Delay on the ‘No Fault Divorce’

The long awaited No Fault Divorce has been delayed even further, following ministers announcing that the Government will now be working on a commencement date of 06 April 2022. This announcement came by way of a response to a Parliamentary question.

In a written response to the question, Courts minister Chris Philip MP stated the “deadline for implementing the provisions of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 must be put back”. It was stated by Philip that this year’s target was ambitious and relays the fact that such amendments are the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years.

At least 6 months later than originally indicated, it is understood that by Resolution that this delay may allow the online GOV.UK divorce application to be updated. Despite being informed that the legislation would come into force in Autumn 2021, it carried a lot of uncertainty in terms of specific dates. The new date given by Parliament however is now fixed as a matter of Parliamentary record.

It is understood that work is underway to identify and create the necessary amendments to the Court rules as well as the online service. Philip went on to say:

 “The Ministry of Justice is committed to ensuring that the amended digital service allows for a smooth transition from the existing service which has reformed the way divorce is administered in the Courts and improved the service received by divorcing couples at a traumatic point in their lives. Following detailed design work, it is not clear that these amendments, along with the full and rigorous testing of the new system ahead of the implementation, will not conclude before the end of the year”.

Whilst it is unfortunate for those couples who are awaiting the implementation of such legislation, rather than relying on the current facts of Divorce, ensuring the procedural rules are correct is extremely important. If the rules aren’t fully workable, it would likely cause even further delay to an already lengthy process. As Law Society President Stephanie Boyce said “we welcome the continued commitment to ensuring the reforms are fit for purpose.”

Like to know more about the no fault divorce and what this entails? Contact Gillian Lavelle or Megan Brookfield at 01942 206060.

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

Pets and Divorce – Who Should Keep the Family Pet?

More often than not, families have a furry friend which become a big part of their lives. But when relationships breakdown, it is not uncommon for arguments to arise as to who the pet shall live with.


How are pets viewed in the law?

In England and Wales, it is the law that pets are considered as “chattels”. A chattel is defined as an item of personal property or something which belongs to you, examples of which would be a chair or a washing machine.

There are a number of factors which would be taken into account when making a decision as to where the pet should live. Such factors include who purchased the pet, who the pet is registered to and who pays the pets insurance. Although it is not the law, the Court may be swayed as to what is in the pets best interests, should you make an application to Court. For example, should your spouse/ex-partner work 10 hours+ a day, whilst you work from home, the pet may be best placed to live with you.


What can I do if I have a pet dispute?

There are a number of things which you can do when you have a dispute over a pet, which are as follows:

  • Negotiate directly with the other person

This of course will be dependent on your relationship with your spouse/ex-partner, and whether the separation has been amicable. It is likely to be more difficult between parties when the pet is older and you have a significant bond with the animal.

  • Instruct a Solicitor

It may be more suitable to instruct a solicitor to draft written correspondence to your spouse/ex-partner, setting out why the pet would be best placed with you. This may be useful if the relationship between you and your spouse/ex-partner is less amicable. The letter should set out your position in detail, taking into account whether the pets chip is registered to you, whether you are the person who pays the vet bills and insurance etc. If you are not this person, your correspondence should rely upon what is in the best interests of the pet, i.e. you could raise the issue as to who has care of the children and whether it is in the pet’s best interests to remain with the children.

  • Attend Mediation

Should solicitor’s correspondence fail, the next option would be to attend Mediation. There are a number of Mediators who will specialise with pets during separation, and research should be done to consider the most appropriate Mediator, prior to attending such appointment. Mediation allows parties to sit down with one another, and discuss matters with the assistance of a Mediator, who is an impartial person. The Mediator can provide you with details of the law, however they cannot advise either party. The Mediator must remain fair and neutral.

  • Attend Court

Finally, you have the option to issue Court Proceedings, although this is rare and is questionable as to whether it is appropriate, taking into account the costs of making such application and the age of the pet.

What steps can you take to avoid such disputes?

Pet-nups, similar to pre-nuptial agreements, can be drafted at any point during the parties’ relationships, and can stipulate the following:

  • Where the pet lives
  • Who pays for the insurance
  • Who pays the vet bills
  • Who pays for the upkeep
  • Who makes decisions in relation to medical treatment
  • What happens should the relationship/marriage breakdown

Further information could also be drafted into the document, i.e. whether the other party can continue to take the pet out, or spend time with the pet, upon your separation.

It may be advisable for such document to be drafted as this avoids added animosity between you and your spouse/ex-partner upon separation. Of course, the older the pet, the more likely that discussions over the pet will become confrontational.

However, similar to pre-nups, pet-nups are not legally binding and the law does not recognise such agreements presently, although should the terms of such pet-nups be sensible, and within the best interests of the pet, certain factors may be upheld by the Court.

Should you be interested in drafting a pet-nup, or would like to obtain any further advice in relation to this topic, please contact the office on 01942 206060 or our Trainee Solicitor, Megan Brookfield at MeganBrookfield@wigansolicitors.com

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

The no-fault divorce bill has now been passed by parliament and has since attained royal assent on 25 June 2020. It is anticipated to be implemented by Autumn 2021, however, no date has been fixed.  

The need for reform has been the view of many lawyers for years however, more recently, in the case of Owens v Owens [2018] UKSC 41, it was the case that the need for reform was suddenly brought into focus. In this case, Mrs Owens filed a divorce petition on the basis of unreasonable behaviour. Mr Owens managed to defend such allegations, therefore leaving Mrs Owens to remain unhappily married until the time came whereby Mrs Owens could file for a divorce on the basis of 5 years separation without consent.

The current divorce legislation is extremely outdated and contested by many. Resolution, mainly run by a group of family lawyers, have campaigned for a number of years for a no-fault divorce to be introduced on the basis that current legislation is causing further animosity between separating couples. Unless the parties have been separated for a period of two years, and consent to the divorce, or a period of five years if the Respondent does not consent, the Petitioner must essentially blame the Respondent for their actions, as the reason to why the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The new bill will not change the fundamental principle, but will change how this principle must be established.

Presently, there are 5 factors that can be shown to prove the ground of irreconcilable breakdown of a marriage. These are as follows:

  • Adultery and Intolerability
  • Behaviour (which you find unreasonable)
  • 2 years desertion
  • 2 years separation with consent
  • 5 years separation without consent

It is often the case that many separating couples use behaviour to enable them to get Divorced quickly and to assist them in resolving their financial dispute.  There is often a view that bad behaviour will have an impact upon and will be taken into account when calculating a financial settlement between the parties. This is very rarely the case. It is often viewed that blame upon another will be a distraction for the parties and the idea of blaming another may also have an impact upon the children and any future contact arrangements.  The no-fault legislation aims to limit such conflict between the parties to ensure the focus remains on reaching a resolution as quickly and amicably as possible.

In the past, Divorce was looked down upon and was extremely rare. However, more recently, relationship breakdowns are considered one of life’s realities, leaving more and more couples separating on a daily basis. The new changes will hopefully mean that this will become easier for couples to separate amicably and without blame (where appropriate).

Key changes to be implemented in the new legislation

  1. No more statement of case

This amendment will remove a major amount of animosity and conflict alone. Within the current divorce petition, when the Petitioner is to use the fact of unreasonable behaviour or adultery and intolerability, a statement of case must be produced. This consists of a number of small paragraphs as to the Respondents actions during the relationship which have resulted in the Petitioner unable to remain married to the Respondent. The new bill will remove this section entirely and will allow couples to apply jointly for a divorce, and should this not be consented, will still allow one party to apply solely. It is believed that the petition may come with a Statement of Truth for the parties to sign, and the Court must take the same as conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

  • Removes the ability to contest a divorce

Given the fact no evidence is required to stipulate the relationship has broken down, and the parties/party must instead make a sworn statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Court is expected to take the statement as conclusive evidence to make an Order.

Presently, it is often the case that although being ‘blamed’, parties will agree to the wording of the statement of case. This, in essence, reduces the amount of contested applications.

  • Time lines introduced

The new legislation will introduce a 20 week period between the filing of the divorce application, and obtaining the ‘conditional order’ (the Decree Nisi). It shall remain the same that from the first stage (Decree Nisi) until the second stage (Decree Absolute) the parties must wait at least six weeks and one day from the date of the conditional order before filing for the final divorce order.

The new minimum period to obtain a divorce has been increased by three months, and the reason to do this was allow parties to reflect on their marriage and whether the marriage can be reconciled.  Lawyers do however, continue to raise questions in this regard and state that the decision to divorce will require reflection and thinking. 

Our thoughts

The new no-fault divorce is most definitely, a step in the right direction. It is still the view by many, however, that there is much further to go. It is noted that there is still very little protection for cohabiting couples and other diverse family types.

Should you wish to discuss matrimonial matters with us, please contact Gillian Lavelle or Megan Brookfield on 01942 206060 who will be happy to assist you.

Stuck In An Unhappy Marriage – Literally

It has been in the headlines recently regarding a couple who wished to Divorce but did not pass the test of unreasonable behaviour and as such the Courts refused to grant them a Decree of Divorce.

The Law

Under the current law in England and Wales, to obtain a Divorce you must prove your marriage has irretrievably broken down based upon one of five facts; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent of your spouse or, lastly, the only other way to obtain a divorce without your spouse’s consent is to live apart for a period of five years.

Owens v Owens

In this case, Tini Owens, 68, has been denied a divorce from her husband, Hugh Owens. The Supreme Court ruled that a joyless marriage is not a sufficient reason without the consent of both parties.

It is not unusual to hear of couples separating because they’ve fallen out of love or simply don’t see eye to eye anymore. However, the law currently states that these reasons would not be sufficient grounds for a divorce. Mrs Owens petitioned the Court for a divorce in May 2015 based upon unreasonable behaviour claiming that her husband prioritised work over family life, no longer treated her with affection, and was often moody and argumentative. She was denied her divorce as it was said that she hadn’t provided evidence that her marriage had, in the legal sense, irretrievably broken down.

Mr Owens, 80, defended the divorce denying the unreasonable behaviour cited in the petition, and stating that if the marriage had in fact broken down, it was the fault of Mrs Owens, not him.

As Mr Owens would not provide his consent to petition based on 2 years’ separation and after exhausting all of her possible appeal routes, Mrs Owens now has no option but to remain in the marriage until at least the year 2020 when the couple will have been separated for 5 years and the consent of Mr Owens is no longer required for her to divorce him.

The Future

Family Lawyers in England and Wales have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of this case as they have campaigned for a change to the law to introduce a ‘no fault’ divorce so couples who have simply fallen out of love can proceed to issue divorce proceedings. It is hoped that this case will highlight how important a change in the law could be for couples going through divorce so that they can both move on with as little distress as possible.

Keep an eye on Resolutions website and Twitter feed for further updates regarding their campaign for no fault divorce.

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

Can I change my child’s name?

I am often asked following the breakdown of a relationship whether it is possible to change a child’s name; perhaps the father has been absent for a long period of time or does not pay any maintenance or the mother remarries.

The consent of each person with Parental Responsibility is required in order to change a child’s name. In the event that each person consents, the process is relatively straight forward.

In the event that one person does not consent, the only other way to change a child’s name is to obtain an Order from the Court. However, it is only in very rare circumstances that a Court will order a change of name and the examples set out above are highly unlikely to be reasons to satisfy the Court that there should be a change.

There has been an example of such a very rare case in the news recently. The mother made an application to the Court for removal of her daughter’s middle name because of “its association with a notorious public figure.” The father argued against this on the basis that the name was not “offensive” and that he used both the child’s first and middle names. However, the Judge ruled that the association for the child was enough that the continued use of the name would “damage the child’s emotional welfare” and it was ordered that the middle name should be removed.

Please do not hesitate to contact our 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

 

CAN’T AFFORD LEGAL REPRESENTATION?

Nine out of 10 people who have gone through the family courts, suffer strain in their mental and physical health, working lives and finances, according to a report by Citizens Advice due out this week. This has also been reported by the guardian (see link below).

It seems since Legal Aid cuts have been implemented more and more people are finding access to legal assistance extremely difficult.

I have tried to tackle this at McCarthy Bennett Holland by offering fixed fees and payment plans.   Fixed fees at the outset can be discussed and agreed depending on the situation that is right for you.  Whether this is just sending an initial letter, acting on your behalf in a Divorce or representing you at Court in a children matter a fixed fee and payment plan can be arranged.  This ensures that there are no nasty surprise bills heading your way and also gives you time to budget how you will meet the cost of representation.

Some of my clients have monthly standing orders set up to meet payment of the agreed fees. This works well for my clients as they don’t have to worry about finding payment as bills fall due as the money has already been accounted for and held on account.

The strongest advice I can give anyone is to obtain representation at Court. I have had a number of clients come to me after a first Court hearing and state that they didn’t feel like they had done a good job or felt intimidated by the proceedings which has caused them to back down on their position.  This can cause difficulties then moving forward to try and overturn concessions already made.

If you would like to discuss our fixed fee and payment plan services why not arrange an appointment with me? I offer 30 minute FREE no obligation initial advice appointments.

I am available on 01942 206060 or by e-mail to: GillianLavelle@wigansolicitors.com

 About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at:

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors Find Gillian on Facebook: “McCarthy Bennett Holland – family solicitor”

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/mar/26/legal-aid-cuts-put-strain-on-divorcees?utm_content=buffer6a02c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Civil Partnerships v Marriage

At the moment the law states that only same sex partners can enter into a civil partnership. However, civil partnerships were originally introduced to English law in 2004 to allow same sex couples legal recognition for their relationships.

English law has come a long way since then and as we are all aware same sex marriages were introduced back in 2013. Not only did this cause controversy at the time but has recently been thrust back into the headlines for another reason altogether.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan wanted to enjoy the same rights as same-sex couples and enter into a civil partnership. The couple, from Hammersmith, West London, who have an eight-month-old baby and do not want to get married, took the case to London’s High Court as they were refused a civil partnerships.  They claimed that the Civil Partnership Act discriminated against heterosexual couples and violated their right to a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, Mrs Justice Andrews who heard the case ruled that straight couples “are not disadvantaged” by the law as “whilst civil partnerships remain unavailable, the state is still making available the alternative means of recognition of their relationship which has always existed” (i.e. marriage). Whilst  “same-sex couples now have two routes to achieving legal recognition of their relationship by the state and opposite-sex couples continue to only have one, the difference in treatment complained of (by Ms Steinfield and Mr Keidan) does not infringe a personal interest close to the core of the right to family life, still less the right to private life”.

Therefore, although many people may have ‘sympathy’ with the couple, the Government’s refusal of their demand was not unlawful and not in breach of their human rights for private and family life.

It also seems from the Judgment that it is up to the Government to make a decision about what is to happen with civil partnerships and that review is in hand. However, the couple have said they intend to appeal.

From a family law perspective, the rights of those that are married and those of civil partners are the same. Whilst the wording is different Marriage v Civil Partnership, Divorce v Dissolution upon separation both spouses and civil partners have the same financial claims against each other.  Therefore, the main difference between the two seems to be religion as marriage is seen as a religious ceremony.

It remains to be seen whether the law will change to accommodate the rights for all couples to enter into both civil partnerships and marriage or whether the Civil Partnership Act will be abolished.

Our family and matrimonial specialist Gillian Lavelle is pleased to offer a free initial 30-minute appointment for all new cases.

To arrange your meeting, call 01942 206060 today.

 About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at:

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors Find Gillian on Facebook: “McCarthy Bennett Holland – family solicitor”

Sharing the care of children – a study of child care cases in the Courts

A recent study, supported by The Nuffield Foundation and carried out by experts from the Universities of Reading and Warwick, looked at decisions reached by the County Courts in England and Wales in child care cases. The purpose of the project was to analyse applications, to look at how the Courts reached their decisions and to identify the different types of arrangements agreed by parents following a separation. In this week’s column, we look at the issues raised and discussed by the study.

  • Do the Courts favour mothers or fathers?

Central to the project was to look at whether any gender bias was shown towards either parent in a child care case. Interestingly, and perhaps contrary to public opinion, the study found that no bias was shown in deciding where a child should live.

When making applications to Court for contact, mothers are often the primary care giver. However, the study found that the success rate for mother and father applicants is broadly the same so fathers should not be deterred from making an application on the assumption that they won’t be successful.

The Courts do not tend to transfer children from one main residence to another; their primary role is to protect and retain consistency for children. A Court will generally only transfer a child’s main residence to that of the other parent if there is a serious concern for the child’s welfare or where children’s services are involved.

  • Do we have to go to Court for a decision on child care?

The study found that the majority of cases which proceeded to Court were those where private negotiations between parents had broken down.

Cases will only go to Court if they cannot be settled through agreement between themselves, solicitors or mediation. Mediation is a more informal process which allows parents to talk, either face-to-face or through a trained mediator, and come to agreement about their children and other matters affecting their separation. Mediation is much cheaper and less stressful than going to Court and it is now compulsory to participate in mediation as part of any child and financial-related process. Court should always be only a last resort.

Going to Court doesn’t need to increase tensions between parents; generally, cases assessed as part of the Nuffield Foundation study were settled by consent and the Courts can help to resolve disputes sympathetically by introducing a gradual series of hearings to increase conversation and aid agreement.

  • Do the Courts encourage contact in domestic violence cases?

Where there is evidence of domestic violence in a relationship, the project found that the Courts still encouraged as much contact with both parents as possible. Contact with the non-resident parent could be gradually increased over time to allow both parties to build trust, eventually allowing the child to stay with the non-resident parent overnight.

Only in cases where there is a very real and serious risk to a child’s safety will a Court make a ‘no contact’ order. Logistics and practical concerns meant that, in the most part, equally-shared care tended not to be ordered. It is thought to be more stabilising and simpler for both parents and children to have a main residence and a non-resident parent with contact.

  • What about grandparents who want to care for their grandchildren?

In some cases, grandparents (or other carers) may wish to apply to Court for a child care order concerning their grandchildren. The Nuffield study report states that, ‘These types of cases have been overlooked in the Family Justice Review and recent legal reforms.’ Rather than being dealt with as a typical family law dispute case, these cases tend to be administered differently.

  • Is Legal Aid available?

Unfortunately, Legal Aid is only available now in a minority of cases and normally to protect vulnerable parties where there has been domestic abuse.

It is felt that there may be a risk to children where parents or other applicants are unable to benefit from Legal Aid, as parents or carers who cannot access the Court system may agree to arrangements which are not safe for the children or may not be able to reach any agreement at all, meaning that some parties could lose contact with children altogether. The report raises the concern that those who are particularly vulnerable, such as parents battling addiction or suffering from poor health, may be unable to receive a fair hearing.

McCarthy Bennett Holland offers FREE 30-minute, no-obligation, initial appointments for all family and matrimonial cases. To arrange yours, contact family & matrimonial specialist Gillian Lavelle on 01942 206060.

 

About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at:

www.wigansolicitors.com
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors
Find Gillian on Facebook: “McCarthy Bennett Holland – family solicitor”

What costs are involved in divorce proceedings?

Q: My estranged husband and I are considering divorce but I am worried that I won’t be able to afford the process. What costs should I expect?

The divorce process doesn’t need to be costly; if you are prepared to discuss and settle matters between you and obtain effective legal advice, the financial impact can be kept to a minimum.

Court fees

The government has recently announced that court fees to start a divorce are to increase by £140 later this year, from £410 to £550. Some assistance is offered by the courts; if you are in receipt of benefits or on a low income, you can apply for a fee remission which will exempt you from, or reduce your payment of, the fees. If you are considering seeking a divorce, you may wish to start proceedings now before the fees are increased.

Legal fees

McCarthy Bennett Holland offers a fixed-fee divorce service, provided that the divorce is not contested by your spouse. We keep the costs for a petitioner, ie. if you are the party commencing divorce proceedings, in the region of £500 + VAT and for respondents fees are around £200 + VAT.

Financial settlement

Many of the costs involved in the divorce process stem from negotiating the financial settlement between you. Financial disputes differ greatly and costs can range significantly, from around £500 to £5,000 + VAT – and more. If matters can be discussed and resolved between you and legal representatives’ involvement kept to a minimum, you will reduce your costs to a much more manageable level. If you intend to negotiate your own financial settlement, ensure that you are both aware of all assets owned by each of you and jointly beforehand.

Where the financial settlement has been agreed between the parties beforehand, whether in private or through a mediation process, solicitors can prepare the ‘Clean Break Order’ on a fixed fee basis. MBH can deal with a Clean Break Order for fees of around £400 + VAT, plus the Court fee of £50 which is usually shared between the parties.

The Order ensures that no further financial claims can be brought in future by either party and you can move on knowing that all matters are finalised and settled. Without a Clean Break Order, one spouse could make a claim many years down the line for financial support; in one case which made the headlines this year, a former wife successfully pursued her millionaire ex-husband for substantial financial support after it emerged that, whilst they had divorced, they had never concluded their financial agreement.

If you are unable to reach agreement between yourselves, solicitors will deal with reaching financial settlement through negotiation and voluntary disclosure, requiring both parties to exchange all financial information including bank statements, asset values and so on.

As a last resort, the Court can make an order in respect of the financial agreement; this usually proves considerably more costly. The Court will order that information is disclosed between the parties and, generally, a minimum of two hearings will follow. In most cases, matters are agreed after the second hearing at which the Judge will direct how the case should settle. Occasionally, a third hearing is required at which both parties give evidence to the Court and the Judge makes a final Order.

Mediation

It is now compulsory for parties to enter into mediation before any application can be made to the Court for a financial Order in a divorce. The mediation process enables both parties to either meet face-to-face or in separate rooms to discuss and reach a decision with the assistance of a trained mediator. Public funding (‘Legal Aid’) is still available for mediation where parties are in receipt of low incomes or benefits. Whether you are entitled to Legal Aid or not, mediation often proves a cheaper and quicker resolution to reaching a financial settlement than negotiation through solicitors or the Court.

Children

Throughout the divorce process, both parties must take their children into consideration and ensure that sufficient provision is made for them. The Child Maintenance Service’s online calculator is a useful tool to provide an indication as to how much child support you or your spouse should pay. Child maintenance is dealt with separately from the main divorce or financial proceedings.

Whilst we have given an indication of our fees for dealing with your divorce, a tailored quote based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case will be supplied once you have formally instructed us.

McCarthy Bennett Holland offers FREE 30-minute, no-obligation, initial appointments for all family and matrimonial cases. To arrange yours, contact family & matrimonial specialist Gillian Lavelle on 01942 206060.

 

About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at:

www.wigansolicitors.com
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors
Find Gillian on Facebook:
McCarthy Bennett Holland family solicitor