Choose an expert not the internet for legal advice: Chris Price from Tayntons Solicitors
By Chris Price
If you believe the papers, each New Year brings a deluge of people consulting solicitors and wanting to bring divorce proceedings.
The reality is often far less dramatic - there are rarely queues of people at the divorce solicitors - but each new year does bring about a chance to take stock of where you are and what you want to do.
That can lead to thoughts about whether your marriage or relationship is working, with the changing of the calendar supressing the urge to sweep things aside.
It's often the case that those thoughts have been a long time coming but have been swept aside due to fears of 'what if?' in terms of what happens to assets, liabilities and - increasingly - their business.
The key is always to talk to an expert as soon as you can to understand the implications and the processes involved.
In an age where people use an internet search engine to diagnose medical conditions, there is a temptation to do the same for legal advice.
However, in family law matters, each case is different and there is always a bespoke solution. Talking directly to an expert can direct you to this to sooner rather than later.
If you believe some of what is on the internet, there is a standard flow chart process that you follow from A-B and end up with a standard solution for divorce, finances and children.
That really could not be further from the truth.
While the actual Divorce Process is becoming streamlined, that only deals with ending the marriage.
The agreements reached or orders made for finances and children have some of the widest discretion in the Legal System and will be specific to your case.
Just because Mr or Mrs Smith on the internet got a 50/50 deal it does not mean that will apply to you.
We always advise clients to think about the 'what ifs' when they are planning ahead. We would not go on holiday without getting insurance or own a home without protecting the building.
The hope is that we will never need to call on them but it would be wrong for us to not have protection in place.
Clients regularly consult with Tayntons' expert team about the measures that can be put in place to provide certainty and protect assets within a marriage in case of a marriage breaking down.
This includes discussions about pre-nuptial agreements, or cohabiting agreements for property. Another key area however, is the protection of a business.
It is not unusual to see scenarios in small or even regional companies, for spouses and/or partners to be included as directors or shareholders.
Equally, they can often have a limited or non- existent role in the day to day running of the company.
This can be a tax-efficient method while the relationship is going well. However, it can present a key issue in the event of that relationship breaking down.
Questions will then arise over the value of the shareholding that the spouse holds and if a payment should be made for that.
Add to that, the complications of removing a director can even give rise to threats of employment claims and questions to what, if any, remuneration is due.
Together, with protection and indemnities being demanded after they have resigned.
The key is to ensure that before you put an individual as a shareholder or director you take appropriate professional advice from both your accountant and also your solicitor.
Careful consideration needs to be given to the benefits in comparison to the potential problems in the future in the event of a relationship breakdown.
Clients must understand the implications and consider steps such as a carefully worded shareholders agreement.
Once again for a client, looking at the internet for a solution rather than speaking to an expert can be misleading and disastrous.
There is a huge difference between the type of settlement or plan that might be reached or adopted where an individual is a shareholder in a multinational, listed company.
That case is much different to one where the company is simply an income stream, perhaps a sole trader or quasi-partnership benefitting from the protections and options of a limited company.
The need for clients to get early and expert advice has been recognised by us at Tayntons. We are offering a reduced initial interview fee of £75 plus VAT for up to 45 minutes.
During that time a lot of the myths and concerns about the process can be dismissed and appropriate advice provided.
The aim being that the client knows what the plan could and would be as soon as possible.
We are increasingly in a world where transactions and advice are undertaken at arms -length or with individuals based outside of Gloucester and the county.
Tayntons, however, are leading the charge in reinforcing that national expertise and face to face contact and advice is on the doorstep.
For more information visit www.tayntons.co.uk or call 0800 158 4147
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