Family Law Solicitors – Specialist Legal Advice for Separating Couples
After your divorce or separation there are likely to be many issues which will need to be resolved so that you can continue with your life. This post is all about some of the things separating couples need to think about, and how our separation solicitors can help with providing with the right specialist legal advice.
Separating and worried about your legal position? We offer a FREE initial phone call and FREE 30 minute appointment for all aspects of family law.
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Common law marriage?
It’s a myth. Pure and simple. It just doesn’t exist – despite the fact that recent market research discovered that a remarkable two in three couples believed “common law marriage“ did exist and gave them automatic legal rights.
In reality, living together does not automatically give you any legal status. And yet more more people do cohabit – which has serious implications for their future financial security.
Living together – the risks caused by separation
When a couple separates after living together, there are plenty of practical and legal implications.
• Who ends up with your home whether you own or rent if you split up?
• If you are not married but are renting, and your name is not on the lease will you be homeless if you separate?
• If you are an unmarried father do you actually have any legal rights over your own children?
It always amazes our family lawyers how few people living together have actually taken any legal advice on their legal position from a specialist family solicitor.
In all likelihood, the most valuable asset you and your ex-partner share will be your property. It is therefore crucial that you are organised about property arrangements.
Following a relationship breakdown, you may decide to separate – in which case you will need to decide which of you should remain in the family home – and if they can afford to do so. Alternatively, you may decide jointly to sell the house and split the equity after separation.
Living alone as the only adult in the household will bring a 25% discount in council tax – so you need to inform your local council.
There are also various administrative tasks such as phoning utility companies to transfer accounts, altering insurance policies and making sure that mail is redirected to the correct address.
If the home was jointly owned by you and your ex-partner, you will need to decide if you are going to keep it in joint names, or if not who the property title is transferred to and on what terms. Remember that in doing so, you will need to secure permission from the mortgage lender. You will probably also need to make sure that there are no mortgage payments due.
If the property was rented, you must check the end date of the tenancy and who it will be transferred to. Again, you should ensure that there are no rent payments due.
Click here to read more about Joint Property Ownership Disputes and the differences between joint tenancy and tenancy in common
Separation and your Children
When separating, the most important thing to do is minimise the stress and anxiety for your children. That’s never easy. It’s a tough time for everyone.
However, it is really important for you, your ex-partner and your children to know who the children will live with, and for how long.
Recently there has been a significant move towards encouraging what is known as ‘co-parenting’. The principle of this is both shared and cooperative parenting The Family Courts have been very supportive of this approach. A written co-parenting agreement often helps to make everything crystal clear to both parties.
You and your ex-partner will also need to come to a decision about any maintenance payments needed to take care of the children. The children’s school, social worker and GP should also be made aware of the changes at home.
Click here to find out more about the law and children
Divorce Finances and Separating Couples
There are several financial implications of separation because the chances are that your finances have become intertwined with your ex-partner’s finances to some degree. For example, it is likely that you will have some joint bank or building society accounts which you will no longer wish to share.
Separation will also affect the benefit you receive because you will no longer be living as a couple. The fact that you do not have the support of your partner’s wage may mean that you become eligible for other benefits.
You will also have to decide with your ex-partner how you will pay off any existing debts which you may have run up.
Click here to read more about divorce and financial arrangements
What is a separation agreement?
Whether or not your separation is going to be permanent or not, you might want to consider a separation agreement.
This is a legal document (and sometimes referred to as a deed of separation) which records any arrangements which you have both agreed upon. It’s surprising how often people misunderstand each other – so getting it clear and in writing, often really helps – and can play a significant part in keeping the temperature of the bust up under control.
What should it contain? That really depends on your circumstances. But it’s worth considering details of the following:
• any initial financial agreement you have both come to
• what will happen to the family home- and who is going to pay the rent or the mortgage
• any agreed child maintenance
• arrangements for the children – including where they will be living and levels of contact with both parents.
Click here to read more about separation agreements
If you have your ex partner listed as a beneficiary on your pension or your will, then you will probably want that to change that – which is likely to involve a new will.
Our 12 strong private client team can help with your will.
Click here to read more about making or updating your will
Separated and getting divorced can I change the locks on our home?
It is important to know the answer to this question, even if you are not planning on going through a divorce.
Whoever owns the property has a right to enter it. If you both own the property then your ex-partner still has the right to enter your home.
Click here to read more about Joint Property Ownership Disputes
When can you change the locks?
- You have been threatened or intimidated
- Your partner has physically assaulted you in some way
- You have got a Court injunction against your partner, known as an Occupation Order. This order takes away their right to access your house
If the property is just in your name, you may be able to change the locks. However, your ex-partner may be able to apply for a Court Order to allow their re-entry to the property.
In cases of jointly-owned property, your former partner does have the right to come back into the property unless you have a Court Order to stop him or her from doing so.
Click here to find out more about how our Domestic Violence Solicitors can help you.
Getting divorced – need specialist solicitors?
Where possible, it is a good idea to try and be reasonable with each other and get through your divorce amicably, though sadly that’s simply not possible for all separating couples. For example, if your partner poses no threat to you it may be best to let them in the house if they want to collect some of their possessions. This reasonable behaviour may spread to other parts of the divorce.
Legal Advice for Separating Couples – contact our specialist Separation Solicitors now
To find how our Family Law Solicitors can help, get in touch with us today:
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