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Merrick is rolling out a Cumbria ‘home delivery’ service for people needing expert legal help.
Amanda Merrick and her team are looking to break the mould in taking their services on the road to meet potential clients at venues and times that suit them.The service is called #LawtoDoor and it is in Cumbria this Friday (Dec 8).
Amanda has been a Manchester-based family lawyer for 28 years and has successfully developed #LawtoDoor to further extend her work in London. Cumbria is the second area to be chosen for the service.
Amanda, who has strong family connections in the Lake District, said it was vital those in rural areas had good access to the range of skills and experience that were often needed in times of intense stress, such as divorce and family breakdowns.
She said: “I have a long-held passion for the law and firmly believe in access to justice.
“Cumbria is a part of the world that is very close to my heart and I understand that while it’s the isolation and rural beauty that makes it unique, that can also cause problems for people when they need services that are often only found in our bigger cities.
“#LawtoDoor is my way of trying to make those services more accessible. No longer do we sit expecting you to come to us.  Thanks to a membership of the Institute of Directors we now have use of meeting rooms nationwide; we can meet with you at home instead if you prefer, or at work, if space and the boss allow.
“I’m also partial to a cuppa if you want to meet first on a more informal basis.”
Anyone in need of Merrick’s professional help should get in touch for an appointment on 0161 838 5410 or email
Amanda has extensive experience in cases of high net worth but she hasn’t lost her long-held passion for the law and access to justice ensuring that MERRICK remains committed aswell to #lawforgood.  The firm has, therefore, recently developed its own AccessUs scheme, which aims to ensure good quality legal representation is also available at an affordable level.
Amanda, who developed a love of the Lakes through her father, Tony, a former long-term licensee at the Queen’s Head Hotel in Hawkshead, said: “There are lots of people who can’t get advice because they can’t afford it.
“We are, therefore, rolling out AccessUs, a case-managed service intended to enable access to justice and every member of the Merrick team is tasked with dedicating a certain percentage of their time to it.”
Follow us: @MerrickLegal and @LawtoDoor on Twitter


Family, Manchester and The Lake District.
Three things we know and love all have a starring role in a current piece of prime BBC drama.
The trials and tribulations of The A Word’s Hughes and Scott families are back on our screens – alternately making us smile and tugging at our heartstrings.
When it comes to strained relationships, this has it all. The central theme may be the family trying to come to terms with seven-year-old Joe’s autism, but add to that separating couples, serious illness, single parenting, new relationships and the stress of launching a business.
For family lawyers, it’s a bit of a busman’s holiday.
The six-part drama revisits the messy, mixed-up lives of families struggling to do their best as parents and people when nothing ever feels normal. Change to a routine or personal circumstance can be difficult for us all. For an autistic child it has the potential to throw their whole life – and therefore the lives of all those close to them – upside down.
It’s impossible not to be gripped by the conflicting parental emotions of wanting to protect and keep close and knowing that in this situation expert help is what’s required.
There’s undoubted love and concern running right through this fictional family but there’s also the realism that living in a beautiful part of the UK doesn’t grant immunity from life’s body blows.
The stunning backdrop of the fells and tantalising glimpses of Keswick, Coniston and Thirlmere certainly grab the attention. In fact, it’s the strength of the Lakes, it’s unspoiled, breath-taking landscape, that breeds the isolation that can be felt by those who need services only a big city can offer.
So it is for Joe and his family, who now face a daily 190-mile round trip to get him to a school in Manchester where he can access the support he needs.
This is where the drama pitches it so right. It mixes the uncertainty and heartache of Joe’s family with moments of everyday humour – mum and son making paper hats in the back of their broken down car – being a case in point.
The link with the big city ran right through the first series and is now established in the second. No surprise really given that writer Peter Bowker is a favourite son of Manchester.
While the physical aspects of the city are less frequently seen than those of the Lakes – and there’s no traffic! – there’s a clear message that it’s the place where specialist help is available.
As a video teaser for the series neatly sums up ‘we are complicated, we are clueless, we are dysfunctional, we are family.’
Yes, we are, all those things and more.
Merrick Legal takes #lawtodoor to Cumbria every month and we’ll be there again on December 8. Talk to us on 0161 838 5410.
Follow us @MerrickLegal on Twitter


Tired of those perfect TV families? Wish someone would portray parenthood as you recognise it? Motherland is likely the series for you.
If alpha mums, car pool envy, hopeless in-laws and absent spouses feature in your life then a) you’re not alone and b) it’s good therapy to laugh about them.
Motherland’s depiction of life as a primary school parent in London is brutally frank. Its central character, Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin), is hanging on for grim life and frequently left wondering why she bothers. In most scenes she’s harassed and hurried, late taking her children to school, late for work, late for picking up from school, late for life.
Her plight is not helped by those alpha mums, the stay at home ones who get the best table at the coffee shop, who are perfectly made up at the school gate and who aren’t perpetually stressed, nor wracked with doubt and guilt (at least not on the surface).
Families can be your biggest support, but don’t ever take them for granted. Julia’s problems worsen after her own put upon mother tires of her role as unpaid babysitter while Julia dashes from one missed appointment to the next. With that support withdrawn Julia turns to her ‘mum friends’ to take on similar responsibilities.
One of the many things Julia is crying out for is some matrimonial advice. Hilariously – not so funny if it were real life – her partner is only spied at stag dos, the football or go-karting on a company bonding day. What a drag.
Meanwhile Julia frets over keeping up with the Queen’s Park Joneses, finding the cheapest priced nanny and the constant juggling and logistical nightmares with which all parents will identify. If you’ve ever thought that joining a carpool would be a life-changing event for you, you can empathise with Julia.
What she needs is someone to listen to her and give her some sound advice. One of those mum friend’s, Liz (Diane Morgan), has her own ways of dealing with being a single parent. She’s a laidback, life-hacker keeping stress at bay with cheats, fixes and a to-be-admired it’ll be alright attitude.
Want to know how to throw a party for 30 children, survive a school fund-raiser or get your children into the oversubscribed breakfast club? Then Liz is your lady. Many of us would relish a Liz to sort out those little mysteries of modern life.
The laughs come from the excruciating – and real – scrapes these parents get themselves into. It may not be perfect, but that’s life in all its muddle of extended families, tangled relationships and thwarted aspirations.
If you’ve not yet caught up with Motherland – it’s on BBC2 on Tuesdays at 10pm – there’s good news. You can have a school night binge on all six episodes on the BBC iplayer.


If life ever feels like one chaotic round of appointments and disappointments it might just make you feel better.
Merrick Legal takes #LawtoDoor to London every month and we’ll be there again on January 5. Talk to us on 0161 838 5410.
Follow us @MerrickLegal and @LawtoDoor on Twitter



Marriage, it is often said, is a partnership of equals. It took English law a long time to give effect to that expression, but it has done so (or tried to do so, if it can) since 2000 and the case of White v White in the House of Lords.  Six years later, in the cases of Miller and MacFarlane the same court explained that sharing – and usually equal sharing – of the fruits of the marital partnership was one of the rationales for a redistribution of property on the ending of a marriage.

The sharing principle does not mean that the starting-point in all cases is that the assets of a marriage should be shared equally. However, any proposed settlement should be measured against the “yardstick of equality”, to determine whether it is fair in the circumstances of the case.  To the extent that there is a departure from equality, it will have to be justified and explained.

To put it another way, the effect of the sharing principle is that the assets of a marriage should be divided equally, unless there is a good reason why an equal division would be unfair. So the question is: when is an equal division unfair? Two recent Court of Appeal cases demonstrate circumstances in which the court considered that there should be a departure from equality.

The first case was Sharp v Sharp. The facts in the case were that the parties lived together from 2007, and were married in 2009. There were no children of the marriage. For most of their time together they both worked and earned similar salaries, but the wife received bonuses totalling £10.5 million, whereas any bonuses that the husband’s employment brought were “comparatively trivial”.

The wife commenced divorce proceedings in 2013 and issued a financial remedies application. At the time that the application was heard by Sir Peter Singer in the High Court the total assets held by either party amounted to £6.9 million, although the husband accepted that a property acquired by the wife prior to the marriage should be left out of the pot of “matrimonial assets” for division between the parties. The total value of the matrimonial assets was £5.45 million. Sir Peter Singer decided that that sum should be divided equally, and therefore awarded the husband £2.725 million.

The wife appealed against this decision, to the Court of Appeal. She argued that an equal division of the matrimonial assets was not appropriate, because of the short duration of the marriage and the fact that the parties had largely kept their finances separate.  The wife’s appeal was allowed.

The leading judgment of the Court of Appeal was given by Lord Justice McFarlane.  He described the relevant factors as being that “the marriage has been short, there are no children, the couple have both worked and maintained separate finances, and… one of them has been paid very substantial bonuses during their time together.”  As to the source of the bonuses, the court of appeal found that the husband had made no contribution to the source of the bonuses (which derived from favourable trading conditions fortuitously enjoyed during the marriage) and that their domestic contribution had otherwise been equal.  The judgment is critical of the trial judge, and of the profession, for departing from the majority of the House of Lords in Miller and simply applying the yardstick of equality to everything built up during the marriage, without sufficient recognition of the way the parties themselves arranged their finances.  On a proper view of the majority in Miller, there was scope for, and it was appropriate to, depart from equality where the parties themselves had done so in the arrangements they had put in place.  There was no principle that departure from equality in such circumstances could only take place where the parties had expressly agreed to do so in a properly-constituted nuptial agreement.  Thus the husband’s award was reduced to £2 million, to reflect a combination of the following three factors: (a) the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage; (b) the need for a modest capital fund in order to live in the property that he was to retain; and © some share in the assets held by the wife.

The other case was Hart v Hart. The facts in this case were very different. The parties were married in 1987. At the time of the marriage the wife had no significant assets but the husband, a property developer, was already a man of substance. The very long marriage produced two children, both of whom are now grown up. They separated in 2006 and divorce proceedings were commenced in 2011.

A financial remedies hearing took place in the High Court in 2015, at which time the assets were valued at £9.4 million. At the husband’s behest, the focus of the trial was on the husband’s wealth at the time of the marriage.  However, the husband’s litigation misconduct – a combination of non-disclosure and deliberately misleading disclosure – made it impossible for the court to form any view as to the scale of the husband’s pre-marital wealth.  This, in turn, made it impossible to establish the true scale of the matrimonial acquest (to which the wife was entitled to an equal share) or to contend that pre-acquired property had become nuptialised, and so matrimonial on character.  The judge resolved the resulting dilemma by making an award quantified solely by reference to the wife’s needs (which he held to be c. £3.5 million).

The wife appealed.  She argued that, after a long marriage, it was for the husband to establish a satisfactory evidential foundation for the substantial departure from equality that he sought, and that he had failed to do so.  The argument was supported by the requirement that, in every case, the court should make findings as to the matrimonial property, and that such findings required the court to consider not only the scale of any pre-acquired property, but also the use that had been made of it during the marriage (to determine whether it had become mingled, shared or otherwise nuptialised).  Second, the husband’s litigation misconduct had made it impossible for the wife to quantify her sharing claim and it was unfair in those circumstances for her award to be restricted to needs in circumstances where the husband’s non-disclosure had made it impossible for the wife to evidence that she had a sharing claim which would found a higher award.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the wife’s appeal.  The lead judgment was given by Lord Justice Moylan. He accepted that there were ‘deficiencies’ in the husband’s evidence about the extent of his assets. However, he dismissed the suggestion that the current law on matrimonial property required the court, in every case, to make detailed findings as to its extent.  The investigations which it was reasonable to conduct, and whether the enquiry required a precise arithmetical approach (as in Jones v Jones) or a more laissez-faire approach (as in C v C) was for case management, and required consideration of proportionality and reasonableness.   In this case, the wife’s concession that the husband was a man of means at the start of the marriage entitled the judge to conclude that an equal division would be unfair to the husband and, equally, that an unequal division would be fair to the wife.  Although the court expressed considerable reservation at the judge’s decision to confine the wife’s award to her needs, after much reflection it could not say that this fell outside the generous ambit of the judge’s discretion.

To many practitioners both these cases are shocking in their different ways; Sharp because it elevates what was an unspoken agreement to maintain largely separately finances to the same realm as a properly negotiated and executed pre-nuptial agreement, but with none of the safeguards; and Hart because the husband’s litigation misconduct was permitted to obliterate the wife’s own sharing claim.   Certainly, whenever a case involves a short marriage, or pre-marital property, parties and practitioners are going to have to think hard about the arguments they advance.  Neither decision sits comfortably with the need to discourage litigation by adopting an easily understood and comprehensible approach to two commonly-encountered situations, or to encouraging parties to settle their disputes as quickly and cheaply as possible.

For professional legal advice contact one of our solicitors on 0161 838 5410.

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In 2004 the Government introduced civil partnership for same-sex couples in England and Wales, for the first time enabling them to enter into a formal legal relationship (although the law did not come into effect until December 2005).  Civil partnership gives same-sex couples similar rights to married couples, the primary difference being simply one of terminology. That difference was subsequently ‘rectified’ in 2013 when the Government passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, giving same-sex couples the right to marry.
What the Government has not done, however, is give opposite-sex couples the right to enter into a civil partnership. That omission has been challenged in court by one opposite-sex couple in particular, who want to enter a civil partnership rather than get married.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan are a young couple in a committed long-term relationship. They have a daughter, and another child on the way. As Mrs Justice Andrews explained in the High Court: “They wish to formalise their relationship, but they have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to the institution of marriage, based upon what they consider to be its historically patriarchal nature. They wish, instead, to enter into a civil partnership, a status which they consider reflects their values and gives due recognition to the equality of their relationship. However, they are currently unable to do so.”
Accordingly, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan took the matter to the court. They sought a judicial review of the Government’s decision not to extend civil partnership to opposite-sex couples, and a declaration that the law is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The latter prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (amongst other things), taken in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention (the right to respect for private and family life).
The case went before the High Court in January 2016. Mrs Justice Andrews found that the law was not incompatible with Article 14. She held that the difference in treatment between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples did not infringe the right to private life. Opposite-sex couples can achieve exactly the same recognition of their relationship and the same rights, benefits and protections by getting married, as they always could. Accordingly, the application failed.
Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan then appealed, to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal agreed that the law is discriminatory, but two of the three judges held that the discrimination was justified because the Government is looking into changing the law, and needed more time to consider the matter.* The appeal was therefore dismissed.
Not prepared to wait for the Government to change the law, the couple sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. That permission has now been granted, although a date for the Supreme Court hearing has not yet been fixed.
So what exactly would it mean for cohabiting couples if the Supreme Court finds in their favour? To answer this we need to look a little more deeply at their reasons for preferring civil partnership to marriage, and for wishing to enter into a civil partnership at all, rather than simply continuing to cohabit. Those reasons were perhaps best set out in a statement from a witness supporting their case, who has been in a relationship with her partner for thirty-five years. She stated that she wants to enter a civil partnership to gain the same protection under the law as married or civil partnered couples, adding:
“We have chosen not to get married for thirty-five years on principle. I do consider marriage to be a patriarchal institution and unnecessary for me to feel either committed or secure in my relationship. …I believe that many young cohabitees with children, where the property rights are not as clearly set out as they might be, are being left without the chance of protection at a time when their children are most vulnerable. The law should protect these families in the same way as it would protect families of same sex couples who opt for civil partnerships or indeed of married couples.”
In short, then, some cohabitees do wish to have a legally binding relationship but choose not to marry because they do not like the institution of marriage. Expanding civil partnership to heterosexual couples could provide a way to formalise such relationships, with all the associated legal protections.
In the meantime, there remain a number of myths surrounding the legal rights of cohabitees, including:
1. The myth of the common law marriage: A very high proportion of the population believe that if you cohabit with another person for long enough you will become their ‘common law’ spouse, with the same rights as if you were married, such as the right to seek maintenance or other financial provision when the relationship breaks down. This is simply not true. There is no such thing as a common law marriage, and no length of cohabitation will make you your partner’s ‘spouse’.
2. I will get a share of my partner’s property simply by living there: Afraid not. Many cohabitees live in a property owned by their partner. They do not acquire any interest in the property simply by living there. If they were married or in a civil partnership then, when the marriage or civil partnership is dissolved, they have a right to seek a share of the other party’s property. No such right exists for cohabitees. As a result it is quite possible when cohabitation breaks down for the non-owning party to be left homeless.
3. Having children gives cohabitees further rights: It does not. The rights of cohabitees (or lack of them) do not alter when they have children. It may be possible for the party looking after the children after the relationship breaks down to seek financial provision for the children, but that does not mean that they can seek financial provision for themselves.
4. If the cohabiting couple have children, the father will automatically get parental responsibility for them: No. Whereas if the couple are married the father will automatically acquire parental responsibility, this is not the case if the couple are not married. For unmarried couples the father will only acquire parental responsibility if he is registered on the child’s birth certificate, with the written agreement of the mother, or by getting a court order. Note that civil partners do not automatically acquire parental responsibility, although this would probably change if civil partnership was extended to opposite-sex couples.
5. Cohabitees automatically inherit each other’s assets on death: They do not. If the deceased partner did not make provision for the surviving partner in a will then the rules of intestacy will apply. Whereas the rules of intestacy make provision for married and civil partners, they make no provision for unmarried cohabitees. Many surviving cohabitees therefore suffer great financial hardship because their deceased partner did not leave a valid will making provision for them.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there were some 12.7 million married or civil partner couple families in the UK in 2016.  The second largest family type was the cohabiting couple family (3.3 million).  Surely, it is time for those people to be able to choose a legal status for their relationship which is right for them.  The alternative, it would seem, is to abolish civil partnerships – but what of those people who have entered in to them over the last 12 years and what would that say about a 21st century society that professes to be equal, diverse and progressive?
*The Cohabitation Rights Bill [HL] 2014-15 had its second reading in the House of Lords on 12.12.2014.
For professional legal advice contact one of our solicitors on 0161 838 5410.
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A Child’s Perspective

Most of us won’t know when it was that we first started to verbalise our many thoughts, though it’s fairly inconceivable that it would have been before the age of 6 months. This is the age when the first ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ is often gurgled out, much to parents’ delight. Recent evidence has shown however that babies can understand the meaning of words from the age of 6 months. So it is then, listening to rowing parents, that children learn to normalise arguing before they learn how to ask their parents to stop. If, as has often been suggested, the policy behind refusing no-fault divorces is to preserve the sanctity of family, what thought has been given to preserving children’s innocence?

Children are very aware of what is going on between parents and understand the nuances of their behaviour far more than we might expect; indeed, no doubt by school age they already comprehend the notorious “I’m fine”. Children are generally sensitive to parents’ feelings and it’s possible they understand how unhappy mum or dad is before they do themselves. Experiencing their parents’ relationship, children develop their first perception of married life.  It goes without saying then that if parents are happy and caring of one another this will be a positive perception. In cases of unhappy marriages though, children endure rather than enjoy their parents’ relationship. Surely, this cannot be the intention behind the desire to preserve marriage and family?

A parent might decide it is better to wait until children have grown up in the belief they are doing what is best for them. Within this vacuum the thoughtless spouse can become accustomed to their behaviour being accepted and take this for granted such that when the other spouse finally makes the decision to seek a divorce it is likely to be met with astonishment. Indeed, the decisions to date in the case of Owens v Owens, would suggest an unhappy spouse in these circumstances may not be so entitled.

As is already well-known, in this case the husband argues that the allegations of behaviour set out in the wife’s petition are simply the ‘stuff of everyday married life’, and not serious enough to prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  Thus far the courts have agreed with him, refusing Mrs Owens a divorce.

The reality is, the end of a relationship cannot always be pinpointed to one event or series of recent events. It often happens slowly, over many years, when the devotion once felt is chipped away until one of the parties reaches the conclusion that they just don’t love the other anymore. In such a case, why should freedom be denied, and what effect does this have an any children in the meantime? The Owens’ children are now adults but their parents’ situation is not confined to marriages of long duration.

What is clear is that the case of Owens underlines the urgent need for no-fault divorce to be allowed in the law of England and Wales, bringing us in line with many other countries around the world. Indeed, the legislation permitting this was drafted up in the Family Law Act as long ago as 1996, but has since never been enacted. A No-Fault Divorce Bill was introduced in 2015 but after being delayed, the end of the parliamentary session resulted in it making no further progress.

In a modern world where relationships, family units and even gender are being redefined what should prevent this reform? And what of any children?  Perhaps at the top of the list of reasons in favour of it should be a concern for their unnecessary exposure to a negative experience of marriage. Better still the enabling of their parents to avoid the need for mud-slinging and thus preserve what remains of their relationship to assist future co-parenting.

Mrs Owens has now been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Time will tell what, if any, the changes to this area of the law their decision will bring but a child-focused approach would surely promote much needed reform.

If any of the issues in this blog effect you contact our specialist divorce team on 0161 838 5410 and we’ll be happy to help you.

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There can be few subjects that are surrounded by so many myths as divorce. Why this should be is not entirely clear, but perhaps it is because it is far more widely discussed with friends and relatives than most other legal topics. Many of the myths are fairly harmless, but some could, if believed, lead people into making wrong decisions when they go through divorce. It can therefore be important that they know what is a myth, and what isn’t.
So here, in no particular order, are ten of the most common myths surrounding divorce:
1. If my ex has committed adultery or behaved badly, I will get more? Not true. Adultery or bad behaviour will normally have no bearing whatsoever on how finances are divided on divorce. One party’s conduct will only have a bearing if that conduct is exceptionally bad, but such cases are extremely rare.
2. There is such a thing as a ‘quickie divorce’, used by rich people and celebrities? No, there isn’t. The law is the same for all. Either the divorce is undefended, in which case it should usually be dealt with in a few months, or, unusually, it will be defended, in which case it can take much longer.
3. If my ex does not pay child maintenance, I can stop them seeing the children? Wrong. Child maintenance is quite separate from a parent’s contact with the children. Just because a parent is not paying child maintenance does not mean that they cannot see them. By the same token, just because they are paying child maintenance does not give them a right to have contact.
4. If we both agree to the divorce, we won’t need to prove fault? This one is only partly true. Sadly, it is still necessary for one party to prove that the marriage broke down due to the other party’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour, unless the parties have been separated for at least two years. Only after two years separation can they agree to divorce without proving fault.
5. Divorce is always expensive? There are many horror stories out there, suggesting that a divorce will always cost many thousands of pounds to sort out. Whilst this can happen, it is quite possible for the divorce to be dealt with quite cheaply, especially if the parties are able to resolve matters by agreement, rather than having to ask the court to resolve those matters for them.
6. Mothers always get the children? Not necessarily. What arrangements are made for children depends upon what is best for their welfare. Often, of course, this will mean that the children spend most of their time living with their mothers, but there is certainly no rule that they always will.
7. Finances are always divided equally? Again, not necessarily. It is often appropriate that finances are divided equally, especially where there are no dependent children, but there is not a rule that says finances must always be divided equally. How the finances should be divided will depend upon the facts of each case.
8. You don’t need a court order if you agree finances? Wrong. You do need to have any financial/property settlement incorporated into a court order, to ensure that it is both final and enforceable. Without a court order there is nothing to stop either party making a further financial claim at a later date. The court will only make the order if it considers that the terms of the settlement are fair and reasonable.
9. It’s not adultery if we were separated at the time? Again, this is wrong. It doesn’t matter if the parties were living separately when it occurred, it is still adultery, and can be used to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, for the purpose of divorce proceedings.
10. The court favours wives in financial settlements? No it doesn’t. The law does not favour either husbands or wives. The court will order a settlement that it considers to be fair, having regard to all of the circumstances, in particular the needs of the parties. This may mean, for instance, that a wife will be awarded more because her needs are greater, but that is not the same as saying that the court favours wives.
And finally, one more myth that is perhaps the most common of all, even if it strictly relates to marriage, rather than divorce: the myth of the ‘common law marriage’. It is still widely believed that if you simply live with a partner for long enough, your relationship will be recognised as a ‘common law marriage’, and that therefore you will have the same rights as a married person when the relationship breaks down. This is simply not true. There is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’, no matter how long you and your partner have been together. You will not, therefore, have the same rights as a married person, and you may not have any financial or property rights at all if the relationship breaks down.
The moral from all of this is clear: if you want the facts, then take advice from a qualified family lawyer, not your best friend!
For legal advice from a specialist family lawyer, call Merrick on 0161 838 5410 and we’ll be happy to help you.
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We hear a lot about pre-nuptial agreements (“prenups”) in the press these days, but it may come as a surprise to many that prenups are not legally binding in England and Wales.  That does not mean however that the English and Welsh courts are not prepared to recognise the validity of such agreements.


Whilst the jurisdiction of the court ultimately cannot be excluded, the courts will have to consider a prenup where it can be shown to have been entered into freely by the parties; with full knowledge of its implications and it is fair to hold the parties to it.  A prenup allows two individuals to determine how they would want their assets to be divided between them if they later divorce, so provides some protection of assets from a later financial claim.  Prenups essentially allow two people to try and avoid a scenario whereby emotional heartbreak could also potentially lead to financial heartbreak!


Prenups are often discussed in the context of the rich and the famous. The recent announcement of Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall’s engagement springs to mind.  Mr Murdoch will no doubt be advised to secure a prenup in advance of what will be wedding number four.  Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, who prior to marrying Ashley Cole reportedly labelled prenups “disgusting”, now finds herself in the middle of her second divorce, with her own significant personal fortune and no prenup in place.


A prenup is an option for a couple who wish to regulate their finances to what is an unknown future. There is no guarantee or certainty that such agreements will be upheld so they always come with a ‘health warning’. It is important that they are fair and will need to be reviewed on a regular basis. They are not just for the rich and famous. Every marriage in the making is unique and prenups can be tailored to your own particular circumstances, so seeking specialist advice about a prenup is essential for those planning a wedding. If you are thinking about a prenup get advice well in advance of the wedding.


For legal advice from a specialist family lawyer, call Merrick on 0161 838 5410 and we’ll be happy to help you.


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We have all probably read or heard about some celebrity being afforded the luxury of getting divorced quicker than us mere mortals. January has been has been no exception with reports that Gary and Danielle Lineker, Zodiac from Gladiators (for those who remember the 90s TV programme) and Big Brothers Nasty Nick Bateman were all granted a Decree Nisi.
But do ‘Quickie Divorces’ actually exist?
The simple answer is no. Everyone who applies for a divorce is subject to the same procedure. The length of time that procedure takes often depends on how quickly it takes to complete the documentation and how quickly the court deals with the paperwork.
Reference is often made to a marriage ending at the Decree Nisi hearing. This is a hearing where a Judge in open court will read a list of names of the parties who are getting divorced. That hearing is over very quickly but the marriage remains in existence. The press seem to think that as this hearing is over quickly there has been a quickie divorce.
It is only when Decree Absolute is pronounced that the marriage ends and that cannot be applied for until at least 6 weeks after the Decree Nisi. It is possible in certain circumstances to reduce the 6 week period if for example one of the parties may be getting remarried before the earliest date the Decree Absolute can be applied for.
Finalising a divorce is important if there are finance to resolve as the Decree Absolute needs to be granted for orders to take effect – don’t be fooled by the press into thinking the divorce process is over at the Decree Nisi stage.
Don’t believe everything you read in the press and always seek legal advice if you are unsure!
For legal advice from a specialist family lawyer, call Merrick on 0161 838 5410 and we’ll be happy to help you.
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