What happens if a spouse hides matrimonial assets?

January 27, 2017By BPS Family LawBlog

Within matrimonial finance proceedings, it is standard procedure for both parties to disclose their assets before an informed agreement can be reached as to how the ‘matrimonial pot’ should be divided.

If one party attempts to mislead the Court as to the true value of their assets this can lead to an unfair outcome for their spouse and, if appropriate, their children.

In 2015, Judge Mark Rogers awarded an ex wife a further 2.7 million after it was found that the ex husband had misled the court when disclosing his wealth in relation to a business which was in fact worth millions. The wife had previously agreed to receive £ 150,000 to discharge the mortgage on the family home which was valued at £700,000 in addition to £10,000 a year salary and child maintenance payments.

The Judge stated that the husband had been so dishonest in relation to the disclosure of his assets that the wife was therefore unable to give informed consent in relation to the previous deal ten years earlier.

If you believe your ex-spouse concealed assets during your divorce then we can help you.   Contact us on 0161 926 1430.

Child Contact for Violent Fathers

January 26, 2017By BPS Family LawBlog

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic violence is the abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual.

The Court’s approach to child contact for violent fathers.

 The Charity Women’s Aid campaigned due to statistics which identified that ’19 children have been killed in the last 10 years by their violent fathers after being given contact with them by judges.’

Reforms are being introduced into the Family Courts.

The Reforms aim to end the belief that a father has the right to engage in contact with a child when there is evidence of domestic abuse.

It is taken very seriously by Senior Judges to take steps in order to avoid contact with violent fathers that would ultimately put the child or mother at a high risk of harm.

The changes contain a demand for all the judiciary to have further training on domestic violence and to act to safeguard women and children.

Mr Justice Cobb announced the changes and stated ‘It is indeed most disturbing to note that for at least 12 children [in seven families]; of the 19 children killed … contact with the perpetrator [the father] was arranged through the family courts’.

Judges need to be more alert to perpetrators of domestic violence using the courts as a way to continue their abuse.

At BPS Family Law we work closely with families who have suffered domestic violence. We offer practical advice along with a compassionate approach. We achieve the best possible outcome for families.

If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you with any of the issues mentioned above, then you can get in touch with Caroline Swain by email caroline.swain@bpslaw.co.uk or by telephone on 0161 926 1430

How to achieve an amicable separation

January 24, 2017By BPS Family LawBlog

Caroline Swain, Partner, Matrimonial and Family Law provides a guide to achieving an amicable separation.

Separation is a difficult situation to go through. There may be several reasons for your break up, and as such you could be harbouring some unresolved hurt or anger. If you successfully manage to achieve an amicable split however, your separation will be much easier for both you and your family.
There are no laws to follow on having an easy separation, however there are some methods you can utilise to ensure your separation is peaceful and stress-free.

Avoid open criticism

For your sake:
By talking negatively about your ex-partner, it will not only cause upset and unnecessary stress, but it will manifest your bad feelings towards them and heighten the chances of a tumultuous separation.
If you feel like you have nothing positive to say to them, it’s best to have as little communication as possible, outside of the potential legal proceedings you’re going through.
This helps to ease the load you may feel like you’re carrying, and will make the process a lot easier for you to deal with.

For your children’s sake:
It’s also important to remember that if you have children, openly criticising their mother or father in front of them can make them feel guilty for spending time with the other parent. It will be easier for you and your child if you aren’t negative in front of them – a separation for children may only as bad as their parents make it out to be.

Establish boundaries
Now that you’re no longer together, it is a good idea to lay down some ground rules regarding personal space and communication.
3 steps which you can follow to make this process easy for you are:

Discover WHY you need to set your boundaries:
You and your partner have separated for a reason, be it big or small, so you will need to focus on what the reasons were to work out what type of boundary you need. Did this person’s presence have a negative impact on your life? Did they make comments that were untrue or hurtful?
Working out why exactly you need to set your boundaries is the first step in achieving a peaceful life.

Discover HOW you need to set your boundaries:
Now that you know why you need to set boundaries, you can begin to set them in motion. If you’ve realised that your ex-partner was a negative influence on your life, the boundary you set could be to limit the amount of time you have to see them. If they were always borrowing money from you, you can tell them you’re no longer going to fund them.
Establishing and setting boundaries is a big step, so take the time to congratulate yourself for your strength.

Get grounded and take care of yourself:
Setting boundaries sometimes has two initial results: you may receive some backlash from your ex-partner, and you also might feel some guilt. Both things are totally normal, and it’s important for you to stand by your decisions and keep yourself grounded.
You’re not alone in this situation, so remind yourself that you’re making the right choice and to not be hard on yourself. Deciding to separate was a difficult decision and you probably put a lot of thought into it, so trust your own judgement. Focus on making your life as easy as possible.

You may still need to contact each other:
If you need to speak to each other, choose a way of establishing conversation that you both agree on, whether it’s sending a text message, calling or meeting face to face.

In divorce mediation, you and your ex-partner – or in some cases the two of you and your respective solicitors, hire a neutral third party called a mediator to meet with you in an effort to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce.
Mediation is less expensive than a court trial or a series of hearings, however if spouses are unable to resolve issues amicably, additional legal costs can occur.

If you’d like to find out more about how to achieve an amicable separation and the options available to you then you can get in touch with Caroline at caroline.swain@bpsfamilylaw.co.uk or by telephone on 0161 926 1430.

BPS Family Law annual ladies’ clay pigeon shoot

January 23, 2017By BPS Family LawBlog

Here is a selection of photographs from BPS Family Law annual ladies’ clay pigeon shoot, which was kindly hosted by Dominic Baldwin.

The shoot was held in Dominic’s beautiful home Moss Wood, which was the perfect setting for our guests.

In total 30 ladies attended the event. A morning of tuition culminated in a team competition, which was won by The Partridges! Congratulations!

The clay pigeon shoot provided a great opportunity to get clients and friends together to network and make new friends.

Check out the video below!

Karen Jones, Solicitor considers Arbitration and whether this will become the new norm in resolving conflicts in Family Law

January 23, 2017By BPS Family LawBlog

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is where an independent adjudicator is appointed to settle a dispute.  In order for Arbitration to be utilised, both parties must consent to enter into the process and to provide their written agreement to be bound by the decision reached by the Arbitrator.  Arbitration is therefore different to meditation or collaborative approaches to dispute resolution.

What are the benefits?

The decision of the independent arbitrator is binding.

Arbitration may now be used to determine financial settlements and also issues relating to children.

It is a useful mechanism, potentially in TOLATA disputes as the parties can decide not to be bound by the tricky CPR provisions which family practitioners can be uncomfortable with, but instead opt to utilise the more familiar FPR.  If Arbitration is being used in a TOLATA dispute a final order is not required, however in family disputes a final order must be obtained in order to achieve a clean break.  The process therefore has a degree of flexibility but the law of England and Wales must be applied to any dispute and of course the jurisdiction of the family court cannot be ousted.  Parties need not worry however that their settlement is unlikely to be endorsed by the courts, with the decision of an Arbitrator typically treated in the same manner as a Consent Orders.

Should one party to seek to resile from the decision of an Arbitrator – this will not be looked upon favourably by the courts as; the parties have entered into Arbitration voluntarily with a view to being bound by the outcome.  It is possible for both parties to agree to exit the process and revert to the family court; however one party cannot do so unilaterally.

The Arbitrator can however draw adverse inferences where one party has failed to comply with their duty of disclosure.  The Arbitrator can also proceed in the absence of one party from which adverse inferences can be drawn.

One major advantage to the process is the speed with which it can be affected.  Typically disputes can be resolved within 6 – 8 weeks which is much quicker than the usual court process for resolving disputes.

Only one Arbitrator will be appointed throughout the process thus giving continuity to the proceedings.  It is the level of choice which allows the parties to determine the necessary level of expertise required.  As the Arbitrator will have been selected by the parties and are being privately paid, (typically for a fixed fee thus giving a level of financial security to the parties), the parties can be assured that the Arbitrator will have read the papers and be fully up to speed with the issues in dispute.

Another major advantage is that the process is completely confidential and therefore is likely to appeal to high profile people.  That is not to say it cannot be utilised for lesser value cases given the level of flexibility and speed with which cases can be determined.  An Arbitrator can be selected to deal with a discreet point only; this can be particularly useful in children’s disputes, where for example, the parties cannot decide which school a child should attend.  A decision will be made and given on the day.  Likewise an Arbitrator can give a decision in writing, thus avoiding the parties coming together face-to-face.

Are there any drawbacks?

One difference to the family court is that it is not possible to compel 3rd parties to become involved in the dispute.

It is also not possible for a party to be held in contempt or committal proceedings instigated.

Is Arbitration it right for you?

This is still a relatively new form of dispute resolution and it therefore difficult to predict how effective or popular the scheme will prove to be.  It therefore remains to be seen whether Arbitration will become the new norm for resolving financial and children disputes – particularly in children matters where the scheme has only been up and running since July 2016.  The problems within the courts are well documented and experienced by family practitioners on a daily basis.  It may be the case that parties come to regard this private forum as their best choice to resolving their disputes quickly and in arguably, a more cost effective manner.

If you would like to consider Arbitration as a means to resolving your dispute with your partner, BPS Family Law can assist.  Please get in touch with Karen at Karen.Jones@bpsfamilylaw.co.uk or by telephone on 0161 926 1430.



Non Matrimonial Assets – What are they and how will they be treated within financial separation?

January 19, 2017By BPS Family LawBlog

How do you know what will be considered your property or joint property when you go through the process of divorce?

Do you own property which you believe your spouse should not be entitled to when you separate?

The lack of legal definition of ‘non-matrimonial’ property is an issue in many financial remedy cases and this has led to two groups of case law on the issue in recent years.

In a historical case the Court took a ‘scientific’ approach. It said that the court ‘must first identify the whole matrimonial pot, and within that how much constitutes both matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets’. The scale of the non-matrimonial property to be excluded is then identified, leaving just the matrimonial property to be divided according to the equal sharing principle. Therefore, the court looked at all assets but then having looked at them considered which of those assets it could remove as being non-matrimonial and away from the hands of the other spouse.

In a more recent case the Court instead favoured the ‘artistic’ approach, which took a more discretionary broad brush approach. If there is property which is not a result of the marriage the whole matrimonial pot is adjusted from the 50:50 starting point and an appropriate percentage shift is taken to reflect the existence of non-matrimonial property in that case. The potential problem with this approach is that the outcome of a case depends on the discretionary intuitive feel of your Judge and creates a risk of inconsistency.

The above highlights the risk that families can face when asking the Court to deal with matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets. It is ever the more essential that you instruct a knowledgeable lawyers who is specialist in the field of matrimonial finance law. We are on hand to assist you. Contact 0161 926 1430 or caroline.swain@bpsfamilylaw.co.uk.

We have offices in Manchester City Centre, Hale Cheshire and Stockton Heath, Warrington.