In order to begin divorce proceedings, you must issue a divorce petition which sets out the ground on which you are entitled to a divorce. There are currently five available grounds in Northern Ireland:
1) Unreasonable behaviour
4) Two years separation with the consent of the other party
5) Five years separation (no consent is required)
You will need to provide your solicitor with the original or certified copies of your marriage certificate, birth certificates for any children of the marriage under 18 and any court orders relating to the marriage e.g. a maintenance or contact order.
Once the petition has been drafted and issued, it is then served on the other party who must file an acknowledgement of service setting out their position. If the petition is based on grounds 1,2 and or 3 (known as fault based grounds) they may choose to defend the case resulting in a contested court hearing. If the two year separation ground is used, they must indicate whether or not they consent and on the five year separation ground they simply have to confirm they have received the petition.
After the acknowledgement of service has been filed in court, the case can be set down for hearing before a judge. If the case is being contested, both parties will be required to attend to give evidence whereas if it is undefended or based on two or five years separation, only the person who issued the petition needs to attend.
Provided the judge is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably a court order called a Decree Nisi will be granted and after a minimum of six weeks and one day an application can be made to make the Decree Nisi Absolute at which stage the marriage is dissolved.
If you would like more information on the divorce process, please contact us today on 028 87724333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Will Aid?
Will Aid is an annual fundraising campaign involving nine of the UK’s leading charities. With the support of solicitors who donate their skills, people are encouraged to have their Will drawn up by a professional solicitor whilst at the same time supporting charity.
What has Will Aid achieved?
Since 1988, Will Aid has enabled the legal profession to raise over £19 million for good causes. The Will Aid charities all work with the most vulnerable people in the UK and around the world, so that sum of money will have improved countless lives. You can find out more about the great work the Will Aid charities do by following this link .
Over those years, Will Aid has encouraged and helped more than 300,000 people to make their Wills. By writing their Wills, these people may have spared their family the distress of coping with legal complications as well as losing a loved one.
How Will Aid works
1. Having found your dream home and had an offer accepted, the first step is to tell the estate agent of your chosen solicitor so that they can let the seller's solicitor know who is acting on your behalf.
2. At this stage you should progress your mortgage application either through an approved mortgage advisor or directly with your bank to ensure your offer is released in good time for completion.
3. Meanwhile, your solicitor will receive a contract and documents of title from the seller's solicitor which provide confirmation of the seller's ownership of the property, whether the title is freehold or leasehold and details of any rights of way. Your solicitor will review these and raise any necessary queries.
4. The Seller's Solicitor will then provide Replies to Pre-Contract Enquires along with a Fixtures and Fittings List outlining what the seller will be removing from the property and what they will leave behind. They will also provide Property Certificates and Searches which will confirm, amongst other things, whether the property is connected to a sewer or a septic tank and if is served by a private road or one maintained at public expense.
5. By now your solicitor should have received a copy of your mortgage offer and they will now arrange an appointment for your call with them to sign the contract and mortgage deeds, discuss the documents they have received and any queries you may have. You will also discuss a proposed Completion Date to be agreed with the seller and arrange to transfer your deposit to the your solicitor before completion along with a copy of your buildings insurance.
6. Your solicitor will then send the Contract and a Transfer Deed to the Seller's Solicitor for the seller to sign and request the mortgage funds from your bank/building society. The Transfer Deed is the document used to transfer ownership of the property into your name.
7. On the completion date your solicitor will transfer funds to the Vendor’s Solicitors who then authorises release of keys. Your purchase is complete and you can now collect your keys from the estate agent and move into your new home!
8. After completion your solicitor will attend to registration formalities in the Land Registry and submit your Stamp Duty Land Tax Return to HMRC.
The average timescale from sale agreed to completion is typically around 6-8 weeks. If you have any questions about the process or if would like to instruct us to act on your behalf in purchase please contact us on 028 87724333 or request a quotation through our website.
As people continue to live for longer, the risk of dementia and in turn the loss of the ability to manage your own financial affairs is an increasing concern for many. Whilst many people are aware of the benefits of making a will, there is much less awareness of the advantages of having an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in this situation which could happen to anyone regardless of their age as the result of a sudden accident or illness.
An EPA allows you to appoint one or more people to act on your behalf in relation to your financial affairs in the event that you are unable to do so yourself in the future. You may include restrictions that the attorney only act in relation to certain property in certain circumstances or grant a general power enabling them to sell your home, deal with your assets and income and any expenses including nursing home fees.
Whilst is may sound daunting to grant even a close relative such control over your affairs, there are safeguards in place and to become effective, the EPA will need to be registered with the High Court. This is not required until your attorney believes that you are no longer capable of managing your own affairs and notice must be given to you and your next of kin prior to registration to allow for any objections.
Should you lose the ability to manage your affairs without having an EPA in place, your next of kin may need to make an application to the High Court to be appointed as a ‘Controller’ which is a more expensive and time consuming process. Once appointed, the Controller will also have to submit accounts and pay court fees on an annual basis, neither of which is required of an attorney acting under an EPA.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of putting an EPA in place, call 028 87724333 to arrange a free consultation.
Disclaimer - The opinions and suggestions made within this article should not be interpreted as specific advice in relation to any particular individual or individuals. FG Patton Solicitors does not accept responsibility for any loss occasioned by someone acting or refraining to act on the basis of the opinions and suggestions contained in this article.
Many clients are shocked to learn when the relationship breaks down that they in fact have no automatic right or interest in the property in which they have been living for the last number of years as it is registered in their former partners name. In fact not only do they not have an interest in it but they are not entitled to continue living there against their partners wishes and whilst they may be able to establish an interest if they can prove that they were contributing significantly to the upkeep of the property during that time, that may not amount to an equal share.
Its not all doom and gloom as unmarried couples do have a distinct advantage over married couples in that they can, under the right conditions, enter into a legally binding agreement governing their property in the event of a separation. Whilst married couples may seek to achieve something similar by enter into pre nuptial agreements, these are not currently binding although they will be given due consideration.
It is also vitally important that unmarried couples make a will stating who they wish to leave their property to on their death because there are no inheritance rights created simply by living together over a period of time and your house or other property may pass to your next of kin instead of your partner against your wishes.
If you are thinking of moving in with your partner or you are already doing so and would like more advice about a cohabitation agreement or a will, call us on 028 87724333 or visit www.fgpatton.co.uk to arrange a free consultation.
There is a commonly held misconception that provided you transfer away your home at least seven years before going into care, it is automatically ring fenced from the Trust or Local Authority however this is not the case. The seven year rule relates to inheritance tax in that any gift whether it be property or otherwise, it will fall outside of your estate for IHT purposes if you survive it by seven years.
There is no such time limit when it comes to care home fees and if the local authority can prove that you gave away your house for the purpose of avoiding the cost of care (otherwise knowns as a "deprivation of assets") then they can take that property into account when assessing your means. The more time that elapses between the gift and the requirement for care, the more difficult it will be for the Local Authority to prove that was your intention however they can look into any property transfer regardless of when it took place.
It is also important to bear in mind that by gifting away your home, you are losing control over it and whilst we would always recommend that a right of residence is registered, you are still relying on your son or daughter to insure and maintain the property nor can you sell or mortgage it without their consent. Rather than an outright gift, you may consider putting the property in a trust which is a legal device that allows someone else to hold an asset on your behalf without having full control of it e.g. you can stipulate that they may not sell the property.
Trusts however are not a guarantee of avoiding care home fees either and the same test applies as to whether you put the property in trust with the aim of putting yourself in a better position in a local authority assessment.
If you would like more information on the issues raised above, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation