• Doncaster

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  • Retford

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  • Worksop

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  • Clowne

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  • Rotherham

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Latest News
September 19th, 2018

Making arrangements after a diagnosis of dementia

Man discusses medical issues with doctorWhen a diagnosis of dementia is confirmed, you will have to make many decisions about the future. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you’ll get the type of healthcare you want and that people who you love and trust have a say in your welfare. If you leave the paperwork until later you may be considered unfit, and decisions could be made on your behalf that you don’t agree with. This is why it’s important to contact an elderly care solicitor as soon as possible to help you make the correct arrangements.

Here we outline some healthcare and legal matters you should consider after being diagnosed with dementia.

Care needs assessment

Some people with dementia may be eligible for free or low-cost care provided by their local authority. To find out if you’re eligible, you must first have a care needs assessment. These can be arranged by contacting the social services department at your local council or having someone contact them on your behalf. They will send a list of questions in advance, and you will usually have a few days to consider what type of care you need around the house. You can be as detailed as you wish. During the assessment, a social worker or another council official will ask you how you are managing with everyday tasks and document what you struggle with.

If your assessment concludes that you need care, there will then be a financial assessment to see if the council should cover some or all of the costs. Together, these assessments will help you understand how much your care is likely to cost and how much assistance you can get. In turn, this may affect other decisions you make about your finances.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your care needs assessment, you have the right to complain to the council. For example, you may think they underestimated the amount of help you need or overvalued your assets. It’s advisable to get independent legal advice before challenging a decision so that the right steps can be taken.

Advance decisions (Living Will)

An advance decision is a document which specifies what kind of care or treatment you would like to receive (or reject) in the future. It should describe the circumstances under which certain treatments should be given or refused: for example, you might specify what should happen if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Although you can write your own advance decision, it’s best to consult a solicitor to ensure there are no errors. Your advance decision will only be legally binding if it meets the following criteria:

  • The document must be valid, which means the advance decision was written when you had mental capacity.
  • The requests must be applicable. The wording should be clear, and the correct medical terms should be used for conditions and treatments.
  • When writing the advance decision, you must be aware of the consequences of refusing treatment if that is your request.
  • If your advance decision relates to life-saving treatment, it must be signed and witnessed by someone who would not benefit from your death, such as your solicitor.

Will and Testament

It’s still possible to write your Will after being diagnosed with dementia, provided you are mentally capable. This can be proven by including documentation from a medical professional confirming your mental state, preventing it from being contested after you pass away. If you get a solicitor to write your Will, you also eliminate the possibility of making small errors which might otherwise invalidate the whole document.

Lasting Power of Attorney

As dementia progresses, it’s likely that you eventually won’t be able to make decisions for yourself. You can officially appoint one or more people to make decisions for you in the future; this is called making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), and it means the people responsible for your care and finances are people who you trust and have chosen for yourself. When you make your LPA you must be regarded as having mental capacity, so the decision should be made as soon as possible after a diagnosis of dementia has been confirmed.

You can appoint an attorney to handle your health and care decisions, your financial decisions, or both. As long as your attorney is over 18 they can be anyone you trust, such as your partner, your child, a friend or your solicitor. Most importantly you should choose someone who is responsible and will act in your best interests.

If you are concerned that your attorney may at some point also become unable to make their own decisions, you can specify who should take over from them.

Foys, the elderly care solicitors

At Foys Solicitors, we know that every person with dementia is different and that there is no one way of coping with dementia. Your individual care needs and your wishes should be documented so that you can focus on yourself and your loved ones rather than worry about what will happen in the future.

Our services are always tailored to the individual, and we will help you recognise what options are available to you – and we’ll do our best to make sure you understand the legal process by explaining everything without confusing jargon.

If you need legal advice regarding any aspects of dementia, use our Online Form to get in touch. Alternatively, contact your local Foys Solicitors office:

Doncaster – 01302 327 136
Retford – 01777 703 100
Worksop – 01909 500 511
Clowne – 01246 810 050
Rotherham – 01709 375 561
Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

If you found this interesting, you might also like:

September 12th, 2018

The importance of writing a will

Last Will and Testament - letter with wax sealA will or testament is a legal document designating how and to whom your property will be distributed to upon your death. In your will, you can name one or more persons as an executor to manage the estate until it can be properly distributed to whomever the will designates. The terms will and testament are interchangeable, with both referring to all types of property (both real and personal). In some cases a will can create a trust with the condition of only being accessible upon the death of the testator (the creator of the will).

Creating a will

To create a will, you must be over the age of majority (18) and have testamentary capacity (be of a sound mind). As life can be a series of unpredictable events, creating a will early helps to reduce any risk of interference from unfortunate events. The first step of creating a will is to revoke all previous wills and confirm yourself as the maker of the will. Your will must be signed and dated, usually in the presence of at least two witnesses that are not beneficiaries, and the signature must be placed at the end (anything written after the signature will be ignored).

The importance of these steps cannot be understated, since a will can be ignored or invalidated if the appropriate procedures are not followed. As is the case with many legal documents it’s best to seek the help of a family law solicitor, particularly if your will has specific requests, which can be complicated and tricky to write.

At Foys, our family law solicitors offer a competitive fixed fee for standard wills and also special service for bespoke wills for residents across Doncaster, Retford, Worksop, Clowne, Rotherham, Waterthorpe and Chapeltown.

The law of intestacy

When someone dies without a will, the property of the deceased is distributed under the laws of intestacy. All personal belongings and property, along with the first £250,000 of the estate, are inherited by the closest living married or civil partner (including those that have split informally but not divorced). The remaining estate is then split, half going to the civil or married partner and half divided between any children. Intestacy laws concern only the property of the deceased, and do not cover any other issues arising from the death itself.

Probate

Probate is a process that begins with proving a will to be valid in a court of law. Once this is done probate is granted to the executor, who then has permission to begin distributing inherited property according to the wishes set out in the will. A Grant of Probate also turns the will into a legal instrument that can be used in court if necessary. It can be a complex process that falls largely upon the executor of the will.

Why write a will?

While intestacy laws do exist, often they can lead to undesirable outcomes. Any of your children born under marriage are entitled to an equal share of the remainder of the property, including those from previous partners you are no longer with. Furthermore the loss of a parent figure can throw many families into immense doubt as to the future of their children, something that intestacy does nothing to alleviate. In fact it can make things worse considering the children often receive a smaller share compared to the partners, and they are dependent on whoever has inherited the majority of the estate.

Wills depend upon the testator being of sound mind and under his or her own influence, something that becomes increasingly less certain with time. While many wish to put off writing a will until the last moment, doing so can increase the chances of you being unable to when the time comes.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is tax on the estate of the deceased. You don’t pay this if the value of your estate is below a £325,000 threshold, and any assets passed on to your spouse or civil partner are exempt from the tax. However, if you do not fulfil either of those criteria, the standard tax rate is 40% charged on everything above the threshold. This can add up to a substantial amount, and crucially if the estate is distributed through intestacy law then it is the children who have to pay the inheritance tax. A will can allow you to direct your estate and reduce the amount of inheritance tax paid. It’s a simple decision but with the tax rate so high it can save your children and relatives both a lot of money and a great deal of stress dealing with it.

Contact the family law solicitors at Foys to create your will

At Foys, our family law solicitors have years of solid experience helping residents across the UK with preparing wills, obtaining grant of probate, distributing a deceased’s estate and advising and preparing trust deeds.

Contact your local Foys Solicitors office:

Doncaster – 01302 327 136
Retford – 01777 703 100
Worksop – 01909 500 511
Clowne – 01246 810 050
Rotherham – 01709 375 561
Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

September 6th, 2018

Bereavement rights for cohabiting couples

 lawyer at a desk looking at legal documents

Belfast woman wins landmark case

Siobhan McLoughlin, from Belfast, had lived together with her partner John Adams for 23 years when he passed away in 2014. Together they had four children, aged 19, 17, 13 and 11 at the time of their father’s death. As Adams had supported her during the time they lived together, McLoughlin decided to apply for bereavement payment and widowed parent’s allowance (WPA) to help with living costs for her and the children. Unfortunately, her claim was refused by the Northern Ireland Department of Communities as both bereavement payment and WPA are only available to partners who are married or in a civil partnership.

What followed was a lengthy process which saw the High Court and the Court of Appeal side with the government. However, when the case came to the Supreme Court, it was ruled that the government had breached McLoughlin’s rights under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Lady Hale, the current President of the Supreme Court of the UK, delivered the majority of a four-to-one decision and noted that the children in this case were disadvantaged due to how the UK handles bereavement benefits. She emphasised that the primary consideration should be the interests of the children.

Will this case change the law?

Although this case relates to Northern Ireland, the decision is likely to affect the rest of the UK in the future. In the meantime, the Department for Work and Pensions has stated that the ruling doesn’t change the current eligibility rules for receiving bereavement benefits, meaning the benefits are paid only to people who are married or in a civil partnership.

The upshot of this is, the ruling will not immediately change the situation for other bereaved partners in the UK who have been refused benefits. The justices of the Supreme Court reached their decision only after carefully considering McLoughlin’s specific circumstances, such as the fact that Adams had contributed enough National Insurance during his life for his partner to be eligible for the benefit had they been married.

The Childhood Bereavement Network estimates that around 2,000 families a year face issues similar to what McLoughlin has been dealing with. It’s now up to Parliament to decide if the system should be changed to reflect modern family structures. In 2017 there were over 1.2 million cohabiting couple families with dependent children in the UK, and this type of family dynamic is becoming more common every year. Unless the law is changed, many grieving partners and their children will have to go through the stressful process of taking their case to court if they want bereavement benefits. For some people, this may just prove too difficult.

Margaret Heathcote, Chair of Resolution – an association of over 6,500 Family Law professionals – commented after the ruling:

“Resolution has long called for reform of the law to fairly address cohabitants’ needs on the death of a partner, and with 80% of the public agreeing that cohabiting couples need greater legal protection, the government must act now to put in place at a minimum basic rights for these couples.”

Foys Solicitors – your local Family Law experts

At Foys Solicitors, we understand that every relationship is different, and that marriage does not suit everyone. However, if you are concerned about how your current relationship situation might affect your family in the future, call us today. Our solicitors specialising in all aspects of Family Law can advise you on any legal concerns surrounding cohabitation, marriage and civil partnerships.

For advice on Family Law, bereavement benefits and more, contact your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

September 4th, 2018

Senior Partner Andrew Firth celebrates 30 years with Foys Solicitors

Andrew Firth in 1987 and now

Foys Solicitors are delighted to announce that this September, our Senior Partner Andrew Firth will have completed his 30th year with us.

Andrew joined Foys Solicitors in 1987, the same year that we opened our Rotherham office. Only a year later he was made Partner at ‘Foy & Co’ as we were known back then.

For those who struggle to remember those days, here are some significant events from ‘87:

  • Margaret Thatcher elected as Prime Minister for the 3rd time
  • The first episode of the Simpsons aired on TV
  • Rick Astley topped the charts with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’
  • Wall Street suffered the infamous Black Monday
  • Peter Beardsley’s transfer from Newcastle United to Liverpool set a national record at £1.9 million – quite different from the transfers we see today…

Of course, for us, one of the most significant events was Andrew joining us here at Foys. We’re grateful for his invaluable expertise and all the hard work he has done over the years for his clients and colleagues.

Thank you, Andrew!

August 29th, 2018

Cohabitation: What are your rights?

a family of a man, woman and two children hugging and smiling

The number of cohabiting couples in the UK has been steadily rising in the last two decades, and the number of cohabiting couples with children has more than doubled since 1996. However, there have been almost no changes in how the law treats couples who are living together but are not in a marriage or civil partnership. In the event that the partnership breaks down, agreeing on issues relating to your children, finances and property can lead to serious difficulties for a cohabiting couple as legally they are not obliged to support each other financially.

What about common law marriage?

You may have heard a phrase like ‘common law marriage’ used before, and many people assume this applies to a cohabiting couple, granting them similar rights to a married couple after living together for a significant period of time. In reality, there is no such thing as common law marriage, and terms like ‘common law spouse’ have no legal definition. Your rights as a cohabiting partner are not the same as that of a married partner, and you will not have much legal protection if your relationship ends. For example, you will not have a claim to property unless your name is on the deeds, and you may not get a say in your child’s upbringing.

The only solution for couples who live together to get legal protection in case of a relationship breakdown is to marry or enter into a partnership – or write up a cohabitation agreement, also known as a living together agreement. Such an agreement can help resolve a lot of the issues which may otherwise arise during relationship problems or a split.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is, for the most part, a record of what you own and how everything will be shared or divided. All couples who live together but aren’t married can benefit from such an agreement, even if they have only been together for a short time. When couples split up, it can become difficult to remember who purchased what, who has contributed more towards the rent or mortgage, and there may be disagreements about who will continue living at the property. It can also be hard to prove which personal or sentimental items belong to which partner. In the case of a cohabitation agreement, these matters would already be clearly defined.

Signing a cohabitation agreement can be as romantic as a married couple signing a marriage certificate during a wedding ceremony. In a similar way, committing yourselves as a cohabiting couple on paper is a significant moment. It’s practical too, as it protects your rights as it would benefit a married couple, enabling you to reduce conflict and stress should some unfortunate events happen in the future.

What to include in your agreement

Your cohabitation agreement should clearly define who owns what in the home and how the property is split. Contents, personal belongings, bank accounts, debts and major or joint purchases should all be included. You should be clear about who will continue living at the property if the relationship ends; this is particularly important if you have children. You will also need to include details about any additional financial support that will be provided for your children beyond basic legal requirements.

The cohabitation agreement does not have to just be about what happens in the event of a breakdown – it can also define how your finances work as a couple, such as who pays for particular household expenses and how you want to split joint bank accounts. This can help avoid general arguments and make sure both of you know exactly what your responsibilities are on a day-to-day basis.

Call us today

At Foys Solicitors, we understand that every relationship is different, and that marriage is not the best current option for many couples. We have solicitors experienced in all aspects of Family Law and can help you construct a cohabitation agreement that suits everyone, securing your family’s future.

If you are looking to write a cohabitation agreement – contact us using our Quick Online Form, or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

August 22nd, 2018

How mediation can help your family during a divorce

For separating couples, court can be a daunting prospect, especially due to the costs and time taken up by court proceedings. On the other hand, the UK court system is also overwhelmed by the volume of civil cases, which is why divorce mediation has been a legal requirement since 2014.

Couples seeking a divorce have to attend an initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before going to court as it aims to help both parties to agree on issues relating to their children, finances and property.

The mediation process itself will not issue a divorce, but a judge may adjourn a case if the divorcing partners haven’t tried mediation first, except under particular circumstances such as where domestic abuse is involved.

The process of divorce mediation involves a neutral third party known as a Mediator facilitating discussions, helping both partners come to a mutual agreement. Mediation costs less than court and usually takes less time as the schedule is decided upon by the people taking part.

What does a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting involve?

The first mediation meeting, whether it’s referred to as a MIAM or not, will follow a fairly standard procedure. You don’t have to see your former partner if you don’t want to; you can be in separate rooms or attend separate meetings if that’s easier. Even if you are both present at the same time, you may each have some time to spend alone with the mediator to ensure neither person is being pressured or forced into mediation.

During the meeting, your mediator will explain to you how the process works and how they can help you to make arrangements pertaining to your children, finances and property, as well as the costs involved in the event that you are not eligible for free mediation and Legal Aid.

Although mediation does not happen in court, it is based in law and so everyone involved is required to be completely truthful about assets, finances and other matters. Agreements made in mediation are not in themselves legally binding, but they can be made into a consent order which your mediator can help you arrange.

Divorce mediation options available

Every family is unique, and so there is no one single way to arrange a divorce mediation. Depending on how difficult the situation is, you may consider:

  • Sole mediation – Where one mediator attends the meetings
  • Co-mediation – Two mediators are present, each representing one person
  • Shuttle mediation – If the two parties don’t wish to see each other, they can be in separate rooms with a mediator moving back and forth
  • Child-inclusive mediation – Children aged 10 and above have the right to be included in the mediation process. Children under 10 may not be present during the mediation process, but with their consent, a specialist can have a meeting with them to note their wishes. These will then be communicated to the parents.

The purpose of a divorce mediation is to provide you with a safe, calm, neutral place to discuss your issues with your former partner and work out a realistic plan for the future. It’s common for people to struggle with the process, which is why mediators will do their utmost to reduce conflict and take everyone’s wishes into account.

What if divorce mediation doesn’t work?

There are people who believe that divorce mediation before court action is a waste of time, but remember, the judge is likely to ask you to try mediation first.

Of course, it’s possible that mediation will not resolve all the issues surrounding your case, or that after the first meeting it’s obvious you will need to try other avenues. Under these circumstances, your mediator will sign a court form confirming that you’ve tried mediation without success. However, before you head straight to court, you can still consider other possibilities, such as collaborative law or arbitration – your solicitor will be able to advise you whether this is likely to help.

If your former partner simply refuses to attend a MIAM, you can still arrange one for yourself. This will help prove to the court that you have tried everything to resolve important issues.

Family mediation with Foys Solicitors

Foys have years of experience helping families and couples with their legal issues. On our team, we have dedicated Family Law solicitors and Family Mediation Council accredited meditators. Our competitive hourly rate and fixed fees make divorce mediation a cost-effective option to reach mutually agreeable solutions before going to court and formalising the divorce procedure – and if needed, you can also retain a solicitor with Foys at a later date.

If you are facing separation, dissolution or divorce – contact Foys Solicitors today for a free initial consultation.

Alternatively, contact your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

For more information on this subject, take a look at our previous posts on Family and Children Law:

August 21st, 2018

Foys Solicitors are taking part in Will Month this September to support Sheffield Hospitals Charity

foys solicitors logo sheffield hospitals charity logo

Whether you want to leave your savings to an animal charity when you pass on, give family heirlooms to your children or your car to your nephew, a final Will and Testament will be necessary to ensure your wishes take effect. Many people in the UK neglect to make a Will because they either assume they don’t need one, or that it’s too expensive – unfortunately, this means dividing their estate will be much more complicated, and their final wishes may not be taken into account.

If you’ve put off drafting your Will, or you need to make changes to the one you currently have, the Sheffield offices of Foys Solicitors are offering a free Will writing service during the month of September. In return, we ask that you make a minimum suggested donation to Sheffield Hospitals Charity, who support Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with additional patient and family support, research, staff development and more. The support of donors is vital to keep the charity running, so the suggested minimum donations are:

  • Standard Simple Will – £95
  • Simple Mirror Image Wills – £135
  • Preparing a Codicil to an existing Will – £75

Your donation will make a big difference to patients and their families. Sheffield Hospitals Charity spends over £2.5 million a year on improving care and treatment at NHS hospitals and relies on donations from the public.

Remember, you’re never too young to make a Will. If you’re living with your partner, if you have a house, if you have a business or if you have children – making your final wishes clear can ensure a better future for your loved ones.

Call Foys Solicitors today

Whether your current Will needs updating, or you have been thinking for a while about writing one, this September is your opportunity to get a Will and support a great Sheffield charity at the same time. At Foys Solicitors, our Wills and Probate specialists can help you draft a Will to suit your needs and give you peace of mind.

To participate in Will Month for Sheffield Hospital’s Charity, call Foys Solicitors:

Sheffield Chapeltown – 0114 246 7609
Sheffield Crystal Peaks – 0114 251 1702

and quote ‘Sheffield Hospitals Charity Will Month’.

August 15th, 2018

What to do when legal matters involve children

Resolving complex legal matters can take a long time, and when it involves your family it can also take a toll on relationships. For children, this time will be confusing and upsetting, and therefore there are special considerations when it comes to legal procedures that involve children and young families. The safety and welfare of a child are always of greatest importance regardless of circumstance, which is why you need a solicitor who is qualified to handle cases of Children Law.

What are the different legal matters that concern children?

In some cases, legal matters involving children are about the child themselves, such as adoption, social services concerns, legal guardianship, and name changes. Whereas older children should be made a part of the conversation – especially if it will affect them – younger children will struggle to understand the proceedings. Despite this, they should be made aware of any changes to their daily lifestyle. If they will be moving to a new house or going to a new school, they should be informed and given assistance in order to cope with the changes.

In other cases, children may be indirectly involved in legal disputes, such as divorce. Separation and divorce proceedings can be lengthy and complicated, often leading to people getting caught up in particular legal and financial matters and forgetting the well-being of the children involved. Young children may not understand the circumstances, while older children might struggle with adjusting to a new school or making new friends. By getting professional advice early these issues can be dealt with effectively, and tools like mediation can help with resolving conflicts. A specialist family lawyer will be familiar with how divorce can affect a whole family, and subsequently arrange the appropriate help.

Children Law Accreditation and Resolution Accreditation

When looking for a solicitor to represent a child (or handle a case involving one), it’s important to choose an accredited professional experienced in such cases. The Law Society’s Children Law Accreditation covers all children law work and is only given to solicitors who have proven a high level of competency and experience in their field. Another organisation that offers accreditation is Resolution, a community of family law professionals that focuses on mediation.

When choosing an accredited professional to represent you, you can be certain that they will have up-to-date specialist knowledge and previous experience handling similar situations.

Foys – the Family Solicitors

If you are looking for a family lawyer or a lawyer to represent a child, Foys Solicitors has the expertise you need. On our team, you will find:

  • Advanced members of the Law Society Family Panel
  • Resolution members and accredited specialists
  • Adult and children representatives on the Law Society Children Panel
  • A collaborative family lawyer

Our Children and Family Law experts can advise you and your family on what your options are and work on finding the best solution. Most importantly, we always put the welfare of children first.

Foys Solicitors can offer a range of competitive fixed fees (starting from just £200, including VAT) to provide you and your family with peace of mind. We also offer legal aid wherever possible, which is subject to eligibility criteria set out by the Legal Aid Agency.

Your initial consultation with us is free of charge – so call Foys Solicitors today to find out more about our family and children law services:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

August 9th, 2018

Associate Solicitor Peter Jones re-accredited to Resolution panel of specialists

Foys Solicitors can announce that our associate solicitor Peter Jones, based in our Worksop office, has been re-accredited to the Resolution panel of specialists, with specialisms in Children Law (private proceedings) and complex financial and property matters.

Resolution, formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), is an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and professionals in England and Wales. Aside from campaigning for improvements to the family justice system, Resolution also promote a constructive and considerate approach to matters of family law.

Resolution Specialists are members who have demonstrated skill and expertise through a rigorous assessment of their knowledge and abilities. They must have practiced family law for a considerable time, be up-to-date with current practice, and have detailed knowledge and expertise in at least two specialist areas of family law.

When he’s not at work, Peter enjoys spending time with his own family – including the dog – and he’s a season ticket holder for Preston North End FC.

Here at Foys we are delighted that Resolution recognises Peter’s hard work.

Congratulations!

August 8th, 2018

Family Law concerns: Separation and Divorce

Couples arguingLiving happily ever after isn’t a myth but it is a challenge, particularly in today’s complex world where partners may juggle demanding careers, come under financial pressure, or face an extraordinary circumstance. They are just a few of many situations which can lead to a separation or divorce, or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

When a separation is inevitable, couples looking to divorce need to sort out important legal issues such as dividing money and property, making arrangement for the children and agreeing on child maintenance payments.

Like with any legal matter, you should consult a family solicitor who is able to guide you through a range of options. Divorce through the courts is not the only option; for some families, separation or collaborative law might be more suitable.

Separation

If you are married but think it’s time to live apart, you may find it helpful to enter into a separation agreement. This can function temporarily or long-term as it lays out the financial responsibilities of you and your partner, such as who pays the mortgage or childcare costs. For many couples, separation is a necessary precursor to divorce, as you have to live apart for at least two years before divorcing in cases where neither person is at ‘fault’. It will also give you time to reassess the relationship and take a break from tension or arguments. Regardless of the reasons for a separation, a clear legal agreement can make the split easier to handle and help everyone involved prepare for the future.

Divorce

Unlike many other countries, the United Kingdom does not allow what is called ‘no-fault’ divorce; that is, a divorce where both parties agree they want to end the marriage for personal or emotional reasons. Divorce or dissolution can only be granted if you have been married or in a civil partnership for at least a year, and only under one of the following circumstances:

  • Unreasonable behaviour (such as violence or substance abuse)
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Both parties want a divorce and have lived apart for two years
  • One person wants a divorce, and the couple have lived apart for five years

Regardless of the situation, the process of divorce is quite long and often expensive. Through the courts it can easily take 6-12 months to finalise everything, and fees for the court as well as the paperwork apply – this can exceed £800 in England. A less costly and more time-effective solution could be to settle outside of the court.

Settling divorce outside the courts

Not all divorce cases need to be taken to court. If both you and your partner agree to split, divorce may be completed through the process of Collaborative Law by working with lawyers and mediators to resolve any potential financial and family issues. Family consultants, children specialists and accountants can be brought in to make sure you have complete support. Accompanied by representatives, you and your partner will meet to discuss all aspects of the case thoroughly until an agreement is reached; this is usually done over 2-5 sessions, depending on the complexity of the case. The collaborative process is a good solution for many people, not least because the costs are generally much lower than if you were to go through the courts. It can also be adapted to a schedule that suits the parties involved, avoiding inconvenient court dates.

How Foys can help

A separation or divorce often brings feelings of stress, anger, and frustration to the surface. Planning for the future is difficult when you are splitting up a house full of belongings, and when children are involved it can be difficult to come to an agreement regarding where they will live, and who will care for them on a day-to-day basis. With the help of a solicitor specialising in family law, you can have a better assessment of the situation and learn what options are available. At Foys, our family law solicitors are accredited by the Law Society, and our Resolution-accredited family lawyers are qualified to handle all aspects of divorce, dissolution and separation.

To find out more about how our solicitors can help you and your family, get in touch with us today by filling in our Online Form, or calling your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

For more information on this subject, take a look at our previous posts: