Category: Lund Bennett

What evidence can be used during divorce proceedings?

During divorce proceedings you will be required to give evidence to support all information and claims you make.

When applying for a divorce, you will need to provide proof that your marriage has irretrievably broken down for one of the following reasons:
• Adultery
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Desertion
• Two years separation with your spouse’s consent; or
• Five years separation, whether your spouse consents or not

The evidence and documentation you provide will be used to prove your grounds for a divorce and help to fairly divide assets and make important decisions regarding custody and maintenance costs for any children involved in the case.

Types of evidence that may be required to support your case

Financial
• Bank statements
• Tax returns
• Salary information
• Details of property owned
• Details of assets owned
• Details of any debts

Children
• School records
• Your child’s medical records

Reasons for divorce (eg. domestic violence or adultery)

• Photos
• Text messages
• Social media posts and messages

As well as physical documentation and evidence, you may also provide evidence verbally through your own testimony and witness testimonies by friends, family and experts.
Hearsay is not acceptable as evidence.

What should not be included as evidence?

• Confidential documents/letters obtained without permission.
• Private emails, social media messages and text messages obtained without permission.

Intercepting confidential letters or communications and hacking into a person’s private digital accounts is illegal, so any evidence obtained this way cannot be included in proceedings.

You can, however, include any physical or digital communications that you have received yourself.

All of your evidence should be given to your solicitor during the preparation of your case so that it can be included in your exhibit list and properly introduced during the court case.

For further help or advice with divorce law or beginning divorce proceedings, give our team of family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

Why do divorce rates increase after Christmas?

January is the most popular time of year for starting divorce proceedings, so what is it about Christmas that pushes so many couples to breaking point?

January 7th is dubbed ‘divorce day’ in the UK, as many couples take the first step towards accepting that their relationship isn’t working by seeking advice about getting a divorce.

But what is it about Christmas and the new year that pushes so many couples over the edge?

Stress and pressure of the festive season
For many people, Christmas is the busiest and most stressful time of the year. With lots of events to attend, guests to entertain, meals to plan and gifts to buy, it’s easy to get stressed out by all the planning and preparation and forget to spend time together.

Failing to communicate or compromise effectively can also cause major clashes over Christmas plans and finances.

Time spent with in-laws
Christmas can mean spending more time with family and in-laws than usual which can cause tensions to run high. Existing tensions with in-laws can come to a head, causing arguments and testing loyalties between couples.

Alcohol
Any existing problems in the relationship can be amplified when under the influence of alcohol. With alcohol flowing more freely over the festive period, many couples find themselves having more frequent and explosive disagreements over Christmas.

Putting on a brave face for Christmas
Many struggling couples, particularly those with children, grin and bear it over the festive period so as not to upset anyone.

New year, new start

The new year marks new beginnings, and many people use it as a time to make big changes in their lives for the year ahead. For some couples this may mean admitting that their relationship isn’t working and it’s time to part ways.

For help or advice with divorce law this Christmas or new year, give our team of family law solicitors a call on 0161 927 3118.

Tips for managing Christmas arrangements when you’re a divorced or separated parent

If you’re divorced or separated with kids, your Christmas arrangements may look a little different to the ‘traditional’ family’s.

Deciding who the kids will spend time with over the Christmas period can create a lot of tension and stress if not managed carefully.

Striking a fair and harmonious agreement about Christmas arrangements often means letting go of your image of the ‘perfect Christmas’ and making new traditions instead.

We’ve put together some tips and advice for keeping Christmas arrangements as amiable and stress-free as possible.

Make plans in advance

Making plans for Christmas well in advance of December will help to avoid disappointment and extra stress during the busy festive period. It is also in the children’s best interests to know what to expect at Christmas.

Have a ‘fake Christmas

Don’t hang all your hopes and dreams on Christmas day. Remember, it’s just a day and you can still do everything you want to do on an alternative day instead. If you’re feeling disappointed that you won’t experience the magic of Christmas eve or Christmas Day dinner with the kids this year, try recreating the events on another day when you’re all together, chances are the kids won’t object to spreading out Christmas and doing it all over again!

Prioritise the children
Remember, it’s not easy for children either and their preferences and feelings should always be the priority in your arrangements.

Make new traditions
Accept that Christmas will be different as a divorced or separated parent and embrace the change. Whilst it may be possible to continue some of your old traditions, don’t be afraid to get creative making new Christmas traditions with your children.

Keep it harmonious
No matter what form your Christmas is going to take this year, try to focus on enjoying the time you have together with your children rather than letting any disputes or bitter feelings take hold of the festive period. Try to stay positive about Christmas arrangements in front of your children to save them from getting mixed up in any disputes.

For help with divorce law, separation law or children law, get in touch with our team of family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett by calling us on 0161 927 3118.

What is a pension sharing order?

Since divorce pension sharing was introduced in December 2000, pensions have become part of the assets that must be considered during a divorce settlement.

Getting a divorce can be very stressful, with lots of important decisions to be made and paperwork to be filled out during what is already a very emotional time.

One of the biggest tasks that must be tackled is fairly dividing up the couple’s assets. Assets can include property, money, possessions and pensions, anything under a shared name must be considered.

Dividing up a pension
Pension sharing orders are not a compulsory part of a divorce. A pension is an important asset that should be considered during a divorce, but there are different options for dividing it up.
The three main options for dividing a pension are sharing, offsetting and earmarking. A pension sharing order offers a clean break solution.

What is a Pension Sharing Order?
If one party of a divorcing couple has no pension entitlement, then a pension sharing order can be granted by the court to give shared rights to the other party’s pension through a legal arrangement.

How is the pension split?
A pension sharing order does not always require a pension to be split 50/50.

Both party’s assets and finances should be assessed in order to determine how to fairly split the pension. If a decision cannot be reached, then it will be down to the court to decide.

Why do I need a pension sharing order?
If a couple decide that they wish to share a pension, then even if they can amicably agree the percentage split, they will still need to apply to the court for a court order.

This is because pension providers and pension schemes are not allowed to divide or transfer a pension without direction from a court.

For further help or advice with dividing a pension during divorce proceedings, speak to our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett by giving our team a call on 0161 927 3118.

What property rights do unmarried couples have?

As many young couples choose to shun married life, it’s important that cohabiting couples understand their property rights.

Cohabiting couples are the UK’s fastest growing family-type, but the law has not yet caught up with the country’s changing lifestyle trend. Currently, cohabiting couples, even those in very secure long-term relationships, have very different legal rights to married couples.

Married couples both have the right to live in the matrimonial home, whether that is rented or owned accommodation, however the law differs for cohabiting couples.

It’s important that all unmarried couples living together understand their property rights to help them to plan and prepare for the future and to avoid a nasty shock in the event of a separation.

Rented accommodation
When it comes to cohabiting couples that rent property, if your name is not on the tenancy agreement, then you have no legal right to stay in the property if asked to leave. If you are both named on the tenancy agreement, then you have equal rights to stay at the property.

Owned property
If a property is owned jointly by a cohabiting couple, then they both have equal legal rights to the property if they separate.

However, if the property is owned solely by one party then they are the only ones with ownership and the legal right to remain in the property. The other party may still be able to claim ‘beneficial interest’ if they can prove that they have made significant financial contributions towards the property.

If beneficial interest cannot be claimed, then the party will have no legal right to stay in the property.

Forming a cohabitation agreement can be an excellent way for cohabiting couples to gain some financial security. When forming an agreement, the couple will legally agree each party’s rights and responsibilities to help reduce the risk of disagreements in the event of a breakdown of the relationship.

For help creating a cohabitation agreement or resolving a cohabitation dispute, speak to our team of expert family law specialists here at Lund Bennett by calling 0161 927 3118.

Advice for easing the stress of a separation for children

Tension and emotions can run high during a separation, so it’s important to take steps to reduce stress for any children involved.
It’s normal for children to feel upset, angry and anxious if their parents are separating or getting a divroce. It can feel like their whole world is being turned upside down, so it’s important to do everything you can to make the transition less painful and confusing.

You can help your child to cope with the upheaval of a separation using the following advice.

Avoid the blame game
No matter what the circumstances of the separation, it is important to avoid playing the blame game in front of your child. Keep hurtful or distressing details about the reasons behind your separation private from your child to prevent them feeling torn or stressed about their relationship with either parent.

Minimise conflict
Try to keep all communications civil and polite in front of the children. Avoid talking about legal proceedings or conflict within earshot of your child to minimise confusion, stress and worry.

Minimise disruption
At a time that is filled with turbulence, it’s important to retain as much consistency and routine in your child’s life as possible. Maintaining routine will help to comfort them and keep them feeling safe and secure.

Keep them in the loop
As soon as decisions have been finalised about living arrangements, discuss them openly with your child. Chances are they will be worrying about what is going to happen next, so keeping them in the loop and talking honestly with them as much as possible can help to reassure them.

Make time for your child and tell them you love them
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your child is to be there for them, holding them and reassuring them that you love them. Life can be hectic, emotional and stressful during a separation, but don’t forget to take time out for 1-on-1 quality time with your child. Go out, do something fun and laugh together, you will find that it makes you both feel better.

Listen to them and acknowledge their feelings
Whilst communicating clearly with your child is very important, so is listening. Let your child express their worries, feelings and emotions to you, whether that’s using their words or through their behaviour. Acknowledge that this is a hard time for them and legitimise their feelings. Let them know that it is ok to feel sad or angry now and that things will get better.

For help or advice with separation law or children law, get in touch with our team of specialist family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett by calling us on 0161 927 3118.

What is mediation?

When a dispute cannot be resolved, mediation can be used to help all parties involved to communicate effectively and reach an agreement.
Mediation is a process whereby a professional third-party mediator sits down with all parties involved in a dispute and helps them to discuss issues constructively to reach an agreement amicably without involving the courts.

Most of the time neither party really wants the dispute to go to court, as it can be a costly and time-consuming process.
Instead, mediation can be used to successfully resolve most non-criminal disputes, including those between family members, neighbours, business partners, landlords and tenants.

Mediation is most commonly used to resolve conflict that arises after a divorce or the dissolving of a civil partnership. Mediation is very useful for helping couples going through a separation to come to an agreement about living arrangements for children, child maintenance, and other financial issues.

Benefits of mediation
Better control over outcome – When a dispute goes to litigation, the courts make the final decision on the outcome. Mediation allows you the opportunity to work together to come to your own decisions.

Confidential – Going to court can potentially become a very public process. Mediation goes on behind closed doors and is entirely confidential.

Informal – Taking a dispute to court is a lengthy, formal and intimidating process. Mediation sessions are informal and usually take place in a neutral venue of your choice.

Cheaper – Mediation is generally a much faster and cheaper process than litigation. Whilst mediation will usually cost just one fixed price, the price of taking a dispute to court can be very unpredictable and easily run into the thousands of pounds.

Less damaging to relationships – Going to court can be a stressful process fraught with conflict which can ruin relationships. Mediation focuses on helping parties to communicate calmly and effectively to repair and sometimes even rebuild relationships to reach an amicable agreement.

To find out more about the mediation services provided by our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett, give us a call on 0161 927 3118.

Who decides where a child lives after their parents separate?

Any separation can be difficult, but one that involves children can be particularly challenging and emotional.

The biggest decision that couples with children will need to make if they separate, is the children’s living arrangements.

Where possible, it is always easiest and less stressful for everyone involved if the family can come to an amiable agreement together.

However, this is not always possible. In instances where parents do not agree on where a child should live, they may need to seek help from one or more of the following:
•A solicitor specialising in family law.
•Mediation.
•The Family Court.

No matter which route you take to help decide the best living arrangements for your children, the welfare of the children is always considered first and foremost.

Family law solicitor
A family law solicitor will be able to advise you on all avenues open to you and provide you with sound legal advice and guidance.

Mediation
Mediation is a process guided by a trained, impartial, third-party that allows the two parties to have a constructive discussion and hopefully negotiate an outcome that all parties are happy with.

The Family Court
If an agreement still cannot be reached, then it may be necessary to apply to the Family Court for one or more orders to be made. A child arrangement order will decide who the child will live with, who they will spend time with, and when. In some cases, it may also be relevant for the court to issue a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order.

Lund Bennett are family law specialists based in Altrincham and Manchester. For legal help and guidance regarding disputes about child living arrangements, mediation services, or help applying for a court order, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors by calling us on 0161 927 3118.

Unmarried cohabiting couples are the UK’s fastest growing family type

The typical family in the UK is changing, as more opposite-sex couples than ever are choosing to live together without getting married.

According to research by the ONS, whilst married couple families remain the commonest family type, between 2008 and 2018 the number of cohabiting couples grew faster than the number of married couples.

The figures show that the overall number of families in the UK has increased by 8% over the last decade, with the number of cohabiting couples increasing by 25.8%.

Meanwhile, since same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014, the number of same-sex couples getting married has steadily increased each year. Same-sex couple families have grown by 50% since 2015 and the number of same-sex married couples has doubled since 2017.

The data also shows that there are now more people than ever before living alone in the UK.

Legal protection for cohabiting couples

With 3.3 million couples now cohabiting in the UK, there have been calls to review cohabitation laws to keep up with the nation’s changing lifestyle trends.
Currently, cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples. With over half of cohabiting couples owning property and financial assets together, it’s important that they seek legal protection.

One way that those cohabiting can gain some financial protection and security is by creating a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement can be used to agree details about financial commitments and assets both whilst living together and in the event of a separation. The kinds of things that may be included in an agreement include who owns what assets, who is to pay what towards bills and living expenses, and in the event of a separation, where children would live, how property would be divided, and how debt would be split.

For help and advice with a cohabitation dispute or creating a cohabitation agreement, get in touch with our team of specialists here at Lund Bennett Law by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

What is the difference between an injunction and a restraining order?

Restraining orders and injunctions are both commonly used to protect victims of domestic abuse from their abusers.

Both types of order are used to restrict an offender’s actions in order to protect the victim and any children involved.

The kinds of restrictions that the two orders may impose on an offender include:

  • Prevent them from living in the family home.
  • Prevent them from entering the family home and the surrounding area.
  • Prevent them from contacting the victim.
  • Prevent them from pestering or harassing the victim.
  • Prevent them from using or threatening violence.

But what is the difference between the two types of order and when is each appropriate?

Injunctions

There are two different types of injunction; an occupation order, and a non-molestation order. Occupation orders primarily deal with who occupies the family home, whilst non-molestation orders prevent harassment and further abuse.

Restraining order

Restraining orders are imposed on offenders to prevent them from further abusing or harassing victims. The order can prevent them from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the victim.

What is the difference between an injunction and a restraining order?

Injunctions and restraining orders can be used for very similar purposes.

The main difference between the two is that an injunction can be used to impose restrictions on the offender before they’ve been charged with a criminal offence, whilst a restraining order is issued at the end of a criminal case. A restraining order can be issued whether or not the offender was found guilty.

If you don’t meet the criteria for an injunction, then a restraining order may be a better solution for you. It is also possible to apply for a restraining order yourself through the civil court.

If you require help, support, or legal advice relating to domestic abuse, please give our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.