James Maguire & Co are a leading divorce and family law practice. They are a specialist divorce law and family law practice. They advise on all aspects of family law and are leaders in this field, as is reflected by the independent legal directories to the profession and our strong track record.
In an ideal scenario, most separating couples or spouses will resolve the financial and children issues amicably between themselves or with the help of a family law solicitor. However there are times when Court proceedings are necessary for a number of reasons. Whether you choose to represent yourself at Court or you have instructed a solicitor or barrister, we would offer the following tips at Court:-
Ideally instruct a solicitor or barrister to represent you – You won’t be able to find a YouTube video telling you what to say at Court or what will happen at the hearing as every case and experience is different. Whilst you have to pay for a solicitor or barrister to represent you, the money will be well spent as they live and breathe family law issues every day. They know what particular Judges like and don’t like, they know the legal arguments to use in particular situations and they will always know what needs to go in a Court Order to protect your best interests. You often only get one chance to present your case in front of a Judge and with it likely being one of the most important decisions to be made in your life, you have a better chance of succeeding if you have the support of a good legal team behind you.
Be organised and stick to the dates – when proceedings are issued you will get a date for when and where the hearing will be and you may get given dates when certain documents have to be prepared and filed by at Court and sent to your opponent. Put these in your diary or phone calendar, whichever you prefer to use. Nothing rattles a Judge more than if you fail to turn up to a hearing or you don’t file a document on time (or at all!) and you are then at risk of having to pay your opponent’s legal costs if you do for a wasted hearing where no progress can be made.
Know your case – make sure you know the facts and figures of your case inside out and back to front. As the Scouts would say always “be prepared”. Again nothing winds a Judge up more than when they ask you a simple question about your case and you don’t know the answer or you don’t have the information with you. For example, if your case is to prove that you can no longer afford to pay spousal maintenance to your ex because your job has changed and you are earning less than when the original order was made, you need to make sure you have proof of your earnings and proof of your outgoings.
First impressions last – it is always a good idea to make a good and lasting impression when you appear before a Judge as you want them to form the opinion you are credible. Smart dress is advised however for those who are trying to persuade the Judge that you cannot afford to live on the level of maintenance your ex-spouse is proposing to pay, it would be a good idea not to turn up to Court highly decorated in lavish jewellery and wearing expensive branded clothing. That’s not to say you should turn up wearing a bin bag. Just use your common sense and dress appropriately.
Always turn off your mobile phone – again this is another tip to avoid invoking any unnecessary rage from the Judge. All mobile phones should be switched off or put on silent and silent means silent. The sound of a vibrating phone is just as off-putting as the sound of the latest chart topping ring tone.
Arrive early and always remember to book in with the usher when you first arrive at Court – it’s always a good idea to plan your journey to Court in advance and take in to account traffic and car parking. If you hold up the hearing then it will only annoy the Judge and cause delay. When you arrive at Court the first thing you need to do is check in with the usher to say you have arrived. If you go to try and negotiate straight away with your opponent or have a conference with your legal adviser then the usher and Judge won’t know you are here and this could cause issues.
Always be polite & courteous to the court staff as well as the Judge – remember that people talk and just because the usher is not in the Court room with you, if you are rude and discourteous outside of the Court room to the usher or any other Court staff, then it is likely they will mention something to the Judge about your behaviour without you knowing, which is going to put you on the back foot with the Judge.
Facial expressions and interruptions – you will have to accept that at some stage during the time you are before a Judge, your opponent is going to say something that will antagonise you. They won’t mean to but they are fighting for their client’s case. Just as your solicitor or barrister will do the same for you. If you hear something that is not true or it upsets/angers you then just try to keep your facial expressions neutral rather than pulling a face in the direction of your opponent and under no circumstances do you shout out and interrupt the proceedings. You or your legal representative will have a chance to respond so it’s a matter of being patient and waiting your turn. Make a note of the point that was made which you want to rectify (show it to your representative if relevant) and you can come to it when it is your turn to speak (or your representatives).
Do not film or record any part of the proceedings – you could be held in contempt of court and sanctioned if you film or record the Court proceedings as these are private law proceedings. The Judge will record the hearing and so if there is ever a discrepancy later on about what was said, you can request that the recordings are transcribed at a cost. This is another reason why it is useful to have a solicitor or barrister with you as they will make notes but in particular at a final hearing where you have to stand up and give evidence, we recommend having a barrister and solicitor present. This is because you will need to focus on giving your evidence, the barrister will be focused on the advocacy and representing you the best they can before the Judge and the solicitor will be there to help support you and the barrister to make sure nothing is missed and they will also write down everything that is said and so can be referred to later on if there is an issue.
Stay hydrated and remember to eat – lastly it is important to stay hydrated and to keep your energy levels up as in some instances you could be at Court all day and you don’t want to pass out in the middle of giving your evidence. Court is not the most pleasant of experiences as some people can find it quite stressful and their anxiety levels can be through the roof. You may not feel like eating, but even a chocolate bar will help.
For more advice on family law issues such as divorce, finances and children matters and court proceedings, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
We have a large team and can offer family law advice at any of our locations as follows:-
Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding in England and Wales?
It has recently been reported in the media that an ex-wife to a multi-millionaire “property tycoon” has demanded an extra £25million in her divorce settlement after already receiving £90million from her ex-husband. The wife, Camilla Versteegh had signed a pre-nuptial agreement the day before she married her husband, Gerard Versteegh in Sweden.
The couple had been married for 21 years, had 3 children and moved to live in London (also dubbed as the divorce capital of the world by the media) as soon as they got married and have lived there ever since.
According to Swedish law, pre-nuptial (or pre-marital) agreements are legally binding and so are entered into quite regularly. In England and Wales, pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding but the courts do take them into consideration and are adding more weight to them when dealing with financial settlements within a divorce. However for the court to accept pre-nuptial agreements, the following ideally needs to have taken place:-
Both parties must sign the agreement of their own free will
Both parties must seek independent legal advice from a family law solicitor about the contents of the agreement so they are clear on what they are signing
There must be no undue influence or pressure put on either party to sign the agreement
Both parties should exchange with each other full financial disclosure before signing the agreement so there is a clear picture of the financial assets.
In this case it is reported that the wife was presented with the pre-nuptial agreement the day before the wedding to sign and so this could trigger points 2 and 3 above and it’s unlikely there was any financial disclosure given either.
The wife’s legal team will be trying to argue the above points and for the Judge not to take into account the pre-nuptial agreement. This way the division of assets can be dealt with using the usual factors the courts apply within this jurisdiction, with the starting point being one of equal division.
The husband’s legal team on the other hand will be trying to argue that the money the wife received was fair and generous taking into account the fact she signed a pre-nuptial agreement and knew the consequences of what she was signing away financially.
The wife has taken her case to the Court of Appeal to try and argue she should have an extra £25million and the case is on going. It will be interesting to see which way the Court goes.
For specialist family law advice in relation to pre-nuptial agreements, divorce and finances, please contact our Associate Solicitor, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
We can also be contacted on the following numbers:
Government recommends Muslim couples to register their marriages after Sharia Law review ends
In 2015, the Government ordered an independent review of Sharia Courts as there were fears over some Muslim women being discriminated against under Sharia Law. Sharia Law is the Islamic legal system and is a code for living that should be adopted by all Muslims. Muslims can turn to Sharia for guidance on how to deal with all aspects of their daily life including when there are issues over their relationship or marriage.
The review stems from concerns over reports that women were often unaware of their legal right to leave their violent and abusive husband’s.
It was also reported that if a Muslim woman wanted to end their marriage then they also faced a longer process than a Muslim man would.
One article refers to Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary, stating that there should be “one rule of law in the UK and that is the law set by parliament”. When the review took place the panel encouraged Muslim communities to acknowledge women’s rights in civil law and that Sharia councils should operate within this law. Currently Sharia councils have no legal jurisdiction in England and Wales because they only deal with Islamic Law. Whatever rule they make is not binding under civil law.
The review has now concluded with the Government recommending that all Muslim couples should register their marriage civilly in the UK either before or at the same time as their Islamic ceremony if they want to access the same rights as non-Muslims should the marriage break down. They say this will ensure that all married Muslim women will be fully protected by civil family and matrimonial law.
Currently if a Muslim couple get married under Sharia Law and they live in England and Wales, their marriage is not recognised by civil law in England and Wales. It is treated as if a marriage has not taken place. Therefore they cannot access the same financial remedies that apply to a non-Muslim whose marriage has broken down.
It has been suggested that by ensuring Muslims legally register their marriage in this country, it may help against the discrimination that some Muslim women have faced historically for example.
For further advice in relation to divorce and matrimonial law, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
We have a large team and can offer family law advice at any of our locations as follows:-
The wife of DIY SOS TV star Nick Knowles has recently reported to the media that he has refused to pay the school fees for their 3 year old son, Eddie. The article appears in the Sun and has several factual issues included, which I feel compelled to set straight. These are as follows:-
There is no automatic right for the other spouse to pay your legal fees if you want to bring an application to Court.
Most cases follow the norm in that both parties in an application to do with finances within divorce proceedings will pay their own legal fees. In some cases, you can try and recover your legal fees from the other person at the end of the case if you succeed in your application but only in certain circumstances. Even then it’s not guaranteed you will recover 100% of your costs. In some cases, you can apply for a “legal services order” where you are asking the court to order that the other spouse pays for your legal fees. There are a number of factors the court will take in to account first but before making the application they would expect you to look at other sources of funding first, for example applying for a litigation loan. There are a number of specialist companies that provide loans for legal fees specifically relating to divorce cases. As you family solicitor we can assist with getting these loans in place.
The reasons why a marriage breaks down does not have any bearing on the financial outcome.
The wife in this situation has made a number of allegations against her ex-husband including “intimidation, emotional cruelty, abuse and isolation” which led to the breakdown of the marriage. . Making such allegations of this nature won’t make any difference to the outcome of the application she may want to make for a school fees order. The conduct has to be extreme for it to be taken in to account, for example a spouse secretly squandering the matrimonial pot on prostitutes.
Ordinarily school fees would be paid directly to the school.
The media would not be allowed access to private law family court proceedings where money and children are discussed.
Ideally these type of issues should be kept private and away from the media. No doubt by contacting the media to make public statements such as this will now only serve the purpose of inflaming matters and they may be less likely to settle amicably. One must also remember there is a small child caught up in all of this, with both parents being named in the press as well as his own name and photos.
If you would like to receive expert legal advice about financial claims in a divorce, including school fees order from a reputable family law firm then please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
We have a large team and we can offer family law advice at any of our locations as follows:-
As Family Law Solicitors we have been called a number of names and fortunately because we are highly recommended by our clients and other professionals we work alongside with, most comments we receive, we are proud of. We have been called experts, highly professional, comforting, kind and efficient to name a few. You only have to visit our testimonial’s page on our website to read the numerous positive feedback we have been given.
However we have recently come across one comment, which we were very surprised to see via one of our social media sites, which was left by a wounded male who turned out not to be a client of ours. He had come across our advert and felt the need to comment and he called us “blood-sucking parasites”. Upon contacting such male it turns out he was left very bitter at the end of an unpleasant divorce process, which he had endured using London lawyers. It was clear his costs had been extortionate and he felt that as the main “bread winner” in a bitter divorce battle, all of his years of hard work had left him with nothing because of having to part with his assets, income and pension as a result of the divorce. And on top of that he had to pay the solicitors for the pleasure of parting with the fruits of his labour.
He felt like this was the “norm” for men who were the primary earners in their marriages. It is true we have represented many a husband who have automatically presumed the court’s favour the wives when dealing with not only child care arrangements but also the split of the matrimonial pot. This really is not the case or shouldn’t be and let’s not forget we only heard a very brief version of events from this gentleman and so we had no knowledge of the overall facts of the case and of course the wife’s version.
It got us thinking though about how many other men or breadwinners out there feel like this and believe all family solicitors are “blood-sucking parasites”? Is this the illusion that we create? Or is it the case one bad experience with one solicitor has led to all family law solicitors being tarnished with the same brush? We sincerely hope it is the latter as we strive to be clear on costs from the outside, provide cost updates and look to minimise costs where possible by giving the client the opportunity to do some work themselves or by delegating to more junior team members who charge at a lower hourly rate.
The media possibly has not helped us out either and you may remember the media attention surrounding Gary Lineker’s divorce last year. It was alleged that he made comments about solicitors who purposely hike up legal fees and cause more animosity between the separating spouses. The more arguments there are, the longer the process is drawn out and the more it costs. What the media fail to understand is that the divorce procedure is actually relatively straightforward and can be done at minimal expense. We have also assisted many a separated spouse with an amicable divorce where there have been no issues with sorting out the financial matters and child care arrangements so minimal expense has been incurred.
Where it can get costly is if there is hostility and hatred between the husband and wife and this could be down to the reasons why the marriage has ended in the first place, for example finding out your other half has had an affair with your friend or another parent from the playground. This could lead to a refusal to act reasonably or to co-operate.
Separating your emotions from proceedings is difficult but vital for moving forward and helping us get you to day one of your new life.
Even though we are solicitors, we are also human and we too wince at some of the divorce/financial cases that appear in the media where legal fees have risen to hundreds of thousands of pounds. However these are usually what we call exceptional “big money” cases where there are a lot of complex issues being dealt with as well as a large pot of assets. They may also include spouses who have hidden their assets or refused to declare them. The costs can include solicitor’s fees, barrister’s fees, fees for forensic accountants and pension experts for example. It must be remembered that these tend not to be average cases.
We can only urge people not to be put off seeking help from a family solicitor because of what they have read in the media and assume that we are all blood-sucking parasites that encourage every divorce to be acrimonious so that it has the propensity to strip you of all your assets and bankrupt you in legal fees at the same time.
If you have recently separated from your husband or wife contact our highly recommended family team of experts. Costs will be discussed at the outset so you know exactly what to expect. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us at one of the following sites:-
Differences between divorce in England & Wales and divorce in the USA
It has recently been reported in the media that actor Ewan McGregor has filed for a divorce after 22 years of marriage to his wife, Eve Mavrakis, who is a production designer. They have 4 children:- Clara – 21, Jamyan – 16, Esther – 15 and Anouk – 6.
It is reported that the actor has cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce and that he wishes to have “joint custody” of the three youngest children (Clara would be considered as an adult).
There are a number of differences between divorce cases in England & Wales and the USA. Firstly, in England and Wales, there is only one ground for a divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and this has to be proved by relying on 1 of 5 facts. Irreconcilable differences is not one of those facts here, although it is likely that if it was, most of the divorcing population may chose that as a more amicable non-fault based option. The only current options available are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2 years separation with consent of both parties, 5 years separation and desertion.
There has been a lot of support from family law solicitors for a non-fault based divorce fact, such as irreconcilable differences, to be introduced and that the current law is outdated.
By having a non-fault based divorce at the outset, it could set a more amicable tone later down the line when resolving the financial and children matters. Anyone looking to get divorced in England and Wales either has to wait 2 years if they want to cite an amicable fact to prove the breakdown of the marriage or they have to rely on unreasonable behaviour (if adultery is not relevant) and list half a dozen examples of their spouse’s negative behaviour, which could inflame matters unnecessarily. The problem with waiting 2 years is some people feel as though they are putting their lives on hold and so may not want to wait that long.
In relation to the arrangements involving the children, in England and Wales there is no such thing as custody or joint custody. These are American terms. Instead in England and Wales, we refer to them globally as a Child Arrangements Order, which includes a child “living with” one parent and “spending time” with the other or there can be a “shared care” Order. This has also replaced the previous labels of “contact” and “residence”.
If you have been experiencing difficulties in your relationship and you would like advice on divorce or separation as well as issues with child care arrangements then please do not hesitate to contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson by email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk or telephone to speak to any of our recommended family law specialists as follows:
The Financial Times have reported that a new online service has been launched by one provider of legal services to coincide with the post-Christmas divorce rush. The article claims that this ‘new’ online service has made the process even quicker for couples seeking to end their marriages.
Claims such as “start your divorce from home, at a time that suits” and advising that the online service can cut the time it takes to complete proceedings in non-contested cases by a third, i.e. from 6 – 9 months to 4 – 6, serve only to create unrealistic expectations on parties seeking divorce and promotes the belief that marriage is disposable when it is not. In particular, it fails to take account of the fact that some parties choose not to finalise their divorce until the financial aspects of their case are also resolved. Rushing through a “quickie divorce” without properly considering financial matters could leave people vulnerable.
At Maguire Family Law, you can contact a family law solicitor at a time that suits you; and, in a non-contested case, obtain a divorce within 4 – 6 months if it is appropriate in your case. You will also have the reassurance and support of dealing with people instead of online programs – so no risk of a “computer says no!” response.
Furthermore, the article suggests that the costs of using the new online service to obtain an uncontested divorce would be £600 plus the court fee of £550, the same cost as the traditional divorce service through the same provider. We’re not sure about you, but by claiming they can get you a divorce in half the time, but charging you the same doesn’t add up to us!
There is a perception that a family law solicitor might be expensive but there are a variety of ways in which costs can be saved by working as a team with your solicitor; and it is always important to keep any legal costs in proportion to what is at stake.
Whether you instruct a divorce solicitor or use an online service, the court requires a process to be followed. The amount of time that the court takes to process court papers can vary; and is out of the hands of those using the system, whether via an online service, through a solicitor or directly themselves. We therefore cannot see how an online system would improve the speed with which a divorce progresses as compared to one which is dealt with by a helpful, conscientious and efficient solicitor – such as the solicitors you’ll find at Maguire Family Law.
Protecting your own wealth if you decide to cohabit
It has been a pleasure recently working with IntroNW, a professional and confidential matchmaking and personal introduction agency and writing a blog for their website to help those who may be ready to meet someone new after a divorce or separation.
The article gives legal advice for those who may be ready to live with a new partner or even walk down the aisle! It covers advice on cohabitation or living together agreements for those who don’t want to get married but do want to live with their new partners, as well as advice on Pre-Nuptial Agreements for those who do want to get married. These type of agreements can set out the financial arrangements and what would happen if the relationship were to break down. They are effectively insurance policies that hopefully avoid potential emotional and financial upset and distress if the relationship breaks down as both sides would have entered in to the Agreement of their own free will and approval.
They are useful in situations where someone has been financially stung from a previous relationship or marriage and also for those who have financial assets they want to protect from potential future claims.
To read more information and the article itself please click here or visit the “our blog” page on their website – www.intro-nw.com/blog
If after reading this you feel this is something that could benefit you or a family member/friend then please do not hesitate to contact Kirsten Tomlinson, an Associate Family Solicitor at Maguire Family Law for more details on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk
If however you are interested in meeting your ideal match in a confidential, personal and professional way, which avoids the pitfalls of “internet/online dating” then please contact IntroNW on 01625 909222 or visit their website and the “get in touch” page either by clicking on the previous link or visit www.intro-nw.com.
Bigamy is where a person who is already married, marries another person. It is a criminal offence which can potentially be punished by up to seven years in prison.
It has recently been reported that Daniel Grundy, a 39 year old who appeared on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway in March 2016, has been jailed by Warrington Magistrates’ Court for six months after he pleaded guilty to bigamy.
Mr Grundy’s bigamy was exposed when he appeared on the popular ITV show:. his first wife, Helen Grundy, spotted him in the audience with his second wife, Sue Brooker. Whilst it was Mrs Grundy’s belief that her estranged husband was working away in the Middle East, he was in fact among the guests on the show being taken to the surprise wedding of Ms Brooker’s sister, which was being featured on the show.
Warrington Magistrates’ Court heard evidence that Mr Grundy had married Sue Brooker in a luxury ceremony in Dubai in 2015 but that his first marriage to Helen Grundy in 1998, had not been dissolved.
Mrs Grundy told the court that when she confronted him about pictures of his wedding to Ms Brooker on social media in 2014, Mr Grundy had told her that it was not an official ceremony and was simply a blessing. He then later told Mrs Grundy that he had in fact split from Ms Brooker and suggested they get back together. It was explained to the court that Mr Grundy had forged documents in order to marry Ms Brooker.
Although Mr and Mrs Grundy had separated and dated other partners, they never got divorced. It is unclear why they never divorced, but we often take enquiries from people who are concerned about the complexities of the divorce process and the associated costs. The divorce process can be a very simple one, where parties fill in a series of forms. If matters are agreed (and in most cases they are) there is no need for either party to attend court. Having a recommended family law solicitor involved in the preparation of the forms usually helps matters to proceed more smoothly, helping both parties to remain on good terms and therefore saving money in the long term.
In England and Wales, there is only one ground for divorce which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
A divorce is started by one person issuing a divorce petition on the basis of one of the five facts. They are:
Desertion for two years
Two years separation without the other parties consent
Five years separation (without consent).
The relevant divorce papers are sent to the court with a court fee, which is presently £550.
MAGUIRE FAMILY LAW SHORTLISTED FOR FAMILY TEAM OF THE YEAR AT THE 2018 MANCHESTER LEGAL AWARDS
We are proud to announce that we have been shortlisted again for a second year running for “Family Law Team of the Year” at the well renowned Manchester Legal Awards 2018.
The awards ceremony will be taking place on 1st March 2018 at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, which coincides with our 8th birthday so we are ideally hoping for a double celebration!
The ceremony recognises and rewards the most talented individuals and teams in the region’s legal community and it is held in conjunction with the Manchester Law Society and Manchester Evening News. A record number of entries have been received for the Awards this year so we are delighted to have been shortlisted.
The team here at Maguire Family Law have worked tirelessly to ensure that we deliver exceptional client care and results and so it is an honour to have this hard work and talent recognised.
Best of luck to all those who have been nominated and look forward to seeing everyone at the ceremony. For any news leading up to the awards ceremony and on the night, you can follow the Awards twitter page @MLAwards and also our twitter page @divorcexpert