Thursday, September 27, 2007

Looking for free legal advice?

When people are going through separation and divorce they can react in panic and seek advice from where ever they can get it. A lot of people consider that they need professional advice but want to receive it for free. Why? Does getting free advice mean that you can rely on it?

We outline a lot of the procedure for obtaining a divorce on our website but people frequently ring and are keen to tell us the facts of their case and seek an immediate answer. Our receptionist took a call recently and there was no solicitor available. The caller asked the receptionist to give her opinion on the caller's situation!!!!! The receptionist refused saying that she was not qualified to do so and the caller insisted, stating that the receptionist must have picked up some idea of divorce law given where she worked. This sums up the ethos of free advice. If it is free it is potentially worthless.

Most people I meet at one time or other ask me for free advice on some aspect of their personal situation. The people I know least well are the cheekiest. I now carry a stack of cards and hand them out. I do help people I know, my gardener, my plumber, my mortgage broker - but I draw the line at a photographer who took my picture once, calling me at 8.30pm on my mobile to ask for a full analysis of his brother in law's case! Wonder what he would say if I got my sister to ring him and ask for a free photo session?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dive in - Embrace Change!

I have updated my profile and changed the template on my blog. I prefer my last template but think it was becoming stale. Not that I support change for change sake but........change is necessary for growth and I was getting bored of my wedding photo!

Getting divorced can be traumatic because it often forces one to accept unwelcome change. Try to turn this change to your advantage. Here's how:

1. Do something you always wanted to do but your ex spouse discouraged - going to a football match is a favourite.

2. Update your image.

3. Go somewhere you have never been before.

4. Meet at least 1 new person a week and invite your favourite one of the month to Sunday lunch.

5. Buy a pet! Guaranteed unconditional love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who do you love?

Rather like selecting your favourite friends on facebook work out who you love before you launch yourself into a battle over money, the car, who keeps the house, the wedding album and so on. Some people are very good at starting again, some people are very bad.........

Isn't it obvious who you love?

You would think so but probably not. My four year old son has a top ten chart of the people he loves and if I try to make him eat his vegetables he tells me that I am off the scale and reduced to zero. Children are adept at such emotional blackmail but the upside is it focuses his mind on the people he wants to see most. My mother is currently his number one so consequently due to him claiming he misses her we have now booked flights for her to visit.

The reason to work out this list is not only to ensure that you protect your loved ones as much as you can from any fall out from your divorce and separation but also to ensure that you spend your time with the people who matter most to you - no more duty funerals and obligatory suppers with people you grew out of years ago.

What if my number one does not want me?

If your spouse is your number one and he/she is determined to proceed with a divorce you need to spend time with the rest of the people on your list to avoid feeling totally lost and alone. Accept that the number one spot will be vacant for a while but not forever.........your choice!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and give yourself a mini treat every three hours to try to raise your spirits, this is a good idea regardless of your emotional state, keeps me happy anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ready to Jump?

Lots of people think about getting divorced for at least 2 years before they do anything about it. The main reasons for procrastination seem to be fear and guilt. Lots of people tolerate and contribute to very unhappy home lives for a long time before they feel ready or able to make a change.

If this is you consider that you will need emotional support when you decide to stop being part of an established couple and start being a single adult. It is useful to consider who the 5 people are that you spend the most time with. You are probably the average of them. If you do not admire them, if they moan and waste time, if they gossip and lie, if they talk big but live small then change this area of your life first. This may mean that you change your job or your friends. It may mean that things improve when you stop having to spend time with your partner's sister and her husband. However, make sure you surround yourself with people you admire and aspire to be like, other than people you feel sorry for.

You will need to focus on your own problems so stop rescuing other people for a while, this is often a way of avoiding facing the truth of the pain in your own life.

Also remember that in the same way everyone at work knows about inter office affairs, despite the parties believing they have kept it secret, so everyone will know you are separated. Confide in one work place colleague and the news will be out quicker than your clothes are thrown out of the bedroom window. Even if you tell no one, driving round with all your worldly goods in the back of your car is a huge give away!!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Need help dealing with the CSA?

It is virtually impossible to locate a solicitor prepared to help you with a CSA case. I do a few pro bono cases but it is so frustrating because matters are simply not dealt with. Plus, each step of the procedure has to be followed, even if they know it is a complete waste of time. For example, if you require a reassessment they will request 2 months payslips. What if the non resident parent earns most of his money in twice annual bonus payments? Well, you will have to appeal the assessment. Can't you request sight of his P60? No, the Government has laid out strict procedures which the CSA must follow. How long will this take? Do not expect to hear from us for at least 12 weeks. Then you need to appeal. How long will that take? Add on 12 weeks for each step, multiply by 7 and start again.

I don't know who is in a worse position, the parents who feel like they are banging their head against a brick wall or the CSA staff, who have all initiative removed from them and must be bored and stressed.

What they don't tell you.

Your assessment for child support will never be increased or reduced unless you ask them to do a reassessment. Even then, if the non resident parent's income has increased by 6% or less they will not increase the assessment. You will receive a schedule each 12 months, but it will be identical to the one you received last year unless you request a reassessment, which sounds very official and off putting. At least Court Orders used to increase in line with inflation.

Their rationale is that they have millions of clients and it would be too costly to implement an assessment for each individual. Why don't they automatically increase the reassessment in line with P60 and tax returns filed via the Inland Revenue? They could deduct the money at source, via the PAYE system and hand it over to the parent with care via the tax credit system or even an increase in their own tax code if they were working. After all, if your salary were to increase by 6% or less you would pay additional tax and national insurance on the difference.

For those caught on the other side of the fence, an assessment for which they do not have the means to pay, the experience can take on nightmare proportions but that is the subject of another post...........

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The continuing fall in the divorce rate

I have been so busy that I have not had time to post on this blog, or do my knitting! I was therefore very surprised to hear that the divorce rate has reduced again.

The following article in THE TIMES attributes it to:

1. Younger people having been through the pain of their parent's divorce and not wanting to inflict similar torment on their own children.

2. People getting married older and therefore being more sensible and mature about it (bit odd that analysis given that the only increase in divorce rates was in men over 60).

3. The increase in cohabitation.

Less people are getting married, but given that the average marriage lasts 11 years it will be a decade before this filters into the figures. One needs to consider the number of marriages related to the size of the marriageable population extrapolated over time to compute whether marriage is a declining institution. Only then can we calculate whether divorce is also in decline.

There was a baby boom in the sixties and the average age for divorce is 40 plus. One would expect the divorce rate to increase based upon the population explosion - instead it has fallen. One needs to know how many of these baby boomers remain married, choose cohabitation or a life on their own.

There is a housing crisis partly because there are an increasing number of people living alone. There is a population decline because an increasing number of women are choosing not to have children. An increasing number of people are leaving this country to live abroad, no doubt getting divorced abroad as well. There is an increasing immigrant population from countries where religion is more widespread and the consequent disapproval to marriage breakdown.

We have enjoyed 10 years of relative prosperity. Now this country owes more in personal debt (mortgage borrowing, credit cards personal loans) then the total Gross Domestic Product. There is an increase in insolvency and personal bankruptcy and the numbers of houses being repossessed has reached record levels, but not the headlines - due to the lack of negative equity. Poverty and divorce often go hand in hand. If interest rates rise and the economy continues to worsen I predict that the divorce rate will rise accordingly ..............