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The English courts understand that marriage is a partnership and that the work done in running the home is just as important as the work done outside of it. When it comes to the dissolution of a marriage, therefore the court will do all it can to achieve a fair settlement, with an equal split of the marital assets being the starting point.
The courts approach each case in a nuanced and focussed way, so it is hard to generalise what the outcome might be. A number of factors will be considered, including the length of your marriage and the way your wealth was created. The court will also look to the needs and contributions of both parties.
In all cases, the valuation of the assets involved will be very important. Many will need to be assessed by experts. This is especially true when it comes to business your spouse owns and is involved in – business valuation is highly complex and it is important to be able to understand how this is approached. With in-house corporate expertise, Vardags are used to challenging experts to make sure that valuations are as accurate and fair as possible.
Beyond valuation, the court will look at how your family wealth grew and what your contributions were. Vardags are used to examining the history of relationships and showing the different ways in which you supported your partner as they built up the family finances.
Whether your case goes all the way to a final hearing, or is settled by negotiation, we will ensure your case is put across as strongly as possible. We will help make sure that valuations are accurate and that the court, and your spouse, recognise the contribution you have made. This will help you move on and begin your new, independent life with as much financial security as possible.
All parties in a divorce are under a duty to provide “full and frank” disclosure. This means that they have to tell you about all their assets and income. Unfortunately, some wealthy spouses think that they can hide their assets – placing them under the control of companies, or moving them offshore.
Vardags are very experienced in these types of cases. Our in house forensic accountancy team can search for assets across the globe, and are experienced at understanding and unravelling complicated corporate structures.
Where a party avoids disclosing assets, we can highlight the inconsistencies in their evidence and show to the court that money is missing. Often this enough for the court to draw adverse inferences and make a generous award in your favour.
Vardags are also experienced at using the full power of the court to your partner to disclose their whole wealth. Where they flout orders, it is possible to have them fined or even sent to prison for contempt of court. Often, a lack of disclosure will also lead to them having to pay your legal fees as well.
Due to our experience with high value cases, we are aware of the many tricks spouses employ to hide their wealth. We can help you uncover and resist these, ensuring you get your fair share.
When you begin divorce proceedings, it is natural to worry about how your spouse might react. From the outset of proceedings, they are under a duty to maintain the status quo – including giving you the same access to money to meet your day-to-day expenses.
Usually, a spouse will agree to do this. If they do not, it is possible to apply to the court for them to provide you with interim maintenance, also known as maintenance pending suit. Here the court will look at your short term income needs and will order your spouse to make payments to meet them. If such an application is required, your spouse might also be ordered to pay your legal costs relating to it.
The court will not permit your spouse to cut off you or your children. As experienced family lawyers, Vardags will help you negotiate interim solutions for your finances, and if necessary seek the court’s intervention to ensure that your needs are met.
It is not uncommon for spouses to want to relocate when the marriage is ending. As a newly-single parent you may need to move closer to your work or nearer to the support of your family.
If you want to move your children abroad, and the other parent does not agree, you will need the permission of the court, so called “leave to remove”. To permanently remove them from the country without this permission is a serious criminal offence. The court, however, will want to understand why you might want to relocate and will consider your case with an open mind. The paramount concern of the court will be the welfare of the children – how it will affect them to move, including the impact on their relationship with the other parent. As experienced international family lawyers, Vardags will help you demonstrate that your move is in the child’s interest and help you develop workable plans to maintain their relationship with their other parent.
Though you do not need permission to move to another part of the UK, your spouse can apply to the court to prevent it. Again, the welfare of your child will be paramount and we will help you demonstrate that your move is best not only for you, but for your children.
Your spouse might try to stop you getting your fair share by giving assets away – transferring them to business associate or family members – or by putting them into trust. In doing this they will try to reduce the amount of money available to meet your claim. Vardags are used to such tricks and can help you protect yourself from them.
If you have evidence that your spouse is going to dissipate their assets, either by spending them or moving them to other people or other countries, it is possible to obtain a freezing order. These orders freeze your spouse’s assets, allowing them access to no more than they need for their ordinary living expenses. This prevents them from making any major transactions and putting their assets beyond your reach.
Even when they have already made the transaction, it is not too late to act. The court has a power to set aside all transactions and transfers that a party has made in order to frustrate their spouses claim. Under this power (section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act) the court can investigate any transaction, and if it is not legitimate, undo it. This means that gifts to family members, friends, or trusts can be undone and the money brought back into your matrimonial pot.
Due to our experience with high value divorces, Vardags are used to advising clients and obtaining freezing orders and orders for set-aside. If you think your spouse might try to put money beyond reach, we can help you.
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Where a spouse has significant business assets, they can often try to downplay their value on divorce. Having the correct value for an asset like this will be key to ensure you get your fair share of your marital wealth.
Sometimes spouses will route their business through a complex web of company structures. On other occasions they will manipulate the way the business is run and accounted for in order to suggest it has a lower value. The court appointed expert valuer will have to contend with each of these tricks as it seeks to properly value the asset.
With in-house corporate and forensic accountancy expertise, Vardags can help ensure that the valuer asks the right question and reaches the right conclusion. We will be able to trace and assess how your spouses’ wealth is held and analyse the accounts to check whether they present a true portrayal of the value of the business.
Vardags will ensure that the valuer, and the court, ask the right questions and uncover the true value of your spouses’ assets.
Equally, Vardags’ understanding of corporate practices will help us set out the true level of your partner’s income. We know how people downplay their income, be it arranging complex remuneration packages, or running personal expenses through a business. We will interrogate their accounts and find out what they really earn in order to help your claim.
London is known as one of the fairest locations for a less-wealthy spouse to bring a divorce. In many other countries, a spouse will receive little or no payment at the end of a marriage. If you want your fair share, it may be vital that your case is heard in England.
Jurisdiction in relation to divorce is governed by a complex web of English, European, and international law. Generally, you will only be able to get divorced in England if you, or your spouse, has been resident or domiciled in England. If there is more than one European country in which you are able to get divorced, the “correct” jurisdiction will be determined by where the proceedings are started first. If the jurisdiction is disputed between England and a non-European country, the court will consider which country is the most suitable to hear the dispute, considering where the assets are located and the previous lifestyles of the parties.
Jurisdiction disputes can lead to lengthy and complex court proceedings prior to the financial remedies procedure even starting. Often it will require a detailed examination of how the parties lived in both the short and long-term. Vardags are very experienced in such disputes.
If you fear that your spouse is doing or might do this, it is vital your react quickly. Time is of the essence when it comes to jurisdiction and Vardags, an international family law firm, can help you make sure your case is fought in the most appropriate jurisdiction.
If your spouse has already obtained a divorce in a foreign country and you haven’t received a proper financial settlement, it might not be too late.
If you fear violence or are subject to violence, the court can and will protect you. For victims of domestic abuse (be it physical, verbal or emotional harm) the court can make non-molestation orders and occupation orders each giving you comprehensive legal protection.
Non-molestation orders (“non-mols”) are designed to protect your from harassment. Normally, they will prevent your ex-partner from harassing you and threatening you with violence. Sometimes they will bar them from contacting you directly and from going near you.
An occupation order, often obtained in tandem with a non-molestation order, will help secure you in your family home. The order can secure your rights to live in the home (even if you are not the owner) and can prevent your spouse from returning there. Alternatively, an order can be used to divide the family home in two, with each party having their own secure space.
Non-mols are backed by criminal law. Breaking one is a criminal offence, and your partner can be arrested immediately if they break the terms, even if they have committed no other crime. Your local police will be notified that the order is in place and will help protect you if the order is broken.
Vardags are sadly used to supporting people in these frightening circumstances. If you fear domestic violence, we can help you get these orders and advise you on to how to best protect yourself. We will advise you on the appropriate medical and psychological evidence put before the court and do all we can to build up the evidence in your case.
In addition to court orders, we can introduce you to providers of specialist security so that you can have peace of mind in your home and elsewhere.
If you feel at immediate risk of domestic violence, please contact the police straight away.
Even if your partner is not violent, they might threaten to “kick you out” or to change the locks on your family home. Even if they are the sole owner, they cannot do this. Under the law, you have home rights which stop them from being able to exclude you, from selling the property from under you, or from kicking you out.
As experienced family lawyers, Vardags are used to helping people register and protect their home rights and will help you to continue living in your family home.
Though uncommon, false allegations of domestic violence can be extremely distressing. As leading family lawyers, Vardags can defend such claims while putting forward your case. Where false allegations are made before the court, the consequences can be very serious. Under an occupation or non-molestation order you could be removed from your home or arrested by the police.
Such orders can also have a significant impact on your professional life or limit the time you spend with your children after separation. Vardags are experienced at dealing with such claims. We will ensure that the correct version of events comes before the courts, preventing false allegations from damaging your life or reputation.
Vardags' in-house criminal defence experts can also help you should false allegations of domestic violence result in arrest or criminal charges. If you have been served with an ex parte order (where your spouse has already visited court without notifying you) we can help you present your case at the return date alongside getting any orders currently in place lifted.
Sometimes a spouse will argue that a marriage was not valid, and so there can be no divorce. If your wedding was in England, this will generally be easy to assess as English law lays down strict licencing requirements for wedding venues. In other countries, for example with Islamic marriages, things can be far more complicated. Generally if you can demonstrate that your marriage was registered with the local authorities, the English court will accept it as valid, allowing you to proceed with a divorce.
Even if a marriage was not properly created, if the parties intended to it to be binding and treated it as such, the court may be able to make financial provision when it breaks up. If deemed a “void marriage”, i.e. having all the characteristics of a marriage but being void for technical reasons, then your marriage can be annulled. On annulment, a spouse is entitled to the same financial provision as on divorce.
The validity of marriages is a complex area of law. Vardags have significant experience in some of the leading cases on nullity, and will try to help you whatever the facts of your case.
If you carry on sharing a house with your spouse during a divorce, they must treat you with respect and not make life more difficult for you. They cannot restrict your financial freedom, nor can they harass you or pressure you psychologically.
As top divorce lawyers, Vardags will advise you on how to manage this situation. It may be that your spouse can agree to behave appropriately, if not, we will help you obtain any necessary orders from the court regulating the family home. Where necessary, we will negotiate with your partner for them to leave the family home, or provide alternative accommodation for you.
We will help you ensure that your interests are protected as you fight for your fair share.
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