Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Top tips for separation – Tip 5: consider a collaborative approach

A separation or breakdown of a marriage can be extremely upsetting and stressful, and is a difficult process for anyone to have to go through.  There are many factors that must be considered and negotiated, such as child custody and financial agreements.  The family law team at Ansons Solicitors have put together their top tips to help make your separation as painless as possible.

Consider a collaborative approach

If you want to resolve child custody or financial matters amicably, without the need for long and expensive court proceedings, then consider using a collaborative approach to your separation.  Under the collaborative process, each person appoints their own trained lawyer, then you and your respective lawyers meet together to work things out face-to-face.  Both of you will have a lawyer by your side throughout the whole separation process, so will have their valuable support and legal advice as you go.

Under this process, you and your lawyers will sign an agreement that commits you to trying to solve the issues of your separation without going to court.  The agreement also prevents your lawyers representing you in court if the collaborative process breaks down.  This means that everyone involved is absolutely committed to finding the best solutions by amicable agreement, rather than through court proceedings.

All Ansons family solicitors are members of Resolution and trained collaborative lawyers.  We are committed to achieving constructive solutions to family problems.  If you are going through a separation, contact Susan Davies, head of Ansons family law team on 01543 267 190 or email sdavies@ansonsllp.com.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.  It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances.  Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Top tips for separation – Tip 4: draw a line in the sand

A separation or breakdown of a marriage can be extremely upsetting and stressful, and is a difficult process for anyone to have to go through. There are many factors that must be considered and negotiated, such as child custody and financial agreements. The family law team at Ansons Solicitors have put together their top tips to help make your separation as painless as possible.

Draw a line in the sand

This may be difficult to do at first, but it is important to try and forget whatever has been said or done previously if you are going to move forward with your separate lives. Rather than blaming each other for their part in the separation, you need to focus on resolving matters as quickly and amicably as possible. Once the decision has been made to separate, it is important to draw a line in the sand and focus on the future you want for yourselves and your children.

All Ansons family solicitors are members of Resolution and trained collaborative lawyers. We are committed to achieving constructive solutions to family problems. If you are going through a separation, contact Susan Davies, head of Ansons family law team on 01543 267 190 or email sdavies@ansonsllp.com.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Top tips for separation – Tip 3: think before you act

A separation or breakdown of a marriage can be extremely upsetting and stressful, and is a difficult process for anyone to have to go through. There are many factors that must be considered and negotiated, such as child custody and financial agreements. The family law team at Ansons Solicitors have put together their top tips to help make your separation as painless as possible.

Think before you act

When emotions are running high, it can be easy for arguments to get out of hand. It is important to think before doing or saying anything drastic. We suggest that you always obtain legal advice as soon as possible to ensure that what you are about to do is legally sound.

All Ansons family solicitors are members of Resolution and trained collaborative lawyers. We are committed to achieving constructive solutions to family problems. If you are going through a separation, contact Susan Davies, head of Ansons family law team on 01543 267 190 or email sdavies@ansonsllp.com.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The dangers of DIY divorce

The discovery of a fault on the government’s own divorce portal late last year has once again highlighted the dangers of DIY divorce. Thousands of divorces may have been voided if an incorrect formula on the Ministry of Justice website was used to calculate the financial settlement.

Since the withdrawal of legal aid for most family law cases, many people have been tempted to opt for a 'quickie', do-it-yourself divorce, online.  Promoted as a cost saving service this might seem like an appealing route.  However, one in four DIY divorce petitions are flawed and have to be returned for correction due to errors in procedure, lack of information or in some cases, failure to enclose the correct fees.

For the majority of couples, separating your emotional and financial ties is not that straightforward and the benefits of instructing a Resolution accredited family solicitor far outweigh the potential cost savings of trying to handle it yourself.

There is lot more to getting divorced than just ending your marriage. The court will want to know where you and your children will live and how often they will see the other parent. You will also need to reach a financial settlement, deciding on how assets like your home, business, pensions and savings will be shared. You should never sign an agreement without taking legal advice, as you may be bound to terms you did not know about.

Susan Davies, head of family law at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield has seen the confusion and vulnerability of people who divorce without representation. With this comes a tendency to be on the defensive, refusing to speak to anyone from the other side, refusing to negotiate or agree anything. This all adds to the time and costs of the divorce in the long term.

“At Ansons we promote open negotiation above anything else. We recommend collaborative law to our clients and know that this is the best way to agree arrangements for your children, your home and finances,” says Susan.

If you do end up going to court, representing yourself within divorce proceedings without help from a solicitor is rarely straightforward. The rules are complex, and there will be no one from the court service to advise you what to do.

Your solicitor will advise you whether an agreement is fair, and be there to guide you when your judgement may be clouded. On online service cannot replace the years of experience, and knowledge of the Lichfield courts that a local solicitor can provide.

For confidential advice on divorce, arrangements for children and financial settlements contact Susan Davies, head of family law at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield on 01543 267 190 or email sdavies@ansonssolicitors.com.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

What’s mine is yours? Top 10 tips for your prenuptial agreement

The excitement over planning a wedding can take over the whole family, but prudent brides, grooms and their families should not overlook the financial implications of their future nuptials.

As Susan Davies, partner and head of family law at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield, points out, “Busy farming families and entrepreneurs usually protect themselves from a range of risks in their businesses.  However, when it comes to marriage, good financial sense is often forgotten.”

Making a prenuptial agreement before you get married can take away some of the financial worry about what will happen to your assets and property if your marriage does not work out.

Susan Davies, head of family law at Ansons Solicitors in Staffordshire gives you her top 10 tips for what to include in your prenuptial agreement:

1. Property ownership
As a married couple any property or land you own, even if it is in one person’s sole name, can be redistributed by the court in the financial settlement of a divorce. By making a prenuptial agreement you can agree whether you will each be entitled to keep your own property and how any jointly owned property, such as your home or a holiday property, will be treated on divorce or separation.

2. Business
Building a business can be a lifetime’s work and a culmination of your dreams and ambitions. If you have spent many years before your marriage growing your business, or you have acquired a business through family succession, you may naturally be concerned about losing a share of it through divorce.

Making a prenuptial agreement will give you the opportunity to discuss whether to ring fence your business. If you are going to give your spouse an interest in the business you can set out how shares will be divided. Our corporate law team can give you advice on safeguarding your business interests.

Your spouse may also be your business partner, company secretary or an employee. If so, their may be employment law issues to consider and you will need to consider  whether you will continue to work together if the marriage ends or plan an exit strategy.

3. Pensions
Your pension pot can reflect your future security and your retirement plans. If you are marrying later in life, or for a second time, you may not be willing to risk losing a substantial portion of your pension through pension sharing in a divorce settlement.

You can include express provisions in your prenuptial agreement about how pensions are to be shared and whether your partner will be entitled to any lump sum payable from your pension, such as a death in service benefit, if you die before the pension starts paying out.

4. Family heirlooms 
Inherited wealth and treasured family heirlooms are often a very sensitive issue on divorce, especially if they are likely to fall into the hands of your spouse. You can take steps to prevent this by including express provisions in your prenuptial agreement.

By agreement you can decide whether you will each keep ownership of assets passed on by your own side of the family or whether they will be shared. This division is easier in the case of tangible assets such as paintings or furniture but more thought should be given to how inherited wealth is to be treated. For example, what should happen if one of you inherits money and that is put towards buying a house for you both to live in.

5. Personal possessions
You may have each acquired numerous personal possessions before you got married that you may want to keep hold of if you split up. This could include cars, furniture, art, antiques, musical instruments, cd’s, books and digital assets and even your pets. You can specify how these are to be owned from the outset in the event of a divorce.

Added to this, there may be expensive wedding presents and jointly owned purchases during the course of the marriage. With a little thought from the outset you can save a lot of acrimony, and lawyers’ fees, by agreeing how these assets should be divided if the marriage does not last.

6. Savings and debts
Your prenuptial agreement should include your respective entitlement to cash savings, policies and investments. You may want to distinguish between what happens to savings owned before the marriage and those built up during the course of the marriage, depending on contributions.

While you will usually be liable for debts in your sole name, responsibility for jointly accrued debts such as secured lending, credit cards and hire-purchase agreements may need clarification.  This can especially be the case where only one person is working. If, as part of your marriage you have agreed to pay off your partner’s pre-marital debts such as student loans or rent arrears then this should be recorded, expressly stating whether the money is to be paid back if the marriage comes to an end.

You can even specify your arrangements for paying the household bills, whether they are to be shared equally or one of you is to pay them all.

7. Spousal maintenance
Where there is an inequality in income between you, it may be appropriate to decide whether any maintenance will be paid to your spouse if the marriage breaks down. It may be your intention that one person stays at home during the marriage, maybe to raise a family, while the other goes out to work. Or maintenance may be just a way to redress the balance between you for unpaid contributions towards building up a business.

Your prenuptial agreement cannot be used to decide maintenance for children.

8. Death
You may want to decide and record in your prenuptial agreement your intentions for what you would like to happen if one of you dies. Will the other person be entitled to continue to live in the house? What should happen to your business interests, assets and personal possessions?

Any previous will becomes invalid once you marry and you will need to make a new one after your wedding day. A prenuptial agreement can be a way of providing your spouse with some assurance in the interim. Although the prenuptial agreement cannot interfere with your right to leave your assets to whoever you choose in your will, it may hold some sway with a court if a disgruntled family member is challenging a will.

9. Children from previous relationships
If either of you already has a child from a previous relationship, your prenuptial agreement will need to include them and make reasonable financial provisions for them too in the event of a divorce.

The prenuptial agreement should not be used to make arrangements for children of the marriage, even if they were conceived or born before the marriage. You will instead have to negotiate this with the help of your solicitor on separation, or apply to court, depending on your circumstances at the time.

10. Review
You will need to decide what events, if any, will affect the validity of your prenuptial agreement and if it should be revised. This may be the birth of a child, illness, redundancy or simply a lapse in time.

You might also want to stipulate what happens if one of you does not stick to the terms of the agreement, such as failing to pay half of the bills, and even include  appropriate penalties or sanctions.

Negotiate your prenuptial agreement together

Engaging the skills of a trained collaborative lawyer can be a particularly effective way of negotiating the terms of your prenuptial agreement. Your chosen collaborative lawyer will quickly help you to address the key issues and focus on achieving an agreed outcome. You should both have access to independent legal advice due to ensure that you fully understand the terms of the agreement before signing.

Prenuptial agreements are being increasingly recognised by the court as a good reflection of a couple’s intentions towards each other if they separate. You must both take independent legal advice, give full disclosure of your financial assets and neither of you must be under any duress before signing the agreement. The agreement must also be ‘fair’.

For further advice, please contact Susan Davies in the family law team, on 01543 267 190 or sdavies@ansonssolicitors.com. Ansons Solicitors has offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Top tips for separation – Tip 2: keep the children out of it

A separation or breakdown of a marriage can be extremely upsetting and stressful, and is a difficult process for anyone to have to go through.  There are many factors that must be considered and negotiated, such as child custody and financial agreements.  The family law team at Ansons Solicitors have put together their top tips to help make your separation as painless as possible.

Keep the children out of it

If you have children then it is important that you do not get them involved in adult issues.  Try not to make any derogatory comments about your partner in front of the children and definitely do not ask them to pick sides. Often, children will tell each parent what they think they want to hear, therefore what they communicate to you may not be accurate.  If you no longer see eye-to-eye with your partner, but appreciate that they are still a good parent, then you will need to learn to put your personal differences aside for the benefit of your children.

All Ansons family solicitors are members of Resolution and trained collaborative lawyers.  We are committed to achieving constructive solutions to family problems.  If you are going through a separation, contact Susan Davies, head of Ansons family law team on 01543 267 190 or email sdavies@ansonsllp.com.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.  It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances.  Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published

Friday, 8 April 2016

Top tips for separation – Tip 1: communication is key

A separation or breakdown of a marriage can be extremely upsetting and stressful, and is a difficult process for anyone to have to go through.  There are many factors that must be considered and negotiated, such as child custody and financial agreements.  The family law team at Ansons Solicitors have put together their top tips to help make your separation as painless as possible.

Communication is key

The best piece of advice we can give you is to try and speak to you partner, face-to-face if possible.  Keeping lines of communication open may help to keep the costs down in the long term.  That being said, there will be times when you will need to obtain legal advice from your solicitor, and we strongly advise you to take legal advice before agreeing to any financial settlement.  Being able to decide smaller matters, such as dividing your belongings, without legal intervention will keep legal costs to a minimum and will considerably speed up the process.

All Ansons family solicitors are members of Resolution and trained collaborative lawyers.  We are committed to achieving constructive solutions to family problems.  If you are going through a separation, contact Susan Davies, Head of Ansons Family Law team on 01543 267 190 or email sdavies@ansonsllp.com.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.  It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances.  Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.