Divorce – When Unreasonable Behavior Is Not Unreasonable Enough

Divorce Family Blog

Obtaining a divorce is England and Wales is relatively procedural. If you can establish one of five facts, you can lodge a divorce petition with the court. These facts are:

- Adultery

- Unreasonable behavior

- 2 years separation with your spouse’s consent

- Five years separation

- Desertion

Unreasonable behavior is frequently relied on as it is one of two facts (the other being adultery) that entitle grounds for divorce proceedings; once you have reached the conclusion the marriage has broken down – be that through a resolution with time apart or a mutual agreement. Despite calls for reform of the law and a “no fault” divorce, there appear to be no plans to change the fault based on the fact of unreasonable behavior for the foreseeable future, parliamentary time will no doubt be taken up by Brexit.

An example of this is the much publicised recent case of Mrs Tini Owens has led to judicial scrutiny of what amounts to unreasonable behavior. Mrs Owens sought to rely on her husband’s unreasonable behavior but her petition was simply dismissed by the Judge who found that the allegations Mrs Owens sought to rely on against her spouse were “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage”.

Mrs Owens appealed, but the Court of Appeal refused to interfere with the previous decision by stating that “Parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage though some people say it should be”.

Mrs Owens has now been granted permission to appeal her case to the Supreme Court, a decision welcomed by many including Resolution - the leading organisation for family lawyers committed to the non-confrontational, support and constructive resolution of family matters.

Pending the outcome of Mrs Owens appeal to the Supreme Court along with further guidance, it’s no doubt that family lawyers relying on the ground of unreasonable behavior will be at pains to ensure that the petition is drafted in a manner that is unlikely to be construed as “minor altercations”, and instead be seen as serious issues for irretrievably broken down marriages.

The Owens case also raises an interesting point of law as Mrs Owens’ distinguished legal team are to argue that the terms of the statute ( S 1(2) (b), MCA 1973) does not in fact require Mr Owens’s behavior to be unreasonable but rather that Mrs Owens cannot be reasonably expected to live with Mr Owens.

At face value, this is certainly the case as the statute states “that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent”. It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court deals with this argument, particularly for a marital relationship that has broken down.

Mrs Owens case certainly underlines why divorce law in England and Wales is ripe for reform. No-one should be forced to stay in conditions that invoke a “wretchedly unhappy marriage".

For expert legal advice on Family Law, help or any information on our services, please contact Tayo Taylor at MHHP Law Solicitors on 020 3667 4783. We offer a Free 30 minute consultation which you can enquire about through our website’s contact page.

An Analysis of Divorce in the UK

analysis of UK divorce

Divorce is not a topic that married, or engaged to be married couples ever want to broach in general conversation. It’s always best to be prepared, so why avoid a discussion that could help your marriage stick in the long run?

The marriage-divorce ratio in the UK is encroaching on 2:1, with 44% of marriages resulting in separation for couples. However, a survey conducted by relationship support experts Relate showed that currently, out of the 5,000 people who were surveyed, 78% felt happy, and even perfect about their relationship. Only 13% of those 5,000 people said that they occasionally regretted getting married or civil-partnered, so why is the divorce ratio so high for UK couples?

The infographic below lays out all the information you need in order to keep your marriage in tip top condition, and steered clear away from the path of divorce. It details the top 10 most common disruptions in a marriage, as well as the 7 signs one should be on the lookout for, in order to address the situations and hopefully right them. Every marriage has its ups and downs, and with the gap between the number of marriages and divorces growing further and further apart, it’s proof that couples now are working harder at keeping theirs together.

Infographic of divorce in UK

We wish you the absolute best of luck with your marriage, but we're always here to help you through the process should you decide to divorce, with our top notch Family Law services.

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What’s the point of probation periods? – A Guide for Employers

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While not legally required, probation periods give employers the time to properly assess a new employee. With this in mind, Ruth Hayward, our employment law specialist, explains what probation periods are and the benefits of making them a part of your personnel policy.

According to research done by the recruiter Spring Personnel, 18% of new employees fail their probation period or have it extended, with poor performance, absence or poor punctuality being cited as the cause most often. With this in mind, it makes sense to look at the benefits of probation periods and how they can be used effectively by employers.

Probation periods: What are they and who are they for?

A probation period will normally commence when a new employee starts with your organisation. During this time, an employer can dismiss a new employee with at short notice. This is usually one week, although it can be longer if the employer sees fit. After the probation period is successfully completed, this notice period is then usually extended. It is also worth highlighting that a new employee may not to be entitled to certain contractual benefits, such as sick pay or a pension, during this initial period too.

Probation periods should be used for all new employees, with the exception of short-term fixed contracts where the use of them would be unfeasible. When promoting an existing staff to a more senior position, it is also advisable to use a probation period as a way of making sure they are suitable for this new role.

When using probation periods, it is also important to remember the following things;

Length of probation periods

As a rule of thumb, probation periods normally last for three to six months, although this can vary depending upon the company and the specific role the employee has filled. With the agreement of the new employee, a probation period can be extended too.

Ensure clarity

The details of a probation period need to be set out in an employee’s contract, making it clear to the employee what is expected of them, the length of the probation period and its objectives. The employee should also be informed that the probation period is being used to assess their capability and that their performance will be monitored throughout. It also needs to be clear what the result of passing the probation period will be – making the employee’s contract of employment permanent – and what changes to the employee’s contract will come into effect at this point.

Given this, it is advisable for employers to undertake regular meetings with the employee throughout the probation period. These can be used to both sides to flag up any issues, discuss any goals and whether or not expectations are being met. It is also important to note that employers should ensure that they formally assess the employee’s suitability for permanent employment with them before the end of the probation period too.

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Extending the probation period

A probation period can be extended, as long as it has been stated in the employee’s contract. Usually, this will be for a period of a further three to six months. If the extension is agreed upon, the employee must be told for how long the extension is for and for be given reasons for this. In addition, any extension to a probation period has to be confirmed to the employee before the end of the original probation period. Doing this avoids the risk of an employee passing their probation period by default.

Absences

Unless an absence is connected to a disability or maternity, poor attendance can be a good justification for deciding an employee has failed the probation period. However, you need to remember that it can be discriminatory to end an employee’s contract if the absence is caused by maternity or disability, particularly if the employee has not had the opportunity to prove their suitability during the initial period in which they were being assessed. In these circumstances, if both sides are amenable, an employer should attempt to extend the assessment period so that the employee’s capability can be accurately assessed in the fairest possible manner.

What if the employee has failed their probation period?

New employees who fail their probation period will in most cases not have accrued enough service to claim unfair dismissal, as employees now need to have 103 weeks of continuous service to the organisation in order to claim unfair dismissal. However, no set amount of continuous service is needed by the employee if they can prove they have been discriminated against when being dismissed.

Illustration of a work meeting

Therefore, it is advisable for employers to follow all best practice by clearly explaining to the employee, both verbally and in writing, why they have failed their probation period. When ending the employee’s contract, they will also need to be paid their notice period in full.

On this note, it is worth remembering that any existing employees, who have been subject to a probationary period following a promotion, may have the right to claim for unfair dismissal if they have 103 weeks of continuous service. In these circumstances, the employer should follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedure and the employees again would need to be paid their notice period in full given their extended length of service and previous contractual entitlements. If an existing member of staff has failed their new probation period following promotion to a more senior role, there is no reason why they cannot be offered their previous role if both sides are agreeable.

Conclusion: Protect your business

In summary, probation periods are a good way to protect your business and fully assess the abilities of any new hires or those within the company who have been promoted to a more senior role. It is vital to remember with any probation period, however, that the company has ensured the probation period, its length and its objectives have been clearly defined in the employees’ contracts of employment.

What To Think About When Drawing Up A Custody Arrangement

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Picture of Jon Gilbert

In the second of our ‘What To Think About…’ series, our family law specialist, Jonathan Gilbert , advises you on what needs to be taken into consideration when drawing up what is commonly referred to as a custody agreement.

I’m going to start this guide by stating three things;

1) If you find yourself in a custody battle, you’ll hear the term ‘child arrangements order’ a lot – a child arrangements order sets out who a child should live with and who he or she should spend time with.

2) Your actions and the things you say about the other side can adversely affect the child or children. No matter how much you may dislike the other side, conduct yourself with class as you may negatively affect your relationship with the child or children as well as their relationship with the other parent or guardian. A bitter custody dispute benefits no one, least of all the child or children.

3) When deciding on the details of a child arrangements order, the judge is going to put the best interests of the child first at all times. When deciding on custody, no one is more important than the child or children.

​When putting together a child arrangements order, or custody agreement, there are several options available. In this short guide, I will present these possibilities so that parents, anyone else who may have parental responsibility and other people, such as grandparents, who can also apply for an order, know what to expect from the process.

1. Legal Representation is Very Important

I would strongly advise anyone seeking to establish custody arrangements in respect of a child to consult with a solicitor before starting any legal proceedings. We can explain the full set of available options according to the particularities of the case, as well as the consequences they would have for both the parents or guardians and the children. This could prove extremely useful for the entire family because a solicitor could help the spouses make an informed decision quickly, thus preventing the need for costly and lengthy court proceedings.

2. The Main Types of Custody Agreement

A ‘child arrangements order’ will decide the following:

Black and white photo of a father reading to his son
  • where the child or children lives (Living arrangements)
  • how much time the child or children spend time with each parent or guardian (Quality time)
  • when and what other types of contact, such as phone calls, take place (Additional arrangements)
  • Living Arrangements
  • Quality Time
  • Additional Arrangements

In the majority of circumstances, a judge will always try to create a child arrangements order where the child or children spend time living with both parents. In practice, although shared residence is becoming more frequent, you should know that often the child or children will live with one parent for more time than another in order to ensure a level of stability for the child. Therefore, the child will most likely live with one parent during the week to make sure they have an established routine during term-time and then will spend alternate weekends with each parent. More and more though, judges are now trying to ensure that both parents get time with their children during the week and at weekends in my experience.

Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders

Furthermore, a Specific Issue Order may also be put in place by a judge. This deals with a specific question regarding how the child is brought up, such as which school they will attend and whether they will receive a religious education. In addition, a parent or guardian can also apply for a Prohibited Steps order in order to prevent the other parent or guardian from unilaterally making a decision about the child’s upbringing.

3. How To Reach A Custody Arrangement

The process leading to the establishment of a custody agreement mainly depends on the relationship between the parents. If they are able to reach a decision amicably, then it can remain informal. However, in most cases, parents cannot reach a mutually beneficial agreement and, as such, they opt for a more complex legal path towards determining custodial boundaries.

  • Informal Custody ARRANGEMENTS
  • Mediation
  • Family Court

This is the simplest way to reach a custody agreement, as parents can negotiate on their own terms and find an arrangement that benefits them both, as well as the child. They may opt to involve a solicitor to make their decision official, or they may opt to avoid legal proceedings altogether. Note that this is a viable option only for parents who are able to trust one another fully.

As you can see, the process of reaching a custody agreement can either be simple or extremely complex, depending on the relationship between the two parents. It is crucial that they seek legal support in this process because they must be aware of all the options available to them, as well as the long-term implications of each action they choose to take.

Ultimately, as I suggested at the start of this guide, parents really should put the child’s best interest ahead of their personal grievances with one another. Custody battles could prove to be emotionally traumatizing for kids. Therefore, if there is even a chance of reaching an agreement amicably, those with parental responsibility should always explore this option before taking the case to court.

​If you ever need to draw up a custody agreement, please don't hesitate to contact us. Your first half-hour consultation is free and we'll do everything we can help you through what can be a difficult process.

What To Think About When Starting Divorce Proceedings

OImage of a wedding ring circling definition of divorce with title overlaid

Picture of Jon Gilbert

In the first in our ‘What To Think About…’ series, our family law specialist, Jonathan Gilbert, outlines what to keep in mind if you ever unfortunately feel that you need to start divorce proceedings against your partner.

The emotional turmoil caused by parting with your spouse or civil partner can be nerve-wracking and heartbreaking. However, it is crucial that you find a way to leave all this aside and assess your situation as clearly as possible before you start divorce proceedings.

In this short guide, I will tell you the most important things you need to consider before setting things in motion so that you are properly represented and protected. The most important aspect you should remember is that from a legal standpoint, divorce has nothing to do with your feelings.

As such, you should direct all your efforts towards getting thoroughly prepared to deal with the legal implications. This will actually help you get through the separation rapidly and efficiently so that you can then focus on your emotions and get over this traumatic event.

1. Think Carefully About What You Want

Before making any rash decisions, you need to consider what you want to get out of your divorce. While this may be highly unpleasant, you should set your objectives before you embark on this legal endeavour. While the apparent goal is obviously separating from your spouse, there are a few other aspects you should think about, such as child arrangements orders, and claims to properties and other belongings.

You should also know that there is never a winner when it comes to divorce. It is a complex legal process that will have life-altering effects on both you and your spouse. Moreover, you are highly unlikely to get absolutely everything you want, so make sure you prioritise your goals. You should be ready to make a few concessions as well, especially if you want to expedite the process.

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2. Seek The Counsel of a Solicitor

No matter how you intend to proceed with your divorce, the first thing you need to do is seek professional legal advice. You must find a lawyer who specialises in Family Law and Divorce to help you organise a solid plan for the upcoming progression.

I recommend you do this as early as possible because your solicitor can explain the options you have available in terms of legal proceedings. A professional can also assist you in developing a divorce strategy that can help you achieve the objectives you have set.

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3. Find The Ideal Divorce Process For You

Your solicitor will advise you which legal process is best-suited for your situation, but it will be your decision in the end. Make sure you’re fully informed about the advantages and disadvantages of each process so that you can proceed with the best course of action for your situation. Here are the main options you can choose from:

Going to court

This is the most complicated legal process you can choose for your divorce. It is both costly and traumatising for you and your spouse, so resort to this only if you have no other alternative. If there is even a slight chance of a successful communication with your partner, then you should probably try mediation or collaborative divorce before you take matters to court.

Image of Schopin's painting :Le divorce de l'Impératrice Joséphine

With this option too, the final decisions about your life will be taken by a judge. This means that no matter how strong your case is, there is a possibility that things will not go the way you expect them to. My advice is to avoid going to court unless absolutely necessary.

Solicitor to Solicitor Negotiation

​This is the usual way solicitors are involved in the divorce process– we negotiate the divorce for you, doing our upmost to protect your position and make sure you are well looked after, without needing to face your former partner in meetings. Asking a solicitor to do all the work for you is an expensive way forward though. While I am happy to undertake all of the work on a client’s behalf, I would not be doing my job properly if I didn’t advise that the process of going back and forth with no contact between the clients can make this a lengthy process. Therefore, if you and your ex-partner can find a way to communicate effectively, it will help to reduce the timescale of the process and reduce some of the costs for both of you.

​Mediation

This is one of the least aggressive legal processes you can opt for, which makes it a viable option if you think you can communicate efficiently with your former spouse. Together with your solicitor, you will have to draft an agreement that features what you expect to get from the divorce.

This includes everything from claims to individually-owned properties and items, as well as joint belongings, and child custody claims. It is crucial that this document is written by a solicitor as it must feature the proper terminology.

Scrabble tiles spelling out the word mediation

Then, the agreement is assessed by your partner together with his or her solicitor, and you will receive a second version of the document that features their decision about the claims you have set. You will then review the new agreement with your representative to decide if you are satisfied with the terms.

You should be prepared to make several drafts of the divorce agreement until you can get the final version that represents your wishes, as well as your partner’s. Finally, you and your spouse will sign the contract, and you will divide the matrimonial assets accordingly. Any such agreement should then be embodied in a Financial Consent Order to be sealed by a judge.

​Collaborative Divorce

This is yet another viable option you should consider if you and your spouse are willing to work things out outside of court. Each of you will have legal representation, and you will participate in negotiating sessions. These will be supervised by a team of specialists, including accountants and mental health professionals, who can help with the decision-making process.

It features face-to-face meetings, as well as telephone calls and e-mails with the aim of identifying the final terms of the divorce that can represent the wishes of both partners. When the negotiations are complete, the solicitors will finalise the divorce.

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4. Prepare Documentation for your Belongings

Before you begin the official proceedings for divorce, you should make a comprehensive inventory of your belongings. This could prove useful during the divorce process, especially if you are dealing with a hostile spouse.

I recommend you make a list of the items you own separately and one for those that are jointly owned by you and your spouse. You should also gather the required documentation for these items, such as copies of the property documents and photographs displaying them in your home.

Aside from the items themselves, you should also include the day’s newspaper in your photographs to establishan indisputable timeline. It may also prove useful to determine the value of your belongings, so make sure you get a professional assessment of your valuable items.

All in all, there is no easy way to get through a divorce, but being properly prepared for the legal process will help you get as much as possible from it. Confide in your solicitor so that you can find the ideal legal techniques that will enable you to reach your objectives. A professional can guide you through every step of the process so that you can put an end to this part of your life in a swift and relatively trouble-free manner.

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to start divorce proceedings, please don't hesitate to contact us. Your first half-hour consultation is free and we'll do everything we can help you through what can be a difficult process.

Landlord Rights 101: How to Know and Protect Your Rights

The laws and regulations mediating between landlords and tenants can be a complicated territory, best navigated by professionals and legal councillors. It’s understandable if in many matters, especially if things don’t run smoothly and you enter a dispute, you may feel the need to get some legal advice from a lawyer specializing in property leasing and rentals. After all, there aren’t many available resources concerning the legal facts of the landlord and tenant relationship, and when it comes to landlord rights, things get even more confusing. Most online resources usually address the rights of tenants in any potential dispute with their landlords.

This is why we’ve put together this guide which details how to understand your rights as a landlord better, and how to proceed whenever encountering an issue in the management of your rental contracts and property issues. Hopefully, all this information will never be needed in an actual dispute resolution and you will never reach a lawsuit stage of a conflict with your tenants, but it is obviously better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, this is what you need to know about your landlord rights, how to properly protect these rights, and how to make the most of them.

1. Landlord Rights in a Nutshell: Legal Overview

Landlord rights are pretty straightforward in the UK, compared with other European countries and the U.S. as well. This means that it’s fairly easy to get to know what takes place in your property, who inhabits it, and it is also fairly feasible to evict your tenants in case your dispute resolution isn’t going anywhere. Of course, there are other steps to be fulfilled before it comes to that, but especially with the help of a landlord - tenant dispute lawyer, the process of getting your property back tenant-free is pretty straightforward and not that expensive.

But before getting to actual eviction procedures, which are the last resort to be followed when all other forms of mediation and dispute resolutions fail, here is an overview of your landlord rights as an UK citizen.

1.1. Landlord Responsibilities

First of all, here is what you need to know about your responsibilities as a landlord. There is no way you will truly understand your landlord rights if you don’t know the responsibilities which come with this position first. Also, you are only entitled to benefit from your landlord rights in full if you fulfil your duties as a landlord first, so knowing your responsibilities is not just important, but quite consequential for your rights. This is what every landlord in the United Kingdom is responsible for (and liable for, in case of failure to respect):

Performing the Required Repairs

Anything that gets broken inside the home or the rented property falls within the responsibility of the landlord. Whether the damage that needs repairing in on the inside or on the outside of the property, or even somewhere on the property’s outer premises, you will have to make arrangements for repairing it. Yes, this even includes the repairs for damage which occurred through the fault of the tenants. It may feel absurd, but yes, even if you are dealing with problem tenants that have trashed your place and just keep destroying stuff out of pure recklessness, it still fallson your shoulders to ensure everything is then properly repaired.

The issue of whose fault was it for the damages that occurred only matters when it comes to who has to pay the bill for the repairs. If the tenants were responsible for the damage, then they are the ones who will get billed, but it is still you, the landlord, who will need to see to it that the repairs are made. This means you will have to call in a repairs team, make the necessary arrangements and so on.

Ensuring the Property is Heated Properly

The central heating system must work at all times in order for the place to be considered a suitable place to live in, which means that if something goes wrong with the heating, it again falls to you to arrange for the necessary repairs. If you fail to ensure that the property is fit to live in and the tenants get sick because of it, you become liable for a lawsuit and open yourself up to more problems along those lines. In fact, you ever come to be considered responsible for such problems encountered by your tenants, it might be even harder to evict them in case you have a conflict with them and want them out.

Installing New Sanitary Units

A functioning bathroom is a basic requirement to deem a place inhabitable, and, therefore, ensuring that the place has functional sanitary units always falls in the legal responsibilities of any landlord. If the bathroom sanitary units fail or get damaged, you have to ensure the necessary repairs or the installation of new ones. The home you are renting needs to have a functional sink, toilet, and a sewage system (as absolute legal requirements).

Making Sure the Property Has a Functional Kitchen

Along the same lines, installing basic functioning kitchen utilities (or repairing the existing ones in case they are damaged) is also the responsibility of the landlord. Fortunately, this doesn’t include any fancy kitchen utilities you may be concerned about. All that the law requires is for every kitchen to include a functional sink and a water pipe, a minimal fridge, as well as a cooking machine capable of cooking and heating food. Besides these basics, everything else (like a freezer or an oven) is optional, from a legal point of view.

1.2. Landlord Rights

As for the landlord rights, very often the matter is legally translated into an issue of tenant obligations and responsibilities. It makes sense, in a way: it is a landlord’s inalienable right that the tenants respect every part of their tenant obligations under the landlord-tenant law. Also, if the tenants fail to respect their share of legal duties, they lose the right of inhabiting the rented property. Also, they are subject to extra taxes and financial payments, in accordance with the severity of the office.

In short, these are the main tenant responsibilities that can trigger legal repercussions:

  • Tenants need to pay rent on time: Delaying any monthly payment is reprehensible by law. In this case, you as their landlord have a right to initiate a quick eviction procedure, and even so, the tenants would still owe you their last unpaid rent bill.
  • Tenants need to pay their utility bills on time: The same goes for the utility bills (water, heating, electricity, internet etc.): if the tenants miss a monthly payment, this counts as not taking good care of the property they inhabit, or making you have a bad credit history with the utility providers. Speaking of taking proper care of the place the tenants inhabit, this brings us to our next point.
  • Tenants are under obligation to care for the property: This means that negligence can be sanctioned, so if something is damaged on the property due to the tenants’ lack of due care, they aren’t only responsible to pay for the damaged which resulted, but they can also be evicted quickly by the unhappy landlord.
  • Tenants need to respect any extra contractual obligations they agreed on: If you add any extra conditions to your renting contract, even if they aren’t usually considered mandatory by law, the tenants need to respect them or face a quick and rightful eviction. Usually, such extra conditions can include not smoking inside, or not keeping any pets on the premises and so on.
  • Tenants need not to conduct any illegal activities inside the home they rented: Failure to comply with the current UK laws can result in a lawful eviction, depending on the severity of the crime. A speeding ticket may not help get them out of your home, but if they were to fabricate (or even just consume) illegal drugs inside the rented place, this is reason enough to get them evicted, with the minimal help of a lawyer by your side.

As you can see, the damages inflicted by any infringement of the tenant responsibilities translate automatically in landlord rights. To be more precise, each time a tenant breaks their obligations (presented above), the landlord automatically gains the right to evict them without having to wait for the remainder of the rental time specified in the contract.

Still, even in the situation in which the tenants you have living on your property don’t actually break any of the above-mentioned laws and tenant obligations, you still have some options if you want to evict them. But for that, you will need to get in touch with a lawyer (or simply a legal services team) specializing in landlord-tenant dispute resolutions, which brings us to our next section of our guide.

2. How Can a Landlord Rights Lawyer Help You?

For all the situations when you need to evict the tenants from your property, or for when you need to keep ex-tenants away if they keep returning, or for when you need to make tenants (or ex-tenants) pay what they are owed, you will need a lawyer. Even for the situations when you’re not facing any serious threat to your property, but have a simple dispute along the lines of the rights and obligations highlighted above, you will still need some legal help.

Here are the main situations where a specialized lawyer can help you:

  • When you need to evict your tenants fast due to their infringement of their tenant obligations;
  • When you need to evict your tenants even without them breaking any of their obligations or contractual conditions;
  • When you need to get out of trouble because you are the one who has violated some of their contractual obligations (you failed to repair a vital part of the home in due time and so on);
  • When you need to get rid of your tenants because you don’t get along, even if they haven’t precisely broken any of the obligations, but it can be implied that you have broken some of yours (perhaps the most difficult situation, but still manageable with the help of a good team);
  • When you have already ended a contract with some tenants (whether by eviction or by simply waiting it out) but you have trouble getting them to actually move out. A good legal team can help you obtain a court order and also help you enforce it;
  • When you have ended a contract with some tenants but you have trouble getting them to pay some residual bills or the rent for the last months of residence in your home;
  • When you need to recover money or objects from your ex-tenants but you have trouble finding them again so you wouldn’t even know what address to send the bills to;

These are but the most common situations in which people usually appeal to the services of a lawyer or a legal services team specializing in landlord tenant disputes. However, there can be plenty of other nuances and situations that don’t fit in the brief enumeration above, and which still require the services of a legal advisor.

For example, you may be the de facto landlord of a place, filling in for your spouse who is away or ill and unable to exert her rights as landlord, and you have trouble with some tenants but lack the complete paperwork which would allow you to take everything over. Or, in another hypothetical situation, you may be in a legal difficulty because your tenants (who are giving you a hard time) are members of your own family and can argue that they are somehow entitled to a share of the property. For all these grey areas and difficulties, a legal advisor who specializes in landlord tenant dispute resolutions can help out tremendously, especially when you don’t even know what to begin with.

2.1. Landlord Tenant Dispute Resolutions

And since we arrived at a hot issue in the realm of landlord rights and the landlord tenant legal relations, let’s take a more detailed look into how landlord tenant dispute resolutions are usually surmounted. When the relations between a landlord and their tenants reach a sour point, in which one of the parties is not fulfilling their legal obligations and does not respond well to the other party’s requests, this is the point in which we can begin talk of a landlord-tenant dispute.

The UK law requires a landlord tenant dispute resolution to take place whenever a conflictual stance is created. Through dispute resolution, both parties involved should reach an agreement with the help of a mediation court, composed of experts in the field of tenant and landlord rights and obligations. Most of the time though, dispute resolutions in this field are centred onto a problem encountered by tenants, dealing with abusive landlords, about recovering their tenancy deposit. In many cases, the landlords refuse to reimburse the tenants for their tenancy deposit at the end of the contract, regardless of the fact that they have no legal ground to do so (such legal grounds would be any outstanding debts of the tenants, still unfulfilled, or something similar). This issue is what comprises the vast majority of landlord tenant dispute resolution cases.

But from the perspective of landlord rights, how do mediation and a landlord tenant dispute resolution usually go? Here are some of the most common complaints of landlords that usually get addressed by a mediation authority designated to protect the legal rights of both parties involved:

  • The tenants are filing a complaint themselves, requesting their tenancy deposit back, but they do not want to acknowledge the damages they left behind on the property, damages for which the tenancy deposit would be a fair pay (or even too little for a proper compensation);
  • The tenants are displaying a bad behaviour towards the landlord, refusing to follow requests or to have a polite discussion about the issues which should concern both the parties. Any form of rudeness, including the ignoring of verbal (and especially written) requests is considered bad behaviour, and it falls within landlord rights to complain about this problem in the landlord tenant dispute resolution step.
  • The tenants have left the property (either at the end of the tenancy period stipulated in the contract, or even before the time had run out) and are now nowhere to be found, without having paid in full every debt they still owed.
  • The tenants are refusing to leave the property at the end of the tenancy period, or the landlord would like to evict them for failing to fulfil their share of obligations towards the property they reside it, even if the stipulated tenancy period is not completed yet.
  • The tenants are paying their rent in full and in due time, but it has come to the landlord’s attention that the utility bills which also fall in the responsibilities of tenants are overdue, and the tenants’ delay in repaying them is causing the landlord problems with the utility provider. Even if the landlord doesn’t necessarily want the tenants evicted right away for this mishap, they still would like the issue resolved as fast as possible and so far simple discussions with the tenants didn’t seem to get them to the desired results.
  • The landlord has repaired a damaged piece of vital property in the rented building (like the sanitary or heating systems), as fell within their landlord obligations. At the same time though, they consider the tenants responsible for the damaging of that system in the first place, and would, therefore, charge them the bill for the cost of the reparations. The tenants are refusing to acknowledge their blame in the damaging and, therefore, refusing to pay the bill as well.

For all of these problems (and some other problems as well), mediation court can contribute towards finding a solution and helping uphold both the tenant and landlord rights intact.

2.2. How Does The Landlord Tenant Court Mediation Usually Work?

We will now take a deeper look into the matter of mediation in a landlord-tenant dispute, and what limited powers and responsibilities a mediation court holds.

Important Info: If any of the parties involved in a landlord tenant dispute has initiated some form of legal action (as in, if any of them have sued the other party), mediation cannot take place any longer. In fact, mediation between landlords and tenants is often considered a mandatory step to be fulfilled before any firmer legal action can be taken. This means that before you can sue your tenants as a landlord (or the other way around), you have to bring proof that you also tried the more peaceful path of mediation and that this attempt failed (usually because of the belligerence of the other party).

Therefore, keep in mind that the landlord tenant court mediation path is only available if neither you nor your tenants have initiated any kind of legal action yet.

This is what a mediation court for landlord and tenants disputes cannot do:

  • It cannot legally compel any of the parties to fulfil a particular responsibility (including overdue monetary payments);
  • It cannot deal with issues of bills between the two parties involved or a third party (a utility provider);
  • It cannot enforce eviction or keeping ex-tenants out of the premises of the property they once resided in.

This is what a mediation court for landlord and tenants disputes can do:

  • It can get to know the dispute in greater detail and give the involved parties a conclusion about it, especially concerning the legality of their stances in the matter;
  • It can effectively decide what each party should do in order to solve the dispute fairly and give both the landlords and the tenants this conclusion, but only with the title of a recommendation;
  • It can also provide guidance and recommendations for an actual court of law, if the landlord tenant dispute moves forward onto legal action instead of being resolved at this stage of mediation;
  • It can provide the suing party (if it comes to that) the ample proof required for two main facts: the first is that they did try the more peaceful approach of mediation first, and the second is that they have been deemed to be in the right by the mediation expert.

Understanding the limited authority of a mediation court is key if you want to take full advantage of its nonetheless important role in protecting your landlord rights. While the mediation court cannot actively solve your problem with your tenants and lacks the legal authority to compel either party from following a ruling, its value as a first step to legal action is priceless. Many times, a court of law wouldn’t even allow you pursue the legal action you seek (like evicting their tenants or making them pay outstanding debt) if you cannot bring proof of fulfilling the step of mediation first. This serves as a token of good intentions, and of putting yourself above grudges and working towards solving the problem instead of working towards obtaining any punitive action.

Also, you can consider mediation court as a mock trial or preparation stage for the actual lawsuit (if it will still come to that): what better way to see how valid your arguments are than to actually put them before an expert and try to make your case? This is why you should be content that the step of mediation is available and take full advantage of it, even if it may feel alike an extra troublesome step for people who are in a hurry. After all, with the right legal team by your side to protect your landlord rights, you won’t even be in the position of wasting too much time yourself with the mediation court paperwork (and not even with the actual lawsuit, for that matter).

3. Useful Landlord Forms and Extra Resources

3.1. Landlord Forms and Documents for Managing a Tenancy

Your go-to resource for whenever preparing to rent a property, deciding whether you have all the legal paperwork required for renting and managing a property once it’s let or sub-let through a tenancy agreement should be this website. It provides free downloadable forms for all stages of your tenancies, as well as some fact sheets detailing your landlord rights and responsibilities and other useful info. Still, we recommend you to use the sheets carefully and preferably only after consulting with a legal advisor to make sure you are using everything right and in accordance with the current laws.

3.2. Assured Tenancy Forms (Useful for Landlords or Tenants for Proposing Action)

This is the government portal containing downloadable forms for both landlords and tenants proposing action against each other in a dispute. There are 9 versions of prescribed forms to be reviewed and filled out, and in doing so you must make sure that you don’t unintentionally change the meaning of the form, rendering it invalid through doing so. Since you are initiating an action against your tenants, it is best if you ask your legal councillor to advise you about filling out these forms as well, in addition to the best legal path to take with the issues which occurred with your tenants.

3.3. Tips on How to Prevent Issues with Bad Tenants

Before moving directly to legal action though (or if you have already gone through something like this and would like to avoid it in the future), here are some tips on how to prevent problems with tenants. A landlord can never be too careful with this particular danger, especially since many parts of the current UK legislation are currently under lobby pressure to be revised in favour of the tenants (more on this below). Here are the best tips on how to prevent future problems with bad tenants:

  • Make sure you perform a reasonable background check on your tenants: things to look out for are their employment status, credit history, any potential issues with the law etc. A good legal counselling team can help you out with this background check. Selecting only promising tenants drastically reduces the potential occurrence of issues in the future.
  • Make an inventory of your belongings and their state at the beginning of the tenancy: Make sure you get your tenants to sign off on the inventory list as well. This way, in case anything gets damaged during the tenancy period, requiring you to bill them for the damages, it will be easier to prove it. Feel free to also include plenty of photos as attachments to the inventory list, and get a lawyer or legal expert to certify the list once it’s done, so it can become a binding legal document.
  • Get your tenant to pay rent (and utilities) online instead of face to face: this way, it will be easier for you to keep track of their payments and of any delays in payments. It will also provide you with incontestable proof of any delays, instead of finding yourself in a situation of your word against theirs.
  • Get a form of comfortable landlord insurance, just in case anything goes wrong.

3.4. Extra Useful Resources

In response to the recent initiative of tenants to make records of bad landlords a part of the public record, the Landlord Action group has responded with a similar initiative of creating a Rogue Tenant List and registering it as a public document, available to all potential landlords and warning them of dangers with habitually bad tenants. The initiative is currently in a stage of consultations with the government, and if this becomes a reality, it will make landlord rights much easier to protect against tenant offenders. Take a look at the initiative and maybe think about ways in which you would like to support it in order to make tenancy business safer.

For any inquiries about your landlord rights, dispute resolutions, and what legal steps you can take against a troublesome tenancy situation, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are available to help with any of your issues.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

The Changing Dynamics of a British Family

At one time, the nuclear family was considered the norm – two parents, usually married, and their 2.4 children living happily together. Nowadays, however, the nuclear family is quite the rarity. Changes in family dynamics over the last 40 years or so have seen an increase in single parents, extended families, and same-sex couples.

The number of marriages taking place in the UK has been steadily increasing again after reaching a low point in 2009; and divorce rates are also decreasing, meaning more people are choosing to stay married. This could be due to the fact that more and more people are waiting until their 30s to get married, perhaps increasing the likelihood of them marrying the ‘right’ person. A recent increase in immigration to the UK has also brought a great deal of diversity, and our population now includes greater numbers of people who place a stronger emphasis on the union of marriage.

Additionally, the legalisation of same sex marriage on March 29th 2014 has seen more than 15,000 marriages take place so far, with 55% between female couples, and 45% males. As a result of this, the number of civil partnerships is currently in decline.

In modern Britain it is not uncommon for a child to have divorced parents who have met new partners, creating step-parents and extended families, or to be raised by a single parent. It is also not uncommon for children to be raised by same-sex parents.

The infographic below highlights some of the key statistics surrounding the ever-changing dynamics of family life in Great Britain...

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Advice From 8 Experts; Dealing With Children During Divorce

Divorce is an inevitably difficult time for all involved. But amongst the turmoil of separation, are our actions made with our children fully in mind? When divorce is inevitable are we too easily sucked into mind games, jealousy and rivalries? Divorce is something you will never get used to, in the respect that it won’t happen every week. It is therefore our pleasure to be able to present to you a selection of experts, all of which have dealt with divorce in some form. Our experts consist of teachers, councilors, therapists and community leaders. We asked our experts; what advice would you give to divorcing parents on how to deal with their children? Here are their responses;

Young Minds – www.youngminds.org.uk

Mental Health Organisation For Young People

"Separation may mean children losing the home they are used to, changing school and losing friends, not seeing one parent on a regular basis and hearing their parents rowing.
Coping with these changes is not easy for anyone, and many children feel sad, guilty, angry and abandoned. These feelings can lead to emotional and behavioural problems, such as disobedience, nightmares or clinginess. As a parent, you may be dealing with very difficult feelings yourself and it is sometimes hard to protect your children from these.

However it is important to try and show them they are loved by both parents, and that the problem is not their fault. Try not to argue in front of them or use them in your disputes and if possible ensure they have a relationship with both parents, however acrimonious your split has been.

Children should not be made to feel bad about missing the parent that no longer lives with them."

Priya Chandra – www.desiblitz.com

Author at DESIblitz, The Nations Leading South Asian Magazine/Website

Any couple with children going through a divorce means that the decision does not just impact them but the whole family.

For British Asian parents, it is no different, but culturally, where divorce was not once common - most parents stayed together for the sake of the children, family and community. Today, this has all changed and divorce is soaring in the Asian community (http://www.desiblitz.com/content/soaring-rate-of-british-asian-divorce).

Commonly, the mother gets custody of the children and if the divorce is amicable, the father gets rights to see the children. But this is not always the case.

The impact on the children of parent divorcing can be huge especially, if the divorce is not a pleasant one. Therefore key advice for divorcing parents to deal with children is:

1. Give children as much possible support when they are told about the divorce - because they will feel fearful of the future without both parents

2. Do not use your children as a 'political football' in the divorce

3. Do not get the children to take sides

4. Think about providing dual care if possible.

5. If the divorce is not amicable, then ensure the children get maximum support emotionally and financially

6. Get support from the family network e.g. grand-parents

7. Find a means to ensure there is contact for both parents to provide some stability

8. The mother should not prohibit the father from seeing the children

9. The children need to be told the truth but at the right age re. the reasons for divorce

10. Do not put one parent down in front of the children.

Annie & Abi (Aged 14) - www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk

Participants of Voices in the Middle – A UK Charity aiming to bring comfort to young people through divorce

1. Recognise that we love and need both parents.

2. Don’t turn us into messengers. Parents should talk directly to each other.

3. Don’t say bad things about our other parent.

4. Don’t grill us about what is going on at our other parents house.

5. Don’t ask us to take sides.

6. Don’t make us feel like we are being disloyal to you if we enjoy being with our other parent.

7. If you have something angry to say to our other parent don’t say it around us.

8. Don’t purposely forget important clothing or gear when we are going to our other parents place.

Originally written by the children of divorce’s bill of rights www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk/story/children-divorce-bill-of-rights/

David Didau - www.learningspy.co.uk

Author of ‘What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong

My only meaningful advice to divorcing parents is to keep it civilised and to remain adult in their dealing with each other and their children. Obviously that’s a lot easier said than done and I understand that the end of a relationship is a huge emotional upheaval. Bitterness, recrimination and anger, no matter the perceived right of an offended party to feel these emotions, will not help anyone and can have a devastating effect on children. I remembering reading that horrific as it is to have a parent die, children recover from this trauma more readily than they do from divorce and that is primarily to do with the negative emotions and spiteful behaviour exhibited by parents.

Sure, divorce happens, but it doesn’t have to descend into petty tit-for-tat exchanges and ill will. Remember, being a parent is more enduring and more important than being a husband or a wife.

Bob Brotchie - www.angliacounselling.co.uk

Therapist

1. While you and your partner are separating and your emotions are 'charged', do remember your children and others who may depend on you will also be feeling anxious and challenged.

2. Agree, at all costs, to share a united, consistent approach to the separation which confirms that the dependents ARE safe, loved, and this will continue.

3. Never, ever use your anger, resentment and any power you may have to get at the other partner, by way of the children. It puts them in an impossible position. Point scoring is not cool!

4. Similarly, never coach children to try and get the estranged parent to return.

5. Regardless of the actual or perceived cause of a relationship breakdown in which children are going to be involved, the kids will have cause to wonder in which way they are complicit.

Jay Krunszyinsky - www.relationshiprepair.net

Author & Life Coach

One of the biggest questions that I have pondered as a life coach is: How do the divorced parents remain emotionally well and supportive during the initial stages of the divorce when the children need an environment of love and compassion? The question is more about how the parents can deal with their emotional state more than how they will manage their children. If a parent possesses a positive and loving emotional state, his or her natural inclination will be to be loving and supportive to his or her children. In response, the children will manage the upcoming changes much better. When the parents react to each other in negative and undermining ways, the children will respond in maladaptive ways to the ensuing unrest and uneasiness.

Children are impacted by the emotional state of their parents. When or if they enter a negative emotional state, parents will project their negativity outward creating more instability in their children's lives. Many times, at least one parent is more negatively impacted by the divorce and cannot easily move to a improved state of mind during the initial stages. The negative feelings of betrayal, loss, or any other negative state come from beliefs that one lacks what is needed to be happy. Both parents need to find ways to neutralize their negative beliefs about each other and any other fears in order to engage each other and the children in supportive, honest, and respectful ways.

Karan – Editor of www.thisrelationship.com

Relationship Advisor

First of all the parents should talk to each other and should try to settle the things silently and with understanding, if not for them then for the sake of their children at least but if things have already gone out of their hands then nobody can do anything.

The first thing children should be told with the growing age is that choosing the partner carefully is really very important and if their parents had a divorce then that doesn't mean marriage always proves to be unsuccessful. Here are few points which a parent should consider teaching them:

Choose the partner carefully who is always there for you.

1. Marriage is the bond which is one of the strongest among all he relations and it should be respected (this will keep their belief alive).

2. If you are a single mother of a boy then never forget to teach him the importance of wife, he should keep this thing in mind- A girl leaves her family, her lifestyle, her likes-dislikes, even her surname just to make your world beautiful then it is your responsibility to take care of her, treasure her and treat her the way you want your daughter to be treated by her husband.

3. Make them understand the reasons, tell them the truth that made you had a divorce (only if they understand this thing, don't do this if they are very young to understand all these), this would be a great lesson for them.

4. Most importantly, teach them how to adjust, tell them they have to adjust at some stages in life, never ever make silly decisions in anger and try to adjust and make things go smooth.

5. If they have been into depression seeing you getting separated then to help them get out of it never show your sadness, your loneliness to them, be happy with them, take them out, show your love.

Jo Payne - www.mrspteach.com

Teacher & Blogger

As a teacher, there are two main bits of advice which I would give to parents going through a divorce.

Firstly, keep the school informed. I don’t just mean letting your child’s teacher know that you and your partner are splitting up, although that is important. Inform school staff of any changes, however slight you feel they are. School is completely away from the home situation and sometimes children save their feelings and emotions for such a place. The more teachers know about what is happening at home, the less they have to discover from children. When teachers know there are two homes which the child is returning to, they can prepare two sets of letters, resources or information. It is also useful for the staff, as well as the child, to know who is picking them up on which days and when any new adults/children come into the child’s life through the family situation.

Secondly, no matter how horrible the situation becomes, ensure that the education of your child is something you work as a team to support. Come to parents evenings together, sit next to each other at performances and both help with homework. As a teacher, it is important to know that the whole family is on side regarding the child’s education. More importantly, though, you are sending the message to your child that they are important and that, though you are apart now, you are together in supporting and nurturing them and their education.

Cari Rosen - www.gransnet.com

Editor - Gransnet

Divorce can be difficult for the wider family as well as those going through the separation. But it can also be a time where grandparents can really make a positive difference.

Try to keep your relationship with your grandchildren on as normal a footing as you can: they are having to adjust to big changes in their lives so consistency from another source can be hugely beneficial. Offering an objective ear (they key being objective...) whenever they want to talk can also be a great help.

Many Gransnet members have found themselves in this position - and have been happy to share their experiences to help anyone going through it now. Their wisdom includes:

1. Let the children know how loved they are.

2. Offer lots of hugs, laughter and warmth.

3. Keep things relaxed and cheerful. Let them understand that your home is a place where they are always welcome and where they can put their worries aside for a while.

4. Offer them space and opportunity to talk if they want to

5. Remind the children that they are NOT to blame for the split

6. Make sure you never put them in a position where they have to choose where their loyalties lie

7. Remember that it's best for everyone (you included) to keep things as amicable as possible. Even if that can't be done, continue to do what you can to be supportive, objective and welcoming to both sides.

Terry Gaspard - www.movingpastdivorce.com

Therapist, Blogger, and Author of Daughters of Divorce

1. Pick a time and location that is private and works best for your children when you talk to them about your divorce. Avoid having discussions the night before they have a big test, an audition for a school play, etc. Accept that things may get emotional and that children express their feelings in different ways. Strive to listen and show empathy to them when they express negative emotions rather than getting defensive.

2. Don’t bad-mouth the other parent. Keep in mind that children cope better after divorce when they have a close relationship with both of their parents. So if they ask why you divorced, consider saying something like, “Your dad and I have tried really hard to get along, and it’s just not working anymore.” Avoid: “Your dad has a bad temper.”

3. Reassure your children. Explain that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the divorce and there isn’t anything they can do to fix it. Remind your kids that you love them very much and nothing will change that. The most important thing is to explain that your breakup has nothing to do with them. Plan on repeating this message fairly often.

4. Tell your kids what will change, and what will stay the same. After a divorce, children crave predictability and constancy more than ever. They’ll probably have basic questions about what will happen next, like “Where will I live?” or “Who will take me to school?” This is why having a parenting plan in place is so important. Several co-parenting websites offer a “custody calendar.” Explain where mom and dad will live, and how often you will both see them. Discuss important things related to their routine, and underscore what is staying the same, like: “Mom will still drive you to school every morning.”

5. Tell the honest, simple truth, and encourage questions. It’s impossible to predict your children’s reaction but be up front about your divorce “from the start.” It’s important that all of their questions are answered as honestly and completely as possible. You don’t need to give your kids more information than they need, such as: “Dad has cheated on mom twice in the past year.” But you can give them basic information such as: “Mom and Dad have fallen out of love, but still love you very much.”

6. Remind your kids that you want to encourage an open dialog as time progresses. The first conversation you have, when you break the news of the divorce, should not be the last. Your divorce will unfold in your children’s life in unexpected ways as they mature. If your children know you’re open to continuing the conversation, everyone’s best interests will be protected.

7. Let your children know that you plan to date (if you do) but that you won’t introduce them to anyone unless you’re fairly sure the relationship is serious or more than casual. You want to reassure them that your time with them is special and you’ll be sure to keep it sacred. Also, tell your kids that you need time for socializing and you’ll be refreshed if you carve out time for friends.

Follow Terry on movingpastdivorce.com & Twitter. Her new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome The Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup And Enjoy A Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship” can be found here.

Story Massage for Children - www.storymassage.co.uk

Children's Therapist 

At Story Massage we have a specific method in which we encourage adults to talk with their children, this combines positive touch with words. It is now being used as a valuable way of helping children to explore and understand different and difficult emotions.

Our advice would be to take this beautiful and heartfelt Story Massage which was written by a grandmother on one of our recent training days. It contains such a powerful message of love and hope that we wanted to share it with you as it could offer an alternative approach to dealing with children during divorce.

Your family is not broken…

Mummy has gone one way. (Half fan)

Daddy has gone another. (Half fan)

It’s still okay to love Mummy. (Circle)

It’s still okay to love Daddy. (Circle)

Mummy and Daddy love you. (Circle)

Sometimes you get angry. (Drum)

Sometimes you get sad. (Sprinkle)

But that’s okay. (Calm)

It feels like your family is broken. (Sideways Wave)

But it’s not. It’s only cracked. (Wave)

For everyone is still here. (Circle)

Aunties, uncles, cousins, Grandad, Nanny. (Circle)

You are very loved. (Circle or Heart)

Our Story Massage book, resources and training options are based on ten simple positive touch strokes. The strokes, all with descriptive names such as The Wave or The Fan, are easy to remember and can be readily adapted to familiar stories or used to create your own special story massages for your own children.

To find our more about our One Day Training Courses in Story Massage please visit our website.

Michelle Thompson - www.mummyandmemagazine.co.uk

Editor - Mummy & Me Magazine

"If you and your partner have taken the decision to separate, the important thing when children are involved, is to reassure the child(ren) that they are still very much loved. At a time of great change, it is important to provide your child(ren) with as much stability as possible. If there are any ill feelings between you and your partner, try to avoid confrontation in front of your child(ren) and try to resolve issues between yourselves when your children are not present. Ultimately, because you may not love your partner anymore, you should always make your child aware that you still love them."

Jane McNeice - www.mindmatterstraining.co.uk

Director - Mind Matters Training

When a couple decides to separate or divorce the effects on the children are often determined by how effective, or ineffective, the parents are in supporting and managing the transition.

So why when most parents love their children should it be that, all too often, the process is ineffective and children are left feeling confused, hurt, responsible, and many other negative emotions?

At the point when parent’s separate or divorce, they are often going through a particularly difficult time themselves. They too may be hurt, confused, and coming to terms with the new or forthcoming changes. Their own coping mechanisms may not necessarily be positive, resulting in unhealthy reactions and behaviours that don’t facilitate the best for their children. Most parents won’t intentionally cause hurt or emotional harm to their children, but they may inadvertently do this because of what they are going through.

When supporting your child, or children, through separation and divorce here are some useful points to consider:

Are you managing your own health and emotional wellbeing effectively? Failure to look after your own wellbeing can lead to unhealthy behaviours that consequently affect others in a negative way. It is essential to seek help for yourself at the earliest opportunity e.g. talking to a therapist, or other professional who may be able to assist.

Listen It is essential that your children are listened to and feel heard. This is also an opportunity to check understanding and clear up any misunderstandings your child, or children, may have.

Be honest Children, like anyone, need to feel able to trust those around them. In particular they need to trust the significant adults in their lives - in most cases this is the parents. It is also important that parents consider what discussions are age appropriate for their child, or children.

Remind your child, or children, they are loved Children need to feel safe, secure, and loved in any situation, in particular when they are going through a potentially difficult change.

Expression Children may not be able to express how they feel very easily. Consider opportunities and ways for your child, or children, to express how they feel. This may be through talking about how they feel, moods, or by using other communication media such as pictures.

Seek help Remember there is often a wide team of support around you and your children e.g. schools, nurseries, GP’s, community organisations, health practitioners, relatives, and friends. Seek support from others, and ensure those who need to be aware know about the changes that your child, or children, is experiencing.

Further emotional support for both adults and children can be accessed from the Mind Matters website www.mindmatterstraining.co.uk

How Can A Solicitor Help My Business?

Starting your own business or partnership can be extremely liberating and exciting. You become your own boss and get to call the shots in every area of the business – whether it’s packaging design, distribution, recruitment or finance, you have the power. But with great power comes great responsibility, and whilst you will enjoy a lot of new freedoms, there are countless legal requirements and considerations.

With more new businesses now emerging than ever before, and more and more ways for them to get into a tricky legal situation (whether it be related to employment, working conditions, contracts, debt collection or equality, to name but a few) we thought it important to list the many ways in which a business solicitor can be of help. A competent business solicitor can help you to navigate the legal landscape and guard you from potential risks, tighten up your contracts, and ultimately save you money.

Solicitor business infographic

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How to set up power of attorney: The Ultimate Guide

how to set up power of attorney

Setting up a power of attorney is actually a simple, stress-free process once you have the knowledge and resources made plain and simple for you.

This is what we’ve aimed to do in our ultimate guide to setting up a power of attorney. Here we’ll take you through the 5 steps you need to take to setting up a power of attorney.

First of all, it’s important to understand what a power of attorney is and the responsibilities that are involved.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a formal document that gives another person legal authority to make decisions on your behalf.

Anybody over the age of 16 is allowed to make a power of attorney, and needs to be signed by a qualified solicitor who practices in law or your GP.

Having a power of attorney allows you to plan and shape the future in the way you want to, should you be unfortunate enough to make important decisions for yourself.

STEP 1 - Choosing a power of attorney.


It’s important to understand the limitations involved when choosing a power of attorney.

You can actually set up multiple power of attorney’s, but be sure that you think carefully and choose people that you can fully trust with such important decisions and tasks that lie ahead.

Here are a range of resources to help you properly understand what a power of attorney is plus the legal limitations and duties that are applicable to a power of attorney:

STEP 2 - Make your lasting power of attorney.


Now that you’ve discussed and carefully considered your choice, the next step is to make your Lasting Power of Attorney by filling in an LPA form online.

This form basically allows you to add certain restrictions on the decisions and actions your attorney makes.

You can download the form which includes full guidance over at the gov.uk website.

In the mean time, here are some other useful resources you need regarding lasting power of attorney:

STEP 3 - Gain legal advice for your LPA.


Many choose to skip this step, but it’s crucial that you get full support, set-up and professional advice from a solicitor regarding LPA.

Your attorneys won’t be able to act on your behalf until your Lasting Power of Attorney is registered with The Office of The Public Guardian (OPG).

The cost for registering is £110 although certain remissions are applicable for those receiving means tested benefits. Find out more about the OPG, fees and benefits of using a solicitor via these useful resources:

STEP 4 - Understanding enduring power of attorney.


Before LPA’s were introduced in 2007, you were able to have an unregistered Enduring Power of Attorney, which can still be used.

If your attorney believes you are becoming mentally weaker and unable to make important decisions, they will still need to register it.

If you’d like to replace your current unregistered EPA with an LPA, you’re able to revoke your EPA and have an LPA instead. But if your EPA is already registered, the permissions can only be revoked by the Court of Protection.

For a better understanding of the finer details involving EPA’s, take a look at these resources:

STEP 5 - Banks and Building Societies.


If you want to use a registered LPA or EPA with your bank or building society, they will require:

- Proof of address

- Identification

- Power of Attorney document

- Proof of the account holders name and address

Certain banks may require your attorney to fill out an additional registration form along with keeping a copy of your Power of Attorney document.

Once this process is complete, your attorney will normally be able to access bank accounts both my telephone and online.

Here are some additional useful links regarding banks and building society policies:

If you feel your bank isn’t dealing with your POA in the correct way, you can make a formal complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.