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Our separation is all agreed so why do I need legal advice?

Everything is agreed in my separation, I don’t need legal advice right? Wrong!

A recent case highlights the dangers of proceeding based on a verbal agreement on separation.

A couple who had married in 1986 and had two children agreed to separate.  Their separation was perfectly amicable as can often be the case.  They agreed that some properties which they owned jointly would be transferred to the Wife although the Husband would continue to pay the mortgage on two of them and additionally the Husband would pay the Wife maintenance for an agreed amount. Having agreed this they made the necessary arrangements and went their separate ways. Neither of them took legal advice although they signed an agreement. 

Years later though they fell out; the Wife then claimed that the Husband had gone back on his agreement and took him to Court.  The Husband tried to argue that his mental health had been poor when he signed the agreement and that he did not fully understand it and that he had signed it under pressure.

The Judge decided that there was no evidence that the Husband’s mental health was poor at the time he signed the agreement and that he had understood the agreement.  The Judge said that he did not believe that there had been any improper pressure placed on the Husband to sign the agreement.  As a result the Husband was ordered to pay the Wife £2m in damages.

If the Husband had sought legal advice at the outset he would have had clear advice about the money and property that he shared with his Wife and the subsequent arrangements would have been thoroughly checked on his behalf.

Even where a separation is amicable advice from a family lawyer can still help you.  

1.            To check that the agreement you have reached represents your best interests

2.            To check that the documentation that has been prepared has been done properly

If you are using family mediation we can work with you to give you legal advice along side mediation ensuring you make the best use of your family mediation; this is recommended by family mediators. 

If necessary we can help you in the final negotiations of the financial arrangements for divorce or separation agreements. 

Whilst it is better all around to avoid going to court wherever possible, having a specialist family lawyer at your side to guide you and ensure certainty as to the effect of the final settlement is cost effective in the long term, particularly if it saves you from the sort of situation this couple found themselves in. 

For specialist legal advice on all aspects of financial settlements following a divorce or separation contact John Hodge Solicitors.  We offer free initial appointments in all of our offices or over the phone.  We have clinics available in Weston-super-Mare on 1st Saturday each month and in Clevedon and Congresbury on the 1st Wednesday of the month.