Uncovering the Myths of Family Law – Why is it Important to Seek Legal Advice?

For many us of, when we are faced with an unknown situation and we are looking for a quick solution, our automatic reaction is to search online. However, with so much “fake news” out there, does our search engine provider always have the answer? Here, we look at the importance of obtaining initial legal advice to banish many misconceptions.

You may have seen the term ‘common law marriage’ used for those who have been in a cohabiting relationship for a long time but have never married. However, in England and Wales the law for cohabiting couples is very different to those who are married. Cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples and their claims can be very limited. Most claims are dependent on whether property is held jointly and if held in one person’s name, financial contribution can be key to proving an interest. Obtaining legal advice is a must in this area of law!

Many newspapers and celebrity magazines will tell us of “quickie divorces”. There is also no such thing as a “quickie divorce” and the process is the same for everyone including the cost! We also see stories of couples divorcing based upon “irreconcilable differences”. Whilst this is true in some ways, most don’t realise you have to rely on 1 of 5 facts to prove irreconcilable differences! Also at this time, there is no provision for a ‘no fault divorce.’

You are likely to have many questions when it comes to dividing the finances when you are married “The house is in his sole name – do I have to leave?” “The mortgage is in joint names – do we both have to pay half?” I’ve paid for everything, my spouse never worked, am I entitled to receive more than them?” Generally, the answer to these questions is NO.  The law states that the starting point is 50:50 when dividing the finances & various factors are taken into consideration. We’ve also heard the phrase “we’ve only been married a short time, I should be able to keep everything I brought into the marriage!” but this is not necessarily the case. What may seem like a short marriage could in fact be a much longer ‘marriage’ than first thought once any period of cohabitation is added!

We have often heard the phrase “the Court will always favour the mother when it comes to where children live.” However, this is not the case & in most cases both parents have equal rights and responsibilities. The Court will consider what is in the best interests of the children and actively encourage the parents to work together to reach an agreement as to the arrangements.  

There is so much to consider when a relationship breaks down. Here at MBH Solicitors we offer a FREE 30 minute consultation to dispel those myths and provide advice and guidance during what can be one of the most difficult and stressful times of your life. Contact Gillian Lavelle or Megan Brookfield to arrange your free consultation today on 01942 206060 or e-mail us at mbh@wigansolicitors.com

Congratulations to our newest partner

MBH are also pleased to announce that Sammy-Jo Woodward has been named its newest Partner. The promotion strengthens one of the firm’s core practice areas: Residential Conveyancing and adds further depth to the firm. Sammy has been with the firm since 2014 and already has a wealth of experience in her respective area of expertise.

Sammy initially trained and qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer in 2016 whilst working with MBH Solicitors before continuing with her education and dual qualifying as a solicitor in 2018. She has worked in the field of Residential Conveyancing since 2015 and trained with Senior Partner & Head of the Conveyancing Department, Caroline Rooks. Sammy is highly respected by clients and fellow professionals alike.

“We welcome Sammy to the Partner team, and fully expect that she will continue to use the experience, skill and work ethic she has demonstrated since joining our firm to achieve the best results for our clients. She is a key member and is dedicated to the future of the firm.  She is well-deserving of this promotion” says Caroline Rooks, Senior Partner.

About MBH Solicitors

MBH Solicitors has been in business since 1971 and has a widespread and diverse client base. The firm is forward thinking and offers electronic or traditional ways of conducting your case.  A modern approach is taken to ensure that you are provided with an efficient service.

MBH offer the following services:

Commercial Advice & Litigation

Commercial Property

Company Share Sale & Acquisition

Landlord & Tenant

Commercial Leases

Business Acquisition & Sale

Shareholder Agreements

Wills & Probate (Estate Management)

General Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence

Residential Conveyancing

Family, Children & Divorce Law

Employment Law

MBH’s prices are competitive and fixed fees can be offered where appropriate.

Contact MBH Solicitors on 01942 206060 or by e-mail to mbh@wigansolicitors.com

For further information please visit our website www.wigansolicitors.com

Retirement for Paul Aynsley

MBH_Partners_Sm (002)

McCarthy Bennett Holland Solicitors (MBH) would like to announce the retirement of their senior Partner, Paul Aynsley as from 1st May 2020.  We are sad to see him go but wish him all the best in his retirement.  Paul was a key member of MBH for over 27 years and has an excellent reputation and standing in the community.

As most of Paul’s clients will be aware, Darren Earnshaw joined us in February 2020 and has worked side by side with Paul over the last few months.

Paul Aynsley said “After nearly 27 years with the firm it is a big change for me to be leaving but I know am leaving the department in Darren’s very safe and vastly experienced hands. The department will continue to go from strength to strength and has a very exciting future ahead. Darren is hugely talented, dedicated and knowledgeable in whom I have the utmost confidence and trust to deliver the best possible advice on litigation and private client matters.”

Caroline Rooks, Senior Partner, paid tribute to Paul:

“Paul has been an outstanding partner for the clients of MBH Solicitors and has delivered exceptional service to the firm. Paul has had a huge influence on everyone here at MBH Solicitors and thanks to his guidance, friendship and expertise we are able to build on all he has achieved over a long and highly successful career. On behalf of the whole firm, I thank him for all that he has given to us and our clients over the years”.

About MBH Solicitors

MBH Solicitors has been in business since 1971 and has a widespread and diverse client base. The firm is forward thinking and offers electronic or traditional ways of conducting your case.  A modern approach is taken to ensure that you are provided with an efficient service.

MBH offer the following services:

  • Commercial Advice & Litigation
  • Commercial Property
  • Company Share Sale & Acquisition
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • Commercial Leases
  • Business Acquisition & Sale
  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Wills & Probate (Estate Management)
  • General Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
  • Residential Conveyancing
  • Family, Children & Divorce Law
  • Employment Law

MBH’s prices are competitive and fixed fees can be offered where appropriate.

Contact MBH Solicitors on 01942 206060 or by e-mail to mbh@wigansolicitors.com.  For further information please visit our website www.wigansolicitors.com

Covid-19, Separated Families and Court Orders

Covid-19, Separated Families and Court Orders

Everyone will now be aware of the Governments most recent response to tackle Covid-19 and the lockdown of the UK to limit the spread of the virus.

It is likely that separated families will have a number of questions, whether they can still see the children, or whether a Court Order will be enforceable during this time. The Governments position is frequently changing, however written below is the current guidelines.

The Cabinet Minister recently responded to a number of questions and confirmed that children can still continue to see the other parent, wherever this is safe to do so. It should be considered, however, if a parent or another person living in the household is considered to be vulnerable, then contact should be avoided during this time, to ensure their safety.

You should act in the children’s best interest

You should consider how frequent the other parent comes into contact with others who do not form part of their household.

During this period of lockdown, if you have a Court Order in place formalising contact arrangements, you should first consider whether contact taking place will be safe. For example, if your means of travel is via public transport, this should cease to continue during this period. A Court Order should not be enforced during this time. If contact is frequent with the other parent, it may be sensible to restrict this as much as possible.

Despite contact arrangements being formalised, to ensure the safety of the children, and others around you, contact should be suspended with the other parent entirely when this is unsafe to do so. You should not be penalised for this decision. It is understandable that the other parent will wish to see the children during this difficult time, however given the current restrictions, it should cease to continue if you believe the children or others in the household may be at risk. You could also risk a fine.

If the children frequently spend time with others, including grandparents, this should also cease. At all costs, children should be isolated from vulnerable people and of course, to ensure the children remain safe and well.  At this time, the children should have no interaction with any other person other than those residing in the same household and when attending for contact with the other parent.

You will note the Government set restrictions yesterday evening and stated you must only leave your home for the following reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  2. One form of exercise a day, such as running or cycling, alone or with household members.
  3. For medical or care needs, for example to help a vulnerable person;
  4. Travelling to and from work, but only if you cannot work from home.

Meeting friends, shopping for anything beyond essentials, and gathering in crowds are now banned.

This is an extremely distressing time for everyone, so to ensure relationships are maintained, we would suggest contact is facilitated through social media channels, for example Skype or FaceTime.

The Government’s current position is to review the current measures in three weeks’ time. It is possible these measures may continue into the upcoming months. Wherever possible, it may be beneficial for the other parent to be provided with extended time with the children once these restrictions are lifted. This can be done via a mutual arrangement with the other parent.

We understand parent’s frustration and upset during these unprecedented times, and hope you all remain safe and well. The Government’s stance is changing every single day. Wherever possible, we will update you via our social media channels.Add a subheading (2)

If you further questions, please contact one of the Family Department via email, who will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible.

 

The dangers of DIY leases

Gemma. March blog photo

The dangers of DIY leases

It may be tempting for both landlords and tenants of commercial properties to try and save money on legal costs by dealing with the matter between themselves. There are a number of downfalls that a landlord / tenant may fall foul of. Commercial property Solicitor, Gemma Eastham, looks at the pitfalls.

SDLT liability – tenants

Whether SDLT will be payable will generally by determined by whether a premium is being paid for the grant or assignment of the lease, the value of the annual rent per annum and the length of the lease.

Where no SDLT is payable, a tenant may still be required to notify HMRC (submit a return to HMRC).

Failure to submit a return and pay the duty (if any) within 14 days of the effective date of the transaction will lead to a fixed penalty of £100 and interest being charged on any SDLT and if the date of submission is more than 3 months after the filing date, the fixed penalty will increase to £200.

When do you need to register a lease at H.M Land Registry?

Leases granted for a period of more than seven years and certain other types of leases need to be registered at HM Land Registry.

It is worth pointing out that any easements contained in a lease, such as rights to access the demised premises through common areas or the use shared facilities, i.e car parks, will not take effect at law unless they are registered, even where the lease itself does not require registration.  For a tenant, it is therefore important to ensure that any registration requirements are adhered to.

Unwritten tenancies

Unwritten tenancies are dangerous for both parties to a commercial tenancy because there is no clear record of the terms that have been agreed.

A landlord, for example, will have no right to forfeit the tenancy in the event of a breach of the terms of the agreement because an express forfeiture clause is required for this.

With a business tenancy it is important to ascertain whether the agreement is within the security of tenure provisions contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (the right for the tenant to renew the tenancy at the end of the term).  If there is no express clause excluding these provisions in the agreement and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 has not been ‘contracted out’, the tenancy will be deemed to be within the Act.

This means that the tenant will generally be entitled to request a new lease from the landlord at the end of the contractual term of the existing lease. The landlord would only be able to bring the tenancy to an end by serving notice on the tenant in the prescribed form, which requires the landlord to give the tenant not less than 6 months’ notice.

This may affect any provisions which have been agreed between the landlord and tenant.

For example, a landlord and tenant may have verbally agreed that either party can bring a lease to an end by giving one month’s notice to the other party. Legally, the landlord would not be able to rely on this provision and would need to follow the above statutory procedure (6 months’ notice).

The full extent of this topic could be covered in something far longer than a blog, but these are some key areas that both landlords and tenants should consider before proceeding. Seeking appropriate legal advice at the outset could potentially save a landlord and/or tenant money in the long run. Legal advice is always recommended.

For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors:

http://www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.

 

 

Protect your land and property from fraudsters

Property fraud is on the increase as fraudsters are using sophisticated tactics and targeting properties by pretending to be you so that they can try and sell or mortgage your property and pocket the proceeds.

Your property is likely to be the most valuable asset you own and it is important therefore to protect it against the risk of fraud.

The Land Registry advise that you are more at risk in the following circumstances:

  • your identity has been stolen
  • your property is rented out
  • you live overseas
  • your property is empty
  • your property is mortgage free
  • your property is unregistered If your property is not currently registered with the Land Registry, you are able to apply for title to the property to be registered voluntarily.  The Land Registry charge a discounted fee for voluntary registrations and our Conveyancing Team at MBH will be able to assist you with this – please telephone us for a quotation. The Land Registry also offers a Property Alert Service which is completely free of charge. Since September 2009, HM Land Registry has prevented 254 fraudulent applications being registered, representing properties valued in excess of £117m – please click on the following link to sign up to the Land Registry’s Property Alert Service:-With the Alert Service you can:
  • https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert
  • Once your property is registered, it is advisable to keep your contact details up to date and this can include providing an email address or an address abroad.  This is particularly important for properties which you do not live in.
  • Your property should be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it from 1998 however, if you are unsure, the Land Registry will be able to confirm whether or not your property is registered with them.  If your property is registered at the Land Registry and you are a victim of property fraud where you suffer financial loss, you will be compensated through the Land Registry indemnity scheme.
  • monitor a property (provided it is registered with HM Land Registry)
  • monitor the property of a relative; you don’t have to own a property to set up an alert
  • choose up to 10 properties to monitor

You will receive email alerts when there is certain activity on the properties you are monitoring. If you receive an alert about an activity that seems suspicious you should take immediate action and follow the steps recommended by the Land Registry as quickly as possible. Not all alert emails will mean fraudulent activity. If you do not think that the alert email is regarding any suspicious activity, you do not need to do anything.

Another option, should you feel that your property is particularly at risk, is to apply for a restriction to be registered against the title to your property. The restriction will prevent the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyance / solicitor certifies that the application was made by you.

For further information or advice on protecting your property, please contact our Conveyancing Team at MBH by telephone on 01942 206060 or by email to mbh@wigansolicitors.com

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.

Written by Louise Jones, Commercial & Residential Conveyancing Executive

 

Civil Partnerships for opposite sex couples!

On 31st December 2019 , legislation allowed allows heterosexual (‘straight’) couples to enter into a civil partnership rather than marriage if they so wish. Until now, civil partnership has only been open to same sex couples.  As a result of the landmark case, this injustice was deemed by the Supreme Court last year to be discriminatory and it was always hoped that this ruling from the highest Court in England and Wales would persuade the Government to amend the Civil Partnerships Act (2004) to open it up to heterosexual couples. This has now happened.

What is the difference between living together (cohabiting), civil partnership and marriage? In the simplest of terms, the last two provide a legal formality around a relationship; a civil partnership is a legal contract entered into by both parties which carries all of the same benefits and obligations as marriage without the religious ceremony element.  Consequently, it is being viewed by some as a more ‘modern’, ‘business-like’ recognition of a relationship whilst marriage is deemed more traditional, steeped in culture and religion. From a legal perspective, there is no obvious difference between the two but there are significant benefits and obligations to having your relationship status legally recognised.

On the other hand, cohabitation has been the only alternative for heterosexual couples who have not necessarily wanted a religious endorsement of their relationship through marriage. The downside of course is that cohabiting couples do not necessarily benefit from the advantages of a legally recognised relationship whether this is during the happy times of living together, if they separate or indeed when one partner dies.  Some couples therefore enter into cohabitation agreements which is a contract drafted by solicitors that can regulate what should happen if they separate.  However, this does not protect them if one partner dies unexpectedly.

What are the issues that may drive couples to think about moving from cohabitation to civil partnership? A recent article https://wigan.qlocal.co.uk/wigan/news_list/First_opposite_sex_civil_partnerships_to_take_place_on_New_Year%27s_Eve-55042478.htm reported that a heterosexual couple from Wigan might be the first in the Borough to take advantage of the new civil partnership legislation. Having been together for many years, they have amassed significant joint assets and want to make sure that each is taken care of if their relationship is brought to an end one way or another.  For many, what happens to money, possessions and pensions following the death of one cohabiting partner is a real concern as the surviving cohabitee won’t necessarily ‘be the beneficiary of the estate’ unlike if they were married. Other issues which can be affected by the status of your relationship include: entitlement to occupy rented housing, caring for children, tax allowances and welfare benefits.

If you are thinking about entering into a civil partnership and need advice on any aspect including procedure, benefits and obligations, please contact us.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Civil Partnership: a way to reduce the risks of just ‘living together’ ?

This month, legislation came into force which allows heterosexual (‘straight’) couples to enter into a civil partnership rather than marriage if they so wish. Until now, civil partnership has only been open to same sex couples.  As a result of a landmark case, this injustice was deemed by the Supreme Court last year to be discriminatory and it was always hoped that this ruling from the highest Court in England and Wales would persuade the Government to amend the Civil Partnerships Act (2004) to open it up to heterosexual couples. This has now happened.

What is the difference between living together (cohabiting), civil partnership and marriage? In the simplest of terms, the last two provide a legal formality around a relationship; a civil partnership is a legal contract entered into by both parties which carries all of the same benefits and obligations as marriage without the religious ceremony element.  Consequently, it is being viewed by some as a more ‘modern’, ‘business-like’ recognition of a relationship whilst marriage is deemed more traditional, steeped in culture and religion. From a legal perspective, there is no obvious difference between the two but there are significant benefits and obligations to having your relationship status legally recognised.

 

On the other hand, cohabitation has been the only alternative for heterosexual couples who have not necessarily wanted a religious endorsement of their relationship through marriage. The downside of course is that cohabiting couples do not necessarily benefit from the advantages of a legally recognised relationship whether this is during the happy times of living together, if they separate or indeed when one partner dies.  Some couples therefore enter into cohabitation agreements which is a contract drafted by solicitors that can regulate what should happen if they separate.  However, this does not protect them if one partner dies unexpectedly.

What are the issues that may drive couples to think about moving from cohabitation to civil partnership? A recent article in Wigan Today http://www.wigantoday.net/news/people/couple-could-have-first-heterosexual-civil-partnership-in-wigan-1-9761336) reported that a heterosexual couple from Wigan might be the first in the Borough to take advantage of the new civil partnership legislation. Having been together for many years, they have amassed significant joint assets and want to make sure that each is taken care of if their relationship is brought to an end one way or another.  For many, what happens to money, possessions and pensions following the death of one cohabiting partner is a real concern as the surviving cohabitee won’t necessarily ‘be the beneficiary of the estate’ unlike if they were married. Other issues which can be affected by the status of your relationship include: entitlement to occupy rented housing, caring for children, tax allowances and welfare benefits.

If you are thinking about entering into a civil partnership and need advice on any aspect including procedure, benefits and obligations, please contact us.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Work Experience at MBH Solicitors

During the past week, I have been part of the team at McCarthy Bennett Holland. Despite studying law at college, I wasn’t fully aware of what being a solicitor meant.

I have learnt that being a solicitor is more than just following the law.  It is about supporting your client.  I have noticed that it is massively important to create personal relationships with the clients and so far in every appointment I’ve had the pleasure to sit in on each solicitor has taken time to know the client, to support their wishes and to make them feel comfortable.

Before I came to do my work experience here, many people said that it could change my mind and make me want to refrain from studying to become a solicitor.  However, I feel this week has encouraged me to look forward to my hopefully future career.

I have sat in client meetings (where allowed), I have read case files and I have even sat on reception.  However, the most important thing I have done this week is understood what being a solicitor actually means.

Written by Olivia Mills, Student at Winstanley College

Civil Partnerships For All

A heterosexual couple have won their application for the right to enter into a civil partnership rather than a marriage. This has overruled a previous judgement made by the Court of Appeal.

Background

The couple have been in a long-term relationship and have two children. They decided that they did not want to get married and instead wanted to enter into a civil partnership which reflected their values and beliefs.  Unfortunately, civil partnerships do not apply to heterosexual couples.

What is a Civil Partnership?

A couple who enter into a civil partnership would be entitled to the same legal rights in relation to financial matters, for example in terms of inheritance and pensions and also upon dissolution of the partnership, as a couple would be who chosen to enter into a marriage. A civil partnership would also be free from any of the religious implications which are often associated with marriage. The law currently provides that a civil partnership is only an option available to same-sex couples.

Argument

Due to this, the couple issued a Court application to state that, when the law changed and allowed same-sex couples to marry in 2013, same-sex couples were given the choice as to whether they wanted a civil partnership or a marriage. This same choice was not granted to heterosexual couples as the Civil Partnership Act only applies to same-sex couples. They argued that this breached their human rights.

What Next?

The Court have now ruled that the Civil Partnership Act is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights due to the inequality for heterosexual couples who have only had the option of marriage. This is welcome news to many who say that there can be no justification for the difference in treatment between same-sex and heterosexual couples and the law should be brought in line to reflect the changes made providing for same-sex couples to marry.

Unfortunately, the Judgment does not mean that the government now has to change the law. However, it is likely that the government will act upon this historic decision made by the Court, and a change to the Civil Partnership Act will therefore be eagerly anticipated.

Keep an eye out on McCarthy Bennett Holland’s blogs for more updates as and when they happen!

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further. McCarthy Bennett Holland are able to offer a free 30 minute initial consultation and are more than happy to assist.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors