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Latest News from Susan Clark Solicitor - Divorce & Financial Issues

Dealing with divorce and financial issues, arbitration, separation agreements, civil partnerships breakdowns, unmarried partner disputes, living together agreements, issues surrounding children, pre-nupital agreements, domestic violence issues.

State pension sharing on termination of the marriage

State pension sharing on termination of the marriage

Important changes were published by the DWP which take effect from 6 April 2016. There is an information note provided by the Department of Work and Pensions which explains how the new arrangements for state pension sharing will affect people who reach state pension age from 6 April 2016.

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Court fee increase

Court Fees

Resolution and family lawyers around the country believe that the rise in the divorce petition fee from £410.00 to £550.00 is scandalous. We as practitioners were given very little notice and as a result of which, many petitions were returned by the Court because they are not sent with the correct fee.

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Income related bonuses

income related bonuses

The current situation with regard to bonuses received as part of employment is that they may be shared on divorce but if they are, this is likely to be capped for a limited period. The courts are changing in their attitude towards maintenance for spouses with a trend towards orders that ‘step down’ over time to reflect the potential earning capacity of the person who is receiving maintenance.

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No fault divorce

no fault divorce

At the present time, the divorce law requires one person to apportion blame to the other to avoid putting their lives on hold for two years, even if one party to the marriage prefers not to do so. When blame is apportioned, the other party usually feels very upset and then struggles to take a cooperative approach to resolving issues relating to the finances and/or children.

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Law Society encourage use of ‘pet-nups’

pet puptials

One-in-four divorces involve a dispute over pets

The Law Society has reminded couples that one-in-four divorces involves a dispute over pets and that therefore they should draw up a pre-nuptial agreement in respect of their pet(s). A 'pet-nup' for sharing 'custody' of a pet and other details including upkeep costs would provide peace of mind for both.

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‘Sea change’ in courts’ attitude to spousal maintenance

spousal maintenance

Last year Mr Wright sought to have his maintenance payments reduced because he was concerned that this would be unaffordable after his retirement at 65. Judge Lynne Roberts ordered that the personal maintenance payments to his wife should cease, subject to a tailing-off over a five-year period leading up to Mr Wright's retirement. She said that there was no good reason for her not to seek work following the separation.

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Making claims many years after divorce

financial claims years after divorce

You may have seen the publicity about the recent case decided where the Supreme Court allowed the former wife's appeal in Wyatt v Vince.

This means that 22 years after a divorce, a wife is allowed to apply to the Court for financial assistance from her ex-husband.

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Severance of Joint Tenancy

severance of joint tenancy during divorce

In some situations parties do not resolve the financial issues arising out of a marriage by way of a court order. In one situation which arose recently, it appeared that whilst a decree absolute of divorce had been granted and the parties separated many years before, the home in which the husband remained living was in the joint names of him and his wife.

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What happens if I do not disclose all my assets?

interim maintenance

In a recent case a husband failed to disclose a company which he owned which provided him with an income and also stated that another company he had was not trading and had no value. At a recent hearing, the Judge set aside the Court order that had been made between the husband and wife in the divorce proceedings because the husband failed to disclose his holdings in the company.

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Tax, Tips and Traps during Divorce

tax tips and traps during divorce

It is often important to obtain advice from an accountant during the divorce process particularly if you own more than one property. There is no gain or loss for capital gains tax purposes if transfers take place between spouses in the first year of separation. However, in subsequent and following tax year CGT may be applicable.

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How long after decree absolute can I apply for financial provision?

financial provision time limit

The answer is there is no time limit provided you have not remarried. In a recent case the parties had married in 1981 and separated in 1984 and had one child. At the time of separation they had no assets or income and were living a ‘new age’ type of lifestyle.

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What criteria does a court use when considering claims for interim maintenance pending a final resolution?

interim maintenance

If you are left without any income by your spouse it is possible to apply to the court on an interim basis for help. When the Judge is considering what you should be paid on an interim basis he/she will consider:

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Mediation before issuing proceedings

mediation

It has now for some time been a requirement before making an application to the court in relation to the finances and/or disputes regarding children that both parties attend mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM).

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More frequently asked questions about divorce

divorce faqs

1 Can we get divorced if we are still living under the same roof? The answer is yes as long as you are not living in the same household under the same roof for more than six months. This means that you should not be cooking cleaning or sleeping with your partner while the divorce is underway and you should be living as separately as possible.

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Some financial tips for divorce

top financial tips for divorce

1 If you make an express declaration by deed about the beneficial ownership of a property, this is conclusive. If you do not, one of the following scenarios are possible:

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The costs of divorce

costs of divorce

Legal Aid for most people disappeared in April of this year. This will have a dramatic effect on the number of people acting in person taking cases to court. It also means that there will probably be a rise in people using online divorce services.

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Should we stay together for the sake of the children?

top financial tips for divorce

Many people believe that it is better to stay together for the children rather than separate. In some situations this can be a positive thing to do. However it is best to consider what role model you are giving to your children.

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Update on privacy rights

top financial tips for divorce

It is clear from a case reported recently how unacceptable it is to go through your spouse’s belongings in an attempt to obtain details of his/her financial position. In the recent case a wife initially claimed that she had found documents relating to the husband’s financial position, “lying around”.

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Three great Divorce Movies

3 different ways at looking at divorce

Whilst divorce is extremely painful for everyone involved it has produced some good movies. The War of the Roses was the dark comedy starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. This has got to be the ultimate film on how not to behave when the marriage breaks down.

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Bank Accounts

Dealing with joint bank accounts during divorce

Joint accounts with banks etc can cause difficulties when a marriage breaks down. This is because a bank will only normally close a joint bank account when it receives signatures from both parties. If the account has an overdraft facility then this does give one party the potential to run up a debt on the account for which both parties are liable. With a joint account either or both of you can be pursued for any sums outstanding.

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How Short is a Short Marriage?

Defining short marriages during divorce

The law relating to the division of assets can be different depending on whether the marriage is a short marriage or a long marriage. There is no legal definition of what is a long marriage. Periods of co-habitation usually count towards the length of the marriage so if, for example, you had been living with your partner for say fifteen years and then marry but then divorce within a year this will be treated as a long marriage.

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Pets in Divorce

Pets in divorce

Pets find the breakup of marriage very traumatic. They can be affected by tensions in the property. The other issue is that pets are not treated as living, breathing creatures by the court. They are treated as chattels. Therefore the welfare of the animal and the emotional interest of the animal are not taken into account when a Judge is deciding who should have the animal.

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Can I get my money or force a sale of the house quickly?

Privacy rights for divorcing spouses

If there is no agreement between you and your spouse in relation to financial matters and how your assets should be divided, then it is necessary to apply to the court. A court unfortunately cannot order the payment of a lump sum from one spouse to another or a sale of the family home on an interim basis i.e. before a final hearing. It is for this reason that often it is a good idea to issue proceedings at a very early stage with a view to reaching agreement to avoid delays in, for example, selling a house.

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Can I raid my spouse’s computer/filing cabinet?

Privacy rights for divorcing spouses

The law is a minefield when it concerns a situation where documents or information relating to one spouse is obtained by the other without permission. In a situation where the documents have been obtained without permission then the person who has obtained those documents is not entitled to look at, copy or distribute, communicate or utilise the information contained.

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Has your spouse over spent during the marriage or since separation?

Overspending and spending habits during marriage and divorce

A question I am frequently asked is whether the spending habits of a spouse are relevant when a marriage breaks down. This can be excessive spending during the marriage and incurring debts or just since separation. Such spending could be buying luxurious products which are not affordable, general life style spending, giving money to children and family members from a previous relationship as well as actually trying to hide money.

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Pre-acquired Assets and Inheritances

assets and inheritances in divorce

When dealing with the division of assets in a divorce often there is a situation where assets have been brought into the marriage by way of gift and inheritance from family members. Alternatively you may have owned assets prior to the marriage taking place.

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