Law firm warns that a debt bubble could lead to surge of divorces in 2017

John Robinson, a divorce solicitor at Cygnet Law

 

Cygnet Law is predicting that the UK’s record high household debt could lead to a surge in divorces in the near future.

John Robinson, a director and divorce specialist at Redcar-based Cygnet Law, is warning that record levels of household debt may lead to a sudden increase in the number of divorces if the UK’s debt bubble bursts in 2017.

The latest research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows that unsecured debt, excluding mortgages, has reached a record high of £349 billion, which is the equivalent of £12,887 per household, meaning that debt now averages at 27.4% of household income nationally.

Mr Robinson explains: “Historically we have seen an increase in divorce rates during times of economic hardship. Financial concerns can put a serious strain on a relationship and people reach a breaking point where they feel they can no longer go on.

“Whilst employment has risen in the North East, wages still equate to less spending power than they did a few years ago. People are feeling the pinch and supplementing their income with credit cards and loans. It seems that, for now, most people are able to cope with this extra debt, but with a tumultuous year ahead of us in the form of a new American president and the triggering of Article 50, this may well change which would mean that their financial circumstances could change dramatically very quickly.

“I’ve dealt with thousands of divorces over the years and know all too well how debt can impact on a marriage. In some cases, debt leads to secrecy as people try to hide money trouble from their partners, perhaps because they are scared or embarrassed. Other times, one partner can feel as though the debt is the fault of the other, which in turn breeds resentment.”

Mr Robinson added: “Of course, I would always recommend that any couple who feel their relationship is at breaking point due to money worries to seek help first and foremost. This could be from the local Citizens Advice Bureau or another similar organisation.”

Cygnet Law questions the ethics of ‘Divorce Week’

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Cygnet Law, a specialist family and mental health law practice, has questioned the ethics of the so-called ‘Divorce Week’.

The first few working days after the festive period have come to be known as ‘Divorce Week’ by some in the industry, who claim it is the busiest period of the year for family lawyers dealing with separation cases. With some research* going so far as to claim that up to 20percent of married people are currently considering a split.

John Robinson, a director and specialist divorce solicitor at Cygnet Law, believes that some legal firms are using the statistic to capitalise on what can be such a difficult time for families. He said: “Divorces are serious things, which can often be upsetting and problematic for those people involved and really should not be used as a marketing gimmick. Cygnet is very much a people and community-focussed business and we believe in treating our clients and their partners with respect, especially during difficult times such as divorce. We feel it is our duty to support our clients as they go through financially and emotionally-testing times.”

Cygnet’s own findings point towards a different divorce peak, one which occurs during September and October. Mr Robinson believes this flurry of separation happens as children return to school: “We have found that we have more divorce-related inquiries in the weeks following the end of the school summer holidays. I believe this may be because parents have spent too much time together and come to realise they are no longer right for one another.

“Another reason – which is actually highlighted in the same bit of research that the Divorce Week doomsayers have taken their information from – is that some parents are trying not to upset the family balance whilst the children are spending more time at home. In fact, the research says that one in four unhappy couples stay in the relationship longer than they wanted to for the sake of their children.”

No-Fault divorces are a no-brainer, says legal experts

John Robinson, a divorce solicitor at Cygnet Law

 

Cygnet Law, the Redcar-based Law Specialist, has added its voice to the call for the end of the divorce blame game.

Cygnet is arguing that current legal requirements, which dictate, that unless one of the couple attributes fault to the other, separating couples must wait at least two years to have the termination of their relationship legally recognised, is out-dated and is in desperate need of an overhaul.

This quirk in legislation means that in cases of amicable divorce, some couples may be tempted to falsely claim adultery or rely on unreasonable behaviour grounds that are contentious or will cause upset as the course of their separation order to accelerate the process.

John Robinson, a Director and Divorce Specialist at Cygnet Law, believes that a modernisation of the legislation is urgently required. He said: “No-fault divorces seems like a no brainer to me. Forcing couples to drag out their divorces or pin the blame on one another can cause bitterness and further damage the relationship.”

“Going through a divorce is straining as it is, without being made more trying by forcing couples into arguments.

“In my experience, a large number of divorcing couples have taken a mutual decision to split, and delaying the process achieves nothing in those circumstances.”

John rejects suggestions that no-blame divorces would increase the overall number of divorces, arguing instead that the introduction may increase the number of couples using a mediator: “If couples do not have to be hostile in terms of the ground for the divorce then it is more likely they will remain amicable enough to discuss matters through a Mediator and hopefully resolve things without having to resort to the Court. Simplifying the divorce procedure will also free up valuable court time.”

Cygnet Law gives the gift of giving to The Junction

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Cygnet Law is channelling the charitable spirit of Christmas to help support vulnerable young people in Tees Valley.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the team at the Redcar-based legal firm collected presents for an initiative organised by The Junction Foundation, a local charity, which provides support to vulnerable, children, young people and their families across the region.

The gifts will be given directly to children and families in the community who may need an act of kindness during the festive period, including those who find themselves without a home, are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, young carers and young parents.

Lawrence McAnelly, Chief Executive at The Junction Foundation, said: “The Christmas period is a time for celebrating with friends and family, but for many young people in Tees Valley this is not the case.

“Last December we worked with 243 young people and children from the region, and have seen a 25 percent year on year increase in the numbers of people we have been working with. We expect similar numbers this year. These are youngsters who, through no fault of their own, might not have a merry Christmas.

“Thanks to Cygnet Law, we will be able to put a smile on the face of some of the amazing young people we support. Just a small token can be enough to let someone know that there are people out there who care about them, which can make all the difference.”

Stacey Phoenix, a solicitor at Cygnet Law, said: “Cygnet’s work means that we often see first-hand the unfortunate circumstances in which some people find themselves, some of whom receive support from The Junction. I know from my own experiences that The Junction does fantastic work, which has a massive impact when it comes to improving the lives of young vulnerable people in the area.”

Legal expert joins mental health charity’s board

stacey phoenix

Cygnet Law’s Stacey Phoenix has joined the Board of Directors of local mental health charity, Redcar & Cleveland Mind.

In her Trustee position, Stacey, a solicitor at Redcar-based Cygnet Family Law, will be involved in the executive decision-making process about the organisation’s future direction and strategy.

Cygnet Law, which offers specialist mental health related legal services, already has strong connections with Redcar & Cleveland Mind. At its first annual walk to raise money for the charity, partners at the legal firm signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, which marks its commitment to tackling mental health stigma and fostering a positive working environment.

Stacey Phoenix said: “I’m very proud to be joining the Board of Redcar and Cleveland Mind. As someone who’s lived all my life in Redcar I’m delighted that my work as a Trustee will enable me to bring real influence to an organisation that changes the lives of the people in my own community.

Through my work at Cygnet Law I have seen first-hand the fantastic work that Redcar & Cleveland Mind do with local people to help them address their mental health problems.

“I’m looking forward to helping shape the future of Redcar & Cleveland Mind, spreading the word about the impact of its work, and helping to ensure that this amazing charity is able to continue to provide much needed support to the people of Redcar and Cleveland.”

Redcar & Cleveland Mind’s Chair, Samantha Tullock, said: “We’re extremely pleased to have Stacey joining our Board. It’s so important to us to have knowledgeable local people like Stacey who can bring additional skills and expertise to the governance of our organisation. Charities need exceptional Trustees who can ensure that we deliver the very best outcomes for our beneficiaries. Cygnet, but Stacey in particular, have been great advocates for the work that we do here, so we’re delighted that she’s joining our team.

If you are interested in improving the mental health of your employees Redcar & Cleveland Mind can provide you with bespoke training to help you in developing best practice. Contact Louise Tierney, Training Coordinator, on 01642 296052 or email info@rcmind.org. For information about the Time to Change Employer Pledge visit:

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/get-your-workplace-involved/employer-pledge

Please Credit Picture:Keith Taylor

Cygnet Law launches appeal for domestic violence charity

Please Credit Picture:Keith Taylor

Cygnet Law has launched a shoe box appeal to coincide with the first anniversary of the UK’s first specialist safe house for older victims of domestic violence, Eva Women’s Aid’s 45+ Safe House

To mark the milestone, the Redcar-based law firm is creating arrival packages for the charity’s clients, which contain hygiene products and toiletries. Cygnet’s offices on West Dyke Road is also acting as a donation point for any individuals and businesses in the town who wish to contribute.

The Safe House is the only domestic violence refuge in the UK that is specifically aimed at women over the age of 45, and offers temporary housing for up to four women at a time.

Cygnet already works closely with Eva Women’s Aid to offer the charity’s users free legal advice sessions on domestic violence, contact and separation issues, and other family legal matters.

Gemma Brooks, an associate solicitor and member of Resolution First for Family Law, specialises in cases involving domestic violence, said: “Cygnet Law is proud to support a local charity that provides invaluable support to help women and children escape abuse.

“A great deal of the women and children who come to Eva’s House who come to EVA Women’s Aid for help, come with little more than the clothes on their back, and, as they’re often coming from controlling relationships, they don’t have access to finance.

“All toiletries, including shampoo and conditioner, sanitary products and deodorants make welcome contributions and can be dropped off at our offices on West Dyke Road.”

Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at EVA Women’s Aid, said: “We are very grateful to have Cygnet’s support. As Gemma says, often women fleeing abuse have nothing so we always give them a toiletries package when they arrive, plus underwear and pyjamas, and some basic food items. We constantly need these replacing so the shoe-box appeal will be a great help to EVA Women’s Aid”

J Ford

Cygnet Law offers cohabiting couples advice

J Ford

Cygnet Family Law is warning of complications following a relationship breakdown after the news that more Britons than ever are cohabiting without being married or in a civil partnership.

According to the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics, the number of people aged 16 and over who were “cohabiting, never married or civil partnered” increased from 6.8% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2015.

Redcar’s Cygnet Law, which specialises in Family Law, is offering free consultations for couples who are unsure about the legal ramifications of cohabitation, or want to draw up a Cohabitation Agreement.

It is also able to facilitate the adoption of a partner’s child, change a home deed, change of name and adjust wills to reflect living and financial arrangements.

Janet Ford, Family Law Specialist at Cygnet Law, said: “As the number of people cohabiting has risen so has the number of disputes caused by relationship breakdowns. It may not be romantic to ask your partner to draw up an agreement in case you break up, but it will prevent a lot of heartache should you end up parting ways.

“There are also benefits of having an agreement in place whilst you are still together. It can prevent disputes and infighting by predefining responsibilities, such as who pays for what and who owns what, which can help stop resentment from building when one party feels it is carrying the other.

“Whilst the law around visitation and custody of children is fairly clear cut, the law around custody of pets is a bit murkier. Many people view their pets as their children, and as partners tend to share in responsibilities and costs of keeping a pet, ownership can become an emotional minefield if one side decides to use it as a weapon following a relationship breakdown.

“It’s not all doom and gloom though. We are also able to help couples to change the ownership of their home to include a partner and become the legal guardian of their partner’s children. In essence, becoming a married couple in all but name.”

To book your free 30 minute consultation with a family law expert at Cygnet Law’s West Dyke Road offices please call 01642 777680 or email enquiries@cygnetlaw.co.uk.

ONS stats can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/bulletins/populationestimatesbymaritalstatusandlivingarrangements/2002to2015#the-population-who-are-single-never-married-or-civil-partnered-are-increasingly-cohabiting

Cygnet Law launches appeal for domestic violence charity

Please Credit Picture:Keith Taylor

 

Cygnet Law has launched a shoe box appeal to coincide with the first anniversary of the UK’s first specialist safe house for older victims of domestic violence, Eva Women’s Aid’s 45+ Safe House

To mark the milestone, the Redcar-based law firm is creating arrival packages for the charity’s clients, which contain hygiene products and toiletries. Cygnet’s offices on West Dyke Road is also acting as a donation point for any individuals and businesses in the town who wish to contribute.

The Safe House is the only domestic violence refuge in the UK that is specifically aimed at women over the age of 45, and offers temporary housing for up to four women at a time.

Cygnet already works closely with Eva Women’s Aid to offer the charity’s users free legal advice sessions on domestic violence, contact and separation issues, and other family legal matters.

Gemma Brooks, an associate solicitor and member of Resolution First for Family Law, specialises in cases involving domestic violence, said: “Cygnet Law is proud to support a local charity that provides invaluable support to help women and children escape abuse.

“A great deal of the women and children who come to Eva’s House who come to EVA Women’s Aid for help, come with little more than the clothes on their back, and, as they’re often coming from controlling relationships, they don’t have access to finance.

“All toiletries, including shampoo and conditioner, sanitary products and deodorants make welcome contributions and can be dropped off at our offices on West Dyke Road.”

Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at EVA Women’s Aid, said: “We are very grateful to have Cygnet’s support. As Gemma says, often women fleeing abuse have nothing so we always give them a toiletries package when they arrive, plus underwear and pyjamas, and some basic food items. We constantly need these replacing so the shoe-box appeal will be a great help to EVA Women’s Aid”

Cygnet Law welcomes new female judge statistics

stacey phoenix 

Cygnet Law has welcomed newly published figures highlighting a growth in the number of females in judicial roles, especially in the North East.

The figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that the North East – with 30% female judges – has a greater proportion of female judges than any other region in England and Wales, with the exception of the South East.

During the 12 months to April, the percentage of female judges in courts increased from 25% to 28%, whilst in tribunal courts the number of women judges remained consistent at 45percent.

Women now make up 51% of court judges aged under 40, which when compared to the 16% of judges aged over 60, suggests that the overall proportion of female judges will continue to increase over the coming years.

Stacey Phoenix, a Solicitor at Cygnet Law, said: “Law is a sector that has traditionally been male dominated, and it’s inspiring to see so many women working to tackle that inequality, especially here in the North East.

“At Cygnet Law, our team is mostly made up of younger female legal professionals, so it is fantastic to see that we are representative of the sector as a whole. Of our eight solicitors, five are female and of our six legal assistants, four are women, but all of them, no matter their gender, are equally as capable of doing their job to highest standards.

“Whilst the number of women in judicial roles is still too low, it’s great to see that the gender balance is beginning to right itself at such a high level, and I’m particularly pleased to see more women under 40 coming up through the ranks.

“It’s important that our legal system reflects the population over which it presides, and having a gender balance is a positive step towards achieving that. In Teesside we have a high standing of female judges within the judiciary, such as our Designated Family Judge, Her Honour Judge Matthews QC, who is living proof how far female judges can go.

“These latest statistics demonstrate the shape of the legal future and it’s important that we continue to make the legal profession a positive career prospect for young women.”

Cygnet Law offers cohabiting couples advice

J Ford

 Cygnet Family Law is warning of complications following a relationship breakdown after the news that more Britons than ever are cohabiting without being married or in a civil partnership.

According to the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics, the number of people aged 16 and over who were “cohabiting, never married or civil partnered” increased from 6.8% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2015.

Redcar’s Cygnet Law, which specialises in Family Law, is offering free consultations for couples who are unsure about the legal ramifications of cohabitation, or want to draw up a Cohabitation Agreement.

It is also able to facilitate the adoption of a partner’s child, change a home deed, change of name and adjust wills to reflect living and financial arrangements.

Janet Ford, Family Law Specialist at Cygnet Law, said: “As the number of people cohabiting has risen so has the number of disputes caused by relationship breakdowns. It may not be romantic to ask your partner to draw up an agreement in case you break up, but it will prevent a lot of heartache should you end up parting ways.

“There are also benefits of having an agreement in place whilst you are still together. It can prevent disputes and infighting by predefining responsibilities, such as who pays for what and who owns what, which can help stop resentment from building when one party feels it is carrying the other.

“Whilst the law around visitation and custody of children is fairly clear cut, the law around custody of pets is a bit murkier. Many people view their pets as their children, and as partners tend to share in responsibilities and costs of keeping a pet, ownership can become an emotional minefield if one side decides to use it as a weapon following a relationship breakdown.

“It’s not all doom and gloom though. We are also able to help couples to change the ownership of their home to include a partner and become the legal guardian of their partner’s children. In essence, becoming a married couple in all but name.”

To book your free 30 minute consultation with a family law expert at Cygnet Law’s West Dyke Road offices please call 01642 777680 or email enquiries@cygnetlaw.co.uk.