The Rising Cost of Divorce

Taking the decision to go ahead with a divorce is not to be taken lightly with fees rising rapidly in recent years. Taking this into account, it pays to ensure you are using the right solicitors firm to represent you and that they provide value for money.  

According to a survey released by the insurance company Aviva, the average cost of a divorce increased from £1,280 to £2,679 since 2014. This doubling of the fees inevitably places an enormous burden on those who lack the funds to pay fees.  

It must also be considered that the better family law firms will ensure the best outcomes in contested cases, which means selecting the cheapest firms might end up costing more in the long run.  

Divorce cases where children are involved can often be more complex than for couples with no children and in these cases, costs have risen by 62% to an average £5,671.  

In order to pay these sorts of fees people are generally forced to either borrow money or turn to friends and family for help.  

If you are concerned about any aspects of divorce including the fees involved we would be happy to advise on how are services are competitive and aimed at achieving the best outcomes for our clients.  

What Happens To Joint Mortgages During And After Divorce

It is very common for married couples to take on a joint mortgage on their home but if a marriage ends in divorce it isn’t easy to make a clean break when the lender still expects payments to be kept up as before.  

Attempting to negotiate a way out of a joint mortgage will of course depend on individual circumstances. Also, if there are children involved, things can get even more complicated particularly if the couple relied on each other’s incomes to be able to afford a mortgage in the first place.  

Then there are cases where the partner who has custody of the children cannot afford repayments on their own when they either work part time or they care for the children full time.  In these cases the hope is that a former spouse will continue to make the mortgage payments even if they no longer live in the property.  

This however is asking a lot when that person will wish to move on with life after the marriage has ended.  

If you are the person left in a property unable to make the mortgage payments if your former partner refuses to pay their half, then you can contact your local Citizens Advice about potential benefits you may be able to receive.   

If you do have sufficient funds to cover the mortgage then you may be able to have the mortgage transferred to you as part of a clean break divorce by consent.  

Kirsten the Iron-Lady making waves for the NSPCC – not quite your regular Sunday lunch!

Lund Bennett Partner, Kirsten Bennett competed in the gruelling IRONMAN 70.3 on Sunday the 10thJune.

‘The Staffordshire’ consists of a 1.2-mile swim as an appetiser with a 56-mile bike ride for mains followed by a 13.1-mile run for dessert.

As the photos show, Kirsten managed the whole event with a smile and was delighted to have raised funds for the NSPCC.

Kirsten said “It was tough-going, especially on such a hot day. I’m pleased with my time and also feel proud to have raised awareness for such an important charity, the NSPCC” she went on to add “…as for next weekend, it’ll be back to Sunday lunch for me!”

 As she’s a past ‘London Marathoner’, be sure to keep a look out for Kirsten’s next outing………….

Getting A Divorce If You Have Children

One of the biggest concerns for parents contemplating a divorce is what will happen will happen to their children. From who gets custody to maintenance payments, the whole process of coming to an agreement can be difficult for both parties.  

If you are in this position then one thing you will be relieved to hear is that children are not included in the divorce case itself. Matter concerning the children are treated separately nowadays and cases are often quite straightforward. 

In some cases divorced parents can resolve what happens with the children themselves without having to go through lengthy court battles of the kind you might have seen on tv or in the movies. Arrangements for the children are now made via family courts under what is called a child arrangements order while housing and maintenance payments are dealt with again separately as part of financial relief proceedings.  

Even before any of these cases are brought before the courts there will be a mediation process to try to resolve any outstanding issues before going to court.  Family based arrangements can be made between ex partners to sort out child maintenance without the involvement of third parties which is often far less stressful than having to involve others.  

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.  

Divorce – Is Your Former Partner Being Secretive About Finances?

Not every couple involved in a divorce case will be faced with a spouse being secretive about their finances but there are plenty of cases where crucial information is withheld. This can be self -defeating for those who are attempting to conceal information to protect their assets and avoid having to share them with a former spouse.   

One thing is certain in the case of finances in divorce, there will need to be full and frank disclosure of finances otherwise there is the very real risk that any agreement can be challenged either during the divorce process or at a later on.  

You solicitor will provide all the necessary advice about what you need to disclose about your finances and you will be advised that it is in your interests to be fully transparent. A court will take a dim view if anything subsequently comes to light about finances that was deliberately withheld in an agreed settlement.  

Disclosure of finances is done via the completion of Form E which provides the opportunity to document all details relating to your finances. It is expected that the details contained in this document include everything that should be included with no omissions.  

Your solicitor can advise you on how to complete the form and also how to follow the correct procedures if you feel that your spouse is attempting to conceal the full details of their finances.   

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.  

Are Divorce Settlements All About The 50/50 Split?

A common misconception about divorce is that everything is split exactly down the middle from money to assets. In some cases this may be true but often due to the basic needs of the parties involved, final settlements may not be so clear cut.  

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to divorce is that need takes precedence when it comes to dividing up assets as well as pensions savings and so on. Many people are disappointed to learn that their pensions must also be included and considered in the divorce settlement.  

So for example, if you want to seek payment of a lump sum from your partner’s pension, then this will be assessed based more on your needs at the time including your state of health, housing needs and financial position.  

Housing and financial stability can both be impacted by divorce and the needs of the dependent partner will always be considered first. So if one or other former partner can prove they will be greatly disadvantaged in these areas then settlements are often challenged.  

If you need advice on your specific circumstances or if you require general information about our divorce services, please 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.  

How To Limit The Financial Damage Of Divorce

You may have seen a recent TV series covering wealthy divorcees and how some struggled to claim the kind of settlements they thought they deserved. Whether their claims were justified or not, the series highlighted how their former husbands had put lots of forward planning in place to make life difficult for their ex wives in there attempts at compensation for their contribution to the marriage.  

One of the better known ways to protect your wealth in case of a future divorce is to sign a prenuptial agreement which places legally binding restrictions on what one partner is able to claim from the other in the event of a parting of ways.  

The reality is most couples in the first throes of a romantic relationship are unlikely to consider such an agreement unless they happen to be particularly wealthy or they are some kind of celebrity where such agreements are commonplace. 

So the main ways to protect your assets and cash is to put in place some degree of separation. For example you may want to separate your joint accounts from individual accounts and if you own property, then who owns it should also be clearly defined.  

The example in the TV show saw husbands spiriting away their cash in offshore accounts and various other ways to hide what was alleged to be their true net worth.  Most of us mere mortals are not going to have access to these types of devious schemes but keeping accurate records can also help particularly when it comes to assets left in wills and trusts.