In this spooktacular blog, the team at Maguire Family Law look at what many people perceive to be the scarier side of divorce and separation and how, as family law solicitors, they can help scare aware those ghouls.
10. Is going to court like entering a crypt?
The English legal system has quite a reputation for being full of stuffy old male judges, however in our experience this is no longer the case.
The Family Court judges or magistrates that you would most likely encounter as part of a divorce or separation will not usually wear wigs or gowns. Recent statistics show that women now make up 32% of all District and Deputy District Judges and 52% of Magistrates.
If you do need to attend court as part of your case (and not every case will need the input of a judge), then there will be a certain level of formality to the hearing. District Judges are addressed as Sir or Ma’am and the person addressing the judge will usually stand.
We would always recommend that you seek legal advice and, if possible, secure someone to represent you at a court hearing. However, if you do choose to attend court as a litigant in person then it is important to be polite, arrive on time and understand what you are asking the judge to do on that day.
9. What if my ex turns into a witch or warlock?
As family lawyers the team at Maguire Family Law always try to approach matters in the most conciliatory way possible. However, we cannot always guarantee that your former spouse or partner will take the same approach.
If your former spouse or partner is refusing to cooperate on matters relating to a divorce, finances or the children, then referring the matter to court can sometimes help to put in place a timetable and a clear framework of expectations.
If your former spouse or partner is taking matters out on you, and becoming violent and aggressive, then the court does have powers to make protective orders. These can, in the most serious of circumstances, mean that your ex could be required to leave or stay away from the family home and could be prevented from contacting you.
8. Will I find any skeletons in the closet?
It is not our intention as family lawyers to pry into people’s private lives. However, we do have to be aware of the full circumstances of a case before we can advise our clients properly.
Full financial disclosure is an important part of resolving financial issues. Undisclosed bank statements or credit cards, evidence of affairs, suggestions of addictions or misuse of money can all come to light as part of the process and these are all factors which could potentially have an impact on the financial outcome in your case.
More about the importance of disclosure can be read here.
7. What goes in to the cauldron?
When lawyers talk about the division of assets on divorce, they often refer to the ‘matrimonial pot’. This matrimonial pot (or cauldron) is shorthand for all those assets which the court is asked to divide upon divorce.
It is very rare that assets will not fall within the matrimonial pot, but some examples could include an inherited asset which had always been kept separate from the family finances or those assets which one party brought into the marriage or created after the marriage ended. However, whether an asset falls outside the matrimonial pot is a very fact sensitive matter and specialist legal advice is needed in every case.
6.Have you got a crystal ball?
As much as we would love to be able to predict the future, as family lawyers our role is to look at the range of possible outcomes and to help guide your case to the settlement or the arrangements for the children which you hope to achieve.
The future is one of the key considerations, both in relation to financial matters and children. For example, consideration will need to be given as to whether a party is going to return to work; whether one party expects a bonus or promotion at work; and what if one party expects to be made redundant?
From a child law perspective, we have to consider how the children’s needs and demands will change and grow as they get older: the contact arrangements for a 5 year old are not necessarily going to remain the same when that child is a teenager with their own hobbies and social life.
5. Who gets to keep the black cat?
James Maguire & Co are not just presented with clients concerned about black cats. We also advise on dogs, horses and ponies; even the goldfish if necessary.
What happens to pets on separation is becoming more and more of an issue to our clients and we have recently prepared a couple of blogs which provide further information on the issue: pet custody cases and pet-nups.
4. Who gets to take the kids trick or treating?
Making appropriate arrangements for the children to spend time with both parents is often a key focus for our clients.
Not every family has the same priorities and there is no one size fits all approach. For some families, there are established traditions as to where the children spend birthdays or religious holidays. For others, an emphasis is also placed on celebrations such as Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Whatever the arrangements used to be as a family, it is important that following a separation both parents take a child focussed approach. Whilst both parents might want to spend time with their children on Christmas Day, do the children really want to spend hours in the car travelling from one place to another?
Making arrangements for special occasions can take a significant amount of compromise. You should always try to plan in advance what should happen and avoid taking unilateral decisions which will simply cause ill-feeling from the other parent at what should be a happy time for the family.
3. Will my solicitor be scary?
The team at Maguire Family Law pride themselves on being friendly and approachable.
There is information on every member of our team here and you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
2. Will my legal costs give me a fright?
The short answer is: we hope not.
At Maguire Family Law we are always upfront and transparent about our fees. Sometimes it can be difficult at the outset of a matter to advise exactly what your total fees will be. However, we do provide ongoing costs estimates which help you to budget for your legal costs. We bill on a monthly basis which we feel helps clients to keep on top of their costs and means that there should be no unexpected frights at the end of your case.
1. Have you got a magic wand?
This is a question which not all clients ask, but it is certainly one which we often feel obliged to answer.
Resolving legal matters arising from a divorce or separation is not as straight forward as waving a magic wand. However, the team at Maguire Family Law are dedicated to helping you to find a solution to your legal problems. We look to build a case plan with you, to look at tactics and strategy, and to do what we can to make the process easy to understand for the client.
Please see our testimonial page for comments from our clients who feel that, magic wand or not, we have helped them to resolve their family law issues.