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Spousal Maintenance On Divorce – It Isn’t What It Used To Be!

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Predicting the precise outcome of a financial remedy case on divorce is impossible. Every case is different. The presiding legislation has not been updated despite requests for legislative guidance further to the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973, and we, as practitioners must, therefore, interpret how the case might settle for our clients based on case law. From this, we are able to give our clients an indication as to the range of possible orders the court might make in their case.

The case of Waggott-v-Waggott has seen a ruling by the Court of Appeal that will shape the advice given by divorce lawyers to their clients in respect of spousal maintenance, with guidance given as to the treatment of earning capacity and the principles of sharing and compensation.

This is a high net worth case and a marriage of 12 years, although the parties had been living together since 1991. They had one child whereupon the wife left her role as an accountant and did not work again.

This case tells us that the statutory steer to a clean break imposed by the Matrimonial Causes act 1973 should prevail, causing the wife to lose her argument that the husband’s earning capacity should be classed as a matrimonial asset to which the ‘sharing’ principle applies, and her argument that she should not be required to use the capital awarded to her in the settlement to meet her income needs. The Court said to extend the sharing principle in the ways suggested by the wife would undermine the court’s ability to effect a clean break.

The case is leading lawyers to understand that spousal maintenance awards are not as generous as has previously been the case. The end result for the wife was that her claim to increase the maintenance awarded to her was denied and, indeed, the original award was challenged when the Court of Appeal imposed a term order of 3 years with a Section 28(1A) Bar having the effect of preventing the wife from making an application to extend the term.

For advice about resolving finances on divorce, call 01630 652405 and make an appointment with our divorce solicitor, David Lago.

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Online Divorces – Legal Advice Is Recommended

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The document known by many as the ‘Petition’ has been re-named ‘Divorce Application’ and the contents overhauled in an effort to make the application process more user-friendly for litigants in person – invariably those who cannot afford to instruct a solicitor to oversee the divorce process for them.

The system is supposed to become even more user-friendly by digitalising the Application online, with the first online divorces currently being trialled, in an effort to modernise the process and bring it into the 21st century.

There is no doubt about it; the only way to look is to the future and, with the growing number of litigants in person due to economic changes, and the virtual scrapping of legal aid in private family law, it is safe to assume that those numbers are set only to rise.

A word to the wise, however.

On the whole, a reasonably minded lay-person might find the divorce process one which they can master and see through to the end with minimal legal advice – maybe following an initial appointment to provide that helpful initial advice and assistance. The legal world of ‘financial remedy’ (‘ancillary relief’ as it once was) however should not be viewed in the same way. Indeed, it could be costly to do so and legal advice still comes highly recommended.

Family law is complex. It is built upon a foundation of a 45-year-old statute, and a web of case law follows which adds meat to the bones of what lawyers know as the ‘section 25’ considerations of the court. This case law is evolving and a good family lawyer will help you to reach a resolution that properly interprets the law to your case, and reaches a suitable resolution in the interests of you and the children involved.

As Resolution lawyers at Onions & Davies, we are committed to a constructive approach intent on keeping things amicable. We know that the clients who come to us want the best result for themselves and their children, knowing also that they will probably have to continue a parenting relationship with their ex-spouse for a long time after the finances are settled and they have their Decree Absolute.

Watch this space for more information about online divorces as the trial runs out. For advice and assistance about your marital breakdown and the best way forward for you, call Sharon on 01630 652405 for an appointment with family solicitor David Lago.

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Receptionist/Office Manager

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We have a vacancy for an experienced Receptionist/Office Manager, ideally with legal secretary experience, to work in our busy Market Drayton office.

The role is full-time, and the candidate will need to have strong IT, and interpersonal skills. Your role will involve interacting with clients in a friendly and helpful way, as well as having responsibility for the management of certain systems. We are looking for someone who responds positively to the challenges that the business faces, with minimal supervision. You will need to be well organised and show attention to detail. You should be able to work under pressure, be able to audio type and copy type, and be able to deal with clients both face to face and over the telephone.

Salary to be discussed at interview. We can also offer free on-site parking and a staff pension scheme.

If you would like to apply for this role, please send your CV and covering letter to Louise Martin at louise.martin@onionsanddavies.co.uk

The closing date for this position is Monday 5th February 2018.

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