives who attempt to deliberately deceive their spouses and lie to the Court about their finances and assets.

Charles Sharland, it appears, was far from transparent during his financial hearing. Firstly, about the actual value of shares in his company and secondly, about the timing of the sale of those shares. This impacted significantly upon the financial award made to his wife. The true value was actually ten times higher than Mr Sharland had originally claimed.

Many spouses who have deliberately misled the Courts recently and not disclosed their true financial worth have knowingly deprived the other spouse and possibly their children of what is rightly theirs. These individuals may well be sitting uneasy right now as this Court Judgment has now enabled recently divorced individuals to potentially have the case re-opened when they suspect such dishonesty has taken place and will enable them to pursue what they are entitled to. Each case will be considered on its own facts.

For those individuals who are attempting to conduct their financial case during divorce in a dishonest fashion this decision is a big wake up call. Basically you will not get away with it!

If you are looking to pursue divorce proceedings and resolve your financial affairs in light of separation we encourage you to contact Vines Legal in the first instance to discuss how we can support you through the process in the most cost-effective manner, call our office today on 01246 555 610.

By Claire Clark on 16 Oct 2015

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The simple things can now grant you a divorce in some parts of the world!

For many years Courts have been insistent on being provided with very serious and in-depth reasons as to why a marriage should come to an end, before a divorce is granted. However, things seem to be changing and more bizarre reasons are being accepted in certain Courts across the world.

One of the stranger cases to date is one that was heard by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court where one party was granted a divorce on the grounds of their spouse having a “low” IQ!

During the case both a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist stood before the Court and stated that they believed it is difficult to lead a happily married life with someone who’s IQ is under 70!

If you are looking to begin divorce proceedings, whatever the reason for the relationship breakdown, we encourage you to seek professional advice as soon as you are able. Contact Vines Legal today on 01246 555 610 to arrange your free 30 minute consultation.

By Claire Clark on 24 Sep 2015

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