Posted March 14th, 2013
Cuts to the legal aid budget that come in next month are going to leave many vulnerable families deprived of vital services that only professionals can supply.
I can’t really understand where the government is coming from on this one. Often when cuts are imposed there will be some alternative offered. Yet in this instance the legislation comes in and will leave many people in difficult situations with nowhere to turn; and let’s not forget that there will obviously be a lot of children caught in the midst of all this. So much for the welfare of the child is paramount.
One reputable firm of solicitors – Stephensons, the largest family law team in the North West – are making provisions to help those that are in a vulnerable position. The help on offer to those families whether they may be divorcing, parents in adoption cases or parents trying to resolve contact disputes will include a fixed fee service and a flexible ‘pay as you go’ service. Both services will ensure that, at the very least those facing having to pay for their legal repressentation will know where they stand from a cost perspective.
I also offer a free 30 minute consultation and have a lot of experience in helping people work through their finances on divorce whether that is helping you get a fair settlement or implementing a pension sharing order. If you feel that you may be affected by the changes in legal aid then why not get in touch for a free 30 minute, no obligation consultation.
Posted March 4th, 2013
Not a good idea. Of course it may seem unfair to have to declare assets that were acquired before you got married; or assets that were solely paid for by you during the marriage, but the fact is if you aren’t up front about your finances during divorce then you are risking a spell in prison.
According to a survey by Co-operative Legal Services, 25% of those who go through divorce will hide aspects of their finances from their soon to be ex-partner. And here’s the really surprising thing about this survey – the survey was conducted online and involved around 800 divorcees and it found that women are more likely to conceal money and possessions during a divorce.
From a little research on the good ol’ worldly wide web, it looks like most divorces are initiated by women. Stats abound from anything between 55% and 91%. So what are we to glean from this? It does make for depressing reading. You could take the view that women view marriage purely as a move to make financial gain. Whereas I’ve no doubt that it’s true for some, it surely can’t be true for anything more than a minority. That would be highly cynical.
I think it points more to the fact that many people marry the wrong person and do it too quickly; and as it is often the mother whom the children will live with, you may imagine that she may feel justified in hiding financial assets from an estranged spouse. After all, she’s only doing it for the kids. Morally justifiable it may be, but it is illegal and you are putting yourself in contempt of court if you do this. The whole point of settlements is to make sure that both sides have the chance to put their lives back on track. The best way to ensure that there is a fair outcome is to be completely open and honest. If you’re made an offer you aren’t happy with then you don’t have to accept it. On the other hand if you’re made an offer that you don’t know if you should accept or you want help with negotiating then get in touch.
I am a Resolution Accredited IFA and as such I am in a position to help you get a fair settlement without risking prison!
Posted March 1st, 2013
You can’t get divorced unless you get married. Aside from stating the obvious, I’m underlining the point that these days marriage seems little more than a precursor to divorce. It was only within the last week that I heard an acquaintance remark about how much more fun his divorce is compared to his marriage.
Granted, there is maybe a little relief when it all becomes absolute, but this rising trend that divorce is the main course after the entre of marriage is eroding at society. That sounds sweeping, but marriage just doesn’t seem to mean what it used to.
For better or worse is a redundant term as couples seem to run to divorce solicitors at the merest hint that they have actually married another human being just as flawed as they are. For better or slightly worse than better may be more apt.
When nothing but divorce will do though and there is no salvaging the wreckage of supposed wedded harmony, the last thing you need on top of the stress are spiralling costs and poor quality representation:
BBC News – Rising costs add to divorce woe, says Legal Ombudsman
Marriage should be more – much more than an exercise in saving for divorce. Divorce costs are starting to rival what you’ll spend on a wedding day; and it looks like there are some unscrupulous solicitors looking to capitalise on clients engaged in an acrimonious divorce. That’s abuse, whichever way you cut it up. That is praying on the vulnerable and taking advantage of their state of mind.
A common and highly justifiable complaint by clients and consumers in the financial services industry is that charges are not transparent and clear. The Retail Distribution Review was set up to combat that issue (although it’s clear that there are many providers and platforms that are quite happy to work around that and leave clients still scratching their head when it comes to exactly what they are paying!) and I would say it’s time that something similar was brought in to weed out the more unscrupulous solicitors that just want your money.
If you’re not happy with your legal representation and feel they are not acting in your best interests, then please get in touch by phone on 01204 663904 or by email – email@example.com. I can recommend excellent law firms that will act with your best interests at heart.
Image Credit: Flickr.com/stan
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Posted November 27th, 2012
We all know, or know of people that have managed to get married abroad. It probably doesn’t work out much more expensive than a lavish ceremony on these shores. Wouldn’t it be curious to find an agency set up to help you get divorced abroad?
“They got divorced? When did that happen?”
“Yeah they’ve been divorced a couple of months now, they got divorced in the Seychelles!”
“Pffft…..it’s alright for some, me and the ex had to make to do with a divorce in Wolverhampton!”
In reality though, the only money held abroad in divorces tends to be offshore bank accounts that Mr. Taxman doesn’t know anything about……….yet!
That is, until a disgruntled soon to be ex-partner tells him about it, and handsomely rewarded they will be for it as well. Of course, marriage, or the dissolution thereof, doesn’t have any relevancy when it is an ex business partner blowing the whistle. However, according to HMRC, there are significant number of tip offs are coming from ex partners.
As the waters separating the terms “evasion” and “avoidance” get ever muddier (avoision if you will) it’s a made up word intended to nod at the notion that evasion and avoidance are becoming entwined but I’ll change it to aversion if you think it would make more sense, let’s not debate here on the rights, wrongs or other loopholes surrounding the whole Tax debate currently.
Fact is, it’s more incumbent on you to be up front. Hiding money from the tax man is one thing – and it can land you in prison. Hiding money that is due to a disgruntled ex is positively like dicing with death!
Be up front, and then you might avoid finding yourself being upfront in front of a Judge.
image credit: flickr.com/banjo_d
Posted August 22nd, 2012
An interesting development with Divorce Lifeline – www.divorcelifeline.co.uk.
It is interesting to note some of the claims being made by the company in relation to pensions and also their credentials to be in this market in the first place.
However, there is a growing trend towards looking at the settlements that clients are getting and it is in the divorce solicitors best interests to look at how a pension settlement is arrived at.
As a Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Adviser, I do see many mistakes made and we are here to help.
Posted August 21st, 2012
Question: The pension provider is refusing to implement the Pension Sharing Order without the signature of my ex spouse. Ours was an acrimonious divorce and he is extremely unlikely to comply with this request. What can I do?
Answer: Often Pension providers have a number of requirements to be completed by both parties, including the court documentation and other such requests, such as signing an indemnity by the ex spouse.
If it is not possible to do this then I would remind the Trustees of their obligations under the Court Order/Pension Sharing order and that it is their responsibility to implement the order in a timely manner. If they do not do so, threaten to report them to the Pension Regulator. This usually has the desired effect and hopefully your Order will be implemented promptly.
Posted August 16th, 2012
I was recently contacted by a client who had not implemented their Pension Sharing Order since 2003.
Not only was this a breach of the original order, there were a number of consequences that had occurred since the order was made. These were:
- The Cash Equivalent (CE) was recalculated at £213000 rather than the original £280000.
- Therefore my clients share of the CE was considerably lower, by £67000.
- The reason for this was that her husband had drawn benefits and as a consequence of this she was unable to take any lump sum from the pension.
- As the order was over 7 years old she had no recourse to go back to her solicitor for redress.
Therefore if you have a pension sharing order and are looking to implement it, my advice is to do so immediately. In the case of my client she has lost out on £67000 of CE and 25% pension commencement lump sum of the higher share figure £280000 / 50% (c.£.35,000)
Don’t let this happen to you please get in touch today!
Posted July 12th, 2010
As a Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) I am often asked to provide a summary of how we can work with clients through the Collaborative Law process. Below is taken from a flyer which is provided to the lawyers at the Greater Manchester POD.
HOW THE IFA WILL WORK WITH YOU AND YOUR SOLICITOR:
IFAs will be accredited by Resolution to work in the collaborative area, having undertaken training on the technical and cultural aspects involved, and passed an examination on the subject.
The IFA acts as a ‘financial neutral’ – rather than representing one party, their role is to assist all parties in highlighting issues and providing information that enables the collaborative process to move quickly and smoothly.
In addition to their specialist technical knowledge, IFAs can outline options to parties and comment on risk factors (eg in terms of pension options) which solicitors are unable to do as they are not authorised to give financial advice.
IFA’s can attend a first meeting with the Solicitors present, so as to display to the parties how they may add value to the process. At your discretion, IFAs can subsequently meet you without your solicitor being present, so as to control total costs.
EXAMPLES OF WHERE THE IFA IS ABLE TO HELP:
• Tax efficiency and mitigation if assets or investments are being sold as part of the agreement (eg ISAs, Capital Gains Tax issues).
• Pension-sharing issues under occupational final salary schemes, for both the scheme member and the ex-spouse.
• Issues surrounding individual pensions, including retirement options.
• The cost of replacing items under an employee benefits package for the ex-spouse (eg life cover, critical illness cover, private medical insurance).
• Mortgage availability and costings in relation to the marital home.
• Assessment of endowment policies and the options going forward.
• General financial education
• Budgeting exercises and lifetime cashflow projections to determine whether the agreed settlement will be sufficient to support the financial requirements of each party over time.
If you require any further assistance, please contact us on 0800 092 1229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org