Month: April 2022

Solicitor Molly back with the team at Merrick

Solicitor Molly Souter has returned to Merrick – the firm where she first got a taste for family law.

Molly re-joined the team late last year and is enjoying using the experience she has gained to help clients make a fresh start.

Molly said: “What I have always liked about Merrick is they do things differently. We have that personal touch; it’s more than just having a call with a client and advising them.

“We’ll find out how they are. I like the caring side of it, making sure they are OK emotionally. The easier we can make it, the better for the client.”

Merrick solicitor Molly Souter

Molly was on placement with Merrick in 2016 after graduation, she then went on to study her LPC (Legal Practice Course), completed her training and gained experience elsewhere in the North West.

Molly said: “I always preferred the personal side rather than corporate or commercial law

“When I came to Merrick, I realised just how much impact divorce has on people. Because it’s such a real problem in people’s lives and ends up happening to a lot of families, it’s always an ongoing issue.”

Unique service offers

The Merrick team is continuing to roll out its unique offer of three service levels – Prestige, Benchmark and AccessUs.

Molly said this was another point of difference to many other firms.

She said: “We provide different service levels based on a client’s financial circumstances. Access Us is like a Legal Aid rate (which isn’t available for most cases of divorce) and enables us to help people where money is tight.

“That’s not something I’ve seen other firms do. We are also much more engaged with things like lifestyle and life after a divorce with our well-being and advice platform, Merrick Life. It’s looking to help the person through it all.

“That’s what appeals, and what makes Merrick stand out for me.

“For some clients we are the only people they can talk to. They do feel very isolated, and we become one of the few people they can trust. This includes seeking advice on life post-separation and Merrick is very well-placed to help clients in this way, too.”

Principal Amanda Merrick said: “We’re delighted that Molly is back and a fully-fledged member of the Merrick team.

“She is making a real difference in helping our clients. Molly understands what an impact divorce has on all aspects of people’s lives and is very keen to use her knowledge and training to do her best for every client.”

→ Meet more of the Merrick team.




‘No fault’ divorce law: What’s changed?           

‘No fault’ divorce comes into effect today and is being hailed as the biggest shift in the divorce law in half a century.

But what exactly has changed and how will the experience differ for separating partners?

This development ends the requirement for the divorcing partner to prove their marriage has broken down based on one of five facts – adultery, behaviour, two years separation (with their spouse’s consent), five years separation (without consent) and desertion.

Instead, only a statement of irretrievable breakdown will be needed.

It’s this change, removing the need for one party to be ‘blamed’ for the marriage break down, that has brought forward the term ‘no fault’ divorce.

Campaigners hope that taking blame out of the legal process will also remove some of the acrimony and conflict and shift the focus away from what went wrong, to what’s needed for the future.

Six months to final order

The new process will take six months before the separating couple can obtain a final divorce order. There’s a minimum 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and application for a conditional order. This provides couples with a meaningful period of reflection and the chance to reconsider. They then will have to wait a further six weeks before applying for a final order.

Another change the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 brings is more modern terminology. The person applying for the divorce will be called the applicant, instead of the petitioner. The decree nisi becomes the conditional order and the decree absolute will be the final order.

It will no longer be possible to contest a divorce, except on very limited grounds (such as whether the court has jurisdiction to conduct the proceedings).

Also under the April 6 change, both parties can jointly file for divorce, rather than solely one partner.

The new law is anticipated to remove some of the negativity and blame associated with divorce. However, it cannot take away the often tricky process of agreeing a divorce settlement between partners. The separating couple will still need to decide how to divide assets like the family home, savings and pensions. And, of course, making parenting arrangements for any children.

The new system is a change for everyone. Our advice remains that anyone thinking about ending their marriage should educate themselves about all potential possibilities, hurdles and outcomes. Seeking legal guidance at the earliest opportunity puts you in the strongest position to make those educated decisions.

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