Are you living with your partner? Are you married? In recent years there has been a significant increase in cohabitation, that is living together as a married couple without having married or formed a civil partnership. In fact, The Office of National Statistics recently published that they have found that approximately 10% of adults are not married but living with a partner in England and Wales. Between 2004 to 2015, cohabiting couple families have been the fastest growing family type in Britain.
Although society has changed its attitude towards marriage and cohabitation, the law surrounding the breakdown of cohabiting relationships has failed to reflect this progression.
“But we have been together 20 years, I am a common law spouse so I must be entitled to something?” This is a question we hear a lot and to clarify there is no such thing as a common law spouse. If you are not married and your relationship ends, separating cohabiting couples are not eligible to the same rights and entitlements as divorcing couples notwithstanding how long you have lived together. This can often lead to one partner of the cohabiting couple which splits in financial difficulties.
Divorcing couples, or civil partners whose relationships ends, will have a right to a share of the assets including pensions and savings gained throughout the marriage or partnership. This division of the assets determined by the legal system is not available to cohabiting couples.
There are some court applications available but these are not as straightforward as an application on divorce. If you jointly own the property that you live in your interest will be protected. If the property is in one parties name only the other may have a claim against the property which is dependent on a number of factors, if you have children together there may be claims that could be made under the Children Act and it is important you get legal advice on these complex areas of the law.
Perhaps you are engaged? Until you are legally married you are simply seen as cohabitees, and in law you are treated the same as an unmarried couple living together.
Its not all doom and gloom though, it may seem unromantic, but did you know Cohabitation Agreements are available?
Cohabitation Agreements put into writing who owns what and how everything is owned and can offer protection and security to both parties in the relationship.
A Cohabitation Agreement can set out living arrangements for both of you, for example, how much each of you will contribute towards the various bills, including the rent or mortgage, of the household.
Importantly, if things turn sour in your relationship you can also set out how everything is to be divided, such as your Property, belongings and monies in the bank. If you have children, you can provide for how you will support your children should the relationship end.
Provide clarity for you and your partner from the beginning of your cohabitation by preparing a Cohabitation Agreement with us or get advice on the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship. All you need to do is contact us to book an appointment with our Family Solicitor, Sophie Mitchell, at either our Watton (01953 883535) or Hethersett Office (01603 813920).
Shockingly, even in the 21st century, pregnancy discrimination is not uncommon. The EOC’s (Equal Opportunities Commission) investigation into pregnancy discrimination in 2005 found that over the next five years one million pregnant women were likely to experience discrimination at work.
Are you a new mum with a Court Appearance looming? Is the Hearing near to your birth date?
So, how does the court review consider the status new mums at court?
The court has gone some way to tackle this by introducing the Equal Treatment Bench Book in 2013. Significantly, these are only guidelines for judges, magistrates and all other court staff, and not rules which have to be followed. Therefore, the courts are merely ‘recommend’ changes for pregnant women in courts and tribunals.
The guidelines suggest that pregnant women and new mothers should always be considered in any proceedings either as parties, witnesses or representatives. Therefore, the court should factor in additional breaks.
1. Women who are breastfeeding should be accommodated in any case management decisions.
2. A woman who is heavily pregnant or has just given birth should not be expected to attend a court or tribunal unless she feels able to do so. This would be at least one month before the birth and at least two months after the birth.
3. Breaks should be allowed for breastfeeding.
4. It may be possible to conduct a hearing with a baby or child in the court provided the baby or child is not disrupting the hearing, for example, by crying or making noise. This is a decision for the Judge who has to decide whether it is appropriate for the child to see and hear the proceedings.
So, if you are a new mum and due to attend court, make the court aware of your situation as soon as the court date is listed. Further, make sure your needs are considered by the court. If you feel that you are not be heard by the court, please do not hesitate to contact us today on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920 for advice.
We all want to grow old gracefully, or disgracefully, but whichever way we choose, we all would want to grow old with our marbles intact. But what would happen if you did lose your marbles?
Statistics provided by the Alzheimers Society show that 1 in every 79 people in the UK aged under 65 years and 1 in every 14 people in the UK suffer from dementia. This figure does not take into account other diseases which also affect a persons mental capacity. Therefore joking aside it is really important that as individuals (whilst we can) we act to assist Loved Ones to assist us, if the time comes when we can't help ourselves. The truth is the sooner, the better to start having this conversation with yourself and the ones you want to be your voice when you can longer act in your best interest.
So Lasting Powers of Attorney are available just in case you do lose your marbles… Or in the case of Property and Finance (with marbles in tact) you want to give permission to another to act upon your behalf.
Lasting Powers of Attorneys are legal documents which can be created to protect you and your affairs. By being prepared when you have mental capacity, if you should lose your mental capacity, you can ensure that the people looking after you know your wishes. You can make sure decisions about you are made in your best interests.
You appoint ‘Attorneys’, who are the people you choose to make decisions on your behalf if you lose your capacity.
There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney;
- Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney allow your Attorneys to make decisions about your day to day care. It allows your Attorneys to help make decisions about your medical care. It allows you to decide who you would like to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. This Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used by your Attorneys if you lose mental capacity.
Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney allow your Attorneys to speak to your bank or building society on your behalf. It allows your Attorneys to pay your bills and collect any benefits or pension payments on your behalf. This Lasting Power can be used as soon as its registered or if you lose mental capacity; the decision is yours.
Within your Lasting Powers of Attorney, you can give instructions and state wishes of what you would like to happen should you lose capacity.
Dawsons Law prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney for a fixed fee price of £250 plus VAT (or £350 plus Vat) OPG fee may apply. We do NOT charge and additional amount for the application for registration.
Free Home Visits available in Watton or Hethersett
You can book an appointment with Victoria Holland now by telephoning 01953 883535 or 01603 813920, and prepare for your future.
How is the budget going to affect you? Are you a small business owner? Are you an Employee? Read here to see how the budget will impact on your life. This afternoon George Osbourne the Chancellor announced the budget that will impact small business owners and employees alike for the next year. Below are just some of the decisions that have been made.
For those of our Clients who work, the tax-free personal income allowance is being raised to £11,500 in 2017. The government have stated that they plan to increase this to £12,500 by 2020. This will reportedly give approximately 31 million people a tax cut. The rate at which workers start 40% income tax is to be raised from £42,385 to £45,000 from April next year.
For those of our Clients who are business owners, there will be reforms to business rates which will mean 600,000 small businesses will pay no rates from April next year and 250,000 will have their rates cuts from April 2017. It has also been announced that a new threshold for small business rate relief is to increase from £6,000 to £15,000. Further, cooperation tax is to be reduced to 17% by April 2020. A further announcement was made regarding commercial stamp duty. This reform will benefit small firms with approximately 90% of small firms paying less stamp duty or being unaffected, however 9% of firms will pay more. The commercial stamp duty will be set at 0% on purchases up to £150,000, 2% on next the £100,000 and 5% top rate above £250,000. This will be effective from midnight tonight.
For our Clients who are saving, the yearly annual ISA limit is to increase next year from around £15,000 to £20,000. It has also been announced that anyone under the age of forty will be able to open a lifetime ISA. For every £4 you save, the government will give you £1 until you are fifty. The money can be used to save for a pension, or for a home. If you have already starting saving in a help-to-buy ISA, you will be able transfer this ISA into this schemes.
Fuel duty has been frozen for the sixth year in a row. This reportedly saves the average driver £75.00 per year.
Turning to food and drink, a sugar tax is to be introduced to the drinks industry from 2018. This will be a tax on the manufacturing companies, but no doubt this tax will be passed on to the consumers by increasing the prices. The money is to be used to spend on sports in schools, schools will be able to apply for money to extend the school day and fund more sports activities.
If you seek business advice or assistance from start-ups to taking on employees, dealing with disputes or collection of debt then contact Salena Dawson @dawsonslaw
Cats those independent furry animals who purr their way into our homes, wake you from a deep slumber, come and go as they please and only want fuss at their demand. But Yet we still love our cats. We are a nation of cat lovers. Cats are the second most popular pet in the UK, over the next few days we are going to be giving advice everyone who is looking after or is thinking about looking after a cat needs to know.
We know they come and go as they want. We know they are Independent so Do cats have legal owners?
Contrary to common belief, cats are the property of their owner. You may believe that you simply share your home with your cat, which is your companion and friend, but it does legally belong to you. Even if your cat has strayed or is lost, you are still its owner and therefore responsible for the actions of your cat.
It is illegal to abandon your cat. If you can no longer look after your cat you would need to contact a rescue centre which would then become the owner of your cat.
To see the Dawsons Law Cat - Charles Judas Magoo - Look on Twitter @dawsonslaw.
Tomorrow We shall let you know what to do if your cat is stollen.
The Court of Protection opened up to the public and media for the first time this year.
The Court of Protection hears cases for those people who do not have mental capacity to make their own decisions. The Court can decided on issues of welfare and financial matters. Although opening up the Court to the public and media, will allow for a better understanding by the public as to the decisions the Court of Protection can, make it is incumbent upon it to ensure that privacy of individuals is protected.
To apply for the Court of Protection to decide what should happen to a family member or friend, because that person can no longer make such decisions themself is costly, but luckily with the onset LPA's we have a solution to save the need for the Court of protection to get involved.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA's) are designed to reduce the number of persons needing to make applications to the Court of Protection. LPA's allow individuals to decide (whilst they still have mental capacity) who should make decision upon their behalf on matters of health, welfare, property and finance. For example you can make decisions about your daily care, medical care, sale of your property if you no longer are able to live there, if your attorneys should get paid, life sustaining treatment....... A person entering into an LPA can appoint family, friends or a professional to be an attorney for them and therefore can have the peace of mind that it is the actual person of their choosing, who has agreed to take on the role of attorney, if it is required.
LPA's are an inexpensive way to to get the ducks all in the row you desire.
If you would like more information on LPA's or Court of Protection please contact Victoria on 01953 883535
The Supreme Court has shown that it will not stand for dishonesty in Matrimonial Financial Settlement cases and the consequences of being dishonest will mean the Courts can reopen matrimonial financial cases for re-negotiation.
In the recent cases of Varasha Gohil and Alison Sharland the ex- spouses were given the right to challenge their divorce settlements due to findings that their ex-husbands had misled the Courts at the original hearings. This may lead to both ex-wives receiving an increase in Matrimonial Financial Settlement. So is your Matrimonial Financial Settlement Order open to challenge?
From 1st October Smoking in vehicles carrying children under 18 years has come into force.
The ban is a restriction on drivers and passengers who will face a £50 fine if caught.
Opening a window or sunroof will not be a defence. However smoking would be allowed if in a convertible car with the roof down.
The ban will not apply to e-cigarettes
Employers will not be liable for the act of their employees smoking in company cars with children present
The term Zero Hour Contracts has gained more usage over the passed few years but you may have a contract called a Casual Hour Contract instead.
As a result of the popularity of the use by employers of Zero Hour Contracts, legislative measures have been required to stop employers exploiting employees through the use of Zero Hour Contracts.
So what are the recent changes and how could they effect an employee with a Zero Hour Contract?
In the first survey conducted since the 2015 UK General Election, The Federation of Small Business (FSB) reveals its results as to what small firms want from the next government.
The ten issues small business want new Government to focus on in the next five years are:
1. Reduce Regulatory Burden
2. Introduce a more simplified Tax System
3. Reform Business rates
4. Improve Employability Skills of young people
5. Deliver Improved Broadband/Mobile Connectivity
6. Help UK Business to Crate More Jobs
7. Tackle Late Payments
8. Lower Energy Costs For Businesses
9. Ensure better Access To Finance
10. Increase Investment in Infrastructure
Further information of this survey can be found at www.ibacksmallbusiness.com/website
Salena Dawson is an active member of the FSB Mid-Norfolk Branch and actively seeks ways to bring skills to local rural community's.
"The value to me in being a member of the FSB is the wealth of knowledge it gives on a range of national and local issues. As a member of the FSB I have been able to forward my want and desire to have the voice of local business heard. The FSB to me is not about the financial savings on banking or card services it can provide a member. The true value to me is being able to lobby on issues important to small business, its about having my voice heard, its about seeing change occur, its about being able to engage with our politicians to tell them what we need to grow"
Dawsons Law is a business. Its a small community business which offers legal services. For this reason we appreciate the needs, wants and struggles of local business, this is why when local business come to us for Legal, Employment or HR advice we are able to give the straightforward solution we know you desire.
Dawsons Law is proud to support the #ibacksmallbusiness campaign.