Category: Family Solicitor

Missing persons, guardianship and the presumption of death

Looking for a missing person

A missing person may be reported to the police. In addition, a number of organisations offer assistance in searching for a missing person.

Guardianship

A person going missing may give rise to a range of difficult financial consequences, as well as emotional and personal problems.

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 came fully into force on 31 July 2019. It creates a new legal status of guardian of the affairs of a missing person, enabling someone to act in the best interests of a person who has been missing (generally) for 90 days or more. Applications for guardianship must be made to the High Court and, once appointed, guardians are supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian.

Presumption of death 

The Presumption of Death Act 2013 came fully into force on 1 October 2014.

This Act enables an application to be made to the High Court for a declaration that a missing person, who is thought to have died or who has not been known to be alive for at least seven years, is presumed dead. Once it can no longer be the subject of an appeal, a declaration is conclusive as to the presumed death and effective for all purposes and against all persons. The missing person’s property passes to others and his or her marriage or civil partnership is ended.

Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate legislation governing the presumption of death.

KIRSTEN BENNETT HAS VAST EXPERIENCE WORKING IN THIS AREA AND REGULARLY ACTS FOR FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND.

For more information please visit our website here

Your finances and divorce

The family home, businesses, pensions, trusts, international issues…divorce finances can be daunting. By looking beyond the legal and taking a commercial, practical and creative approach, we make the complex understandable.

When you’re facing a divorce, you need to know where you stand financially. You may be concerned about your immediate financial security or responsibilities, unclear on how to approach dividing up the family’s assets or worried about what kind of financial settlement you might end up with to support you and your children

Whether we’re negotiating on your behalf, representing you in court, facilitating discussions with your partner in mediation or collaborative meetings, or preparing a pre-nuptial agreement, we are adept at answering the most challenging legal questions.

In considering a suitable settlement a variety of factors need to be considered including:

  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would, in the opinion of the Court, be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  • Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
  • The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;
  • The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be inequitable to disregard it;
  • In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring (e.g. a right to your husband’s pensions).
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  • Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
  • The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;
  • The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be inequitable to disregard it;
  • In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring (e.g. a right to your husband’s pensions).

 Call our team today on 0161 924 0079 to arrange your first appointment.

Your Child Arrangements during Coronavirus

During this uncertain time as family lawyers we are receiving a significant number of enquiries from separated parents about how and whether they should continue with arrangements in light of the spread of coronavirus, school closures and further government advice.

It is very important that we continue to follow government guidelines. If you are not aware of the current Government Advice we have covered this below:

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, appeared on both Good Morning Britain and BBC Breakfast News on 24 March 2020. In his initial interview he indicated that all children should remain with the parent in whose care they currently are. In his second interview he both apologised for his lack of clarity in the earlier interview and helpfully clarified the government’s advice which is that all children of separated parents under the age of 18 should continue to see both of their parents.

The clear government advice is welcome news for separated parents and means in general that:

  • If there is a Court Order in place that defines the time children spend with each of their parents this should continue; and
  • If there is no Court Order in place then the normal arrangements should continue.

Everyone at Lund Bennet appreciate that each case will be very different and every family will have their own particular set of circumstance they have to contend with. We would encourage all separated parents/families to discuss matters openly and honestly and agree with a plan which works best for the children. If unfortunately, you’re a parent who is being refused time with their child and are unsure if this is reasonable, or if you’re a parent who doesn’t know whether to allow their child to visit their other parent’s home, you may need some legal advice at this time. We can offer telephone appointments with our experienced solicitors who can provide practical and sensible guidance at this difficult time. Contact us to book a telephone consultation today.

Coronavirus is very likely to cause a spike in divorce rates in the United Kingdom

With the whole country now into it’s third week of lock down it is likely there are thousands of married couples now self-isolating which could potentially end in divorce.

Typically the peak times for people divorcing are after long periods of exposure together over the summer holidays and Christmas period.

Lady Shackleton told peers at Westminster that often when couples face serious and stressful situations it can lead some to re-evaluate their lives and what is important to them.

Ahead of the United Kingdom in the divorce increase is China. After ‘couples spending too much time together’ China has seen over 300 couples applying for divorces in the last three weeks. One city has introduced a limit to allow no more than 10 couples to divorce per day.

A 2018 study found couples who lived together before marriage had lower divorce rates in the first year, compared to couples who didn’t. But higher divorce rates appeared after people living with their spouses for five years or longer. 

Adultery is decreasing

It is encouraging to note that fewer couples are now citing adultery as grounds for divorce, as shown by the recent figures from the Office for National Statistics. Adultery was cited in 9,205 divorces in 2018, down from 20,765 in 2008 and 36,310 in 1998.

It is encouraging because adultery petitions are often filed when there is a heightened level of animosity between the parties and make it more difficult for the parties to progress the divorce, and their related financial matters, amicably.

We are, of course, all waiting for the Government to change the law so that parties can obtain a ‘no fault’ divorce.  This will save parties from the upsetting process of having to place blame on each other just to progress their divorce, even when not doing so would be their preference, reducing conflict so that the parties can move forward as amicably as possible.

Experienced and understanding lawyers, contact Lund Bennett’s team of family lawyers have the empathy and the expertise you need. Call us now on 0161 927 3118 or contact us online today and we will call you.

Emotions and Divorce

Separating/divorcing – and the legal process of doing so – is one thing, but the practicalities of divorce go hand-in-hand with an emotional transition.

If proper attention isn’t paid to the emotional and mental side of divorce it can lead to a significant impact personally and any family who might be impacted by the decision – particularly children. 

There is no doubt that a life changing decision like separation can be very traumatic. The process will require important decisions to be made at a time when stress and hurt-feelings can cloud judgement, resulting in choices that might later be regretted. A decision made in a moment of anger, in the spur of the moment can mean a significant long-term loss – financially, in relationships with others and in future life prospects. 

It is the job of family lawyers to provide sound advice and take you through the legal process, but to also understand and work with the inevitable emotional stress. Without this expertise, achieving a positive result is far less likely.

The early stages of a divorce will bring significant anxiety, leading to disbelief, confusion, a feeling of helplessness, a sense of insecurity and – ultimately – loss of control. This is not a good time to be making decisions about your future and a good lawyer will recognise this.  You are unlikely to have to make urgent decisions about your future at this stage. It’s our job to give you clear information, emotional support and for you to get an understanding of the situation you are in.

Feelings of guilt are also common. Many clients will assume that they have done something wrong and start to blame themselves. Again, for anybody experiencing these feelings, it is not a good time to be making important decisions. 

While these feelings can seem to be all-consuming, experience has shown that – in the vast majority of cases – they are only temporary and do pass as the divorce process unfolds. Reaching a feeling of calm will make planning for the future easier and allow you to think about life after the divorce. This will also lead acceptance that, while things will inevitably be different, it doesn’t necessarily mean a change for the worse.

An experienced family lawyer will be able to help you through the emotional journey divorce can bring as well as introducing you to professionals who can provide extra support, should you need it. From that point, the process of evaluating, planning and executing the best legal support for you is a much easier, more effective process.

Lund Bennett Family Law Specialists offer a wide range of family law related services. Call us today and we can help.

0161 927 3118

What is a quickie divorce?

Anyone that reads celebrity news will have come across the term “quickie divorce” at some point over the years.

If you’ve read about Ant McPartlin, Cheryl Cole, Rowan Atkinson, or Louise Redknapp’s divorces, then you may be under the impression that they received special celebrity treatment, a divorce in just a matter of seconds!

These media reports about so called “quickie divorces” are actually very misleading, as all divorces go through the same process, no matter what your celebrity status.

So, what are the media actually referring to when they say that Cheryl Cole received “Britain’s fastest ever quickie divorce”, and was divorced in just 14 seconds?

The part of the divorce process that is being referred to here is how long it took the judge to read out the pronouncement of the first decree.

Once a couple receive the first decree, this does not mean that their divorce is complete, it is simply confirmation from the court that they agree there are grounds for a divorce.

The divorce will not be finalised until the decree absolute has been granted, and unless there are exceptional circumstances the couple must then wait a minimum of six weeks and one day before applying for the decree absolute.

Exceptional circumstances are considered on a case by case basis. The most common reasons for a decree absolute to be expedited is if one person is dying and wishes to divorce before they pass away, or if one party has moved onto a new relationship, is pregnant, and wishes to remarry before the baby is born. Celebrity status certainly doesn’t play a part!
Generally, all divorces in the UK take between 6 and 12 months to complete. If financial matters take a long time to resolve, then the process can take even longer.

For help or advice with filing for a divorce quickly and efficiently, give our team of solicitors here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

If you and your partner have decided to get a divorce, you’ll probably want to get things settled as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Unfortunately, getting a divorce can sometimes be complicated and the timescales for getting one can vary significantly.

How long it will take from filing for a divorce to receiving your decree absolute is dependent on several factors including:

How quickly you reach an agreement
If you and your partner reach a straightforward agreement, then this is called an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually much quicker to settle than contested divorce.

If you cannot reach an agreement about the terms of your divorce, then you will be required to attend mediation followed by court if the dispute still cannot be resolved. This can cause the process to drag on and take much longer than an uncontested divorce.

Whether any children are involved

If you and your partner have children, then it may take longer to iron out all the terms of your divorce relating to custody and child maintenance payments.

How many assets are owned
The more assets that you and your partner own, the more complicated and time-consuming the process of dividing your assets is likely to be. Just some of the assets that will need to be considered include property, savings, pensions, and vehicles.

How busy the Court of Administration’s processing centre is
Even if you come to an agreement quickly and fill out and return all documentation promptly, if the Court of Administration’s processing centre is very busy and have a backlog of work, this can hold things up.

Average timescale for a divorce in the UK

Once an agreement has been reached and a divorce has been filed for, the average time to receive a decree absolute is around 12 months.

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.