Moving on

8th January 2018 AKA "DIVORCE DAY"

 

 

The beginning of the year always brings with it an increase in instructions as couples make the decision to separate. For some the stress over the festive period was simply too much for the relationship to bear; for others perhaps the decision was made towards the end of the last year but put on hold to allow for “one last Christmas”. Additionally, the New Year is generally a time when we are expected to take stock of our lives and make changes to tackle things that we are not happy with and it stands to reason that this applies just as much to problems with a relationship as with the other areas of our lives such as health or fitness.

A decision to separate is not one to be taken lightly. It has significant consequences for all concerned and especially children. Consideration should always be given to whether the relationship can be saved and in this respect marriage counselling can be of significant benefit. If however the breakdown is irretrievable, early advice from a specialist family solicitor will ensure that you are aware of your options going forward so that you know where you stand in relation to a divorce, the financial arrangements resulting from the separation and also the arrangements for the children.

Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd are specialist family solicitors in Hertford, Enfield and Bishops Stortford, able to offer advice and support in relation to divorce and other family law matters. We are also one of only a few solicitors able to offer the full range of process options including mediation, collaborative law and Arbitration. More information of the services we are able to offer is available on our website , including details of our fixed fee services or alternatively call 01992 558411.


Sexting - Flirty Gertie or Dirty Bertie?

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Sexting – harmless fun or adultery?! Depends who you ask and its not just confined to stars of our favourite soaps! Whether you are the sextor or the sextee this can be a deal breaker in a marriage. Perhaps it is just harmless fun but to your spouse it may be the ultimate betrayal! What then if you decide the marriage is over and you want to divorce; is it adultery? The answer is no unless it is accompanied by sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. What then is the recourse to the spouse who feels betrayed? – they are able to proceed with a divorce citing the behaviour of the other as unreasonable. Everyone’s tolerance is different but the majority may find that sexting someone other than your spouse is unreasonable.

If you have found yourself in Dyer circumstances then our specialist team of solicitors are able to offer you sympathetic and straight forward advice in relation to your options. Contact us by calling 01992 558411 or alternatively complete our online enquiry form.

Olive McCarthy MCIArb–(Director and Head of Family Department) – Olive joined the firm in 2000 and was appointed as a Partner and Head of the Family Law Department in the old firm in 2004. Olive has had panel accreditation with the Law Society as a Family Law Specialist since 2003 and has been a Collaborative Lawyer since early 2009.  She is also accredited with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators as a Family Law Arbitrator since early 2013, a prestigious accolade that few have achieved in the UK.

Olive specialises in dealing with complex finance cases, particularly high net worth cases.

 

 

 

 

 


Getting rocky relationships through tinsel-time

The family-focus of Christmas is often followed in January with news of unhappy couples who decide to call it quits, leading to so-called Divorce Day, as family lawyers receive a surge of enquiries when they re-open after the break.

And as the holiday season goes into full swing, there are calls for greater support for couples, based on better understanding of outcomes.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the overall rates of divorce are continuing to fall.  There were 111,169 divorces in 2014, a decrease of 3.1% compared with 2013 and 27% lower than 2003.
Compared with data from 2004, divorce rates were lower for all age groups, except women aged 55 and over. As younger people look to be having fewer problems in the first decade of marriage, this has been attributed by ONS to higher numbers of couples cohabitating before marriage, with the suggestion that only the stronger relationships make it through to the wedding day.
But those working at the front-line say the apparent improvement should not obscure the increasing difficulty faced by couples looking to separate.  For although the process of securing a divorce is relatively straightforward, the associated negotiating over finances and children is proving an increasing challenge.
Faced by the cuts to legal aid and higher Court fees – the cost of applying for a divorce increased from £410 to £550 in March 2016 - through to the difficulty in affording to set up two homes, many couples are turning to increasingly desperate measures.
For some, it involves continuing to live together, even when officially separated, or even post-divorce, including so-called ‘bird nesting’ arrangements, where the children stay in the family home and the parents come and go.  Others turn to online help or seek an agreement without independent advice, only to discover later that they may have agreed financial or childcare outcomes that leave them at a significant disadvantage, when professional advice and representation could have reached a fairer outcome.
“Unfortunately the workload of the family lawyer is not reducing,” said family law expert Karen Johnson of Hertford-based solicitors Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd.  “And dealing with problems arising from self-conducted negotiations, or where negotiations have been managed by an untrained intermediary, is becoming more common.
“DIY can seem a sensible option when you’re trying to keep the lid on costs and everyone is saying it’s simple. And whilst it’s true that the application process itself is relatively straightforward, that’s only one small part.  Nor is it fool-proof, and if you get it wrong it could lead to paperwork being sent back, which could mean additional court fees.”
She added: “It’s tough sorting things out between the two of you when emotions are running high, but talking things through is the best way and having someone help you with those conversations is a good idea.  They don’t have to be a professional, but you should have expert input at some stage in the negotiations, to make sure that what you have agreed is fair, that neither party is pushing the other into a corner, and that it is in line with what you could expect as a reasonable outcome if you had gone to court.”
Such encouragement for couples to talk reflects the findings of recent research in the United States.  This suggests that couples who share their problems with each other are more likely to overcome difficulties than those who share problems with their friends.  Reported in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that sharing concerns with a friend increased the odds of a break-up by 33 per cent, but talking it out with a partner doubled the chances of them staying together.
She added: “Ending a marriage is one of the toughest things anyone will ever deal with, and what’s needed is a well-informed, collaborative approach.  The couple, and anyone supporting or advising them, need to be focused on achieving an outcome through positive negotiation that is more talk, less war.”

Web site content note:
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Reference:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/divorce/bulletins/divorcesinenglandandwales/2014#statisticians-quote

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4010064/Relationship-troubles-Don-t-tell-mates-Confiding-female-friends-makes-likely-break-up.html#ixzz4SzsRxTa6

 

 


For Richer, For Poorer, Till Death Do You Part?

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Trinny Woodall is facing a fresh legal battle in relation to the estate of her ex husband Johnny Elichaoff. The couple married in 1999 and had a child together but later divorced in 2009 whilst remaining on reportedly good terms.

Johnny Elichaoff died in 2014 after falling from a car park roof. An Inquest in 2015 heard that he had battled an addiction to painkillers for 20 years and had taken his own life after ‘losing everything’ in a series of failed investments.

As part of the divorce proceedings, the couple reached an agreement in relation to the financial aspects of the separation which included provision for Mr Elichaoff to pay maintenance of £24,000 per annum and to repay £1.4 million that Ms Woodall had lent to him. However, despite this agreement, Ms Woodall did not actually receive anything.

Following the making of that order, it later emerged that Mr Elichaoff had been declared bankrupt prior to the agreement having been reached. Neither Ms Woodall, nor the judge approving the order had been made aware of this.

When a person is bankrupt, their property immediately transfers to their Trustee in Bankruptcy. This meant that Mr Elichaoff was unable to agree a settlement with regards to the finances and the court was unable to approve any order without the agreement of the Trustee in Bankruptcy. This meant that the order was void and this was confirmed earlier this year.

Mr Elichaoff died owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to his creditors and at the time that the order was set aside the Trustee in Bankruptcy sought to persuade the court that he should be able to take the place of Mr Elichaoff and seek a revised order to obtain a lump sum sufficient to pay off the creditors and legal costs. The court refused and now the Trustee of Bankruptcy is pursuing an appeal in the High Court.

This is a bizarre and unprecedented case with a potential to have far reaching consequences. The Trustee is suggesting that Mr Elichaoff would have been entitled to received a substantial settlement from Ms Woodall and that following the bankruptcy the right to pursue that claim passed to the Trustee.

Ms Woodall defends the application on the basis that such a right is personal to Mr Elichaoff and the court ability to consider such a claim ended in any event when Mr Elichaoff died.

It is correct that when a person is made bankrupt the right to bring certain claims transfers to a trustee in bankruptcy. However, solely personal claims such as for personal injury or slander are not included.

The insolvency service’s own technical manual states;
“The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) allows a spouse to seek financial relief following divorce. Such a right does not constitute property (and even if it did, it would be property personal to the bankrupt) and cannot, therefore, form part of a bankrupt’s estate or vest in the official receiver, as trustee.
Generally speaking, any right arising from a marriage would not vest in a trustee in bankruptcy. In short, the trustee is not party to a marriage and cannot, therefore, be party to any rights arising in relation to the marriage.”

In the event that the Trustee is successful in his appeal this will give rise to a potential for claims to be bought by a Trustee within divorce proceedings or even many years later to seek to obtain a financial order to secure money to pay off the creditors. This is because parties rights to bring claims against each other do not automatically terminate when the divorce is finalised. My personal view is that this can not be correct. A spouse or ex spouse can not be forced to pay debts that are not in their name and there is no provision for a court within financial proceedings to consider the right of creditors except for the purpose of identifying the assets available and to establish the parties needs.

We await the decision with baited breath.

Karen Johnson is Director and Family Mediator of Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd. Karen is a highly skilled and experienced Family Solicitor with in excess of 15 years experience of working in Family Law. She is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in the fields of Domestic Abuse and Financial Matters. Karen is additionally a Family Mediator trained by and a member of the Family Mediators Association (The FMA). For more information on how Karen or a member of our specialist team can help you please call 01992 558411 or complete our online enquiry form.


Two Men and a Little Baby

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It is difficult to avoid the pregnancy rumours relating to Cheryl Fernandez Versini and Liam Payne appearing in the press recently. Various tweets and social media entries have sparked speculation that Cheryl may be expecting the couple’s child. Although Cheryl and Liam are not married, this does not strictly affect the law relating to children and each parent’s rights. It should however be mentioned that for Liam to hold parental responsibility for the child, once born (assuming the rumours are true) he must be named on the child’s birth certificate, although it is possible to make a separate application to the Court in the event he is not named, for them both to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement (or alternatively they may get married).

On a separate note, Cheryl remains married to her estranged husband, Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini although the media is reporting the Decree Nisi has recently been pronounced. Decree Nisi is the first stage in the divorce process, which basically means the Court is satisfied there is sufficient evidence for the divorce to proceed based on the facts provided. The divorcing parties must wait a minimum period of 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for Decree Absolute, although that is a minimum period and so we cannot predict when the couple will actually divorce. During the 6 weeks and 1 day period it is also extremely important to ensure all financial matters are finalised and in this respect it is understood that they have been able to reach an agreement so they should be presenting a Consent Order to the Court for approval.

Here at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd we are able to offer expert advice on all matrimonial matters, including divorce, finances and children. We are able to offer you a one off advice session on a fixed fee basis in the event you are a new client, or ongoing support and advice throughout your matter where instructed.

Lisa Honey is a family solicitor at Breeze and Wyles Ltd specialising in family law and deals with matters covering a range of issues including divorce and financial settlements, separation following the breakdown of a relationship, children matters and declarations of trust. Lisa is also an honorary solicitor providing advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cheshunt and Ware.

 

 


Brangelina Divorce – A Private Affair?

shock-in-hollywood

 

The tabloids are awash with the shocking news of the fact that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have separated and that Angelina has applied to the courts in America for a divorce citing irreconcilable differences and has also sought an order that the couples 6 children live with her.

As one of Hollywood’s hottest couples it is hardly surprising that such unexpected news would be met with such a furore of press attention and intrigue. However, Brad and Angelina have historically been fairly guarded in respect of their private lives in comparison with other celebrity couples and more particularly have sought to shield their children. With the rumour mill working overtime with suggestions of a possible affair it is also unsurprising that the couple have requested that they are given space at this difficult time.

It is comforting to see that whatever has happened within their relationship to lead them to this point, both parties continue to have the children at the forefront of their thoughts and hopefully that will seek to deal with process as amicably as possible.

Whether the press will respect the plea for privacy we will have to wait and see. With the proceedings to take place in America, it will be the privacy rules there that will apply. However high profile divorces also happen in England and Wales and so divorcing couples here may also have concerns about publicity and privacy.

Since the 27th April 2009, accredited representatives of newsgathering and reporting organisations and any other unaccredited person whom the Court permits to be present may be present for hearings in all family proceedings except hearings conducted for the purpose of judicially assisted conciliation or negotiations. The rules also provide that the Court can exclude such representatives. Whilst the media are allowed to attend family proceedings; the Court will have power to restrict both attendances by them and what can be reported.

Whilst the majority of family court cases do not garner press intention, if you are concerned that this might be the case, it is really important that you ensure that your solicitors are aware of your concerns and can advise and act appropriately. Where this is a likely issue there should be full exploration of the alternative processes such as Mediation, Collaborative Law, and Solicitor Negotiations which by their nature are confidential and, where an agreement can not be reached, Family Arbitration offers an opportunity for parties to seek a decision within a process which is also confidential.

At Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd, our highly experienced and sympathetic team of family law solicitors can help and advise you on the full range of family law matters and divorce related issues. We are able to give you clear advice on the legal aspects of your situation, whether it is to assist you with a situation that has already arisen or whether to assist you in preventing a situation from arising in the future. We can also represent you whether by negotiating on your behalf, using the Collaborative Law process or in applications to the court or to arbitration. Karen Johnson is additionally a family law mediator and Olive McCarthy is a Family Arbitrator.

For more information, call our Family Department on 01992 558411


The Depps of Divorce

The Depps of Divorce

The Depps of DivorceJohnny Depp and Amber Heard have reportedly split after only 15 months of marriage. News reports today are suggesting the pair failed to enter into a pre-nuptial or post nuptial agreement, despite Mr Depp allegedly being worth $400 million. Ms Heard has issued divorce proceedings in the Los Angeles Superior Court and is seeking spousal support from her estranged husband.

At Breeze and Wyles Ltd we offer bespoke advice on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements as well as providing advice on how best to protect your interests whether you are intending to marry or are simply cohabiting including cohabitation agreements and declarations of trust. We also offer guidance and assistance in all aspects of divorce and the breakdown of relationships as well as providing advice on finances and children matters.

Lisa Honey is a family solicitor at Breeze and Wyles Ltd specialising in family law and deals with matters covering a range of issues including divorce and financial settlements, separation following the breakdown of a relationship, children matters and declarations of trust. Lisa is also an honorary solicitor providing advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cheshunt.  

 

Website: www.breezeandwyles.co.uk

Email: lisa.honey@breezeandwyles.co.uk

Tel: 01992 558 411


Celebrity Divorces

Since the beginning of the year there has been a recent rise in celebrity splits and divorces. New websites have included details of the alleged breakdown of relationships of Drew Barrymore and Will Copelman, Rebecca Adlington and Harry Needs, Professor Green and Millie Mackintosh and Nick Knowles and Jessica Knowles to name but a few.

The process of divorce in England and Wales has become a paperwork exercise as long as it is undefended and is usually a straightforward process. The petitioner must show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and will also rely on one of five facts; the respondent’s unreasonable behaviour, the respondent’s desertion, the respondent’s adultery, 2 years separation with consent or 5 years separation. It should be noted that whilst the divorce process is usually straightforward, this does not deal with the finances of the parties which will need to be dealt with separately.

At Breeze and Wyles we offer a fixed fee divorce package at a cost of £499.99 inclusive of VAT plus the Court fee of £550.00. Our service enables you to be fully represented by a qualified specialist lawyer throughout your straightforward undefended divorce for a one-off fixed fee payment. Our experienced family lawyers will fully explain the divorce process to you and deal with any concerns or queries you may have. They will take responsibility for the preparation of all relevant forms and will deal with the Court on your behalf throughout the entire matter.

Breeze and Wyles are also able to offer expert advice in respect of all issues surrounding divorce or a relationship break up such as advice on financial settlements as well as matters relating to children.

Lisa Honey is a family solicitor at Breeze and Wyles Ltd specializing in family law and deals with matters covering a range of issues including divorce and financial settlements, separation following the breakdown of a relationship, children matters and declarations of trust. Lisa is also an honorary solicitor providing advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cheshunt.

Website: www.firstfordivorce.co.uk

Email: lisa.honey@breezeandwyles.co.uk

Tel: 01992 558 411


Rising costs of divorce encourage couples to ‘nest’ together

Splitting couples are facing a further rise in the cost of divorce with a big increase in court fees, and many are facing up to the challenge of asset-sharing and high property prices by turning to novel solutions to deal with the change.

One of the new approaches to parenting after divorce is what’s being called the bird’s nest approach, a shared custody arrangement where the children stay at home and parents move around them, as depicted recently by TV programmes The Affair and Transparent.

The emphasis in bird’s nesting is on parents doing the moving, and taking the inconvenience, rather than expecting children to do so.  Parents benefit by needing to have only one property large enough for the whole family.  The arrangements are often developed through mediation and are being supported by the Family Courts, reflecting the general shift in attitude away from sole custody to shared parenting.

Whether or not couples opt for family-friendly practices such as bird’s nesting, they will still be affected by the recent jump in the cost of applying to the courts for a divorce. The 34% rise from £410 to £550 has been introduced by the Ministry of Justice to help pay for the overall cost of administering justice.  And while many family lawyers have complained that the rise is unjustified, it’s just one of a series of changes that are pushing up the cost of getting divorced.

Director, Collaborative Lawyer and Family Law Arbitrator Olive McCarthy MCIarb of Hertford based solicitors Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Ltd explained: “This is a big jump in the cost of going to court for a divorce. That may be manageable for the majority of couples, but what is less easy to control is overall costs.  We’ve seen big cuts in legal aid for divorcing couples, and as a result some are trying to manage their own route through the courts, which they may find to be a major challenge.  Others may find it difficult to contain overall costs if an ex-spouse is set on fighting, rather than agreeing.  Obviously, the aim should be a fair and reasonable outcome and that usually involves finding some middle ground.”

“That’s where mediation can make a big difference,” she added. “Putting children first is the most important thing for any couple.  What is most important is being open to collaborative mediation, as that can help bring a couple together to achieve a positive outcome for everyone, through negotiation.”

In recent years, some divorcing couples have used up the bulk, or even all, of the assets under dispute due to the costs involved in their court battles. For example, in the case of Piglowska v Piglowski, the couple spent more than £128,000 fighting over a joint asset pot of £127,400; or the 2008 case of KSO v MJO & Ors, where costs consumed assets worth more than £800,000, forcing the husband to declare himself bankrupt.  In a more recent 2014 case, a couple spent nearly £1m fighting their case, representing almost a third of their joint assets of £3m, accumulated over an 18-year marriage.

The UK may also find itself following another US-led trend towards loan-funded divorce. Specialist lenders are increasingly being used to fund divorce proceedings, where one or both of the divorcing couple cannot realise assets to pay for the legal costs.  In the UK, some firms have already moved into the market, with lending currently being offered for up to around one third of the expected divorce settlement.

ENDS
Web site content note: 

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Divorce Court fees to rise Monday 21st March 2016

From Monday 21st March 2016 the Court fee for divorce cases will rise from £410.00 to £550.00. What does this mean for individuals? For couples who have already received confirmation from the Court that their divorce petition has been issued, the increase should have no effect as the lower fee of £410.00 would have already been paid. However any party wishing to issue divorce proceedings from 21st March 2016 onwards will need to pay the increased Court fee of £550.00, an increase of £140.00. The proposals were first proposed in July 2015 but no date was set for the increase to take effect. However, Law firms began receiving correspondence over the last week advising that the increase will take effect from next Monday which leaves little time to notify clients. Although there is a possibility of applying for the fee to be waived if the applicant is on a low income, there is a concern that the increase in fees will result in the process of divorce becoming unaffordable to many.

At Breeze and Wyles we offer a fixed fee divorce package at a cost of £499.99 inclusive of VAT plus the Court fee of £550.00. Our service enables you to be fully represented by a qualified specialist lawyer throughout your straightforward undefended divorce for a one-off fixed fee payment. Our experienced family lawyers will fully explain the divorce process to you and deal with any concerns or queries you may have. They will take responsibility for the preparation of all relevant forms and will deal with the Court on your behalf throughout the entire matter.

Breeze and Wyles are also able to offer expert advice in respect of all issues surrounding divorce or a relationship break up such as advice on financial settlements as well as matters relating to children.

Lisa Honey is a family solicitor at Breeze and Wyles Ltd specialising in family law and deals with matters covering a range of issues including divorce and financial settlements, separation following the breakdown of a relationship, children matters and declarations of trust. Lisa is also an honorary solicitor providing advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cheshunt.    

Website: www.firstfordivorce.co.uk

Email: lisa.honey@breezeandwyles.co.uk

Tel: 01992 558 411