Category Archives: Family Law

Cohabitation Agreements

In our modern society, more and more couples are living together before marriage or choose not to get married at all.

Unfortunately, cohabiting couples are not afforded the same or even similar legal protection as married couples and it’s therefore important to plan for any future bumps in the road.

Cohabitation agreements can assist couples in amicably deciding how property should be divided if the relationship breaks down.

What is a Cohabitation agreement?

The cohabitation agreement is a form of legal agreement reached between couples who have chosen to live together. In some ways, such a couple may be treated like a married couple, such as when applying for a mortgage or working out child support. However, in some other areas, such as property rights, pensions and inheritance, they are treated differently.

Why a cohabitation agreement is essential for non-married couples?

Unmarried couples have no legal rights if they separate – so without an agreement, one of them could be left with nothing.

The unfortunate truth is that relationships can go wrong. In the event of separation, unmarried couples have very little legal protection.  Cohabitation agreements set out what should happen in the event of separation.  In this way, they can help to significantly reduce the costs of dealing with separation in terms of time, stress and money during what can be a difficult time.

 

Content of cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement can consist of the following (but its total couple’s decision which of these, and other, matters that they would like to cover)

  • Who owns your home, the shares in which you own it and the amount that you each contributed;
  • who will pay bills such as the mortgage, utilities, house maintenance and renovation work, food and general living costs and the effect, if any, such payments will have on ownership of the property;
  • If there are any endowment policies or other savings or investments, who is going to pay for those and how they will distribute on separation;
  • Who is going to pay for any life insurance policies and how these are going to distribute on separation;
  • if there is a joint bank account, how much will you each contribute to it and what will happen to it on separation;
  • Whether you will nominate each other for death in service benefits for your pensions, if any;
  • If you wish to make preparations to cover death than these should be confirmed through a will;
  • You can deal with personal belongings by establishing out who owns which particular item and who will pay and own future items
  • If either of you has received or expect to get gifts or inheritances, the agreement can refer to those and make preparations as to their future ownership;
  • If parents lend money to assist with a house purchase, who will be responsible for repaying the loan.

Contact us for legal advice regarding Cohabitation Agreements

If you would like advice or assistance in relation to cohabitation agreements contact one of our solicitors on 01206 500181

 

Consent Order

Separation is not easy for anyone, and sometimes the mention of the word court can cause tension and anxiety, and may pointlessly intensify the situation further.The very first thing one needs to understand is that the divorce simply deals with the ending of the marriage and it does not cover finances or your parenting arrangements.  That’s why consent order is essential.

What is a consent order?

A consent order is an order made during in divorce proceedings, where both parties have agreed their financial settlement and consent to an order being made without the need for a court hearing. The order can also include details on spousal and/or child maintenance arrangements, which enables the family court to enforce these if the maintenance is not paid.

Is Consent Order legally binding?

A consent order is a legal document that has to be drafted by an experienced legal professional to become legally binding. You need to get a solicitor to draft a ‘consent order’ and ask a court to approve it – this makes it legally binding. The order becomes legally binding when the Decree Absolute has been granted in the divorce proceedings.

A consent order is a legal document that confirms your agreement. It explains how you’re going to divide up assets like:

  • money
  • property
  • savings
  • investments

It can also include arrangements for maintenance payments, including child maintenance.

Consent Order court approval

There’s usually no court hearing. A judge will approve your consent order to make it legally binding if they think it’s fair.

If they do not think its fair, they can:

  • change your consent order
  • make a new court order to tell you how to divide your money and property

Why should I get a consent order?

It is always sensible to draw a line in the sand when it comes to splitting your financial matters in a divorce. If no order has been made then, unless they have remarried, either party can go to the court and make a financial claim against the other, even years after the divorce took place.

And if one party does not keep to the terms of the settlement the other party will need to ask the court to take steps to enforce the settlement, but the court can only take enforcement action if the settlement has been incorporated into a court order.

Contact Us for Legal Advice regarding the Consent Order

 

Consent Orders are such binding documents and so difficult to revise, it is crucial that each party receives proper advice before agreeing to terms of the settlement, and then the document is professionally drafted to certify all the necessary terms are included in suitable terms.

There are specific rules as to how a consent order should be drafted and what can and cannot be included in one and we can advise you in this regard.

To discuss your options in relation to obtaining a consent order please contact our solicitors on 01206 500181.

Dissolution of Civil Partnerships

To obtain a Civil Partnership dissolution, you must have been in a registered Civil Partnership for at least 12 months. The law around Civil Partnership Dissolution is actually very similar to that relating to divorce – if you are looking at ending a civil partnership, or would like more information on how to dissolve a civil partnership, we can help, just give one of our solicitors a call on 01206 500181

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements can create certainty for those contemplating marriage and can be a means of protecting assets owned before the marriage, inheritance, and existing family commitments such as children from a previous relationship or marriage.

A prenuptial agreement is a formal document in which a couple set out their rights and intentions in relation to any property, income, savings, debts and other assets either purchased together or acquired individually.

Once individuals get married these assets become matrimonial assets and, unless specifically protected, are thrown into a single financial pot. The primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement will often be to limit the potential claims on the wealth and assets of one of the parties to the marriage.

If you would like advice or assistance in relation to prenuptial agreements give one of our solicitors a call on 01206 500181

Frequently asked Questions

How long do I have to be married before I can start a divorce?

ANS – You have to be married for at least one year before divorce can be commenced.

Do I have to divorce in the country where the marriage took place?

ANS – No. You are able to divorce in the UK as long as you or your spouse have been resident here for at least one year before starting your case, or you and your spouse are domiciled in the UK.

If my spouse and I have been separated for two years, are we automatically divorced?

ANS – No.The same procedure has to be followed before divorce is finalised

What paperwork do I need to start a divorce?

ANS – A divorce petition
– Original Marriage Certificate, with translation if appropriate
– A fee

How long does it take to divorce?

ANS – An ‘agreed divorce’ takes about 5-6 months to finalise

What happens if I cannot find my spouse?

ANS – You are still able to divorce by showing the court that you have made attempts to locate them. The facts of 2 years’ separation with consent or adultery should not be relied upon in this instance.

I am in a same sex relationship – do my rights differ?

ANS –  No, as long as you entered into and registered your civil partnership or are married to each other.

What is the cost?

ANS – Agreed divorces are at a fixed fee of £750 plus VAT, and the required court fee.

For more complicated divorces, fixed fees can be offered after discussion during our initial consultation.

Divorce and Separation

One of the main challenges you may face is, getting your partner to agree upon getting a divorce and the reasons stated. At HS Legal we follow the protocol as cited by Resolution to ensure that agreement is reached at the outset where possible to avoid escalated costs, delay and stress. We are here to advise and support you throughout the process of filing for divorce.

Difference between separation and divorce

The main difference between getting a separation and getting a divorce is that divorce ends the marriage. Spouses return to an unmarried status and are thus are allowed to remarry. The separation lets couples keep their married status while acknowledging that they are no longer living together.

The Grounds for getting a Divorce

There is only ground for getting a divorce in the UK which is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

When you are filing for divorce there are five potential reasons on which you can rely:

  1. a)Adultery –  you will need to have proof that your spouse/civil partner has committed adultery or ensure that they will agree to a divorce based on this reason. The place of adultery and the date when it was committed, or when you became aware of the same, will need to be included when detailing this fact on the divorce petition.
  2. b) Unreasonable behaviour – If you have been subject to unreasonable behaviour which includes acts of violence, emotional abuse or lack of support, this can be presented as a strong reason for divorce. A petition based on this reason does not need to be very detailed. However, you must be able to recall and share details of a minimum of four incidents, which you deem to be acts of unreasonable behaviour.
  3. c) Two years’ desertion – you will need to state that your spouse/civil partner left you without your consent for a period of two years and you have no knowledge of their whereabouts.
  4. d) Two years’ separation with consent – If you have consented to live apart socially, sexually and domestically for a period of two years immediately before the presentation of the divorce petition you can file for divorce of grounds of consensual separation. There are many forms of separation e.g. you can still be living in the same house and be separated. In all cases, you must be able to confirm the date of separation and ensure both parties consent.
  5. e) Five years’ separation – If you have been living apart socially, sexually and domestically for a period of five years immediately before a presentation of the divorce petition you can file for divorce. The other party’s consent is not essential in this case.

For more extensive advice and information please email or call us to book an initial consultation.

Agreed Divorce

We offer a fixed fee for an agreed divorce of £750 plus vat and court fees of £550

Amicable divorce and separation cases take approximately 4-5 months to resolve. If your case involves children or financial concerns, it can sometimes take longer. We recommend discussing your case at our no-obligation initial consultation where we can advise you on timescales and costs.

For more extensive advice and information about getting a divorce please email or call us to book an initial consultation.

Contested Divorce

If one party is not agreeable to a divorce then matters can become complicated. A set procedure will need to be followed within certain time limits and the content of the petition defended. Defending a petition is costly and stressful and unlikely to be successful as one party who wishes to end a relationship cannot be forced to remain married. Therefore, a defending party will usually be advised to allow the divorce to proceed, and perhaps negotiate some changes to the reason cited within the petition if this is in their benefit.

If you fear that your spouse/civil partner will defend a divorce, do seek advice and your fears can be allayed.

For more extensive advice and information for filing for divorce please email or call us to book an initial consultation.

Jurisdiction

Divorce can be started in England if both parties are residents, or if the respondent is living in England for at least one year before the date of the petition, or the petitioner and the respondent are domiciled in England. It may be the case that one party wishes to start as soon as possible to ensure that England is the country that will deal with any ancillary financial issues. The country in which a petition has been filed first will decide any money and/or property issues between the parties.

International Divorce

If you are living abroad, but still have ties to the UK, or if your spouse is living in the UK, we can assist you with your filing for divorce process and any ancillary issues such as finances and child arrangements.

 

For more extensive advice and information about getting a divorce please contact us to book an initial consultation.