Author: Merrick Solicitors

Merrick promotion for Molly

Merrick has promoted Molly Souter to Associate Solicitor.

Molly Souter team photo

Molly recently completed her two years’ PQE (post-qualified experience) with Merrick who she re-joined in 2021 after starting her post graduate career with the company in 2016. She has experience in a wide range of family matters. This includes divorce, finances, applications for non-molestation and occupation orders, and children disputes.

Molly has a key role in delivering the firm’s #AccessUs service, which is designed to meet the demise of legal aid in family law cases and provide advice where a client has limited resources.

Molly said: “I’m delighted to widen my experience with the Merrick team and have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients. I decided early on that family law would be my chosen area and I am excited for the next stage in my career as a family lawyer.’’

Principal Amanda Merrick said: “We are really pleased to see Molly take her career to the next level. She delivers practical and empathetic advice and understands how stressful family breakdowns can be. She is committed and ensures that clients feel supported every step of the way.”

We are proud supporters of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter.

The charter is a voluntary membership and assessment scheme which has been created to improve employment standards across all Greater Manchester employers regardless of size or sector.

As family lawyers looking to grow and recruit it’s important for us to create quality jobs with opportunities for people to progress and develop.

Being supporters means we are committed to working towards seven key good employment characteristics:

  • Extending secure work
  • Extending flexible work
  • Working toward paying the real living wage
  • Improving workplace engagement and voice
  • Developing excellent recruitment practices
  • Improving people management
  • Fostering employee health and wellbeing

We are delighted to support a forward-thinking business community, which champions responsible employment practices and supports sustainable growth.

Click on this link to find out more about the Good Employment Charter and what employees can expect when working for a supporter.

We are looking for Senior Family Solicitors who can provide advice on complex financial settlements and have previous experience of working with high-profile, prestige clients.
We need you to help, guide and support our clients during their demanding times with consideration, empathy and care.
Join a small team that is looking to expand and grow. You will be self-motivated and pro-active with a ‘can do’ approach and a high level of initiative and persistence. You must demonstrate a solid background in family law and have previous experience in advocacy.
If you feel you would like a change of scenery to work with a boutique firm that is small enough to care but big enough to compete, then you can tune into our values. We are in Cumbria, we are in Manchester and we are in London.
There is so much to discuss, so please get in touch

Divorce applications highest in a decade

Divorce applications reached their highest level in a decade in the first period after the introduction of ‘no-fault’ legislation.

Divorce laws were overhauled for the first time in 50 years on April 6. This enables married couples to divorce without needing to apportion blame for the breakdown.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reveal there were 33,566 divorce applications in the three months April to June.

The number of applications was the highest since the first quarter of 2012 and an increase of 22% from the same period last year. Figures in the previous quarter compared to January – March in 2021 had fallen slightly. This suggests people were holding off divorcing until the new legislation came into effect.

The vast majority of the April-June applications (33,234) were made under the new law.

Joint applications for divorce

The law change is designed to help separating couples look to the future and focus on key practical decisions involving children or their finances.

The legislation also allows separating couples to file a joint application for divorce. 78% of the applications were from sole applicants and 22% from joint applicants, including those for the dissolution of civil partnership.

The MoJ data also shows there was a rise in the average length of proceedings for those divorcing under the old law,

The average time from petition date to receiving a decree nisi (conditional order) was 36 weeks, up 12 weeks on the same period in 2021.

And the average period from petition date to decree absolute (final order) was 56 weeks, up seven weeks from the same quarter in 2021.

Under the new law there’s a minimum 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and application for a conditional order. This provides a meaningful period of reflection and the chance to reconsider. Couples then have to wait a further six weeks before applying for a final order.

→ No fault divorce law – what’s changed?

Divorce advice from consumer champion

A new survey claims almost three quarters of those questioned after divorce hadn’t included one of the major financial assets in their settlement.

UK courts have allowed pension sharing orders since 2000. However, despite this, the survey found 7 in 10 of those divorced had not included pensions in their financial settlements.

Of the 948 Which? members surveyed in May who had divorced since the law changed, 71% hadn’t done so. The consumer champion said leaving pensions out can lead to unequal settlements as married women tend to have smaller pensions.

This is because women are still more likely to spend time away from the workplace looking after children. They also generally have lower earnings because of part-time, lower paid work.

Research by the University of Manchester and the Pensions Policy Institute found the average married woman aged 64-69 has accrued £28,000 in private pension savings, compared with £260,000 for men.

Which? said it was concerned some couples were potentially ignoring one of the biggest assets in their marriage. Pensions are generally considered to be the second largest financial asset in most couple’s relationship, after property.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “Wherever possible, we encourage people to seek legal and financial advice when embarking on divorce proceedings, in order to ensure they are equipped to make the best financial decisions for the future.”

The full article can be read here.

We’ve previously shared advice about Four financial areas you must give attention in divorce.

Student Maisy Buchanan spent the week on work experience with us and wrote this fabulous review. Thanks Maisy and good luck with your studying.

In June, I spent the week at Merrick Solicitors as part of my Year 12 work experience. I thoroughly enjoyed it and on a personal level was introduced to many great people who made me want to pursue my ambition with law even further.

The experience has really opened my eyes to the hard work and determination that is paired with being a lawyer;  furthering my knowledge about law but also pushing me to pursue my dreams of becoming part of the Bar.

Throughout my experience, I learned about client/solicitor relationships involving confidentiality and discovered the legal challenges for those who are pursuing a divorce, whether it involves children or finances. By familiarising myself with case progression in Family Law, I have managed to grasp and understand key terminology and abbreviations.


My understanding was aided by the helpful solicitors at Merrick, who were always up for answering and explaining any issues or questions I could not quite comprehend, and also helping with my educational studies. Keira supplied great answers for my EPQ which I’m currently completing on capital punishment.

Overall, I not only received a vast amount of knowledge on Family Law, which I hope to carry on with me to university next year, but also an understanding of the way in which a well organised and welcoming law firm runs and what it feels like to work in this perfect environment.

I have really enjoyed my time and the positive attributes I have received and can only thank those who have made my week of work experience one which I will remember. I have gained so much and it has solidified my ambition of joining the bar or even being involved in law in another role.

Thank you all so much and especially to Amanda and Heather who allowed me to shadow their work and I look forward to the possibility of working alongside them in the future.

Maisy Buchanan

Merrick helpline staying open during cost of living crisis

Since early in the pandemic, Merrick has run a free helpline offering legal advice on divorce, domestic abuse, separation, children and other relationship issues.

While, thankfully, many aspects of daily life now look a lot more normal, the pressure on families has unfortunately not gone away.

The threat of Covid-19 may have lessened. However, the current cost of living crisis is another major concern that is impacting families across the UK.

Few are immune from the stress that soaring inflation, energy and food prices are causing. Those pressures can impact on relationships as well, placing a further strain on couples.

That’s why we’ve decided to keep our helpline open. We want to ensure we’re able to offer a helping hand to those that need it. We’re available on freephone 0800 285 1413 seven days a week, 8am to 8pm.

As well as offering initial legal advice, we can often signpost to other ways of getting support.

We’ve also put together this list of just some of the places you can get help online with financial issues.

Online help

Debt charity Step Change has useful advice on its web pages and also handy links to the range of government support that has been made available. Through the same page, visitors can access Step Change’s free debt advice either through online tools or by talking to an advisor.

If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off. The Citizens Advice site has a list of energy suppliers offering grants to their customers:

One of the most passionate advocates for the Government to do more to help out families struggling to meet their rising costs, is TV Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis.

As you might expect, his website includes a myriad of good advice from how to check whether you’re actually receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled to saving money by using your microwave rather than your oven.

Tried everything on his list? Then sign up for his weekly email which delivers fresh advice on ways to save.

Single parents 

Single parent charity Gingerbread points out that while coupled parents can share the financial burden of parenting, single parents do not have the same flexibility.

As a result, many single parents are taking on multiple jobs to make ends meet. Evidence shows that, due to childcare costs, working more hours often actually increases the risk of falling into problem debt.

Gingerbread has lots of user-friendly advice on all sorts of issues affecting single parents. This includes stretching the family budget and ensuring you are getting the necessary support.

Financial strain leaves many feeling anxious and fearful – and that can put pressure on relationships.

We often tiptoe around conversations to do with money and what support people can seek when they need it. Relate, the relationship people, have some suggestions on how to open up what may be a difficult conversation with family or friends about your finances.

Relate’s advice is to ‘feel proud of yourself for even thinking about having a conversation with others in your life. It’s a big step’.


→ We previously published this list of helplines.




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.