Family Law Blog

Divorcees suffer upon retirement

05 May 2018, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

According to new research undertake by Prudential, a divorcee can expect their annual income on retirement to be £3,800 less than those who have never divorced.

This is important because it highlights the need for divorcing couples to consider their pensions, not only in connection with matrimonial settlement but to make plans post-divorce. The research also revealed that divorcing couples are more likely to retire in debt (23%) although the amount if debt is typically lower than those not divorcing.

It is imperative that couples contemplating divorce understand the long term financial implications in relation to their income in retirement.

We advise all clients where there are pensions in issue, to take independent legal advise from a financial advisor who specialises in pensions.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email st@taylorking.co.uk

83 year old ends up in prison for persistent failure to comply with orders

05 March 2018, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

A family court can sentence someone to prison for contempt of court where they have failed to comply with a court order or there has been a wilful disrespect of the court.

In the case of Hart v Hart, the 83 year old husband was found to be in serious contempt of court. He had failed to comply with multiple financial disclosure orders and consistently refused to co-operate.

The judge accepted the husband, a successful businessman,  was of good character and that a prison sentence would have a marked effect on him, but he sentenced him to 14 months imprisonment.

This case highlights the powers of the court where there is persistent failures to comply with court orders. However, imprisonment is always seen as a last resort.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email st@taylorking.co.uk

Inheritance – Will my spouse be entitled to half my inheritance?

05 February 2018, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Clients often ask what will happen to their inheritance when they get divorced.

In general, all matrimonial assets are pooled and treated as joint assets. Money or property inherited is not automatically excluded.

Each case is treated differently and depends on its individual facts. The court will take into account the following;

  1. Worthy inherited assets transferred into joint names or used for the benefit of the couple e.g. improvements to the family home.

In this case they will be treated as marital assets.

  1. When was the inheritance received?

If it was shortly before the breakdown of the marriage it is less likely to be included in the marital assets.

  1. How was it treated during the marriage? did the beneficiary ring fence the inheritance and treat it as their separate property.
  2. How large was the inheritance in the context of the total marital assets?
  3. The needs of the family, in particular the children. If the matrimonial assets are insufficient to meet these needs, then the court will take into account inherited property to satisfy them.

Future inheritances.

In the case of Alireza v Radwan the wife was entitled to a prospective inheritance from her wealthy Saudi Arabian father because of forced heirship i.e. she would receive a share of his estate upon his death. This was regarded by the court as a financial resource.

In most cases, future inheritances are not taken into account because if uncertainty. However, if one of the parties is likely to inherit in the immediate future e.g. on the death of a terminally ill relative, the court may adjourn the financial application until the inheritance has been received.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email st@taylorking.co.uk

Pensions Update

17 December 2017, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Since pension sharing was introduced two decades ago, many women (and men) have steered clear of making claims against the pensions of their spouses in divorce proceedings.

The Scottish Widows Women and Retirement report 2012 revealed that only 11% of women took pensions into account (see our 2012 blog understanding pensions on divorce). Five years later the most recent Scottish Widows Women and Retirement report 2017 indicates that the number of women who had discussed pensions in divorce settlements had only risen to 22%.

This is due most likely to lack of knowledge rather than strict avoidance, because nearly half of women  have no idea what happens to their own and their husband’s pensions on divorce.

Statistics show women are less prepared for retirement;

  • 52% of women as against 59% adequately prepare for retirement.
  • 25% of wives have smaller pensions than their husbands.
  • Many women have no pension provision, save for the state retirement pension.

Most people would think that the most valuable matrimonial asset is the matrimonial home this is not the case, especially where the couples are in middle age and one of them has a final salary pension.

The value of final salary pensions has been soaring. Under todays flexible pension rules, anyone with a defined benefits scheme from a private company, not the public sector, can demand a cash transfer and if 55 years and over access funds in the scheme.

It is important that divorcing couples obtain expert advice from an independent financial adviser, who specialises in pensions.

Although most pension sharing orders are made in favour of women, husbands with inferior pension provision are still entitled to pension sharing orders. We have recently acted for two husbands who obtained a share of their wives Teachers Pensions.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email st@taylorking.co.uk

Benefit of early legal advice

08 November 2017, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

A report by Ipsos Mori commissioned by the Law Society, showed a link between getting early legal advice and resolving problems. The vice president of the Law Society stated that without early advice, relatively minor legal problems can escalate. The research showed that one in four people who received early legal advice had resolved their problem within three to four months as against nine months for those without legal advice. Early legal advice was defined as within three months.

If you are contemplating separation or have separated form your partner give us a call. We provide free legal advice over the telephone and can advise you of your rights and options. If you want a face to face appointment, then you can have a fixed-fee interview of up to one hour at a cost of £75 plus VAT.

Importance of a financial consent order

25 August 2017, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Many divorcing couples agree their financial arrangements, but do not have it recorded in a financial order.

Mr & Mrs Briers divorced in 2005, at that time Mr Briers transferred to his wife the former matrimonial home, mortgage free which was worth approximately £700,000. The husband retained his clothes business, which he had set up in the family garage. Both parties were teachers at the time.

In 2013 Mrs Briers applied for a financial remedy order, in the interim Mr Briers had transformed his business which then had a turnover of £30 million. Mrs Briers had continued working as a teacher and looking after the children.

Mr Briers argued that there was a verbal agreement in 2005 which prevented his wife from making a claim.

The court of appeal found that there was no agreement. They said that the wife has contributed after the divorce to the family by looking after the children and she was ordered one third of her husband’s wealth.

We advise separating clients that they should not make payments to their spouses, divide assets or transfer property, without a final consent order in place.

Recently we have noted a rise in the number of ‘spouses’ coming back for a second bite of the financial cherry after they have received a lump sum or the transfer of the family home. In one case this was 14 years  after the wife had received all the net proceeds of sale of the family home upon separation.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email st@taylorking.co.uk

Division of assets in short marriages

28 July 2017, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The recent case of Sharp v Sharp has shed some light on the division of assets, following a short marriage were there were no children. Mr and Mrs Sharp married in 2009 after co-habiting for 18 months. Divorce proceedings were commenced at the end of 2016.

Both parties initially had similar earnings of approximately £100,000 per annum, but during the marriage Mrs Sharp received discretionary bonuses totalling 10.5 million.

The total assets for distribution on divorce were 6.9 million. The judge at first instance did not find that there was a reason to depart from an equal division of the assets, nor did he allow a discount simply because it was a husband making a claim against a wife.

Mrs Sharp appealed and the Court of Appeal were prepared to depart from the yardstick of equality and Mr Sharp did not receive 50% of the marital assets.

The court found;

  1. This was a short marriage, even though the parties had been together including the period of cohabitation for seven and a half years.
  2. There were no children.
  3. Mrs Sharp’s bonuses were way beyond the level of her previous earnings and were as a result of her employment without any contribution from her husband.
  4. Mr and Mrs Sharp had managed their finances separately.
  5. Mr Sharp had not contributed more to the home life ( the courts do not distinguish between the breadwinner and the homemaker).

The Court of Appeal did state, that a departure from equality would only be justified in a small number of cases.

However the message is clear that couples who divorce after a short marriage can no longer expect to have martial assets divided equally, especially where there are no children and finances have been kept separate.

If the facts had been reversed and Mr Sharp had received the bonuses, would the court have reached a different conclusion about the division of the assets?

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email st@taylorking.co.uk

An error in the Form E

16 December 2015, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

A fault in the Form E, the form used to collate parties’ financial information, has been spotted earlier this month by a family law specialist in Ascot, Berkshire. The error was in the calculation of assets on the summary page and has the software has been miscalculating assets since April 2014. The totals on that page failed to deduct any liabilities from the total therefore potentially overinflating the value of a spouse’s assets.
Approximately 20,000 forms were downloaded in the 20 month period the software was producing inaccurate calculations; however, not all of them will have been used to work out the division of assets.
Not all divorcing couples use the automatic calculator on the form, preferring instead to print out the form and fill it in by hand. At Taylor King, we use software that generates the form rather than downloading the one available of the Ministry of Justice website.
Judgments may have been handed down by the family courts founded on erroneous information.

An HMCTS spokesperson said: “We are urgently investigating this issue. Officials are taking steps to identify rapidly cases where this regrettable error may have had an impact, and we will be writing to anyone affected as soon as possible. Anyone concerned about their own court proceedings should contactformE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.”

Guide to sorting your finances on divorce

05 November 2015, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Ministry of Justice has published a guide, entitled Sorting out your finances when you get divorce.
It is aimed not only at the couple divorcing but also their family and friends. It is hoped the guide will assist couples understand the approach taken by the Family Courts, resolve their finances and reach agreement as quickly as possible.

It will be especially useful to litigants in persons who cannot afford legal representation.

The guide can be found here: http://www.advicenow.org.uk/guides/sorting-out-your-finances-when-you-get-divorced.

Sharland v Gohil

06 October 2015, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

In the case of Sharland, Mrs Sharland’s appeal centred on the impact of fraudulent non-disclosure. The valuation of Mr Sharland’s shareholding in his software business and its distribution between the parties was the main area of dispute. After a valuation on the basis that the company was not going to be floated on the stock market Mrs Sharland was to receive 30% of the net sale proceeds, whenever it was sold, together with other assets.
After the consent order was drawn up Mrs Sharland became aware, through the press, that Mr Sharland’s company was being prepared for an initial public offering and a substantially higher figure that it had been valued within the financial remedy proceedings.

The Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s refusal to set aside the consent order as he would not have made a substantially different order. The Supreme Court have now allowed the appeal and returned the case to the High Court.

In the case of Gohil, the consent order was agreed despite Mrs Gohil’s belief that there had not been full disclosure. She applied to set aside the order on the basis that Mr Gohil had failed to disclose all his assets. The court found that there had been material non-disclosure by Mr Gohil and that if there had been full disclosure a different order would have been made.

There is a now, therefore, a much stronger emphasis on the requirement to provide full and drank disclosure throughout the proceedings.

The two judgments addressed how a case should be reopened if material non-disclosure is identified:

1. A fresh action to set aside the order;

2. An appeal against the order; or

3. An application to a first instance judge in the matrimonial proceedings.

Permission is required for an appeal but not the other two and an appeal may not be the most appropriate venue for hearing new evidence and resolving factual issues that may often arise.

A Family Procedure Rules committee working party is currently considering whether the Family Procedure Rules or a Practice Direction should specify criteria for choosing between the different applications.