All posts by Cygnet Law

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Redcar solicitor calls for change in law for non-fault divorces

Redcar-based solicitor Cygnet Law is calling for a change in legislation to grant separated couples faster access to non-fault divorces.

At present, when a couple decides to end their marriage for amicable reasons, they must be separated for two years to be granted a divorce, unless one party accepts ‘fault’ for the breakdown of the marriage. This can be extended to five years if both parties cannot agree that the marriage should end.

Cygnet Law, which offers a range of legal services including wills and probate, property, family law, and mental health cases, wants to see this outdated approach to divorce revised to reflect modern society.

Supporters of the current law suggest that a change to allow non-fault divorces to be processed more quickly would devalue marriage, and make couples going through difficulties less inclined to attempt to work things out.

John Robinson, a Solicitor and Director at Cygnet Law, said: “Forcing couples who wish to end their marriage to wait at least two years for a no-fault divorce does more harm than good. If the couple have amicably separated, and they just want to start a new chapter of their lives, they can be pushed into one of them taking the blame in order to speed up the process. This can lead to bad feeling and animosity where there needn’t be any.

“It’s the 21st century and things have come a long way since the 1970s, when this law was first introduced. The legal system needs to move with the times, and allow couples to divorce as quickly without fault as they do when there is wrongdoing.”

John added: “I don’t think that it devalues marriage at all. Nobody considers getting a divorce lightly, and once that decision has been made, it is very unfair to make people wait for such a long period of time. For many clients I see, it would save a lot of heartache for both parties involved.”

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Teesside solicitor finds dog custody to be a ‘bone of contention’ in divorce cases

Cygnet Law in Redcar is offering advice to separating couples over pet custody, following the recent high profile divorce proceedings of Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong.

Many Teessiders who are ending their marriages are concerned about who will keep the beloved pet following the break up. This can be a particular issue with couples who do not have children.

Ant McPartlin’s divorce, and the suspected custody battle he may face over his Labrador, has highlighted the concerns of many couples regarding pet custody in the event of a divorce.

Pet custody cases are nothing new in the celebrity world, with film stars Jonny Depp and Amber Herd fighting over their two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, following their split in 2016, and singer Cheryl winning custody of Chihuahuas, Buster and Coco after her divorce from Ashley Cole in 2010.

In January this year, Alaska became the first state in the USA to essentially treat pets the same way they do children, and give judges the power to give couples joint custody of pets, if it will be in the animal’s best interest.

John Robinson, a divorce specialist Solicitor and Director at Cygnet Law, said: “As far as the law in the UK is concerned, animals are treated in much the same way as inanimate objects, such as computers, cars, or jewellery. However, owners feel more of a personal attachment with a pet than they would with other belongings, and this can make the custody decision more difficult.

“Courts will usually be reluctant to grant custody of a pet, however in the cases where they do, they will usually look at who bought it, who has the funds to pay for its upkeep, and who has primarily cared for it in the home. There is no hard and fast rule for how the decisions of the court will be made, and it will be treated in the same way as any other household object, rather than the same way a child custody hearing would work.”

John added: “We have helped some couples to draw up a pet pre-nuptial agreement, to give them some reassurance over what will happen if they get divorced down the line. Whatever happens, we aim to help people to resolve the issue as amicably as possible at what is an understandably difficult time.”

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Cygnet Law spreads Christmas cheer by supporting local charities

Peter Medd, Managing Director of Cygnet Law, and secretary Amy Drinkhall

Redcar-based Cygnet Law is celebrating the festive season by supporting three worthy causes as part of its Christmas celebrations.

The firm, which has a close relationship with many charities in the region, will be collecting money and gifts to help some of Teesside’s most vulnerable people.

The staff are gathering gifts to donate to support TFM’s Cash for Kids Mission Christmas. The campaign asks local people to donate an extra gift so that less fortunate children will have something to open on Christmas morning.

Cygnet Law has worked with EVA Women’s Aid throughout 2017, so fittingly decided to collect donations to for the local shelter. This includes gifts, food and toiletries, as well as cash donations to the charity.

As an alternative to Christmas Cards this year, Cygnet Law made a donation to the Royal National Lifeboats Institution (RNLI).

Stacey Phoenix, a solicitor at Cygnet Law, said: “At Cygnet, we often see first-hand some of the most vulnerable people in Teesside, and we are in a very privileged position where we can do something to help. Cash for Kids, RNLI, and, of course, EVA Women’s Aid are all fantastic causes, and we are delighted to make a contribution to the incredible work they do. We hope that all businesses in the region will be doing their bit to help those less fortunate during the festive season.”

Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive of EVA Women’s Aid, said: “Charities like EVA can’t operate without volunteers and donations, so we are delighted that Cygnet is continuing its support to us this Christmas. The gifts, toiletries and food will make a significant diffidence to the women who use our service, and we can’t thank the staff enough for the donations.”

Cygnet’s founder, Peter Medd, celebrates 40 years as a solicitor

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A Redcar-based solicitor, who has been involved with a number of high-profile cases including the Cleveland Child Abuse Crisis has celebrated 40 years of legal service.

The Cygnet team organised a small celebration at their office in Redcar to mark the occasion, presenting Peter with a gift.

Cygnet Law Managing Director Peter Medd started his career in 1977, specialising in family law. During the 1980s, he worked on a number of high-profile cases linked to the Cleveland Child Abuse Crisis, which contributed to the implementation of the Children Act 1989. The act revolutionised the courts’ approach to cases concerning children and Peter has remained at the forefront of developments to the law in this area.

Cygnet Law was established by Peter Medd in 2001 and has grown to become one of the most well-respected specialists in family and property law in the North East.

Peter Medd said: “Over the past 40 years I have been privileged to have worked on cases that have literally changed the law. I am very proud of what has been built up at Cygnet Law and the number of local families and individuals that we have supported.

“I am looking forward to continuing this good work with the excellent team we have here at Cygnet Law.”

Lisa Smith, the Practice Manager at Cygnet Law, said: “Cygnet Law is delighted to be celebrating this milestone with Peter. 40 years is an incredible amount of experience for any practitioner, and we are very lucky to work with him.

“Peter is highly regarded across the legal profession in Teesside for his knowledge and experience in family law, particularly child law. The work he’s done for families in the North East throughout his career has been inspirational.”

Steph Bellerby, Legal Assistant at Cygnet Law, and Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at EVA Women’s Aid

Cygnet Law commits to support victims of domestic violence with free legal advice

Redcar-based Cygnet Law has committed to continue to provide pro-bono support for victims of domestic violence in Tees Valley.

Cygnet Law has already donated around 50 hours of its time this year at the fortnightly drop-in surgeries at EVA Women’s Aid, which cover subjects ranging from domestic violence to contact and separation issues, or any other family legal matters on which EVA clients require information. It has pledged to continue these workshop until at least the end of this year.

If required, Cygnet can refer Eva clients to other local support services, or begin legal arrangements for non-molestation orders, or any other legal proceedings.

Steph Bellerby, a Legal Assistant at Cygnet Law is one of those who gives her time at EVA, said: “Cygnet Law is proud to support victims of domestic violence. We hope that, through donating our time and expertise, we can help make a positive difference to the lives of those who are suffering.

“Victims of domestic abuse often feel that they are trapped and isolated, so having a safe place they can visit to gain support from both EVA and ourselves is really important.”

Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at EVA Women’s Aid, said: “The support of Cygnet Law provides EVA with an additional service, which means we are able to offer invaluable legal provision to the vulnerable women who turn to us for help. Often taking legal steps is the first step towards turning their lives around.”

Drop in surgeries at EVA Women’s Aid, 86 High Street, Redcar, run from 10am – 4pm fortnightly. Upcoming confirmed dates are 20 April, 16 May, 10 June and 26 June.

If you are victim, or potential victim, of domestic violence, or have serious concerns that someone you know may be at risk, please contact EVA on 01642 490677, or Cygnet Law on 01642 777680.

Cygnet Law recognised for healthy work environment

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Redcar-based Cygnet Law has been presented with a highly coveted Better Health at Work award.

Following its hard work to improve the health and wellbeing of its team during 2016, the legal firm collected a Silver Award at the Better Health at Work Awards (BHAWA). The awards were developed by workplace health specialists in the NHS and Public Health North East to foster positive initiatives by the region’s businesses.

Cygnet Law received the acknowledgement after supporting healthy campaigns internally throughout the year. These included; its first annual beach walk, which raised money for Redcar & Cleveland Mind; Healthy Heart Week, and an initiative to help reduce the amount that staff smoked by creating a chart so that they could track how many cigarettes they consumed.

Peter Medd, Managing Partner of Cygnet Law, which specialises in family law, mental health, conveyancing and wills and probate, said: “It’s important that businesses promote the health and wellbeing of its work force. Happy and healthy staff are more productive and are vital to the long-term success of any company.

“Cygnet received a Bronze Award at last year’s ceremony, so to have picked up a Silver Award is evidence that our efforts to ensure our staff are well cared for, and our commitment to foster a healthy workplace, are paying off. However, this award is a team effort, and ultimately, we would not have received it without the hard work of the entire workforce at Cygnet.”

Success of Free Will Month sees local mental health charity receive thousands of pounds

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Cygnet Law’s Free Will Month campaign has written 83 wills for free and raised more than £7,000 for local mental health charity Redcar & Cleveland Mind.

The Redcar-based Will and Mental Health Law specialist law firm offered its will writing services for free, only asking for a donation to the local mental health charity in return. Anyone taking up the offer was asked to make a contribution to Redcar & Cleveland Mind, either directly at the time, or by leaving a charitable donation in their will.

An outstanding total of £7,725 was included as charitable legacies in wills or donated directly to the charity.

This is only the latest fundraising done by Cygnet Law on behalf of the charity. Last year, the law firm raised more than £500 with its first charity beach walk.

Gemma Brooks, Solicitor and Estate-planning specialist at Cygnet Law, said “We’re incredibly pleased with how well the Free Will Month went. Of the 83 people who accessed the offer, only a few have had their final meeting to sign off the will so far. We expect that many of the people who we see over the next few weeks will donate as well, so the total should far exceed what we already have.

“It’s a service we’ve been happy to provide. Whether you have thought about where you want your estate to go or if you have no idea where to start, we can help you write your will. Many people think you only need one if you own property or have a lot of wealth, but it’s an important legal protection everyone should have regardless of money or age.”

Veronica Harnett, CEO of Redcar & Cleveland mind said: “Leaving a legacy is an incredibly generous gesture that helps us to sustain our services in the future. We would encourage everyone to recognise how important it is to have a will in place so that their wishes are clearly followed after they have gone. Legacy funds make it possible for charities like ours to develop new services for people with mental health problems at a time when funding is a real challenge.”

Free Will Month to support local mental health charity

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Cygnet Law is offering a free will writing service throughout January to encourage people to support local mental health charity, Redcar & Cleveland Mind.

The Redcar-based specialist family and mental health law firm will update or write a will at no charge. In return, anyone who takes up the offer will be asked to consider making a donation to Redcar & Cleveland Mind, either at the time, or by leaving a charitable legacy in their will.

The campaign is part of an ongoing relationship between Cygnet and Redcar & Cleveland Mind. Last year, the legal firm raised more £500 at its inaugural charity beach walk in aid of the mental health support charity. At the same event, it also became the first solicitor’s firm in the region to sign up to Mind’s Time to Change Employer Pledge, which saw Cygnet commit to challenge discrimination relating to mental health and make accommodations to support the mental health of its staff.

Redcar & Cleveland Mind delivers mental health services and training in the area, offering person-centred assessment and support to assist recovery from mental illness.

Stacey Phoenix is a solicitor at Cygnet and also acts as a Trustee on the board of Redcar & Cleveland Mind. She said: “If the many high profile deaths of last year taught us anything, it’s that having an update to date will is very important. Having a will written by a solicitor means that your wishes will be carried out should you pass away.

“By offering a will service free of charge throughout January we hope that people will donate the money they would have spent to Mind, who do fabulous work supporting hundreds of people each year in Redcar and Cleveland. Whilst no one is under any obligation to make a donation, writing a charitable legacy into a will allows you to support your family and friends, whilst also making a positive contribution to the local community.”

To arrange your free will writing appointment, please call Cygnet Law on 01642 777 680.

Appointments are on a first come, first served basis. Once all allocated appointments are booked, the campaign will end.

Cygnet Law takes on former trainee

Please Credit Picture:Keith Taylor

Cygnet Law has bolstered its workforce with the appointment of a former trainee as a permanent member of its legal team.

Cygnet Law has taken on Eleanor Barber, 25, as a solicitor following the completion of her two year-long solicitor training contract.

During her traineeship with the Redcar-based firm, the University of Sunderland and Northumbria graduate shadowed the work of a number of departments, seeing first-hand how specialist solicitors work within the Public Law, Private Family Law, and Mental Health Law spheres.

Eleanor said: “I’m over the moon to be beginning my legal career at Cygnet Law, especially as it’s a local business. It just goes to show that there are opportunities for young people in Tees Valley to get onto the career ladder. You don’t need to go to London or elsewhere to be successful.”

“I learned a tremendous amount during my two year traineeship here and I look forward to implementing those lessons as a fully-qualified solicitor.

“My work can be very challenging and demanding, but ultimately very rewarding.”

Peter Medd, Director at Cygnet Law, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to offer Eleanor a position with us here at Cygnet Law. She has proved herself to be a valuable and capable member of our team throughout her training contract, and we look forward to watching her flourish in her new role.”

Cygnet Law takes on former trainee

Jessica Barrowman, in-house counsel for Cygnet Law, with newly qualified solicitor Eleanor Barber

Cygnet Law has bolstered its workforce with the appointment of a former trainee as a permanent member of its legal team.

Cygnet Law has taken on Eleanor Barber, 25, as a solicitor following the completion of her two year-long solicitor training contract.

During her traineeship with the Redcar-based firm, the University of Sunderland and Northumbria graduate shadowed the work of a number of departments, seeing first-hand how specialist solicitors work within the Public Law, Private Family Law, and Mental Health Law spheres.

Eleanor said: “I’m over the moon to be beginning my legal career at Cygnet Law, especially as it’s a local business. It just goes to show that there are opportunities for young people in Tees Valley to get onto the career ladder. You don’t need to go to London or elsewhere to be successful.”

“I learned a tremendous amount during my two year traineeship here and I look forward to implementing those lessons as a fully-qualified solicitor.

“My work can be very challenging and demanding, but ultimately very rewarding.”

Peter Medd, Director at Cygnet Law, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to offer Eleanor a position with us here at Cygnet Law. She has proved herself to be a valuable and capable member of our team throughout her training contract, and we look forward to watching her flourish in her new role.”