New Year, New Beginnings - 24/12/2015

The holiday season has now come to an end and as the new year begins people often take time to reflect upon their current circumstances, which may include considerations about relationships and bringing them to an end.  It is important that in these situations people seek legal advice as to the best way forward for them.

The breakdown of relationships can have wide ranging effects.  A person may need to consider the financial implications, where they are going to live, the arrangements for their children and, if they are married, the process of divorce. 

It is a common misconception that if you lived with your partner for a long period of time they are your “common-law spouse”.  Sadly, there is no such thing.  A cohabiting couple will not have the same rights as a married couple when their relationship ends.  It is important to seek legal advice to find out what you are legally entitled to if your marriage or relationship comes to an end.  The ending of a relationship can bring with it complex issues and no two solutions are the same.

At Robinsons Solicitors our team of lawyers have a wealth of experience in dealing with all aspects of relationship breakdown and we are able to offer you advice and guidance to help ease an already painful process.  We seek to provide an individual service, supporting our clients when they may be at their most vulnerable, in confidence and with sensitivity. 

Supreme Court Allows Wife to Make Financial Claim - 30/03/2015

The case of Kathleen Wyatt and her ex-husband Dale Vince should act as a cautionary tale to all divorced or divorcing couples.

Mr Vince and Ms Wyatt met when they were both students in their early twenties.  They married in 1981 and lived as New Age Travellers with very little money.  They had one son together.  The couple separated in 1984, after only 3 years of marriage, but did not get divorced until 1992.  No financial Consent Order was obtained.

Following separation, Mr Vince went on to develop and build a company, Ecotricity, a supplier of green, wind turbine energy.  The business has been very successful and Mr Vince is now a wealthy man; estimates place his worth at some £107m.

On the other hand, Ms Wyatt went on to have two further children in a subsequent relationship and has been reliant on State benefits or poorly paid jobs.

In 2011, Ms Wyatt made an application against Mr Vince for a financial Order arising from their marriage.  This application was made 19 years after the couple divorced and 27 years after they had initially separated.

On the 11th March 2015, after numerous appeals against Mr Vince’s application to strike out Ms Wyatt’s claim as an abuse of process, the Supreme Court ruled that Ms Wyatt’s claim is legitimate and should be heard in the family courts as any ‘normal’ financial claim would be.  Lord Wilson said that Ms Wyatt would not receive the £1.9m she sought as this was “out of the question”, but that there was a real prospect that she would get a comparatively modest award.

The consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision is that, in cases where couples have divorced and have failed to adequately deal with the financial matters by way of a final Court Order, there is no time limit on when one party can seek provision from their former spouse.  Unlike claims in contract or negligence, there is no legal limit on the amount of time after divorce in which a person can make their financial claim.

Whilst the facts of this particular case may be viewed as extreme, it is not uncommon for people to inherit large sums of money or other valuable property in later life and after divorce, and such assets could be open to attack from an ex spouse if financial matters have not been dealt with sufficiently.

Accordingly, if you are currently contemplating a divorce, are going through a divorce or have previously been divorced, it is important that you seek legal advice as to how you can protect your future financial position.  It is essential to obtain a financial Consent Order at the time of divorce, based upon the financial circumstances at the time.  A Decree Absolute does not itself prevent a former spouse from making a financial claim years later.

To make an appointment to discuss your circumstances please contact us on info@robinsonssolicitors.com

New Year, New Beginnings - 23/01/2015

The holiday season has now come to an end and as the new year begins people often take time to reflect upon their current circumstances, which may include considerations about relationships and bringing them to an end.  It is important that in these situations people seek legal advice as to the best way forward for them.

The breakdown of relationships can have wide ranging effects.  A person may need to consider the financial implications, where they are going to live, the arrangements for their children and, if they are married, the process of divorce. 

It is a common misconception that if you lived with your partner for a long period of time they are your “common-law spouse”.  Sadly, there is no such thing.  A cohabiting couple will not have the same rights as a married couple when their relationship ends.  It is important to seek legal advice to find out what you are legally entitled to if your marriage or relationship comes to an end.  The ending of a relationship can bring with it complex issues and no two solutions are the same.

At Robinsons Solicitors our team of lawyers have a wealth of experience in dealing with all aspects of relationship breakdown and we are able to offer you advice and guidance to help ease an already painful process.  We seek to provide an individual service, supporting our clients when they may be at their most vulnerable, in confidence and with sensitivity. 

Mediation - 26/06/2014

The stepping stone to resolving disputes

On 22nd April 2014, some of the most significant changes in family law in recent years came into force.
One of the most important changes is that anyone wishing to make an application to the newly named Family Court will have to first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The purpose of a MIAM is to ensure that the proposed Applicant has explored all other options for resolution before seeking the Court’s assistance. As of 22nd April 2014, the Courts will refuse to accept an application unless this step has taken place.

Mediation, if successful, can facilitate discussion as a way to enable parties to sort out the issues they face following separation. Mediation is however not always the appropriate forum to resolve issues and alternate methods of dispute resolution may be more appropriate. At Robinson Solicitors, we have experienced lawyers who have been practising and promoting alternate methods of resolving disputes long before the changes came into effect. We have a collaboratively trained Solicitor who is able to promote discussions between the parties at “round-table meetings” as we deem this to be suitable with the focus being on resolving the dispute amicably rather than encouraging what can often be lengthy and costly litigation.

Whilst it is hoped that matters will be resolved in a non-confrontational manner, there will inevitably be circumstances where this is not possible or simply appropriate. In such circumstances, provided that a MIAM has taken place by the intended Applicant, an application to deal with issues concerning children or resolving family finances following separation may be necessary. Our specialist team of lawyers can provide sensitive guidance and advice throughout this often difficult process.

At the MIAM, the mediator will provide more information about mediation, the process and its benefits and to assess whether a case is in fact suitable for mediation. Attending mediation is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. A family mediator is not on anyone’s sides. Their role is to facilitate discussions between the parties in the hope that an agreement can be reached. If you choose a family mediator who is also a Solicitor, they will not be able to provide legal advice to either party. It is important to understand that parties are able to seek the support and guidance of a family Solicitor throughout the mediation process in order to advise on legal issues that may arise following proposals put forward during mediation. If a couple reach an agreement over a divorce settlement via mediation, with the assistance of a family Solicitor they can prepare the Order to be approved by the Court.

This article only deals with one of the major change that came into force on 22nd April 2014. Please see our website for details concerning other recent changes that have come into effect, which include the abolishment of Residence Orders and Contact Orders and the introduction of Child Arrangement Orders as well as the introduction of a single family Court.

SINGLE FAMILY COURT - 26/06/2014

On 22nd April 2014, the Court structure in family proceedings changed. Previously there was a tier system involving the Family Proceedings Court, the County Court and the High Court. There is now a Single Family Court.


It is hoped that with the introduction of the single Family Court, the Magistrates, Legal Advisers and the Judiciary will work closely together to ensure the most efficient use of the available resources and that the most appropriate level of Judge hears your case.


Despite the changes, the Court system can be lengthy. At Robinsons Solicitors, our experienced family lawyers can advise you on the various cost effective options available to you that may avoid the need to involve the Court. In most circumstances, there are alternative methods of resolving your issues and the Court process should only be considered once all other avenues have been explored.


For further information or advice about disputes following the breakdown of a relationship, please contact the Family Department on 01227 762888 or info@robinsonssolicitors.com.

CHILD ARRANGEMENTS ORDERS - 26/06/2014

On 22nd April 2014, Residence Orders and Contact Orders were replaced with a single Child Arrangements Order. A Child Arrangements Order regulates with whom a child lives, spends time with or otherwise has contact with. By removing the labels of “resident” and “non-resident” parents, the hope is that both parents will recognise the importance of them each being of equal importance in their child’s life. Parents will be encouraged to “agree” arrangements rather than a Court imposing arrangements upon them. If matters are agreed without the need of making an application to the Court, then either parent is able to apply for a Child Arrangements Order by consent providing both you and your ex-partner with a single document that sets out what the arrangements are. If however, you are unable to resolve matters amicably, it will be necessary for you both to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) prior to making any application to the Court.


Whilst a Child Arrangements Order is a new Order, it brings with it the same features of Residence Orders and Contact Orders. By way of an example, a parent with whom a child lives will still be able to take their children abroad for up to one month without the consent or approval of the Court whilst the parent who has contact is unable to do so.


Parents who already have existing Residence Orders or Contact Orders will be treated in the same way as the new Child Arrangements Orders. If you have a Shared Residence Order or a Residence Order, you will be treated as a person with whom the child lives with and have the same status as before. If you had a Contact Order previously, you will be considered a person with whom the child spends time with or otherwise has contact with and again will have the same status as previously.


On the face of it, it appears that a Child Arrangements Order is just a different label to the previous Residence Orders and Contact Orders. However, with the focus now being on practical issues of the day-to-day care of children, it is hoped that tension between parents will lessen and they will work together for the benefit of their children by ensuring that neither parent feels marginalised.


For further information or advice about disputes involving children, please contact the Family Department on 01227 762888 or info@robinsonssolicitors.com.