Grandparents Rights

Grandparents often play a very important role in a child’s life. In modern society, grandparents are significantly involved in their grandchild’s upbringing. With more parents returning to work full time, grandparents frequently take care of their grandchildren on a steady basis, particularly during school holidays.

Grandparent spending time with grandchild

Unfortunately, if a marriage has broken down, it can be common for contact between grandparents and their grandchild to be reduced or stopped completely.

Getting a divorce is upsetting for all parties, but is even more distressing for children. With this in mind, it’s best for grandparents to try and reach a casual contact agreement. You should firstly reach out to the parents and ask their permission informally. If grandparents have any unresolved conflicts with their own adult children, they should attempt to repair damage and mend any hard feelings. You can always speak to our Relationship Counsellor to help work through any issues you may have.

But even with the best efforts, grandparents are sometimes denied access to see their grandchildren. In that case, do grandparents have rights?

Do Grandparents Rights Exist?

The short answer is no. It’s frequently thought grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren, but sadly they do not.

It’s important you try to maintain a stable relationship with your grandchildren as they face an uncertain, difficult time during their parent’s divorce.

However, if your method of attempting to repair your relationship with your own adult children does not work, or if you have another reason for being unable to see your grandchildren, you are able to ask the Court for permission to apply for a Child Arrangement Order.

Taking the matter to Court should be a considered as a last resort. A Child Arrangement Order can be expensive, costing at least £215 just to apply. Obtaining grandparents rights through a Child Arrangement Order is also time consuming and can have a greater impact on the child.

Applying for Grandparents Rights

Grandparents rights aren’t automatically given. You must apply for permission to start proceedings for a Child Arrangement Order under the Children Act 1989.

Before you ask the Court for permission, you must normally attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to avoid Court by attempting to settle your differences with your adult child.

If you still wish to apply to the Court for permission, you should seek legal aid. It’s strongly recommended you get advice about grandparents rights to understand the official paperwork and fill in the right forms.

Initially, you are only requesting the Court for permission to apply for a court order. The Court will think about the child’s circumstances and will always consider their interests as a priority.

Going to Court

If the Court grants your request for permission, you will attend a court hearing before a Judge. This is known as the directions hearing. Your family law solicitor can represent you and will advise you on the best way to proceed.

After the directions hearing, the Judge will likely need time to make a final decision. Another court hearing will be arranged; again, your solicitor can represent you.

Your application for grandparents rights will additionally be sent to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). CAFCASS will investigate the child’s circumstances and anyone related to the child (including you), checking with Social Services, the police and other relevant bodies. CAFCASS may or may not make a report based on their findings; if they make a report the Court will take note of their recommendations. This can prolong the process and can affect the Judge’s decision.

At the second hearing, if all parties agree, the Judge will make a final order. This will set out an approved arrangement and can give grandparents legal rights to have contact with their grandchildren.

The final order may be contested by another party (for example, if the biological mother does not accept the agreement). You will need to attend a contested hearing and present evidence. A family law solicitor can help to ensure you have the right evidence for the hearing. The Judge will then take everything into account and decide whether grandparents should be allowed contact.

Getting Legal Help with Grandparents Rights

Applying to Court for grandparents rights is an extensive process. Even if you don’t intend to take the matter to Court, we can still help. Major Family Law offers advice on counselling, lawyer-supported mediation, and can provide full legal support and court representation if necessary. If you need any more information about grandparents rights, please contact us.

Night and Day, A Brief History of Time, Double Bridezilla and Gay Divorce Statistics

Read what our Consultant, Lewis Hulatt, of Major Family Law, Divorce and Family Law Specialists says on same-sex relationship breakdown.

In a week where we celebrate the life of Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s greatest ever scientists, my fondest memory is somewhat lighter than a ‘Brief History of Time’.

In 2015, Hawking replaced Matt Lucas and performed in one of the most memorable sketches ever created for Comic Relief, where the great scientist manages to eclipse even the brilliance of Matt as ‘Andy’.

When Cole Porter wrote his musical ‘A Gay Divorce’ in 1932, gay marriage did not even exist, so combining that with ‘The Seven Year Itch’, he must have been a few years ahead of his time. Fiction can anticipate, as the reality of gay divorce follows gay marriage like ‘Night and Day’ (Cole Porter’s masterpiece).

After civil partnership for same-sex couples became available in December 2005, it took only a year for Matt Lucas and Kevin McGee to publicly ‘tie the knot’, but back in 1952, a heroic scientist of Hawking’s calibre, Alan Turing, was prosecuted for being gay. Hawking was a campaigner to have Turing posthumously pardoned.   He succeeded.

In character, Matt Lucas lamented being ‘the only gay in the village’ and perhaps he was believed, as official government expectations of the take up of Civil Partnerships turned out a gross under-estimate. Now exceeding 100,000, in the first year, 9,648 signed up. That is a lot of villages.

The additional status of same-sex marriage was introduced from March 2014. A ‘wedding’ sounds more romantic than a ‘ceremony’ and interestingly, the Office for National Statistics show that marriages for all-female couples are double those of all-male couples at 78% of the total.

Women are statistically twice as likely to apply to terminate a legal relationship.

A double-bride wedding and twice the likelihood of divorce sounds a cue for Matt Lucas to reappear.

In 2008, Matt and Kevin’s ‘gay divorce’ was one of 56 male civil partnerships dissolved in England. Last year there were more than 500.

At Major Family Law, we understand that people separating are not merely a ‘statistic’ and we have the expertise to deal with that, whatever the legal format of the relationship – living together, civil-partnership or marriage.

Email us in confidence on if you need assistance with the legal aspects of separation or divorce.

How to Get a Divorce

To get a divorce means to legally dissolve a marriage, where the parties involved must prove to the Court how the marriage has broken down with no chance of reconciliation.

Couple completing paperwork to get a divorce

Are You Eligible for Divorce?

If you have been married for one year and your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage), you can get a divorce. You additionally must reside in a permanent home in the UK.

When applying for divorce, you should be able to demonstrate how your relationship has irreversibly broken down using the five grounds for divorce. You must choose at least one (or more) reason:

1)     Adultery
When your husband or wife has sexual intercourse with someone else

2)     Unreasonable behaviour
If your husband or wife engages in behaviour which makes it unfeasible to live with them

3)     Desertion
Your husband or wife leaves you without reason or agreement

4)     2-Year Separation
If you have been separated for two years or more and this is agreed in writing

5)     5-Year Separation
If you have been separated for five years plus – your husband or wife does not need to agree to this

How to Get a Divorce

Once you have checked you can get a divorce, you can begin the proceedings. The divorce process usually lasts between four to six months.

If you can both agree on the reason why you want to end the marriage, it will be quicker and will cost less. You can have a fixed fee divorce depending on your circumstances if you have agreed your family and financial arrangements but would like a solicitor to act on your behalf in court.

However, divorce proceedings can take as long as a year to complete if you cannot amicably settle on a reason why. When you are ready to begin, you must fill in a divorce petition form and pay a £550 fee. You will need your marriage certificate to fill in the form.

Once you’ve sent the forms to your nearest divorce centre and paid the fee, your husband or wife will receive a copy of the divorce petition form. They can either agree or disagree.

How to Get a Divorce if Your Husband or Wife Won’t Agree

If your husband or wife agrees to get a divorce, proceedings can go ahead. But if they disagree, you must seek legal advice as the divorce will likely go to court. This is known as ‘defending’ the divorce. Your husband or wife must provide an answer as to why they disagree and normally need to pay a further £245 fee.

If you receive a divorce petition, you can start your own in response but will need to pay the £550 fee.

If the divorce is defended or both parties begin their own divorce petition, the proceedings will go to court.

Getting a Divorce in Court

If divorce proceedings go to court, both parties should attend a hearing to decide on a suitable arrangement. It’s strongly recommended you seek legal advice to help you reach an agreement at a court hearing.

There are several reasons why a divorce may require a court hearing:

1)     You cannot decide which of the five grounds for divorce applies to you

2)     There are financial issues to resolve, such as if you wish to claim the costs of divorce against your husband or wife

3)     You do not accept the allegations against you in the divorce petition

It’s important to have a solicitor for a divorce hearing because they are the best person to represent you in court. They can explain what evidence you need to provide during the proceedings. A solicitor will also speak to your husband or wife and their solicitor on your behalf. Look for a solicitor who specialises in divorce to make sure you receive the best results.

When you meet with your solicitor for the initial consultation, ask how long proceedings will take. Additionally, find out when they will update you and any evidence you may need for a court hearing.

How to Get a Divorce if Children or Finances Are Involved

If children or finances are involved, getting a divorce can be more complicated. Again, it’s strongly advised you use a solicitor to guide you through the process and help you reach an agreement which works for you, your partner and any children you may have.

If you have children, you need to make child arrangements with your partner. These arrangements involve where the child will live, when each party will spend time with them and child maintenance.

If you and your husband cannot come to a fair agreement, you may need to attend a court hearing. Here, a family law solicitor can make your agreement legally binding.

Your solicitor can also assist with financial provision. If you and your partner cannot agree how to divide assets such as money (including savings), investments and property, you can ask for a financial order. A financial order may grant you one lump sum, regular maintenance payments, property or a share of your partner’s pension.

Finalising a Divorce

If your husband or wife does not defend the divorce petition, you can apply for a ‘decree nisi.’ This is a provisional document which says the Court has no issue with your divorce.

After six weeks and one day, you can then apply for the ‘decree absolute,’ a legal document which terminates your marriage. The Court will check you have applied for this in the correct time frame and have no other reason to not grant the divorce. Your solicitor can assist with this process.

You must have applied for financial provision and child arrangements before requesting the decree absolute.

If your marriage is having problems and you’re looking for a divorce solicitor, contact Major Family Law for specialist advice and expert guidance. We can also offer help with separation agreements if you aren’t ready to begin divorce proceedings.

Too late to start over?

Read what our newly appointed Director, Lucinda Connell, says in Luxe Magazine this month:

The divorce rate in the UK is steadily decreasing with one noticeable exception – the over 60s age group. Divorce statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics show the number of people divorcing who are aged 60 years and older has risen significantly since the 1990’s and, indeed, by as much as 73%. The Baby Boomers are now Silver Separators!

There are a number of suggested theories for this increase: so-called “empty nest syndrome” is stated to be one of the most significant reasons why couples, who have been together for many years, find themselves parting company. With their children having grown up and left the coop, the parents find themselves with time on their hands – particularly if retirement has commenced or is looming – together with a realisation that not only do they have less in common than they previously thought, but that they are not prepared to simply tolerate each other once their family has moved on. With many people remaining active for longer, some are seeking to make the most of a time in their life without familial ties and with a level of financial certainty available to them.

Despite the average length of marriage of the divorcing over-60s being just over 27 years, it would seem that this no longer a bar to starting over. It has been suggested that the lessening stigma of divorce contributes to this rising trend, as does the increased financial independence of women.

Ros Altmann, Director General of the over-50s group Saga, believes that ‘for many it’s the start of the next phase of their lives, not the end of their life as people in the past were often led to expect’.

It is a fact that, as a population, we are living longer and the overall number of people aged over 60 is increasing.  Increased life expectancy would tend to show that marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end by the death of a spouse than a quarter of a century ago.

Whilst this trend may sit uncomfortably with many of us, it is nevertheless a reality which needs sensitive and expert handling: for some, it can leave at least one of the parties to the marriage feeling vulnerable, lonely and seemingly ill-equipped for single life at a mature stage in life. It should be no surprise that dividing possessions and starting again can be deeply traumatic after so many years as part of a couple. Pensions are generally recognised as being a complex asset; they will be of huge importance at this time given that they are likely to have been built up over a number of years and have substantial value and both parties will have great reliance upon them at this later time of their lives.

As with everything, a situation which is not going to go away is best faced with an armoury of information and options. Knowing how to source support on a legal and financial level, and more importantly, on an emotional level is key to moving on. Advice on pension entitlement and the effect divorce will have is of course of primary importance for people of this age group.

Equally, this does not spell the end of the road for everyone who finds themselves divorcing later in life and for those who go on to new relationships and perhaps marriages, planning for provision for both new and existing families is essential and in turn requires advice about having a prenuptial agreement and proper will-planning. This is not as materialistic as it may seem when adult children and grandchildren are involved in the extended family. Divorce changes wills and inheritance issues can be a serious consideration.

We recognise that at Major Family Law and have a number of services specifically designed to support you and ensure that you are able to start a new chapter this New Year with confidence.


We Want Prenup, We Want Prenup

Read what our North West based consultant family lawyer, Moji Sobowale, says re Pre-nups:

Let us be honest, “scepticism about marriage” is quite often scepticism about marital breakdown and the way in which a couple’s financial affairs will be handled in that event.

I am not one for mass classifications but, having grown up in North Yorkshire, it is true that people from Yorkshire are blunt of speech though warm of heart. It is for this reason that when I am constantly asked if being a family lawyer makes me sceptical about marriage I simply say, “no, I  can get a prenup”. That is not to say that I will or that everybody should. It is simply to say that since the landmark decision in Radmacher v. Granatino in 2010 a pre-nuptial agreement between my partner and I would be enforceable if:

  1. Each of us freely enters into it;
  2. We both agree the terms of the prenup with full appreciation of its implications;
  3. there are no prevailing circumstances that would make it unfair to hold us to the terms of the agreement.

I once read an article entitled “If you want a prenup, you don’t want marriage”. With respect, it is this misguided belief that may have contributed to (but by no means caused) the 8.6% decrease in the marriage rate.

Many would-be spouses may shudder when their other half utters the word “prenup” but what, really, is there to be scared about? Is having a document that defines the parameters of the division of financial assets on divorce not less scary than playing Russian roulette with the wide-ranging discretion of a judge? The point is that prenups can allow for greater certainty.

What about the predicament of real need? In Radmacher the court held that spouses are unlikely to have intended that one of them be left in a “predicament of real need” or destitution. Many of us, at least at the outset, would agree that our partners should not be. Those of us who don’t, don’t want marriage.

Both parties should seek independent legal advice before entering into a prenup. Indeed a post-Radmacher case confirmed that parties will need to have received at least enough legal advice to appreciate what they are giving up before they will be deemed to have full appreciation of the implications of a prenup.

Any prenup should be carefully drafted by a family specialist. Moji is a consultant family law solicitor who is able to advise on any issues you may have relating to pre and post-nuptial agreements.


Lasting Impact

Our North West based consultant family lawyer, Moji Sobowale, provides us with 6 top tips to minimise the effects of marital breakdown on our children.

Tributes were recently paid to the late Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her passing. I vividly remember the day that this tragedy shocked the nation. I had just turned eight-years-old and my mother was weeping uncontrollably. That was one of the very few times I have seen tears, in those proportions, pour out of my mother’s eyes.

The truth is that Diana and I shared something in common, we found watching our mothers cry earth shattering:

“I remember Mummy crying an awful lot and every Saturday when we went up for weekends, every Saturday night, standard procedure, she would start crying. On Saturday we would both see her crying. “What’s the matter, Mummy?” “Oh, I don’t want you to leave tomorrow,” which for a nine-year-old was devastating, you know.” Diana, Her True Story

We now know that Diana’s childhood was plastered with unhappy memories of her parents arguing. Those memories have a lasting impact on children.

So how should warring spouses behave as parents both pre and post-separation? 6 top tips:

  1. never bad mouth the spouse/ex-spouse in front of the children, they are perceptive. Embroiling children in a bitter war of attrition is likely to be detrimental to their psychological development;
  2. never make children take sides whether advertently or inadvertently, statistics show that children often say one thing to one parent and make a wholly contradictory statement to the other;
  3. once separated, establish a workable pattern of care for the children remembering what is in their best interests not what suits you;
  4. as tempting as it may be with very close relationships between parent and child, avoid using the children as shoulders to cry on. Children already feel the impact of a divorce. The role reversal of acting as a counsellor to their protectors is likely to cause children long-term emotional damage.
  5. when the children are spending time with you shower them with your time, love and affection, not meaningless gifts. Diana recalls each of her parents, “trying to make it up in their area with material things rather than the actual tactile stuff, which is what we both craved but never got …”
  6. Now, at first glance contrary to point 4, treat your children like adults in the sense that they will know something is going on. If possible, work out a joint non-inflammatory way to break the news to them gently.

It is always better to agree but we appreciate that sometimes the circumstances can make this difficult. When at cross-purposes over their children’s upbringing and welfare, parents must handle things delicately, not least for the sake of the children.

What I’m sure is pleasing to all, whether you are a royalist or not, is the fact that Prince William appears to be taking to his roles as husband and father in an exemplary fashion.

As a family law solicitor, Moji is able to advise on the law behind and intricacies involved in making child arrangements.

Arbitration – the privatisation of the Court system?

The hope for any divorcing couple is that the division of their marital estate can be dealt with by agreement, following a degree of negotiation between themselves or their respective lawyers. In the majority of cases, this is fortunately the reality and at Major Family Law we pride ourselves on using our expertise to negotiate rather than litigate.

Sadly, not all cases can be agreed in this way. The very nature of our family law legislation allows for a broad discretion to be applied when determining the division of a marital estate and this can inevitably lead to a difference of opinion in approach or principle.  In such cases parties often apply to the family courts to have their case determined by a Judge.

The process of litigation is not entirely straightforward and usually involves up to three Court hearings before an eventual decision is reached by a Judge at a Final Hearing. The process can be very frustrating for those involved in it, particularly in view of current Court delays.  For cases that must proceed to a contested Final Hearing the process can take over a year to reach a conclusion.  This also assumes that the hearings proceed as planned.  We have had experience of the Court cancelling hearings at the eleventh hour, due to lack of judicial availability.  By that stage, the cases were fully prepared and Counsel had been instructed to represent the clients, incurring costs which could not be reimbursed.

In view of these issues, some are losing confidence in the Court system as a means of resolving matrimonial disputes and are turning to arbitration as an alternative method of dispute resolution.

The process of arbitration is similar to the Court process in that a binding and enforceable final decision is ultimately placed in the hands of an independent third party – the “Arbitrator” – although there can be a number of advantages to arbitration as opposed to litigation.

Arbitration allows for a greater degree of flexibility. Court litigation is controlled by procedural rules, whereas arbitration can be tailored to suit the parties’ particular needs and allows for parties to set their own timetable and agenda.  As a result, the process is often much quicker than court proceedings, with a final decision usually being reached within 3 to 6 months.  The consequence of this quicker process is that arbitration is frequently less costly than litigation, primarily due to the compressed schedule, and the fact that once a hearing date is agreed it rarely does not proceed.  The privatisation of the process is a significant advantage as parties can have confidence that once a hearing date is fixed, their case will be determined on that date.

Another significant benefit to arbitration is that parties are able to choose the Arbitrator who determines their case. Arbitrators are selected from a pool of professionals, with experience in the field of family law, meaning parties can be assured they have the necessary expertise. By contrast, at Court, no individual judge is assigned to a case and therefore multiple judges may be involved throughout the process. Although all judges must complete training, some may have a background in civil law as opposed to a family law which some may find disconcerting.  Thus, arbitration affords the parties the ability to select the decider, whereas Court litigation does not.

For some cases, arbitration can be the solution to the problems faced by the Courts and a system which is being placed under increasing pressure with ever mounting case lists and a lack of judicial availability. Arbitration is effectively the privatisation of the Court process and offers significant benefits to those who wish to be afforded more control over the process governing the outcome of their legal dispute.

Please contact our office to speak to one of our team about whether your case is suitable for arbitration.

Virtually Unreal Progress

Read what our South East based Consultant, Lewis Hulatt, of Major Family Law, the best family and divorce lawyers, says in the Luxe magazine this month:

Online divorce and ‘Open All Hours’ Courts are coming our way as North East families in government experiment as explained by Lewis Hulatt, Consultant Solicitor with Ponteland-based Major Family Law.

Even if you are ‘happily married’ and do a good job of caring for your children, the chances are that somebody you care about will be affected by problems needing legal solutions.   People do their best to handle legal problems themselves in a system that can never be stripped of complexity, no matter how big the typeface forms are printed in.  Big fonts or small print, legal documents are complicated and change lives.

Add Online Divorce as complexity dressed up as simplicity.

Getting involved in court proceedings after a few clicks of the mouse might sound like ‘progress’ in a 24/7/365 digital culture, but so far algorithms cannot factor-in your emotional wellbeing.   All courts are moving over to online divorce after centralisation of family law work into regional hubs and the government clearly hopes that there will be further costs savings through technology and court closures.    Once they changed the local family courts to being one national mega-court merely ‘sitting at’ locations, I predicted that the agenda of court closures and property sell-offs was gaining momentum.

Newcastle has been selected as one of a handful of areas where ideas to ‘modernise’ the court system are being piloted at short notice.   There was no complaint that the people of the North East were unhappy with Courts only opening during the day, but it has struck the bean-counters that not using real estate for part of the day is inefficient.  With judges retiring at a rapid rate, court staff hiding from the public rather than face their understandable annoyance with how the system treats them and administrative backlogs that often stretch into weeks’ of communications, one might think that opening courts into the evening might not be the solution.

In the original pilot scheme for extending court opening hours into the evening, there were considerable negatives which those controlling the project seem unwilling to recognise.   Now they are imposing those negatives on the people served by the Newcastle courts.  Judges working split-shifts or over-long hours may come to echo the problem with hospital doctors – too few being asked to do too much.  We have seen how well successive governments have managed that problem.

In the programme of court closures, it was proposed that in future cases be heard in any venue they could hire ‘on the cheap’ for the day.   So much for taking justice seriously: the public and lawyers alike were not convinced that the seriousness of decision-making would be enhanced by hearings being held in an infant school hall or the function room of a Byker pub.

Around the country, closing court buildings was about as popular with as expecting Newcastle United and Sunderland to both go and ground-share with Middlesbrough or if there was a match already on, switching the venue to Gateshead Stadium or Wallsend Boys club.   When you are worried about your future being decided by a judge, introducing ‘flexibility’ of venues increases anxiety.

At Major Family Law, we look ahead to anticipate developments, as well as deal expertly with the law as it is and Newcastle being a pilot area for a scheme that was generally regarded as unpopular and ineffective elsewhere does not fill us with optimism.

When online divorce is rolled out, we expect to hear of people who went online ‘under the influence’ and started divorce proceedings, rather than simply bought 237 pairs of flip-flops on eBay.

As taking time is considered ‘delay’ rather than an opportunity for reflection, safeguards so that people do what is best will probably remain lacking. Having the experience and skills to help you decide what is right rather instead of what is easiest/quickest will remain something that good family lawyers will endeavour to maintain.

If you have a family matter you wish to discuss with Lewis you can email him direct

The Bare Truth: Dress codes in the digital age

Read what our South East based Consultant, Lewis Hulatt, of Major Family Law, the best family and divorce lawyers, says:

What is the purpose of a necktie?   Perhaps in days of yore it held together the collar of a shirt or was a shrunken ruff which whilst revealing the chicken skin or dewlaps, distracted the onlooker.  In the modern world it represents a sign of conformity – is there greater sign of being ‘the establishment’ than sporting the ‘old school tie’?   In a world where the poor feel increasingly disenfranchised and the gap between them and the rich is greater than ever before, is it appropriate that solicitors adopt a visual cue that they align themselves with the vested interests rather than seeking justice for all?   In a society where access to legal redress for private disputes has been treated as an ‘unaffordable’ expense and the court system seen as a service for those who can pay rather than an integral part of civil society, the role of solicitors may be somewhat supportive of the law, but that should not imply satisfaction with the status quo.

It is helpful for those who wish to exercise control to have a barometer of conformity that has little or no practical usefulness – so a necktie fits that profile.  A person can think themselves a ‘rebel’ by choosing a ‘loud’ tie or one they consider subversive, but by adorning themselves with a tie that has not innate usefulness, they are signing up to their place on the conformist register.

Lawyers are ‘conformist’ in that they uphold the law, but thinking back to schooldays, finding a way to wear their tie so as to obey the rules whilst challenging the spirit of those rules might be considered the early efforts of potential lawyers. If some clients like the appearance of a necktie, so be it and if that is particularly important, they are sure to find a lawyer who either likes neckties or feels obliged to conform.

However in a digital age where sometimes we do not ever physically meet our clients, I make no apology for my everyday workwear. I recognise that eschewing a necktie would be seen as disrespectful, so I wear a tie at court for that reason.  Although that part of our dress-code is externally imposed, dressing smartly shows respect for the position of the judge and can make the advocate feel that they are ‘in the zone’ to fulfil that role to the best of their ability.

On my ‘man-cave’/office door there is a sign which says ‘I am up and I am dressed: what more do you want?’

Living (Together) On a Prayer

Lewis Hulatt, South East Consultant with Major Family Law, the family and children specialist solicitors, comments as follows:-

Many of us punctuate our lives with songs.   I certainly do.

I was online last week when the Manchester disaster was unfolding and afterwards, felt angry at the senseless hurt caused to so many people. Somebody with great wisdom spotted the aptness of a song by perhaps the greatest Britpop band to come out of Manchester.

Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ was a near-perfect choice for Manchester, as local lad Noel Gallagher’s lyrics have so much to express about moving on positively.

Music deals with experience and another song that hit me last week was Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ dealing with a relationship in adversity.

It struck me because it contained a truth about the precariousness of hope and recently, we have had a lot of unmarried family break-ups to resolve.   Despite many couples splitting, hardly anybody enters into a ‘Cohabitation (Living Together) Agreement’.

The general law divides the proceeds when a jointly-owned property is (eventually) sold, but judges lack the discretion to achieve overall ‘fairness’. Dealing with joint bank accounts, arrangements for triggering a sale, who should pay what and what should happen if one person leaves are all terms that can be more easily agreed when the couple are well-disposed towards each other.

Sadly although many of their sales are from couples splitting up, too few property lawyers encourage buyers to have Agreements.   However, even if the purchase has completed, a binding Agreement could be prepared while people are amicable.

A formal Agreement helps people articulate understandings, so ask us about some preventative medicine rather than seek our help when it has gone wrong.

Without an agreement, you are hoping that if you separate you will both be reasonable.   In our extensive experience, that really is ‘Living On A Prayer’…