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How Counselling can help you create a Living Together Agreement – Victoria Sharman

Posted by on 1:22 pm in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Counselling support, expertise, Living Together Advice, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

How Counselling can help you create a Living Together Agreement – Victoria Sharman

 

Living together as a couple can be a momentous carefully thought-out life event – or something that just ‘evolves’. Either way, it is a sign that your relationship is at a stage where you are committing to sharing your lives on a daily basis.

So would it not be wise to be well prepared, and to discuss areas which could be difficult before they happen? Most relationships experience change and have highs and lows. But how many of us are equipped to tackle problems before they become a crisis?

 


 
• Cohabiting couple families grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014. This is the fastest growing type of family in the UK (ONS 2014)

 
If you’re about to make a major commitment and take that big step of moving in together, then it’s an exciting time – at this point, most people are just not thinking about the day-to-day issues of life as a couple: money, the impact of career choices, children and step-children, or even who does the shopping and the cleaning. But as your relationship develops, these kinds of issues can cause friction and can fuel discontent. If you have already been in a cohabiting relationship for some time, you will recognise this! But why not turn the tide and help make your relationship the strongest it can be?

Talking about what’s good in your relationship will help you to focus on what is good – on the strengths. Talking about potential pitfalls – ideally with the help of a trained therapist to ensure that both of you feel ‘safe’ to speak freely without feeling judged – would help prevent problems in the future and make your relationship even more resilient to what life throws at you.

Relationships are complex and we all need support at times. Sometimes we aren’t sure what support we need and where to find it. This is where a Relationship MOT can be of huge benefit.
 

Relationship MOT

 
The Relationship MOT is basically a health check that offers a snapshot of your relationship at this moment in time. It is not an in-depth analysis but is designed to help you to understand some of the issues you or you and your partner may be facing, and to help you to find your own sustainable solutions.

As you move forward towards better, even healthier relationships between each other and your children, and the wider family as a whole, the next natural step may be to create a Living Together Agreement.

 

Cohabitation Agreements – Unromantic?

 
It is not unromantic to be so good at communicating your needs that they can be committed to as a positive ‘life plan’ – and then also include a ‘what if’ scenario should your relationship change form in the future.

I believe it is very romantic to be able to have those conversations about finance and relationships and parenting, feeling safe and supported by someone like myself. We all want the people we love to feel secure, and since an unmarried parent has very few legal rights (no maintenance, no rights to their partner’s pension) then is it not a responsible and loving act to provide some protection through creating your own cohabitation agreement?

You can download a complimentary Living Together Agreement template FROM HERE

Why not contact me for a cost-free conversation about how a relationship MOT could benefit you and your relationship?

 

Access your complimentary discovery session by phone

with Victoria Sharman

email: victoria@v2recovery.co.uk

tel: 0208 933 3040   mobile: 07936 88 11 50 

 

 

vs-211profileVictoria Sharman is a qualified counsellor with over 20 years experience and is an accredited member of the Professional Standards Authority. She has worked within the mental heath field on projects for the elderly, and in child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the South East of England whilst training as a systemic family psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust and KCC Foundation.

Victoria trained as a supervisor with the Metanoia Institute and British Psychological Society, and has taught on counselling and psychotherapy courses in Further and Higher Education, which included student and staff counselling.

V2Recovery is Victoria’s own company where she supports individuals, couples and families who have a wide range of psychological and emotional needs, including separation and divorce, with an emphasis on helping couples to create peaceful outcomes.

 

Victoria Sharman Counsellor HA Harrow

 

Stressed parents – simple ways to make a difference

Posted by on 12:15 pm in Advice and articles, Coaching support, Cohabiting and Living Together, Living Together Advice, Parenting Advice, Short Films, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Stressed parents – simple ways to make a difference

An article and short video by Susan Cowe Miller, providing emotional support for greater clarity and confidence.
 
Susan shares how EFT can benefit you, your new baby, toddler and also older children who are dealing with stress.
 
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) aka Tapping is a Self-Help tool practiced to lower and manage anxieties, feelings of anger, unfairness, overwhelm, panic or fear.
 
Parents can learn how to use this technique to help themselves and their families.
 

Children under two years old and in-utero
can sense and are also emotionally affected by
emotional shock, stress and disharmony in the home

 

EFT works in two ways

  • As a Self-help tool for fast relief from feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • At deep transformational level clearing negative belief and limiting patterns of behaviour. (Often we run Ancestral patterns of behaviour which are not ours and they do not serve us).

 
Watch this short video which shares key points explaining that if you feel better, more in control and calm, then your child will the reap benefits.

 

 

So how might EFT Tapping be useful to you?

 
How many of these stresses can you relate to?

  1. Simply put you are finding parenthood a real challenge.
  2. You are a parent of a new baby and confused.
  3. This is your first baby and panic and self-doubt seem ever present.
  4. This new and desired experience is causing emotional pain rather than delightful pleasure.
  5. Your dynamic toddler is wearing you out.
  6. You question any authority you may have over your irrepressible toddler.
  7. The dynamics of your relationship with your partner has changed and you find yourself floundering.
  8. You don’t know your role anymore!
  9. Your relationship with your partner may now feel compromised.
  10. You question where your previous able and competent persona has gone.
  11. You are competent in your professional role, a good solid person but all of a sudden you are feeling highly stressed and anxious.
  12. Frustrations and feelings of anger are a concern.
  13. You want to feel more confident, calm and in control.
  14. You find yourself super stressed because your children press your trigger buttons.
  15. You wonder what you can do about these reactions and feelings.

 

The joy of parenthood can prove a challenge

 
You want to be a good parent, a loving parent, a calm parent, a joyous parent. However do you find that expectation and challenge can cause you and your partner considerable anxiety?
 
Be very aware: Striving for an unrealistic expectation of perfection is actually a form of Self-Sabotage.
 

Are other big life factors seriously adding to the problem?  Here are just a few that beset many a parent at some time or another….

  • Your relationship with your partner is in trouble.
  • You may be dealing with a divorce or co-parenting children with your ex partner.
  • You alone are rearing your children.
  • You are not allowed to see your children because your ex or social services are preventing you from having full access.
  • Your partner tells your children lies about you to your children.
  • You feel alone because there is very little emotional support.
  • Your partner has died and you are left alone.
  • Your partner is seriously ill and it’s all too much.

 

Key Point:

 
Your children – however young – do sense your stress and trauma. They react accordingly. A happy and contented child may become withdrawn or attention seeking. An anxious child will display deeper signs of their stressed behaviour.
 
This heightens the problem for everyone. Fundamentally your children, especially if they are under six years old, subconsciously take on beliefs as a result of disharmony at home.
 
Warring parents living out their relationship in front of their children is highly destructive.
 
Beliefs subconsciously implanted in the young brain could be:

  • I have to keep myself safe.
  • I am not good enough to be happy.
  • It’s my fault.
  • I have to be a good boy or girl.
  • I can’t be heard; no one listens to me.
  • I don’t matter.

 

Be Mindful of Self-Care opportunities
 
Techniques, strategies and working toward a better personal situation is empowering for you. When you feel better, your child can sense this, will benefit from this and your child will feel happier and more content.
 
Benefits of learning EFT
 
It can help you to de-stress and therefore your unborn child and your children will sense a positive change in you straight away. You feel more Calm, in Control and Confident; your baby or child will feel the same.
 

Positive improvement in your child’s behaviour

 
Your child or children become less demanding, less challenging, less needy.
 

Why?

 
Because they feel more secure, loved and safe. They are more calm, less attention seeking. The people they love and trust are happier. These positive feelings are transferable so it’s Win Win.
 
 

What happens during Tapping?

 

Tapping Points

Tapping Points

Crucially, EFT Tapping works at 2 levels

1/  Mindset Level

2/  Cellular Level

You quieten and clear Mind Chatter; your Inner Voice. The voice you have mistakenly thought to be correct and in charge of who and what you are. The voice which goes over and over your negative beliefs and anxieties. When you listen to that negative inner voice you give these anxieties more and more power. You are confused because you think these beliefs and thoughts must be true. They are not true.
But this Inner Voice can be hushed when you release the energy at Cellular Level .

 

 

How is blocked negative energy released?
 
You release the blocked energy, stress, physical discomfort by Tapping on specific Energy meridians in your body. Acupuncturists use needles to do this; we Tap.
 
Very specifically you

  • state where you feel your discomfort.
  • describe its shape, size and colour.

The more specific you can be the better, so that blocked energy/stress can be worked on and released.
 
You voice the specific fear you hear in your head and by combining Voicing and Tapping, you can release the blocked energy. The charge is gone.

 
How long do I need to Tap for?
 
Using EFT as a Self-Help tool, five to ten minutes of Tapping can make significant improvements to how you feel. When you feel more calm and in control, you are better fit to deal with your given situation.

 

EFT is practiced and shared by Counsellors, Hypnotherapists, Doctors, Psychiatrists and more. Perhaps it’s time for you, your baby or your child to benefit from Tapping?

 

For specific Tapping Routines please visit my website: Video EFT Tapping routines.

 

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Contact Susan [bw_mobile]

Susan’s website: Hampshire-EFT.

Susan is the author of Survive and Thrive after Trauma. She shares her story, healing techniques and interviews.

She specialises in; Relationship Stress, Pregnancy and Infertility issues, and Emotional Trauma relating to physical health issues.

 

Bowen Technique – Neither massage nor manipulation. But it works!

Posted by on 7:46 pm in Advice and articles, Living Together Advice, Short Films, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Bowen Technique – Neither massage nor manipulation. But it works!

 
Gentle, effective and affordable, the Bowen Technique is a hands-on therapy which is neither massage nor manipulation – but a series of gentle rolling moves over specific points on the body.
 

 

“My first experience of The Bowen Technique with Catherine Ford really surprised me. It was far more relaxing than I had imagined. I felt my body was able to let go and release tension on a level I’d not experienced for a long time. My back felt looser and less knotted afterwards – yet the treatment was incredibly gentle and non-invasive. Sometimes when you are feeling emotionally delicate as well as physically out of balance, you don’t want to be crunched about. Bowen left me feeling calm and as if my body had been nurtured.  I highly recommend experiencing Bowen as the results may well surprise you.”
Suzy Miller: Alternative Divorce Guide
www.startingovershow.com

 
The Bowen move dampens down Autonomic Nervous System (the ‘fight or flight’ response) allowing the body to totally relax.  When performed on a bodily structure it sends information via sensory nerves to the brain about that specific structure. When the info arrives at the brain it accesses the different areas of the brain where a response is made according to the information received. The response is sent back to the structure via motor nerves and certain adjustments then made.
 
A unique feature of a Bowen treatment is that there are frequent pauses during the treatment when the client is best left alone for a couple of minutes so as not to interfere with the body’s response. And so the healing can commence.
 
Because Bowen encourages the body’s innate self-healing capacity to kick in, it can treat many conditions: musculoskeletal problems (back ache, neck and shoulders, knees, jaw etc),  women’s issues, asthma as well as helping the chronically ill to manage their illness.  Bowen can be used on all from newborns to the elderly and there is even animal Bowen.
 
Every Body Feels Better with Bowen!
 
 

I’ve been seeing Catherine for Bowen treatments on and off for the past 2 years.  More than anything, what I get from each treatment is a real feeling of calmness that lasts for weeks.  The Bowen appears to balance my body in a way that limits my anxieties and helps me to keep everything in perspective.  Catherine is professional and kind.  I would absolutely recommend herself and a Bowen treatment to anyone suffering with anxiety.”  Katie H.

 

BowenVoucher_LTA

 

Katherine C.

I’ve been seeing Catherine for Bowen treatments on and off for the past 2 years. More than anything, what I get from each treatment is a real feeling of calmness that lasts for weeks. The Bowen appears to balance my body in a way that limits my anxieties and helps me to keep everything in perspective. Catherine is professional and kind. I would absolutely recommend her and a Bowen treatment to anyone suffering with anxiety.”

 

Sylvia A.

It was lovely to meet you yesterday. After the Bowen session I slept very well, was I in a much more uplifted mood, and no more twinges. Something has shifted emotionally for sure.

 

 

CATHERINE FORD BTAA BAUK MBTPA
Bowen Technique Practitioner
Clinic at:
Parsons Green
London SW6 4DH
Appointments:  020 7731 4720

www.feelbetterwithbowen.co.uk

 

 

Trust is just not enough when living together out of marriage

Posted by on 6:07 am in Advice and articles, Coaching support, Cohabiting and Living Together, expertise, Living Together Advice, Shared Stories, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Trust is just not enough when living together out of marriage

In this interview with EFT Expert Susan Cowe Miller, she explains how vital it was to create a psychological as well as legal sense of security for her family following her husband’s death and the creation later on of a new ‘living together’ relationship outside of the legal security of marriage.

 

“My first marriage ended in the most awful way; my husband died weeks after I’d started divorce proceedings. However I was fortunate to receive Life Insurance and the mortgage was paid off too. He died before changing his will.

I knew that I had to safeguard my assets when I entered a living together relationship a few years later.

My partner and I set up a Tenants in Common Agreement and when we married a few years later, I had new financial arrangements to make and a new Will with specific additions set up. I had two children from my first marriage and I needed to feel secure and protected regardless of how much I do love and trust my second husband. Trust and love are not enough. I urge you to sort out your financial affairs and your security when embarking on a new  living together arrangement,  or to take action if a present  situation is not yet agreed.

In many cases this is not undertaken due to:

  • A lack of legal understanding around rights and who gets what ; wrong assumptions are made;
  • A naivety around what should happen if things go wrong; a blinkered trust;
  • A fear that you specifically, feel it isn’t right or decent  to ask your new partner about any of this.

The Living Together Agreement is potentially of enormous value for many couples and new families starting out on another of life’s big adventures. Suzy Miller’s short video is extremely informative and well worth a viewing.

I now work in Emotional Healing and I wish everyone had a strong sense of self-belief and a built in self-preservation instinct. A belief that you deserve to be secure is a valuable feeling. Consider The Living Together Agreement, it seems to make a whole lot of sense.

As a relationship therapist I suggest that your relationship will have more chance of success and happiness if BOTH of you feel secure; trust is just not enough.”

 

 

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Find out more about Susan Cowe Miller and how she can empower you to create your own sense of security and future success here….

Using Collaborative Law to create a Cohabitation Agreement

Posted by on 7:07 am in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Legal Articles, Living Together Advice, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Using Collaborative Law to create a Cohabitation Agreement

Collaborative lawyer Kim Beatson has used her specialist training to help couples create Pre and Post-nuptial agreements, and those same skills can also be applied to the creation of a Living Together Agreement.

Collaborative pre-nups and collaborative Living Together Agreements

More and more ordinary couples – or at least, those couples where one party is not significantly richer or more famous than the other – are now drawing up pre-nup arrangements.  The content of such an agreement can vary, but often includes areas like division of property or safeguarding assets that were built up by an individual before the marriage, such as a property or a business.A pre-nup offers greater security if it is drawn up as part of a ‘collaborative process’. This involves both halves of the couple instructing their own lawyers and sitting down at a table with a blank sheet of paper to discuss what assets they’re bringing to the marriage and how the marriage might evolve. You can bring other professionals into the collaborative process, such as financial advisors or even therapists.

A judge will take a collaborative pre-nup very seriously when considering a divorce settlement, because if a couple has undergone the collaborative process it’s almost impossible for one party to later argue that they didn’t know what they were signing.

This is important, as in the past, many pre-nups have been thrown out because the judge ruled one party had been presented with a document under duress or at short notice.

In the same way, creating a Living Together or Cohabitation Agreement needs to be done in a way that allows both the couple to be truly aware of the consequences of any decisions they come to and to have understood all aspects of the agreement.  In other words, they need to be able to communicate clearly with each other, and if there are complex financial aspects to their agreement, this could be difficult to do without some extra help.

They can work with financial experts to guide them, but if there are legal implications – possibly overseas properties and investments, or one of the couple is still legally married to someone else – then spending time with lawyers may be a good investment, and one of the best ways to access non-adversarial legal advice is to work with lawyers who are collaboratively trained, where the couple sit in the same room together with both their lawyers and collaborate to create a fair and sustainable agreement.

What to include in the discussion process

If you use a collaborative process, drafting a Living Together Agreement forces you to consider issues such as whether you want children or how you would feel if your partner became sick, injured and unable to work. Here are some of the areas you may need to cover:

  • It is important to think about what will happen to assets that belong to both of the couple, and what happens to gifts or inheritances.
  • It is also useful to think about responsibility for debts and other liabilities.
  • A change in circumstances such as the birth of a child needs to be considered, who will be compromising their career to care for the child, and how will they have a pension – if you are not married you don’t have a right to share your partner’s pension in the future unlike married couples.
  • Typically the agreement will need to be reviewed after, say, every five to seven years at least, to keep it up to date.

 

Does a Living Together Agreement offer real protection?

A well crafted Cohabitation Agreement can pave the way for a straightforward and amicable financial separation if the relationship should end in the future.

Well-drafted Living Together Agreements are likely to be accepted by the courts as governing what should occur when a partnership ends, and are well-worth considering as a means of protecting your assets.

The process of creating a Living Together Agreement can be a powerful way for couples to bring a greater sense of security to their relationship, especially if one of the couple is looking after the children and unable to create their own individual financial security.

If couples are unsure or insecure about communicating their wishes to each other, then talking to counsellors and life coaches can make that process not only easier, but empowering.

 

Call Kim for a no-obligation chat: 020 7940 4000

Or email here at: kim.beatson@anthonygold.co.uk

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Latest stats on Common Law Marriage – the Truth behind the Myth

Posted by on 12:01 pm in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Divorce Statistics, Living Together Advice, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Latest stats on Common Law Marriage – the Truth behind the Myth

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK.

The ONS released on 28 January 2015 its Household and Families 2014 statistical bulletin.

According to the data Cohabiting couple families grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014 – the fastest growing type of family in the UK. 

 

The Truth behind the Myth

 

Do Cohabitees realise that they don’t have the same protection as married couples?

Although there is no such thing as common law marriage in UK law, 51% of respondents to the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2008 thought that unmarried couples who live together for some time probably or definitely had a ‘common law marriage’ which gives them the same legal rights as married couples, although this is not legally the case.

The cohabitation rights bill which addresses the rights of cohabiting couples is currently in the early stages of passing through parliament, but the issue remains politically sensitive and some critics fear that this long awaited change could undermine the institution of marriage.

KimBeatsonLong“The government’s decision is both disappointing and frustrating.”  Is the view expressed by Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer Kim Beatson.  “Marriage rates have fallen to an all time low and there is a rise in the number of people cohabiting year on year.  Children born to unmarried couples who separate can be vulnerable and the need for law reform is long overdue.  The government’s refusal to act is all the more illogical as cohabiting couples who separate often find themselves dependant on the state for help with housing and other living expenses.

As the law stands, arguments about whether a cohabitant has an interest in property are expensive and protracted.  In the absence of direct financial contributions to the purchase price, it is very difficult to secure a remedy and the only safe way forward is for cohabitants to ensure that both names are on the title deeds to any property and that the position on contributions is documented.”   Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold Solicitors

 

The solution: a Living Together Agreement

 

But even if a couple knows they have no rights, will they want to make their own legal agreement?

Suzy Miller lived for 10 years with her partner with whom she had 3 children, and she was aware that she had less rights, yet still failed to create her own agreement.

“I didn’t realise just how few rights I had – like no maintenance payments, no rights to his pension – but the main reason I did nothing was I just didn’t believe we would ever breakup.  Seems silly looking back on it!”

Together cohabiting couple families account for 16.4% of all families in the UK.

The ONS bulletin also reveals that there were nearly 3.0 million opposite sex cohabiting couple families and 84,000 same sex cohabiting couple families in the UK in 2014.  For opposite sex cohabiting couple families there has been a statistically significant increase from 13% of all families in 2004 to 16% in 2014.

 

Suzy_HR_BIG“By accessing the same level of professional and holistic support and guidance that couples benefit from when they take a healthy route through divorce, those of you who are wanting to create a Postnuptial Agreement or a Cohabitation Agreement can make future provisions for your children whether your relationship stays together or not.
But most of all, the process itself can be very healing and empowering.  I believe that creating a Cohabitation Agreement or Postnup can actually strengthen the relationship.  The process increases communication and that leads to more trust and transparency.  It also means you get your finances properly organised and a Will and other important things that if not done, can become the root cause of issues later down the line, particularly if one of the couple goes into debt.  Talking to financial experts and life coaches can be a great way to make the process easier and empowering.”
Suzy Miller: www.LivingTogetherAgreement.com

 

joyFahey

“Coaching can help you to clarify your discussions when creating a postnup or a cohabitation agreement. For example help you to establish your boundaries, what you’re each willing to do, or not do, when it comes to  finances, commitments and running your home together etc. A coach can help you gain a clear understanding of all the different aspects of these kind of things so that there are no grey areas which could create challenges later.”  Joy Fahey, New Beginnings Coaching

Sue Terry, divorce coach London SW, how to make a living together agreement, online advice cohabitation agreement, life coach london sw,“Creating a Living Together Agreement – whether to protect your family’s future if you are not married, or because you want to create your own pre- or postnup, is a positive life affirming action.  Coaching is a powerful tool to help people to create their Living Together Agreement.” Sue Terry: Metroline Coaching

 

 

 

claudiacrawley, winning pathways coaching, living together agreement, cohabitation agreement, life coach london se,“No matter how long you’ve been together, you don’t have the same legal rights as a married couple and you may have little legal protection should you split up. This is where a Living Together Agreement comes in.  A life coach can help you to be clear on what your priorities should be in creating a long term life plan together.”  Claudia Crawley: Winning Pathways Coaching

 

 

There is more than just splitting the finances involved in a Living Together Agreement.  According to Suzy Miller of Living Together Agreement.com, people should be creating a positive Life Plan and from that, include some ‘what if’ scenarios, such as dying, and leaving each other.  For example, what will  happen to elderly relatives whether you stay together or split?  Cheryl Carter of Every Home Matters UK provides a service which is invaluable to the families of elderly relatives.  She talks about re-homing elderly relatives, organising the home improvements needed to keep them at home or moving them into the homes of relatives which may need to be adapted.  All this needs to be discussed and agreed upon during the creation of a thorough Life Plan and Living Together Agreement.

 

A real life horror story

 

A real life example of what can go wrong is shared in in this video interview with Mediator and Arbitrator Nadia Beckett of Beckett Solicitors LLP. Nadia explains the down-sides of not being married when you have a family to care for, and also what you can do about it,  and relates the frightening story of a mother in hospital giving birth, whose partner and father of her children changed the locks on the family home – legally – which would not be the case if they had been legally married:

 

Too Complicated?  Too Scarey?

 

But what if there are complex financial or inheritance issues that can’t be agreed on?  Or one of you may want to move abroad with the children if there was a split?

A financial planner can help you understand the different options, and they often don’t charge for initial conversations where you work out what you need to do next:

 

Peter Greenwood, greenwood wealth solutions, financial advice GU, financial advice RH, financial advice PO, financial advice divorce, financial planning divorce, how to divorce amicably, online divorce advice

I have deep and lengthy personal experience of going through the full divorce process including four separate court hearings, and I would now like to utilise my knowledge in this area, supplementing it with my accountancy and financial adviser qualifications, and help guide couples who are creating a Cohabitation Agreement to avoid later conflict.   I offer no fee consultation meetings until such a time as the client is ready to make financial decisions re. investments, tax planning, pensions​ etc; which makes me not only highly qualified to support clients with their financial planning, but also they can talk and meet with me with no obligation or cost whilst they ascertain what services they may or may not need.”  Peter Greenwood, Greenwood Wealth Solutions”  Peter Greenwood, Greenwood Wealth Solutions

 

SheilaBaileyNarrow“If there are children involved you may need to work out who the children will be living with – do you want to remain fairly close to each other so the children can alternate between both houses?  Do you need to have two houses to accommodate everyone?  These are all things that an advisor can aim to help you calculate if they are possible.”  Sheila Bailey: Willow Private Finance

 

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“Seeing the correct professional is not as daunting as you may think.  We don’t expect you to know anything or everything – your needs and objectives are the most important thing to us and we will do all we can to help you to meet those goals.   The meeting is at our expense, therefore no charge to the client.”  Lottie Kent,Riverside Financial Consultants

 

 

The role of Collaborative Law

 

What if a couple get stuck and can’t agree?

If you can’t agree for whatever reason on how to divide assets or on decisions about the children, and you would prefer to have legal advice at hand, then Collaborative Law provides a good framework for keeping those discussions amicable.

Kim Beatson is also a Collaborative Lawyer, and she recommends the collaborative process for resolving disputes over property and children matters:

 

KimBeatsonLong

“Collaborative law has to be an attractive option for former cohabitants where arrangements for children are concerned and particularly disputes over property.  Currently, former cohabitants only have recourse to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA) and Schedule 1 of the Children Act.  The former is expensive and the case law shows the outcome to be entirely unpredictable.  The latter only covers financial provision for children and the outcome may be harsh to the primary carer. This is particularly so where there has been long term cohabitation and the primary parent has suffered financial consequences such as loss of career and pension rights.  

The collaborative law process enables the couple to look to examine their own idea of fairness as between the adults and also to ensure a good parenting relationship going forward.”  Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold Solicitors

 

Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator John Stebbing also believes that Cohabitation agreements should be more common:

 

John Stebbing

“You will organise all your family celebrations….. well, why not organise your whole lives through agreement too?  A Cohabitation Agreement will do this in a fail-safe way.  It is so much more reassuring that if the Cohabitation adventure sadly ends, you and your partner know exactly what is to happen to the assets you have acquired. Potentially the visit to the lawyers and all the costs involved, can be avoided. You will both know where you stand.  Agreements prior to Cohabitation, or marriage, even after a split, are perfect examples of a healthy collaboration.  To collaborate together to reorganise your lives, and give those agreements legal weight – this makes obvious sense. The Collaborative Law model is there for you to use, so don’t hesitate to find out more about it.”  John Stebbing, Stephen Rimmer LLP

 

Is there too much stigma around breakup?

 

The stigma around divorce and breakup – seen as a ‘failure’ of a relationship, is a real issue when it comes to persuading couples to create a Living Together Agreement, according to Suzy Miller.

She believes that people prefer to stick their heads in the sand – as she did for 10 years – rather than accept that seperation can happen and we need to protect the family structure through an agreement, which allows that family to not become a ‘broken’ family, but instead evolve into an ‘extended’ family.

“It is seen as sensible to create a Will when you have children, yet, statistically, a person in a living together relationship is at least 5 times more likely to leave the relationship alive than dead, so a Cohabitation Agreement should be seen as just as sensible and socially acceptable as creating a Will.”

 

Suzy_HR_BIG“Remember folks – Divorce and Separation are a Station – Not a Destination. Get a map for the full journey, with all it’s twists and turns, and you’ll be able to swop postcards at the end of the adventure will love and laughter, rather than bitterness.” Suzy Miller: www.LivingTogetherAgreement.com

 

 

 

Other key findings from the ONS include:

  • In 2014 there were 18.6 million families in the UK. Of these, 12.5 million were married couple families. This is the most common family type in the UK.
  • In 2014 there were 2.0 million lone parents with dependent children in the UK. Women accounted for 91% of lone parents with dependent children.
  • There were 26.7 million households in the UK in 2014. 28% of these contained only one person.
  • Households containing two or more families were the fastest growing household type in the decade to 2014, increasing by 56% to 313,000 households.

The full statistical bulletin is available to download here.

A free Living Together Agreement can be downloaded here…..

Download Living Together Agreement

 

 

The Times: Conscious Uncoupling

Posted by on 9:46 am in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Living Together Advice, Press Page | 0 comments

The Times: Conscious Uncoupling

Getting the facts about Cohabition into the press

 

I was interviewed by Sally Williams along with my Ex for an article in The Times published 10 January 2015, called “Conscious Uncoupling”.  What was significant for me was that The Times – even though originally they had been looking for couples who had got legally divorced – they then decided to include our story to reflect the over 6 million couples in the UK who cohabit.

The differences when you split – especially if you have children – are immense, and more than half the population are still blissfully unaware that Common Law Marriage is a myth. Thank you to Sally Williams for helping to get that information out to the public as a byproduct of her very interesting series of interviews in this article.

 

My Ex said in The Times that I’m: “Away with the fairies”

 

As for my Ex’s comment at the end of the article about how I am “away with the fairies” – he is correct.  I live in a village where people knit gnomes, talk about angels in the Post Office queue, and believe in Elemental Spirits.  And maybe having a slightly less materialist view on life is what has led me to work towards the ‘bigger picture’ and not take no for an answer, but simply a request for more time to reconsider.

As the Times article describes, he and I are very ‘different’ which may well be a good reason why we are no longer living together – but it hasn’t stopped us being a happy co-parenting couple who have separate lives, but share the same beautiful family.

Sometimes it is our differences that come together to create a kind of harmony, and as I commented recently on an article I wrote about Divorce Day in the Huffington Post:

“Remember folks – Divorce and Separation are a Station – Not a Destination. Get a map for the full journey, with all it’s twists and turns, and you’ll be able to swop postcards at the end of the adventure will love and laughter, rather than bitterness.”

Suzy Miller
www.LivingTogetherAgreement.com

 

The Times 10.01.15 TheTimes_ConsciousUncoupling_SallyWilliams_10.01.15

 

Some sobering statistics on Cohabitation and Living Together:

 

  • In 2013 there were 18.2 million families in the UK. Of these, 12.3 million consisted of a married couple with or without children.
  • The number of opposite sex cohabiting couple families has increased significantly, from 2.2 million in 2003 to 2.9 million in 2013. The number of dependent children living in opposite sex cohabiting couple families rose from 1.4 million to 1.9 million over the same period.
  • There were nearly 1.9 million lone parents with dependent children in the UK in 2013, a figure which has grown steadily but not significantly from 1.8 million in 2003.
  • There were 26.4 million households in the UK in 2013. Of these, 29% consisted of only one person and 20% consisted of four or more people.
  • The fastest growing household type was households containing two or more families, increasing by 39% from 206,000 households in 2003 to 286,000 households in 2013. However multi-family households still only represent 1% of all households.

ONS

 

Changing the Locks – how to be left out in the cold without a Living Together Agreement

Posted by on 7:55 am in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Living Together Advice, Shared Stories, Short Films, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Changing the Locks – how to be left out in the cold without a Living Together Agreement

It may be unimaginable that a father would want to change the locks on the mother of his children, with whom he has been cohabiting with for years whilst she cares for their family as a stay-at-home-mum.

But for him to change the locks on the family home whilst his live-in partner is in hospital giving birth to another of their children, is even harder to believe.  But it’s happening in the UK, right now.

 

Changing the locks on the mother of your children – legally

 

The real shock to many of us – including those who are currently cohabiting couples – will be the information that legally there was nothing to stop this father from locking his partner out of the family home.  No marriage certificate.  No Tenants in Common agreement.  The mother’s name was not on the mortgage as she was not working – because she was at home (not HER home in the legal sense, but HIS home), bringing up THEIR family.

This is a real life example – taking place right now in 2014 – and shared with me in an interview by the solicitor who is dealing with the case.  Mediator and Arbitrator Nadia Beckett of Beckett Solicitors LLP explains the down-sides of not being married when you have a family to care for, and also what you can do about it, in this short video:

 

 

More likely to be abused

 
Statistically, women in cohabiting relationships are more likely than wives to be abused. In one study, marital status was the strongest predictor of abuse-ahead of race, age, education or housing conditions. (*)

However we may choose to explain these statistics, it seems clear to me that when you are in a relationship where you are vulnerable, that abuse of all kinds can easily follow.  Locking a mother out of her family home is clearly an abusive act, leaving her homeless with a newborn baby – but the truth is she put herself in a vulnerable position by not being married, and not having any form of legal agreement to offer her protection.

 

“Ignorance is no excuse”

 

A lawyer on Linked In recently messaged me that ‘ignorance is no excuse’.  Actually, I think it is very good excuse, if no-one has taken the trouble to tell you the information you need.  Most people I talk to have no idea that Common Law Marriage is a myth, and that if they are to give up their career and become dependent on the father of their children without a marriage certificate to offer some basic protection, then the issue here is mass ignorance on a scale that indicates that just maybe, the State should intervene?  At least to help spread the word?

Personally, I think the parents of every child born in this country should receive a free ‘Bounty Pack’ of key information, including a free download of a Living Together Agreement Life Plan.

 

As Nadia explains in the video interview, it is usually the women who suffer most.  So perhaps it’s up to the women to share the news that without a Living Together / Cohabitation Agreement in place, having a family outside of wedlock could leave you not only potentially homeless if the relationship breaks down, but also without a pension, and no maintenance payments either.

 

(*) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 43, No. 8, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 4 March 1994.

 

facebook_icon11See our Facebook campaign page here: https://www.facebook.com/livingtogetheragreement

 

 

nadia beckett

Need legal advice on Cohabitation Agreements?

No-obligation conversation at no cost via phone

Contact nadia@beckettllp.com

 

 

 

Women need to stand up for themselves and insist on a Living Together Agreement – Interview with Life Coach Claudia Crawley

Posted by on 5:53 pm in Advice and articles, Coaching support, Cohabiting and Living Together, Living Together Advice, Short Films, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Women need to stand up for themselves and insist on a Living Together Agreement – Interview with Life Coach Claudia Crawley

 
In this interview and video, Life Coach Claudia Crawley of Winning Pathways Coaching, describes how women who are not married but cohabiting need to stand up for themselves and protect their future by creating a Living Together Agreement.

 

“In the old days it was known as ‘shacking up’.  In the more liberal-minded 21st century, it’s known as co-habiting. Many people are doing it and no-one bats an eye lid. And, yes, with such a personal decision, that’s how it should be. If you’re about to take that step towards sharing life, space and resources with your partner, you’re probably on a high, all loved up, viewing life through those rose tinted specs. So forgive me if I bring you back down to earth with this question. What agreement have the two of you made in relation to your property and belongings?  What thought have you given to protecting your rights in the event of the relationship breaking up?

Now, you may be thinking, ‘we’re never going to break-up!’ And you may even believe that it’s tempting fate to take a mental drive down that pot-holed road. But the reality is that you can never completely know another human being so you can never totally predict how things will pan out.  And here’s the deal for co-habiting couples, no matter how long you’ve been together, you don’t have the same legal rights as a married couple and you may have little legal protection should you split up. This is where a Living Together Agreement comes in. Relatively new to the UK, it helps you define your respective share of property (whether owned jointly or by just one of you), savings and belongings and avoid messy legal consequences should you separate.

Now, if the thought of constructing a formal legal agreement seems a tedious turn off you might not want to be bothered.  But what if there were a way of taking the tedious out of it and of dealing with it faster?  Well, there is a way. And that’s to get help with the thinking before you make the move. Winning Pathways Coaching offers you time and space with a coach to prepare you to make a Living Together or Cohabitation Agreement.   Together we’ll explore who you are and what’s important to you. And when you’re clear you’ll be in a good place to identify what you want in relation to living together and in relation to property and possessions.

Many of us think we know what we want and yes, we should.  But from an early age, girls are often brought up to cater first to the wants and needs of others, so, it’s hardly surprising that when we’re asked the question ‘what do you want?’ we stall.  When you’re clear on who you are, what’s most important to you and what you want, the negotiables and non-negotiables in living together are easier to identify.  So when you and your partner start the conversation about the realities of living together and of making the Living Together agreement, you’re well equipped to lay out your stall and negotiate in a way that doesn’t leave you vulnerable should you eventually part.”

 

 

Would you like to know more about

preparing for a living together agreement?

Contact Winning Pathways Coaching here:

claudiacrawley, winning pathways coaching, living together agreement, cohabitation agreement, life coach london se,

Decluttering and support for elderly relatives go hand in hand

Posted by on 9:22 am in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Living Together Advice, Short Films, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Decluttering and support for elderly relatives go hand in hand

In this video interview, Cheryl Carter of Every Home Matters UK explains how her service is invaluable to the families of elderly relatives.  She talks about re-homing elderly relatives, organising the home improvements needed to keep them at home or moving them into the homes of relatives which may need to be adapted.

 

 

Planning ahead for elderly relatives

 

We are now generally living longer. In today’s society many elderly people are living alone because they either have no family or their family is separated from them by distance. This can not only mean that they have no family to help care for them, but that they are vulnerable and lonely.

Living alone and not seeing anyone for long periods of time is a major contributor to anxiety and depression which in turn can have a detrimental effect upon ones physical health. Coupled with dementia this can make normal day to day life debilitating and frightening.

It is important that elderly relatives decide to move whilst they are still personally in control and to make all necessary changes to their living arrangements at the earliest possible time to avoid the need for another party to make these decisions for them. We strongly advise our senior clients that before making any decisions about their home, they should consult with their financial manager, wealth management consultant (if they have one) and solicitor.

Being alone or having an absent or busy family that cannot help oversee this process can make the task of moving home a stressful or even traumatic experience. During many years in professional property consultancy, I was witness to many situations where home sales and the disbandment of possessions was simply overwhelming for the individuals concerned. Sometimes, they would approach me not knowing quite how or where to start and clearly feeling vulnerable and out of their depth.

Having seen this and in some cases coupled with unnecessary pressure from estate agents and prospective buyers, I felt it was time to address the problem and so I developed the concept that became Every Home Matters.

At Every Home Matters we collaborate with professionals, such as solicitors, social services, NHS health care and Age UK, who specialise in helping people to make the right decisions about their home living arrangements and then we assist individuals to achieve their wishes thus securing their wellbeing for the future.

Many people do not realise, that as we get older suddenly having to let go of the family home, that holds so many positive memories, is hard  to come to terms with and having to downsize or rethink their living arrangements is not an easy task when your home is filled with so many personal possessions and memories.

With Every Home Matters’ Home Mover Advocacy and Senior Move Management services we search for the perfect accommodation to suit our clients’ needs and manage as little or as much of the buying, selling and moving process as our client wishes. As part of the service that we offer, we manage or assist with the process of moving our client’s possessions or with the disposal of them via distribution and gifting to friends and family or charitable organisations, recycling or waste disposal and via auction houses so that the value of those possessions sold is fully returned to their estate.

To optimize the selling price of the property Every Home Matters will advise, declutter and stage the property before valuations are carried out and again before any viewings. We liaise with estate agents, solicitors and removals companies to create a smooth transition. Once our clients have moved we assist in de boxing and then organising their new living space. Should this be a shared space with family it is vital to retain their own individual space, privacy and independence and we can help all co-habitants to achieve this.

Moving home is stressful and having to make tough decisions about which items to take or dispose of is especially difficult for senior clients, especially when it is a lifetime of memories being disbanded. So, we also offer a specialised service working together to create memories of possessions that they wish to, or have to dispose of.

We are accredited Dementia Friends Champions under the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends incentive scheme. Being trained in the understanding of dementia we are aware of the vulnerability of many clients with this challenging condition and we aim to protect them in all aspects of our services. Rogue builders or trades-people are a typical example of this. We are also fully DRB checked.

Our Home Improvement services are often seamlessly combined when helping our clients to move. We can provide services to repair or refurbish our clients’ homes to increase saleability or to improve their living space. We can adapt our senior clients’ living space to suit their requirements also if they have specific needs such as wheelchair access requirements, stair-lifts and so on. We even deliver large extension and construction projects where required.

We are totally non-judgemental in our approach to everything that we do and treat our clients requirements and personal details with total confidentiality. Our clients are treated with the utmost respect, with empathy and sympathy also underpinning our services. We aim to relieve the stress when re thinking your living space and work with our clients to create a stress free process, relieving any anxieties and fears along the way to provide a positive experience on their journey to their new home or the improvement of their existing living space or home.

 

CBC

Contact Cheryl now for a chat and to arrange your free,

one hour, no-obligation consultation :

email help@ehm-uk.com

Landline 020 8241 9532
Mobile 07703437825

 

Do Cohabitation Agreements and Postnups make your relationship stronger?

Posted by on 9:52 am in Advice and articles, arbitration, Cohabiting and Living Together, Collaborative Law, Divorce Mediation, Legal Articles, Living Together Advice, Useful articles Law, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Do Cohabitation Agreements and Postnups make your relationship stronger?

I learned more about how to have a healthy relationship with my children’s father through having to co-parent in separate households than I did when we were together.  But there are easier ways to learn those lessons.

By accessing the same level of professional and holistic support and guidance that couples benefit from when they take a healthy route through divorce, those of you who are wanting to create a Postnuptial Agreement or a Cohabitation Agreement can make future provisions for your children whether you relationship stays together or not.

But most of all, the process itself can be very healing and empowering.  I believe that creating a Cohabitation Agreement or Postnup can actually strengthen the relationship.

 

But how can you take the different aspects of your lives together and put them into a mutually agreed contract, whilst making that process one of vision and excitement for the future?

Well for a start, don’t think about it only as a ‘what if’ scenario of breakup.  Doesn’t it make sense for all couples with children to create a Life Plan for themselves, full of their hopes and dreams – but with some provision for the ‘what if’ scenarios?

 

How to begin?

 

The focus should be on the life you want to create together – your hopes and dreams and plans for the future – but also to look at how to keep your family strong if you should chose, for whatever reason, to live apart at some time in the future.  This could be caused by wanting to live in different countries, because of different values, because of mental illness in one of the couple, or any other factor that happens in so many relationships, despite the best intentions to stay together.

 

How do we make sure we don’t end up arguing and breaking up whilst trying to create the Agreement?

Well if you haven’t worked with a relationship counsellor or a coach before, now is a good time to start.  Learning how to communicate clearly and without making each other feel attacked or insecure is a powerful thing to learn and will be a great investment in your relationship going forwards.

The very same experts who can help a couple break up amicably, can also help them to work better as a team when they are together.

CaronLong

 

 

 

 

 

“Couples come to me for all different reasons and at all different phases of their marriage.  I am able to take crisis couples and help them through the journey of whether they wanted to stay together or not, and then if they wanted to split up I am able to help them come to a place where there is no anger, so they can separate and breakup their assets and set up homes for their children separately, or if there were no children they could part as friends and not see it as a mistake or like a scarring – but rather as an experience or a stepping stone in their lives.”  Caron Barruw: Psychotherapist

 

Experts like Caron can help couples to communicate effectively and build a plan going forwards that is based on real understanding of each other’s needs, and the confidence to express that clearly with each other on an ongoing basis.

If you need some help negotiating aspects of access to the children and creating a draft parenting plan then a parenting coach would be helpful to remind you, for example, that very young children don’t benefit from being shared from home to home but are better remaining in the same home and the parents moving in and out.  There is no point being creative about how you would co-parent without taking into account the financial aspects – and getting quality financial advice to ensure that your plans are realistic – but also that your children’s needs will be catered for rather than just your own.

Both parents should have the right to spend time with their children, but the children need their best interests represented as well.  Once again, the very same experts who have experience supporting couples through breakup, are best placed to advise on parenting and emotional issues when creating a Cohabitation Agreement.

PaulaFarsonCropped

 

“When we work on our psychological well being the positive changes in us are picked up by people close to us, often leading to a healthy ripple effect.  Happy parents lead to happy children, relaxed adult children bring about contented older parents and an accepting relationship with one’s ex is a relief to all parties!”  Paula Farson: Cedar Counselling

 

 

Vivienne Smith, the life you deserve, transformational coach, coaching brighton, coaching BN, divorce advice, online divorce help

“I do have a lot of sympathy for the parents themselves (who are often reeling from the shock and turmoil of emotions caused by the split). For this reason, I would always urge someone in this situation to seek professional help to get their emotions and behaviour under control so that they can do their best to protect the children from any unwarranted distress.”  Vivienne Smith: Transformational Coach

 

 

Clarity of thinking and making the process feel fun and empowering can be the result of working with a coach, and can transform the experience of creating a cohabitation agreement or a postnup from being a financial backup plan into the creation of a whole Life Plan.

 

joyFahey

“Coaching can help you to clarify your discussions when creating a postnup or a cohabitation agreement. For example help you to establish your boundaries, what you’re each willing to do, or not do, when it comes to  finances, commitments and running your home together etc. A coach can help you gain a clear understanding of all the different aspects of these kind of things such that there are no grey areas which could create challenges later.”  Joy Fahey, New Beginnings Coaching

 

Part of the process may require working individually with coaches or using transformational healing techniques that will help you to build your confidence and reduce blocks and fears that are holding you back.  It takes confidence and vision to be able to create a vibrant Life Plan with your partner – which includes the different scenarios of what you want to happen if certain circumstances arise.

Business profile photos narrow

 

“A need for increased confidence, stronger self-worth and self-esteem seem necessary but sometimes they appear out of reach… EFT works at a conscious and subconscious level. It clears negative experiences from your past so that you change your emotional reactions today.”  Susan Cowe: EFT (Tapping) practitioner

 

 

Jessica Hylands confidence coach Eastbourne coaching TN divorce advice online divorce help

“I am able to help you with specific issues such as debt-management, or a decision that you’re having difficulty making, or identify and remove barriers and insecurities that are stopping you from moving forwards in life.  I’ll lead you to find your ideal path, in whatever area of life this relates to, and give you the confidence to walk along it and make your life the best that it can be for you.”  Jessica Hylands Confidence Coach 

 

 

 

 

Getting to grips with all that ‘nitty gritty’ can seem not just tedious – but possibly even terrifying. What kind of questions are going to be raised during the process of creating the Agreement? How will a couple deal with this over the kitchen table, without some kind of outside support?

Life Coach Claudia Crawley describes in this short video how to gain clarity so that the process becomes not scarey, but instead very empowering.

 

 

Creating a Living Together Life Plan and Agreement can be a great opportunity to really sort your lives out – inside and out.

Having made decisions regarding property and pensions, a couple may find themselves wanting to make that house move planned for the future sooner rather than later. Or they may have elderly family they need to make long-term plans for. The range of expert support they may wish to access will be far broader than just talking to lawyers.

 

Cheryl Carter of Every Home Matters UK relates in this short video how she supports couples with home improvements right through to dealing with elderly relatives:

 

Too hot to handle?

 

If it’s getting a bit heated and difficult or you just need a third-party to help you decide how to structure the Cohabitation Agreement – then using a Mediator is an excellent solution.

Mediation has a powerful role to play in supporting couples who need to come to an agreement without resorting to a court battle, which for a cohabiting couple will usually be a pointless exercise.  No automatic right to a pension split.  No automatic right to half the house or the splitting of assets.  If there is no co-habitation agreement to base a judge’s decision upon, then court action could be costly and leave a main carer of children with little more than they would have got before going to court: statutory support from the working parent but no spousal maintenance, and no claim on any property or pensions that they have not got their name attached to.

I asked Mediator Kim Beatson of Anthony Gold Solicitors how mediation can help separating couples who are not legally married:

KimBeatsonLong

 

“Divorcing couples are proceeding through the Family Court and usually convert the mediation summary (following the final meeting) into a Court Order. 

Former cohabitants will not necessarily be pursuing Court proceedings and their claims against one another are much more limited.  Nevertheless, a mediation summary may be converted into a contractually binding document.  One obvious example is a partnership agreement between former business partners.  

Even in more ordinary circumstances a mediation summary for former cohabitants is a template for the future. It enables the couple to move forward with their lives and the future welfare of any children, having agreed matters and going forward to implement their agreement”.  Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold Solicitors

 

Mediator Wendy Still of Stephen Rimmer LLP also sees mediation as being empowering for all couples experiencing separation:

Wendy-Still-2-200x150

 

“Mediation helps the parties reach an agreement which is suitable to meet their needs rather than a court directing what will happen in theirs and their children’s lives, and as they know what will work best for them, it’s more appropriate for them to decide how their lives will move forward.”  Wendy Still of Stephen Rimmer LLP 

 

 

Mediation & Collaborative Law to create an Agreement

 

In the same way that Mediation can help cohabiting couples to split in a healthy way, Mediation can also be used to help them to create a Cohabitation Agreement.  The agreement reached can be turned into a legal document that is binding in the same way as a Partnership Agreement between business partners is legally binding.

 

But what if there are complex financial or inheritance issues that can’t be agreed on?  Or one of you may want to move abroad with the children if there was a split?

A financial planner can help you understand the different options, but if you can’t agree and for whatever reason, you would prefer to have legal advice at hand, then Collaborative Law provides a good framework for keeping those discussions amicable.

Kim Beatson is also a Collaborative Lawyer, and she recommends the collaborative process for resolving disputes over property and children matters:

 

KimBeatsonLong

“Collaborative law has to be an attractive option for former cohabitants where arrangements for children are concerned and particularly disputes over property.  Currently, former cohabitants only have recourse to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA) and Schedule 1 of the Children Act.  The former is expensive and the case law shows the outcome to be entirely unpredictable.  The latter only covers financial provision for children and the outcome may be harsh to the primary carer. This is particularly so where there has been long term cohabitation and the primary parent has suffered financial consequences such as loss of career and pension rights.  

The collaborative law process enables the couple to look to examine their own idea of fairness as between the adults and also to ensure a good parenting relationship going forward.”  Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold Solicitors

 

Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator John Stebbing also believes that Cohabitation agreements should be more common:

 

John Stebbing

“You will organise all your family celebrations….. well, why not organise your whole lives through agreement too?  A Cohabitation Agreement will do this in a fail-safe way.  It is so much more reassuring that if the Cohabitation adventure sadly ends, you and your partner know exactly what is to happen to the assets you have acquired. Potentially the visit to the lawyers and all the costs involved, can be avoided. You will both know where you stand.  Agreements prior to Cohabitation, or marriage, even after a split, are perfect examples of a healthy collaboration.  To collaborate together to reorganise your lives, and give those agreements legal weight – this makes obvious sense. The Collaborative Law model is there for you to use, so don’t hesitate to find out more about it.”  John Stebbing, Stephen Rimmer LLP

 

 

If we just can’t agree?

 

Family arbitration can be a useful resource for cohabiting couples who are splitting up, where a legal decision on a financial matter is required that the couple are unable to agree on between themselves.   This option of engaging an Arbitrator to resolve a particular issue can then allow a Mediation process to continue until all matters are settled, avoiding any need to go to court.

 

nadia beckettThere is still a degree of ignorance amongst solicitors, barristers and mediators about FamilyArbitration and a mistaken view that Arbitration is just for rich people. That is not the case and ultimately it can actually work out cheaper than going to court as the parties have much more control over the process.  Unfortunately family Arbitration cannot be used to resolve disputes over children.” Nadia Beckett, Beckett Solicitors

 

Arbitration can be a valuable tool in the divorce process – and also in giving a final decision on an area of disagreement between a couple who are creating a Cohabitation Agreement or Postnup.  Usually it would be a complex financial issue for which a financial planner may have given the couple a range of options, but they just want an expert to decide for them what should be included in their agreement.  That is where the Arbitrator can be called in to provide a decision that can be made legally binding.

 

Behaving responsibly

 

When I separated from my children’s father, I did not know that Mediation, Collaborative Law or Arbitration even existed.  I didn’t know that working with a relationship coach or parenting experts could provide me with such powerful tools for the future.  I didn’t know that I could talk to financial experts to help me make a plan for our family’s future.

I believe it is time for couples with children to become more conscious about how to protect their family’s future.  If they get married, then get a Prenup – or at the very least a Postnup.  If cohabiting, create a Cohabitation Agreement.  It is not unromantic to be able to honestly communicate and converse with the person you love about every day details.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, then bring in the experts to help you.

If I had created a cohabitation agreement, then the sudden breakup of my 10 year relationship would have been far less terrifying and stressful.

I see that gathering financial information and accessing legal support at least as ‘independent legal advice’ are critical. But equally important is the pychological process that the couple go through.

These benefits to the relationship as a whole are clearly expressed in this short video interview with life coach Sue Terry of Metroline Coaching:

My advice is not to go into creating these agreements in a state of fear for the future, or with a pessimistic mindset.

When I created a Will, I was not considering dying just yet.  But I would not feel a responsible parent if I did not put that provision in place for my children’s benefit.

A Cohabitation Agreement does not need to be focused on who gets what if the relationship comes to a close.  I believe it should be focused on creating an exciting Life Plan for the family as a whole, and if – and only if – the relationship should end, then how best will the welfare of the children be protected.  Caring for your children, planning ahead for all eventualities, is an empowering process, not a depressing one.

If the worse case scenario is that in 10 years time you are successfully co-parenting, living apart whilst your children feel equally loved and cared for by both parents, who have an ongoing mutually supportive relationship – and that situation is reached in part through having planned how to navigate what otherwise could be a process driven by anger and emotional pain – then that is not such a bad safety-net to be putting in place.  Is it? 

 

Why Cohabitation Agreements are Essential

Posted by on 8:42 am in Advice and articles, arbitration, Cohabiting and Living Together, Collaborative Law, Divorce Mediation, Divorce Statistics, Financial Divorce Advice, Living Together Advice, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Why Cohabitation Agreements are Essential

 

When my 10 year relationship suddenly split and I found myself with three children under 7, without my name on the house deeds, no career or income, and no pension, I felt the full brunt of not having any marriage laws to protect my interests.

I was unusual in that I knew I had no legal rights and that Common Law marriage is a myth.  I just never dreamt that my relationship would ever end.

I had never heard of ‘Cohabitation Agreements’ – but if my daughter chooses to settle down in the future to have children with a partner, I would not only advise her to create a Cohabitation Agreement, I would help cover the cost as the most useful Christmas present she’d ever receive.

Does that sound extreme?  Does it take the ‘romance’ out of a relationship founded on love?

 

If as a couple you are happy to create a Will and decide on what to do if one of you dies, then surely it is statistically more likely that one of you will leave the relationship alive – so why not discuss that possibility and make plans in the same way?

 

ONS Statistics (published December 2012) estimate that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce. It is also estimated that:

  • 34% of marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary.
  • 6% of marriages are expected to end by the 20th wedding anniversary because one of the spouses has died.

So according to those ONS statistics, a marriage is 5 times more likely to end through divorce than through death before your 20th Wedding Anniversary, and those who Cohabit will not be any more likely to stay together than their married counterparts.

Over 120,00 families with dependent children separated in 2013.  About half were married couple families (1.3% of 4.7 million married  families), and half were from cohabiting couples (5.3% of 1.2 million cohabiting families).

There are 7.7million families with dependent children, of which:

  • 4.7million (60%) are married couple families
  • 1.2million (15%) are unmarried opposite sex couple families
  • 1.9million (24.5%) are lone parent families
  • 8,000 (0.04%) are civil partnered couple families
  • 5,000 (0.03%) are same-sex cohabiting couple families.

United Kingdom (ONS, 2013 – see Relate Fact Sheet)

 

So at least 1,205,000 UK adults are cohabiting and have children.  But how many are aware of the myth of ‘common law marriage’?

Sadly, just over half the population still think that common law marriage exists in law, according to a British Social Attitudes survey.  Another interesting finding from the survey is that the importance attached to marriage for parents is on the decline with only 28% of people thinking that married couples make better parents than unmarried ones.

Part of the survey concentrated specifically on attitudes to cohabitation and found that:

  • 89% think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision on separation if the relationship has been a long-term one, includes children and has involved prioritising one partner’s career over another;
  • 38% think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if the relationship only lasted two years and involves no children.

One of the Survey’s authors, Professor Anne Barlow, says that it showed that:

“there is little appetite for maintaining the deep legal divisions drawn between married and unmarried cohabiting families. The Law Commission should bear this in mind in their review of current legislation.”

 

But the fact is that the law is not providing rights for financial provision – and the Government is not showing any sign of wanting to change that situation.

The difficulties experienced by cohabiting couples who separate were recognised by the Law Commission in its 2007 Report which recommended a new law which would give financial rights for unmarried couples with children who had been together for a suggested 2-5 years.

The current UK government of 2014 has no intention of granting these new legal rights despite the recommendations of the law reform watch-dog.  Presumably this is because the issue remains politically sensitive and critics fear that this long awaited change would undermine the institution of marriage.

KimBeatsonLong“The government’s decision is both disappointing and frustrating.”  Is the view expressed by Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer Kim Beatson.  “Marriage rates have fallen to an all time low and there is a rise in the number of people cohabiting year on year.  Children born to unmarried couples who separate can be vulnerable and the need for law reform is long overdue.  The government’s refusal to act is all the more illogical as cohabiting couples who separate often find themselves dependant on the state for help with housing and other living expenses.

As the law stands, arguments about whether a cohabitant has an interest in property are expensive and protracted.  In the absence of direct financial contributions to the purchase price, it is very difficult to secure a remedy and the only safe way forward is for cohabitants to ensure that both names are on the title deeds to any property and that the position on contributions is documented.”   Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold Solicitors

 
In other words, a Cohabitation Agreement – which acts like a prenup for cohabiting couples – is a sensible document to have in place.

Couples cohabiting to have children, where one partner will be compromising their ability to financially support themselves, would be wise to create a cohabitation agreement.  This may not provide the same legal protection as the marriage laws or a prenup, but it at the very least lays the foundation for future discussions should the relationship dissolve in the future.  A Mediator is well placed to guide a couple on how to create such an agreement, and consider all the necessary factors that should be thought about and included.  That Cohabitation Agreement can then be put into a legal format, which will have a similar level of legal enforcement as a Partnership Agreement between business partners.

 

In this short video, Mediator Nadia Beckett of Beckett LLP explains how mediation can be of value when creating a Living Together or Cohabitation agreement:

 

Because of the absence of a legal framework for cohabiting couples who split, it is all the more important that they find ways to communicate their needs to each other clearly and in a non-adversarial way, and it may be useful to engage a third party to help.

 

joyFahey
“Many couples think that they will just be spontaneous and things will just unfold and they can sort out any hitches along the way:  9 times out of 10 after a period of time this just doesn’t work. It’s far better to set out some clear boundaries, know in advance who will do what, so each person is aware of their responsibilities from the start. Having some help with this can make it fun, clear and easy to follow to avoid any chance of a dispute later.” Joy Fahey, New Beginnings Coaching

 

If the money situation is financially complex – pension splitting or tax implications on the sale of properties, for example – then a financial planner would need to be involved.  The couple may also want to consider using Collaborative Law.

Although designed for divorcing situations, the process is founded on keeping couples away from the court and coming to an agreement through round table discussions with both parties legal advisors in the room, with the inclusion of other professionals like financial planners or parenting experts if desired.  Although the costs will be higher than using Mediation, the Collaborative Process will allow a much swifter conclusion to a complex financial dispute than arguing it out in court in a divorce situation, and therefore ultimately will save the couple money and stress.  So with regard to a Cohabitation Agreement where there are complex financial issues to discuss, and where legal advice is useful to have on hand, then using the Collaborative Process could be worth considering.

 

Create a ‘Life Plan’

 

My vision is that people choosing to have children together will want to create a ‘life plan’ that includes what will happen if they separate.

The focus should be on the life they want to create together – their hopes and dreams and plans for the future – but also to look at how they would keep their family strong if they chose for whatever reason to live apart.  This could be caused by wanting to live in different countries, because of different values, because of mental illness in one of the couple, or any other factor that happens in so many relationships, despite their best intentions to stay together.

 

But how can this be achieved in an affordable way?

 

Getting good advice from financial experts is a great place to start.  The preparation is key:

suzanneCraigBeing organised is the number one Top Tip

Where are the bank accounts?  Where are all the bank statements – are they only online and how can you access them?  

Second Top Tip is to visit an accountant early as possible

Don’t bury your head in the sand.  Drop the kids at the school gates and get that meeting with an accountant organised as early as possible.

 Third Top Tip is that business valuations take time!

If you have a business to value, allow plenty of time for an accountant to get a realistic and fair valuation.  

Suzanne Craig and David Martin of Knill James Accountants.

 

Ask for help! 

 

Please don’t try to do this alone.  If you speak with a Financial Advisor (it doesn’t have to cost anything for the consultation) then you will be able to make some accurate assessments of what each of you will need in order to live separate lives, whilst also making sure proper protection is in place.  If something happens to the main carer, the other parent won’t find it easy to replace them for the money that a parent will accept to run the home, feed and care for the children 24/7, so insurances and a Will need to be part of the financial arrangements if they are not already in place.

SheilaBaileyNarrow“If there are children involved you may need to work out who the children will be living with – do you want to remain fairly close to each other so the children can alternate between both houses?  Do you need to have two houses to accommodate everyone?  These are all things that an advisor can aim to help you calculate if they are possible.”  Sheila Bailey: Willow Private Finance

 

 

If one or both of you have pensions and or properties and investments, then sitting down with a financial planner is a very good idea.  They can help calculate a fair way to split those assets and also provide a framework for ensuring longer term financial security whether you stay together or split.

 

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“As the daughter of a broken marriage, I understand how hard divorce can be and I know the last thing you want to be worrying about is your finances. However, by seeing the correct professional it is not as daunting as you may think.  We don’t expect you to know anything or everything – your needs and objectives are the most important thing to us and we will do all we can to help you to meet those goals.   The meeting is at our expense, therefore no charge to the client.”  Lottie Kent, Riverside Financial Consultants

 

 

Peter Greenwood, greenwood wealth solutions, financial advice GU, financial advice RH, financial advice PO, financial advice divorce, financial planning divorce, how to divorce amicably, online divorce advice

I have deep and lengthy personal experience of going through the full divorce process including four separate court hearings, and I would now like to utilise my knowledge in this area, supplementing it with my accountancy and financial adviser qualifications, and help guide couples who are creating a Cohabitation Agreement to avoid later conflict.   I offer no fee consultation meetings until such a time as the client is ready to make financial decisions re. investments, tax planning, pensions​ etc; which makes me not only highly qualified to support clients with their financial planning, but also they can talk and meet with me with no obligation or cost whilst they ascertain what services they may or may not need.”  Peter Greenwood, Greenwood Wealth Solutions”  Peter Greenwood, Greenwood Wealth Solutions

 

 

 

What if agreement is hard to reach? 

 

You don’t want to end up breaking up just because of arguing over the Cohabitation Agreement!

One of the key reasons whey so many couples fail to take the step of creating a Cohabitation Agreement may simply be the fear of having to talk about what they want and what they need.  Ironically, the very process of creating such an agreement could result in the strengthening of that relationship because of the increase in communication, and the sense of security that it can bring, especially to the main carer of the children whose career and financial prospects may have been compromised through having a family.

But society still seems to frown, on women in particular, who wish to intelligently discuss money matters with their partner.  Apparently, it’s ‘unromantic’.

So how do you turn the process of creating a Cohabitation Agreement or (if you are legally married) a Pre or Postnup, into a process that will be a boost to your relationship as a whole?

That is the subject of my next article……

 

suzy miller, alternative divorce guide, online divorce advice, how to divorce amicably,

Suzy Miller

LivingTogetherAgreement.com

Alternative Divorce Guide

www.DivorceHelp.org.uk

 

3 Reasons why living together is not the same as marriage

Posted by on 7:54 am in Advice and articles, Cohabiting and Living Together, Collaborative Law, Divorce Mediation, Living Together Advice, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

3 Reasons why living together is not the same as marriage

When I lived for ten years with my children’s father we had three children, and when the relationship abruptly ended, the phrase: “Well it’s the same as being married” – proved to be a lie.  You can tell yourself that while you are together, but don’t be foolish enough to think it’s the same when you are splitting up.

You think you’ll get some of his pension?  – Wrong.  You are not eligible for any of it.

He has a pension.  I have none.  My career was put aside to look after the kids, and the pension that was going to support both of us became just his.  If we had been married, I would have had claim to half of it.  But because we were not legally wed, I get nothing.  And it’s hard to create a secure pension from scratch at 40 with no job and three small children to look after.

You think you have half the value of the house?  – Wrong.  If your name is not on the deeds, it’s not your house. 

If you have dependent children you may be able to stay there until they reach sixteen, at which point you yourself become homeless, with no property, unless you’ve been able to save up for one whilst bringing up the kids.

In my case, the family home didn’t have my name on the deeds, even though I had financially contributed to the running of the household whilst he paid the mortgage.  But I couldn’t stay there with the kids because it had to be sold to cover the debts I didn’t know he had amassed.  Thank goodness that by not being legally married, I wasn’t liable for his debts – one benefit at least.

You think you will get some money to cover your role as stay at home parent while he continues to build his career?  – Wrong. No spousal maintenance because you are not a spouse.

A percentage of his gross salary (minus his pension payments) will be provided as a contribution for the children’s needs, but you yourself get nothing.  No maintenance.  If you want to buy a pair of shoes for yourself, you need to go out and earn it.  Thank god for Working Family Tax Credit to top up your income and help cover childcare costs when you get a part-time job.

 

‘Common Law Marriage’ is a Myth

 

Just over half the population still think that common law marriage exists in law, according to a British Social Attitudes survey: 51% of those surveyed believe that cohabiting couples are protected by ‘common law marriage’.  But they are mistaken.

KimBeatsonLong

“There is no such thing as a Common Law wife and cohabiting couples can be extremely vulnerable on separation because many people cohabit without realising the legal implications.”  Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold Solicitors

 

So if you find yourself not married but financially dependent on your partner, with children to care for, what can you do about it?

Well plenty of married of couples who thought it was too unromantic to get a prenup, are later on seeing the light and getting themselves a postnup.  If you are living together, you can create a Cohabitation Agreement at any point.  It may not have the full strength under the pressure of litigation as a marriage license, but it will be taken seriously by any reasonable judge if put to the test.

But the whole point is that you shouldn’t have to end up fighting about who gets what if the relationship ends, or how much is needed to bring up your family, because you have already sat down and worked it all out in advance.

 

How do you go about creating a Cohabitation Agreement, and what are the potential pitfalls? 

My next two articles will look at what can be the blocks to creating such an agreement, and how to overcome them.

In this podcast interview with Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator Kim Beatson of Anthony Gold Solicitors, Kim explains the harsh reality of not getting legally married when having a family – if you are to later split up.

 

 

suzy miller, alternative divorce guide, online divorce advice, how to divorce amicably,

Suzy Miller

Alternative Divorce Guide

www.DivorceHelp.org.uk

Cohabiting and Common Law Marriage

Posted by on 7:23 pm in Advice and articles, Collaborative Law, Divorce Mediation, Legal Articles, Living Together Advice, podcasts, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Cohabiting and Common Law Marriage

 

The Myth of Common Law Marriage

Half of the population thinks that Common Law marriage exists according to social attitude surveys which are published annually.  It is a dangerous misconception.

 

In this podcast interview by Alternative Divorce Guide Suzy Miller with Collaborative Lawyer Kim Beatson of Anthony Gold Solicitors, Kim explains the harsh reality of not getting married when having a family – if you are to later split up.

 

 

“There is no such thing as a Common Law wife and cohabiting couples can be extremely vulnerable on separation because many people cohabit without realising the legal implications.

 

As the law stands, arguments about whether a cohabitant has an interest in property are expensive and protracted.  In the absence of direct financial contributions to the purchase price, it is very difficult to secure a remedy and the only safe way forward is for cohabitants to ensure that both names are on the title deeds to any property and that the position on contributions is documented.

These difficulties were recognised by the Law Commission in its 2007 Report which recommended a new law which would give financial rights for unmarried couples with children who had been together for a suggested 2-5 years.

 

The government has just announced that it has no intention of granting these new legal rights despite the recommendations of the law reform watch-dog.  Presumably this is because the issue remains politically sensitive and critics fear that this long awaited change would undermine the institution of marriage.

The government’s decision is both disappointing and frustrating.  Marriage rates have fallen to an all time low and there is a rise in the number of people cohabiting year on year.

 

Children born to unmarried couples who separate can be vulnerable and the need for law reform is long overdue.  The government’s refusal to act is all the more illogical as cohabiting couples who separate often find themselves dependant on the state for help with housing and other living expenses.”

 

If you would like to find out more about how to divorce amicably, please contact Kim Beatson by phone for a no-obligation conversation on 020 7940 4011 or by email at kim.beatson@anthonygold.co.uk.

 

KimBeatsonLong

Kim Beatson: Mediator & Collaborative Lawyer

 

Find out how to divorce without fighting by clicking here….

 

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Page One Woman interview with Suzy Miller The Alternative Divorce Guide

Posted by on 10:13 pm in Living Together Advice, podcasts | 0 comments

Page One Woman interview with Suzy Miller The Alternative Divorce Guide

Claudia Crawley interview with Suzy Miller of the Alternative Divorce Guide and Alternative Divorce Directory as part of her ongoing series of Page One Woman articles talking to inspiring women.

 

claudiacrawley, alternative to divorce lawyers, online divorce advice, how to divorce amicably, divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, suzy miller, alternative divorce guide

 

Find out more about Alternative Divorce Directory Coaching expert Claudia Crawley here….