Keelys welcome new faces to the team

We at Keelys are delighted to start 2020 off by adding to our team of expertise, in the shape of two local law experts.

We have welcomed in a new decade by introducing Helen Phillips and Aimée Redican to our clients and colleagues.

Helen, a legal executive for more than 25 years, has taken on a post working in the Wills, Trusts and Probate department

Heralding from nearby Burntwood, she brings over 30 years of legal experience having spent her career here in the West Midlands, and renews acquaintances with Keelys partner, Catherine Elliott, our head of department for Wills, Trusts and Probate, with whom she worked with at Hadens in Walsall.

Away from work, Helen has two sons to tend to and enjoys cooking, walking and family life.

“It’s wonderful to be working with Catherine again and I’m really looking forward to helping play my part in furthering the great reputation of Keelys,” she says

Meanwhile, Aimée Redican has joined the Litigation and Dispute Resolution department.

She is also local to Lichfield, having been brought up in Staffordshire, and qualified as a solicitor in 2018.

Away from work, she is a huge fan of motor racing, especially Formula One. She also enjoys yoga and has a great affinity with Germany, where she travels to often, and is also learning the German language.

“Starting at Keelys is a great way to commence the new decade,” says Aimée. “I have instantly felt welcome and I’m looking forward to a long and happy stay here, where I can continue my career surrounded by so many highly respected experts, “ she added.

We welcome them both and are sure Helen and Aimée will have the mixture of skills and personality needed that aligns with our ethos of approaching legal matters and we wish them well.

If you would like to speak to Helen about any matter related to wills, trust and probate, please email hphillips@keelys.co.uk or call 01543 420022.

If you need help or advice with any dispute resolution or litigation matter, please email Aimée aredican@keelys.co.uk or call 01543 420495

Divorce day myth – a simple sound bite to a complex issue

Divorce day has become an annual media event, where the issues of marriage break-up in January, is highlighted. We at Keelys, as family law specialists, look at the ramifications of this message and the bigger issues on how to ensure a hugely traumatic event is handled sensitively.

For many years now the media have been keen to jump on the first Monday in January and pronounce it as “divorce day.”

2020 has been no different, but really we, like many other legal professionals involved in family law in Lichfield, London, and Liverpool or elsewhere in the country find the whole divorce day subject needs a little more focus and depth.

After all, it is not simply the case that people wake up on a Monday in January and suddenly decide they want to leave their spouse.

It is, in essence, just an awareness day highlighting divorce, which is unfortunately commonplace in society, yet still one of the most difficult times in the lives of those involved.

So, what should you do when thinking about a divorce?

We at Keelys have always found that making the decision to divorce is less painful for the person involved if they can talk to a divorce solicitor – picking up the phone to one of our family law team can help you understand what the process involves.  After all, it is a gigantic step that usually comes at the end of much soul searching and inner turmoil, which is not initiated by awareness days in the media.

The ramifications for those involved, especially if children are involved are huge – it is even more daunting if the break up is acrimonious.

‘Divorce Day’ doesn’t even touch on the emotional mincer of those choosing to separate have to go through.

We would say though that January, is a time when people do reflect – a new year does offer the opportunity to wonder if 2020 should be different and what can be done.

We ask those who feel they need to move on to consider all the factors, and to always try to work through the difficulties if there is an opportunity to resurrect a marriage.  After all, divorce is tragic for all those concerned, as well as those going their separate ways. That is why we are members of Resolution, an organisation who may be able to help make the passage of starting a new life as smooth as it can be  www.resolution.org.uk

It is worth adding, where domestic abuse is involved, we urge you to look for help, talk to family and friends or lend a hand to those you suspect might need assistance escaping the tyranny of a toxic relationship.  Advice and support can also come from charities such as Refuge who operate a 24 hour helpline.

Why choose Keelys?

We at Keelys have great experience in helping and advising people through divorce. We provide clear professional advice in a reassuring, caring and practical way backed by many years of experience specialising in this area of law.

Also we are collaborative lawyers, committed to Resolution’s goals.

In addition, our family team work 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.

Please do not suffer in silence and if you need help with a family issue please contact our family team who are here to help.

Festive family issues often overlooked at time of merriment

Most of us look at the Christmas break as a time of great joy, where we can relax and make memories with loved ones.

However, not all Christmases are created equally and for some the festive season is a time that crystallises problems in relationships.

It is the time of the year when some couples, whose relationship has been under strain decide they want a new life.

After all, a mixture of being in the same company as someone much more than normal, poor weather which keeps people indoors, family pressures of meeting some relations you would rather not, and an over indulgence of alcohol can be a volatile cocktail.

Traditionally, we all see the New Year as a new start, and some exasperated by 12 months of living with someone they would rather not make life changing resolutions.

It is for this reason that it is little wonder that the early part of the New Year is a busy one for family lawyers in Lichfield and elsewhere in the UK.

As family law experts in Lichfield who have met people from all walks of life going through such trials and tribulations, we can’t pretend that going through a separation or divorce is anything other than a very stressful time, which is one of life’s most challenging issues.

However, what all our clients have in common is that we are acutely aware of the emotions involved and take this fully into consideration, so that we can offer support and reassurance. If you need help with a family matter or wish to discuss divorce or separation, then please contact our family team who are here to help.

Could the heartache of gazumping finally be about to end?

Imagine the scenario, you have found the home of your dreams, and in your mind’s eye, you have the colour scheme mapped out, you start shopping for furniture and you’re on cloud 9.

Then out of the blue, you get a phone call to say the sale is off as the seller has found someone else prepared to offer more.

Its gut wrenching, and all too common. An estimated third of all property sales fall through, resulting in hundreds of millions of pounds a year being wasted and putting people through the emotional cement mixer.

Whenever we at Keelys talk about house buying as experts in conveyancing in Lichfield and surrounding areas, we generally find ourselves telling our readers that buying property is one of the most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. We also say how it is the biggest financial commitment that most people are likely to undertake, hence the reason for ensuring it is legally sound.

However, now is a good time to focus on gazumping, where a previously accepted offer is rejected due to someone offering more money.

We won’t get involved in the ethics of this, but like many who work in the property market, we have found it frustrating that buyers are left so vulnerable to such happenings.

However, there has been talk in the national press of a new scheme that would require a homebuyer or seller who pulls out of a transaction, without a strong reason, to pay compensation and it may be trialled by the government in the next few months.

The new type of agreement, announced before the election was called, would lock people legally into the process earlier and make it tougher to move the goalposts because of a change of heart or accepting a higher offer.

The proposed agreement would involve one or both parties putting down cash at the outset.

Called a reservation agreement the government has been mulling it over for a while, but is now moving closer to it becoming a reality.

Currently, this type of agreement is used by a small number of estate agents, whilst those buying new builds are often asked to put down a reservation fee.

We do not as yet know what acceptable reasons for pulling out are, but we can only guess at perhaps a job loss or bereavement seem to be reasonable excuses.

However, as yet the information on this initiative is still quite sketchy.

Following government research a trial could happen as early as the first quarter of next year, but of course, much depends on what happens in the General Election, as it is a Conservative initiative.

It does seem, however, to be a sensible step forward, which can only help give peace of mind at a stressful time.

We shall look at the developments closely.

If you wish to talk to us about property transactions, please contact our residential conveyancing team today for an informal chat.

Don’t stress about stress – 21 November 2019

In conjunction with Strategi Solutions, we are running an event full of practical advice on dealing with stress and other mental health issues in the workplace.

The seminar is on Thursday 21 November at our offices in Lichfield.

It will start at 11 and the presentations will be followed by lunch and networking.

To book your place, please click here: https://tinyurl.com/yyqtor46

Hospice UK HR Conference 2019

Tom Parkes from Keelys’ employment team gave an employment law update earlier this month at the Hospice UK HR Conference. It was great day and very well attended by hospices from up and down the country. If you are interested in receiving employment law training or subscribing to Keelys’ employment health check plan, please get in touch with Tom (tparkes@keelys.co.uk or 01543 420029).

Are separation agreements a divorce alternative?

When marriages end, the general view is that it leads to divorce, but one subject connected to this, which barely gets mentioned is separation agreements.

Some may see it as a sensible financial alternative to divorce, and it is worthy of mention as they give a framework for important matters, such as maintenance payments for children and other issues including property and other marital assets.

As family law experts in Lichfield, it is worth mentioning that you may not need to take legal advice when you write one, but, as we will explain, it is sensible to speak to a solicitor.

For instance, you’re entering into what could be a potentially legally-binding agreement, so you need to know whether there are any mitigating factors why you should refuse to sign a separation agreement.

Also, having one is more likely to be legally binding if you and your ex-partner have shown that you have provided full financial disclosure, and both parties have been seen to have taken independent legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

It is especially sensible to take legal advice if your break-up is causing underlying issues, for example, if one party is financially much better off or one believes they are under duress to sign an agreement.

Separation agreements can be applied fast and as they are very flexible, so this gives them additional benefits.  They can be very detailed including issues which the court does not have the power to order, such as repairs on property.

It is worth adding also that the downside is that either partner can request from the court further arrangements at a future date, also they are not to be seen as the final step to ending a marriage. They are instead considered an interim step for couples who no longer live together, but have not commenced divorce proceedings, for their own personal reasons.

So, to make it clear, separation agreements aren’t technically legally enforceable, but remember they do carry weight and so long as you have shown that you have taken independent legal advice, it could be tough to say in court that you should not have to stick to the details agreed in it.

If you wish to know more about separation agreements, or any other family law issues, we at Keelys are happy to help, contact us today.

Who is the unexpected major player in the mortgage market?

If you were to list the biggest mortgage lenders in the UK, there’s a fair chance most of us would be able to guess the big names.

However, just outside the top 10 is a lender, who not everyone can access – it’s the Bank of Mum and Dad, which is now thought to be the 11th largest mortgage lender in the country.

Putting its position into context, it’s more of a player than the Help to Buy schemes in aiding younger buyers to step on to the property ladder.

Parents will lend almost £7 billion to potential homeowners this year, which is a 10% increase on 2018, according to Legal & General’s ‘Bank of Mum and Dad 2019’ report.

In 2018, 316,600 properties were bought using family deposits but this has fallen to 259,400 in 2019 as many wait to see what Brexit will do before committing.

The report showed friends are set to lend their loved ones £6,000 more in 2019 than they did a year earlier with £24,100 being loaned to their younger relatives in total.

This helping hand is £6.26 billion worth of lending, which will fund home purchases worth £68.51 billion.

Interestingly, it would seem that all age demographics are becoming dependent on their relatives for handouts when making financial commitments like home ownership. Over a fifth (22%) of people aged between 45 and 54 years old have asked their ageing relatives for help .

Worryingly, parents are having to stretch themselves beyond their means to help their offspring. As a result, over a quarter (26%) of this lending group are not confident they have enough to live on in their retirement.

It is safe to say the need for family help will continue to grow regardless of Brexit and it’s repercussions, with property so much more unaffordable compared to a generation ago.If you are moving home and need help, please contact our highly respected conveyancing team, in Lichfield who will assist in making a stressful time as smooth as possible.

Current divorce rates hide truth of modern family life

Here in the UK, the divorce rate has hit a low not seen since the early 1970s, but this is a classic case of where statistics give a somewhat skewed view of the subject.

Scratching beneath the surface, it appears this means that marriages are surviving, but the truth of the matter is that this is not the case at all.

There were 8.4 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women in 2017, which is a six per cent decrease from the previous year, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, these new figures are simply down to the diminishing popularity of marriage as an option for many couples.

For instance cohabitation, living together without marriage, has grown hugely in popularity in the past generation.

Further analysis shows the divorce rates between same-sex couples have surged, increasing more than threefold in a year, from 112 to 228.

Of course, same sex marriage have only recently been allowed in the UK shedding more light on the issue.

Among heterosexual couples, the divorce rate was highest among men between 45 and 49 years of age, and women between 40 and 44 years. The average duration of marriage at the time of divorce is 12 years for opposite-sex couples.

Divorce stats can uncover all manner of talking points including the fact that they began to rise in the 1960s and, more than three decades later, hit a peak in 1993.

Now though, a generation later, society has changed greatly, where marriage is not seen as the norm that it once was.

It is fair to say we have a more complex society with family structures being somewhat different to the 1960s, 1970s etc.

Of course, divorce is still a topic of interest to those choosing to marry. But it is part of a bigger issue of legal protection in relationships whether married or not.

We, as family law experts, have seen many come to us about legal protection in the form of cohabitation agreements and prenuptial agreements. Many, although it is an uncomfortable subject, see the sense in such action.

This approach has to be told frequently to the public and trusted family law experts like ourselves need to keep reinforcing this.

If you need any advice about the points raised in this blog or any other family law matter our family law team are here to help.