Settlement Agreements

Why us for your settlement agreement?

  1. We can turn your agreement around very quickly
  2. We are specialist employment lawyers
  3. We have a good track record in persuading employers to increase severance payments
  4. We will ensure that the severance payment is tax efficient
  5. We can act for clients throughout the country
  6. For a straightforward agreement, our charges will be £250 plus VAT, which should be covered by your employer

Children Issues

Child Care Issues (Children Act Matters)

Research shows if issues concerning the children can be agreed amicably and positively between the parties themselves, this benefits the children.  The Keelys LLP Family team offer specialist, prompt and practical support on how to cope with relationship and child care problems as well as how to resolve them.  We have extensive experience in the Law relating to children particularly private disputes between parents and grandparents about matters such as contact, residence and specific issues, for example schooling.

Parental Responsibility

This is perhaps the single most important concept in the Law relating to children.  Parental responsibility is a legal term used to describe the responsibility rights and legal authority a person has in respect of a child.  Someone with parental responsibility is entitled to participate, for example, in naming the child, in deciding the child’s religion and in taking decisions over the child’s schooling and education.

Where two people have parental responsibility they are each free to make conflicting decisions and this is a legal reason why a separating couple need to maintain a good working relationship with one another where possible taking decisions about their child by agreement.

Private Law Proceedings

In Private Law proceedings (between individuals) rather than Public proceedings (where a child may be taken into care), the Court’s main powers are to make:-

  1. A Residence Order to settle where a child has his/her main home, or whether the child is to have two main homes under a Shared Residence Order.
  2. A Contact Order to settle the arrangements for the children to see the absent parent, or at least to keep in indirect contact with them.
  3. A Specific Issue Order to settle a dispute over a particular issue such as education, religion or health.
  4. A Prohibited Steps Order to stop a parent from doing something.

The Law relating to children is governed by the Children Act 1989. The welfare of the child is the guiding principle and any decisions taken by the Court are based on what the Court considers to be in the child or children’s best interest therefore in deciding whether to make an Order, the Court will have regard to the following which is referred to as the welfare checklist:-

(a) the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
(b) his physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c) the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
(d) his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
(e) any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
(f) how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
(g) the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

The main principles behind the law can be summarised as follows:-

(a) The child’s welfare should be the Court’s paramount consideration;
(b) Any delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child;
(c) The Court’s shall not make an Order unless it considers it would be better for the child than making no Order.

There is a general principle that before anyone can make an application for a Residence or Contact Order they must first attend a mediation, information and assessment meeting (MIAM) to consider if mediation would be a good process for them to try in order to resolve the issues over their children.  This does not mean that the parties have to undertake mediation but they usually have to at least consider it (there are obviously exceptions in cases where the situation is an urgent one or where there is domestic violence or where there would be a long delay before an MIAM can be held.

You may find the following websites useful for further information and guidance:

www.kidsinthemiddle.org.uk

For further information on Child Law matters please contact Katherine Haden on email khaden@keelys.co.uk or telephone 01543 420406.

Collaborative Law

Traditionally when couples separate they each take independent advice from their specialist solicitors.  They work with their solicitor to try and reach an agreement as to how to settle their differences.  In many cases with the help of Resolution solicitors couples can reach an agreement as to, for example, the amount of contact the children have with each parent and the division of the marital assets.  In cases where the couples cannot reach an agreement it is then left to the family courts to make decisions on their behalf.

An alternative is for the couples to sit down with their respective specialist family solicitors in the same room, face to face, to discuss the issues and negotiate a solution.  This is how Collaborative Family Law works but it can only be successful if the parties have a genuine desire for it to work and if the parties are open and honest with each other.  By committing to the Collaborative Family Law approach the couple are agreeing that a resolution will be found without going to court.

You still benefit from having your own independent legal advisor, but you are in control without the threat of court proceedings hanging over you.

The collaborative approach is a fundamental change in the way that family law cases are dealt with and an alternative way of resolving the issues which arise when a relationship breaks down.

You may find the following websites useful for further information and guidance:

www.cflg.co.uk  and  www.resolution.org.uk

Financial Settlements

Reaching an agreement or settlement of how to divide up the matrimonial property or assets including the former matrimonial home, pensions and whether maintenance is payable, is often the more difficult part of the whole divorce process. Obtaining of a Decree Absolute does not resolve the financial matters between you and your spouse. The Decree Absolute only brings your marriage to an end, all financial matters have to be settled by a separate order.

Hopefully you and your partner will be able to reach an agreement with each other as to how to divide up the matrimonial assets; but it is important that the agreement reached is fair and is enforceable and will not be overturned at some future date. It is important that you get legal advice at the earliest stage possible so that you can know your legal rights and obligations and so that the negotiations with your partner can be entered into in confidence knowing that you are properly dealing with all the issues and have not missed out any crucial points.

We are happy to have a without prejudice meeting with you at an early stage (even if you are not ready to start the divorce process) to outline your legal rights and to guide you to the points which you should consider and to give you the general advice which will help you to decide your next step. You are under no obligation to take matters any further and the meeting will hopefully put your mind at rest and explain clearly and straight forwardly what could otherwise be a worrying and confusing series of issues.

There are several ways in which you can agree the division of matrimonial assets including Mediation, Solicitor negotiation, Collaborative Law and Court proceedings. If you and your partner do reach an agreement (with or without legal advice and help) we would very strongly advise that the agreement is recorded in a “Consent Order”. This will ensure that financial issues are finalised properly and that neither of you can re-open the issue at some future point. Without this “Consent Order” either of you could at any stage in the future issue proceedings and ask the court to divide up the assets which you and your partner have at that point in time (not what you had when you separated or divorced!).

Most financial settlements are resolved through negotiation but if that is not possible or the finances are complex due to there being business assets or valuable pensions, then it may be necessary to issue court proceedings. Throughout those proceedings there are opportunities to still reach an agreed settlement and we will advise you throughout with the intention of settling matters on a fair and reasonable basis wherever possible.

All sorts of factors and circumstances can and will be taken into account in deciding how the matrimonial property and assets will be divided. We will advise you of all of those circumstances which may then lead to you to settling matters in a way which you would not have otherwise considered or have been aware of.

The division of assets on divorce is likely to be one of the largest and most complex transactions that you ever have to deal with and we are there with many years of experience and specialisation in this area of law to guide you successfully through the process and hopefully reach an amicable equitable resolution which takes all of your personal circumstances into account and provides you with a tailor made settlement designed specifically for you.

Divorce & Separation

The law which operates when a relationship breaks down varies on whether you are married, are co-habiting or are in a civil partnership.  Whatever your position you should take legal advice at an early stage so that you know your rights and obligations.

Hopefully you and your partner will be trying to reach an agreement and we are happy to explain the law and give you help and assistance to enable you to negotiate an agreed settlement which is workable and thereby save on legal costs.

Even if you and your partner are unable to reach an agreement on dividing up the property and assets we are able to give you pro-active advice or steer you towards the various ways in which your matter may be resolved such as Mediation; Collaborative Law; Solicitor negotiation or the Courts.

Divorce, Separation and Dissolution

If you are married, the process whereby your marriage is brought to an end is called Divorce.  There is basically only one ground for seeking a divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The person who starts the process is called a “Petitioner” and the other person is a “Respondent”.

The Divorce process is started by your lawyer who writes an initial letter to your partner and explains the basis on which you are seeking a divorce which are known as the “grounds” of Divorce.

A draft copy of the Divorce Petition may be sent to the Respondent to see if the grounds and particulars are agreed and to avoid the chances of the Divorce being disputed.

Once the Divorce Petition has been issued, the Respondent will be served with a copy and has to complete an “Acknowledgement of Service” and it is important that legal advice is obtained before that document is signed and returned to Court.

Once the Respondent has filed the Acknowledgement of Service the Petitioner will complete a Statement in Support of their Petition and when that is received by the Court they will set a date for the making of the first stage of Divorce which is known as a “Decree Nisi”.

A minimum of six weeks after Decree Nisi the Petitioner can apply for the second and final stage of Divorce known as “Decree Absolute”.

Obviously there will usually be financial issues that need to be resolved so that the matrimonial property and assets can be divided up and maintenance for partners and/or children can be arranged.   This often takes some time to agree and the “Decree Absolute” is usually delayed until the financial agreement has been finalised.

Often it is the dividing up of the matrimonial property and assets which is the more complex and time consuming part of the process.

You may find the following websites useful for further information and guidance:

www.divorceaid.co.uk  and  www.resolution.org.uk  and  www.lawsociety.org.uk

Matrimonial & Family

Virtually nothing in life is as stressful as a family breakdown.

At such times our approach is to balance the need to protect your interests with keeping the wider picture in perspective.

The Family team works closely with Keelys’ specialist teams dealing with trusts & taxation and corporate & commercial issues. We work closely with other specialists in the fields of pensions, accountancy, taxation and property to ensure that financial settlements arising out of family breakdown are managed smoothly and every facet of the case is considered.

All the lawyers in Keelys’ Family department provide clear professional advice in a reassuring, caring and practical way backed by many years of experience specialising in this area of law. Members of the department have achieved specialist accreditation with Resolution – the family lawyers specialist group. All our team follow the Resolution code of practice designed to try and resolve matters without the need for costly and stressful Court battles.

Our services include:

  1. Divorce & separation (…more info)
  2. Financial settlements, including pension issues (…more info)
  3. Pre-nuptial agreements
  4. Children issues, including child arrangement disputes (…more info)
  5. Advising on financial issues in context of the affect of divorce on business assets
  6. Civil partnerships
  7. Cohabitation agreements
  8. Collaborative law (…more info)

Retail Restructuring

A new retail team was formed in 2011 to provide specialist legal advice to retailers and other interested parties across the Midlands.

The service that is provided assists retailers and those with interests in the retail arena in all legal matters relating to business acquisition and business restructuring from the trading of retail units to dealing with manufacturers and others in the supply and logistics chain.

The team at keelys is made up of senior partners and associates to provide the highest level of expertise and skill sets.

Areas of expertise:

  1. Acting for the purchasers of distressed businesses
  2. Advising lenders and stakeholders
  3. Dealing with formal insolvency events
  4. Dealing with restructuring events
  5. Employment matters
  6. Property issues for both landlords and tenants
  7. Retention of title issues
  8. Shareholder issues
  9. Supply chain and logistics issues
  10. Trademark and Patent issues

Wills, Trusts and Probate

Over recent years, Keelys has seen a significant growth in both the volume and complexity of the work which we are called upon to undertake in this area.

Keelys recognise the importance of sensitivity at times of bereavement and family loss and we will deal with such matters sympathetically and helpfully. However, in addition, we are also able to advise on complex trust and tax planning matters to an exceptional level.

Examples of the work we do include the following:

  1. Trusts – administration, setting up and taxation aspects
  2. Estates of deceased persons
  3. Wills – including Inheritance Tax mitigation
  4. Advice to the elderly client – including nursing home issues
  5. Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection work.

We can also offer home visits and flexible appointments, including early morning or evening appointments, together with free car parking facilities.

For further details of our services, please call a member of the Wills, Trusts & Probate Team on 01543 420000 or email: willsandprobate@keelys.co.uk