September 21st, 2018
Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, was recently quoted in The Times as saying that divorce and family law needs to change. He insisted that we need to catch up with what is actually happening and no longer be tied to old and outdated dated law. This is particularly relevant when answering the above question.
Frankly, the current law is neither appropriate or fair. There is no such thing as a common law wife – yet how many times are we asked if there is?
If I live with someone in their house and we have children and then years later we split up, can I get maintenance? And can I get a share of the house?
There are 2 types of maintenance, child maintenance and spousal maintenance. If there are relevant children, the former will be payable/receivable. If you need assistance with this type of maintenance, the child maintenance service has a handy calculator at: www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance
Spousal maintenance, however, is not available if you are not a spouse.
But what about the house? You now enter the realm of trusts law. If you are an owner then yes, you will get your share (though this is dependent upon how you defined it at the time of purchase or subsequently). If you simply shared the bills, bought the food and simply lived together, then there is a big risk that you will not be entitled to anything. You might be able to make an application for housing/financial assistance for the children but once they finish their full-time education any provision reverts back to the other parent.
So, imagine you have been living together for 20 years. The children have grown and gone and you both have work. However, your job is not very well paid; the house is in your partners name and you have assumed you will get a share though have never really discussed this, never mind been to a lawyer to document it. What will you get when you part? Probably nothing.
The reality is you could end up losing your whole lifestyle, your home and more importantly, your financial security. This cannot be right. As a parent, this thought strikes real fear when I look at my adult children, that they may effectively place themselves in a vulnerable position like this. So, don’t ignore your financial security. Take advice. This could be the best money you ever spend.
Jo qualified as a solicitor in 1992 having completed her training at leading Cambridge firms Taylor Vinters and Thompson and Co. After qualification, Jo moved to J Garrard and Allen in Olney where she established the family department. In 1994 Jo was made a Partner at J Garrard and Allen and continued to build and develop the practice. Jo trained as a mediator with Resolution in 1996.
In 2001 Jo decided to set up independently and created a purely family law practice in Stony Stratford recognising that in fact the skills required by family lawyers and the expectations of clients experiencing relationship breakdown and separation were different from those required in other areas of the law.
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
For more information please click here.
What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
For more information please click here.