Brenda Spain

Are you considering ending or exiting a relationship

If you are considering ending or exiting a relationship, whether that be a marriage or cohabitation, you would be advised to consult a solicitor to discuss the steps you need to take to ensure that your interests are well protected.

Things you should consider include:

1. Joint accounts – are you protected?
2. Your pension – have you protected your death in service benefits?

3. Your capital assets i.e., investments/pensions/contributions/businesses – how will these be treated in the event of divorce or separation?

4. Jointly owned property – are you aware of the rule of survivorship? If anything should happen to you what would happen to your interest in that property? If you live together are you aware that there is no such thing as a common law husband or wife? How property is owned will affect any contributions you may have made?

5. Your will (even if this is a holding will). This is crucial as your ex-partner could still benefit under your current will, or,
if you have not made a will, they could still benefit from, or be appointed to administer your estate under the rules of intestacy.

These issues are hugely important, and you should take professional advice at an early stage to ensure that you are well protected.

We have expert teams specialising in Family Law, Wills & Probate, Residential Conveyancing and Financial Services who will be able to help, support
and guide you through the steps needed to ensure the protection of your interests.

We would be delighted to arrange a free initial consultation to discuss these issues with you and to make sure that you are on the right track, if indeed
this is the path you decide to follow.

If you would like a free initial consultation to discuss your will with one of our team contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Brenda Spain

Cohabitation Agreements

The property market has boomed over the last year with many unmarried couples purchasing their first homes together. This is an exciting time for these couples, but what plans are in place should the relationship come to an end?

In this article Head of Family Law Brenda Spain looks at why unmarried couples should consider a Cohabitation Agreement.

Why you need a Cohabitation Agreement.
If you live with your partner or are considering moving in together you may have thought about a Cohabitation Agreement. There is, of course, no legal requirement to have a Cohabitation Agreement to live with a partner but it can be useful to protect your finances and establish practical arrangements both during the relationship and unfortunately if that relationship comes to an end.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement basically sets out what you and your partner would like to happen in terms of your financial arrangements both during the relationship and most importantly if it comes to an end. You should discuss the financial aspects of the relationship and set them out clearly in the agreement. It can be as detailed as you both wish.

Do cohabitants have the same rights as married couples?
The answer is no. Nor is there any such thing as a common law husband and wife, despite the length of the relationship.

One of the key incentives to enter into Cohabitation Agreements is to ensure that your arrangements and intentions are clearly set out.

Many couples who have lived together and separate end up in bitter disputes because there was no agreement about what should happen to the house, money, businesses or even what the children arrangements are likely to be.

Cohabitation disputes before the Courts can be very expensive and a Cohabitation Agreement can be evidentially helpful in those circumstances otherwise you are left to organise the division of assets informally at a time that may already be challenging and sensitive so it can be a helpful insurance policy against future difficulties.

Obtaining advise at this stage of your relationship can be crucial as it can affect many aspects of your financial arrangements for example:

How the ownership of the property should be set out. What if somebody is making a larger contribution that the other through savings, inheritance, or previous divorce settlement?

There are no maintenance right between parties should the relationship end.

There is no automatic entitlement to your partner’s pension. What can you do, including death in service benefits, Will and Estate Planning?

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team to discuss a cohabitation agreement, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Brenda Spain

The Perils of No Financial Agreement – Getting it right first time

Many separated or even divorced people do not realise they may be at risk of financial claims being made against them by their ex, even years after separation

When separating or divorcing it is crucial that your financial affairs are resolved properly at the time of the separation. Not to do so can leave you vulnerable to future financial claims.

As Family Lawyers we often hear:
We dealt with it ourselves
If so, how? Is it legally binding?

We didn’t have anything to protect
Is that still the case?

We have got a Decree Absolute, we are divorced
The Decree Absolute ends your marriage but not the financial links between you both. 

There have been many cases where the Courts have made financial awards long after parties have separated because no final and binding agreement was put in place. While the Courts have regard to post separation wealth, income etc, if the needs of your former partner have changed through loss of employment or ill health, those needs may have to be taken into account. The Courts will look at the assets as they are at the current time, so as an example, if you have grown a successful business since your separation or divorce, your ex may be able to make financial claims against it, a claim which may even result in you needing to sell the business.

Due to the passage of time, these disputes can be more costly to resolve, and having your financial affairs open to examination can result in cases being very emotionally charged.

What is the solution? 
The solution is to have a Court approved, final and binding, financial settlement agreement between you both.

What is the solution? 
We recently represented a client who at the time of his separation had transferred the house to his ex-wife along with their joint savings and provided ongoing financial support for their children.

A number of years later he decided to start a new life abroad. At this point he found his assets had been frozen, his ex-wife had fallen into ill health and had lodged a series of financial applications with the Court.

Had he ensured there was a legally binding finance agreement in place he would have avoided twelve months of litigation and the associated costs.

If you a facing divorce or separation and would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.