Category: Matrimonial Law

What Is a Stay At Home Parent Entitled to In A Divorce?

Divorce is a major step for any couple to undertake and there are circumstances where a parent might be left at a significant financial disadvantage. This is particularly tru if for example you happen to be a stay at home mum with no regular income.   

Fortunately, this is the 21st century and there is no reason to remain in an unhappy marriage due to the fear of being left destitute. You will find that courts have plenty of power to ensure that where necessary your needs will be met through ongoing maintenance not just for the children but also for you personally depending on your circumstances.  

Child maintenance and spousal maintenance are the main sources of help but you can even apply for interim spousal maintenance prior to a final order if you are likely to suffer significant hardship.  Beyond that and following divorce, you could as a stay at home parent be entitled to spousal maintenance until your children have completed their secondary education and there are cases where orders can be indefinite.  

Unfortunately, you will need to make a clear case for spousal and child maintenance and awards can vary depending on your former spouse’s ability to pay, It is important therefore to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to achieve the best outcome.

Divorce – Do I Have To Go To Court?

Divorce can be stressful enough without the added worry of appearing in what can be the intimidating surroundings of a courtroom. So if you are currently considering divorcing your partner can you avoid that movie style court battle and just get it over and done with?  

The good news is, yes you can but only if the divorce is a straightforward one that remains undefended by your partner. The processes involved in ending a marriage are actually quite straightforward in most ordinary cases and are certainly nothing to be afraid of.  

You will simply need to issue a divorce petition which we work with you to complete and then it gets sent through to the court who will then send the document on to your spouse. It is then up to your spouse to either object or allow it to go through undefended. The latter is by far the most common scenario because nobody wants those legal costs to mount.   

The main issues that are likely to involve appearances in court are financial and related to custody of children. These cases can turn out to be complicated but even in these cases compromises can be reached to suit both parties.  

Strict Penalties Now Being Imposed For Divorce Settlement Breaches

One 83-year-old man recently found out the hard way that breaching a divorce settlement can result in a jail sentence rather than a financial penalty which has often been applied to such cases in the past.  

The man from Bristol was a multimillionaire who had reached a divorce settlement totalling more the 3 million with his ex-wife. The sum was awarded following a disputed divorce case which had  continued for more than seven years and involved several court appearances in that time to reach settlements on a number of issues. 

The length of the case may well have been an aggravating factor which led to a prison sentence being imposed when it was found that the individual had breached the divorce settlement. Even so, the case should serve as a further warning that judges are prepared to impose more severe sentences following similar outcomes in other divorce cases involving breaches of settlements.  

Sentences imposed recently have totalled six months in prison which can far outweigh any financial gain from attempting to delay and avoid paying settlements.  

If you are concerned about financial settlements in divorce and your rights to fair treatment in a divorce case, contact us today.  

Latest ONS Marriage Figures Reveal Ticking Time Bomb

Marriages between opposite sex couples continue to decline according to the latest figures released by the ONS leading to calls for legal reform as more and more couples appear to be choosing to cohabit rather than tie the knot.  

The report covers marriages in England and Wales that took place in 2015 which also happened to be the first year marriages were also recorded for same sex couples. According to the ONS, the report is the latest in a steady decline in the number of opposite sex marriages which has been taking place since the 1970s. On current evidence the trend is unlikely to be reversing with the number of marriages down 3.4% on the year before.  

These figures have raised concerns among experts that co-habiting couples are mistakenly believing they will have the same rights as married couples if they break up. This belief has been cultivated by the myth of common law marriage where people believe that they have the same entitlements to a share of assets when this is not the case.  

The only way to protect rights in these cases is to have a formal cohabitation agreement in place which outlines entitlements in the event of the relationship breaking down. There are also calls to make changes to marriage so that it better meets the needs of today’s couples.  

Now For The Pre-Nuptials?

The recent engagement of Prince Harry and the actress Meghan Markle has attracted much attention in the media. The wedding is set for the Spring when the eyes of the world will once again be on the UK.  

Alongside all the romance that goes with this occasion some will be wondering id the couple have a pre-nup in place. This is something the general public will never know even if they do get to enjoy seeing the spectacular ceremony when the day arrives. 

Pre-nups are of course common amongst the rich and famous and any couple that doesn’t have one in place before their wedding can run the risk of having to share all their assets and wealth during a divorce and in some cases even more than that.  

While it would be unthinkable that ordinary people would go to the length of a pre-nup, today the reality is different. People tend to marry later in life these days and many will have accumulated property and other assets before meeting their partner.  

It might kill the romance to be pulling out forms to sign prior to a wedding but it is the only way to protect wealth if the relationship ends in divorce in the future.   

Recent study reveals many ‘unhappy’ couples stay together in order to secure home ownership

A recent study produced by L&C Mortgages has revealed that some 1.8million adults in the UK have primarily stayed or would stay in a relationship in order to get on to the property ladder.

They found that 1.8million people had stayed with a partner in order to pay for the mortgage or a deposit. On average, 44% of the 1.8million remained in their relationship for at least a year longer than they would have if there were no financial consideration and a further 15% stayed for more than two years and 40% said they were still with their partner now.

David Hollingworth from L&C Mortgages said the results of the study were ‘indicative of the struggle people face when buying their first home’ and that it ‘isn’t right that people are sacrificing their emotional wellbeing in order to focus on financial stability’.

If you are considering purchasing a property with your partner it is important to think clearly when it comes to such an important financial decision. Once the deposit has been paid and a mortgage entered into, what happens to the family home upon separation may be more complicated if you have never married.

If you are buying a house with your current partner, make sure that you have a Cohabitation Agreement in place so that both of you are very clear about who walks away with what in terms of ownership. To speak with one of our specialist Family Law solicitors about a Cohabitation Agreement  please call 0161 927 3118.

Changes to existing matrimonial law being considered by the House of Lords

The Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords last week. The Bill is a Private Members Bill introduced by Baroness Deech (Crossbench) and proposes to replace section 25 (2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Setting out the proposals to the Bill, Baroness Deech explained:

‘The purpose of this Bill is to reform the law relating to the splitting of assets on divorce.  The current law is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, section 25, which has not been thoroughly debated by Parliament for 40 years despite radical changes in society and families, and which has been the subject of calls for reform from the Law Commission, Resolution and the Centre for Social Justice. Reform is urgent because the law is uncertain. It is largely judge-made law, which bears little resemblance to the statute. Judicial discretion has led to unpredictability and conflicting decisions, which make it hard for parties to negotiate and lead to disproportionate costs. Legal aid has been removed and parties of modest means are left unrepresented with little guidance as to the right outcome. The Bill would implement provisions very similar to those of Scottish law, and the laws of most European and North American states. It would introduce as a fair starting point the equal division of all the property and pensions acquired by the couple after marriage; provision for short term maintenance; flexibility to allow the home to be retained for the carer and children; and binding prenuptial agreements. This is intended to facilitate mediation, reduce litigation and costs, and recognise equal partnership in marriage.’

The Bill is a long way off becoming law and may not even make it onto the statute books at all.

If you need to speak to a specialist family lawyer call us on 0161 927 3118.