Thursday, 29 August 2019

"Cyber" space raid on bank account details

Shropshire couples going through a divorce must resist the urge to use covert methods to find out if their former partner is hiding assets during the process.

That’s the warning from Gemma Himsworth, who leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, who said couples must handle the financial side of the process properly and resolve their disputes fairly.

Her words of caution follow a case in the USA where a former air force intelligence officer was in the midst of a bitter separation and parenting dispute.

“The officer was surprised that her estranged spouse still seemed to know all about her spending and her bank accounts – and after speaking to her bank, technology revealed the accounts had been accessed by a computer network in space.

“Her spouse was a decorated NASA astronaut on a six-month mission on the International Space Station, and she insisted she was simply monitoring the couple’s finances that were still intertwined. She said she had continued to use the password that she had previously used, and never heard from her estranged partner that the account was now off limits.”

Mrs Himsworth said although this was an extreme case, there were lessons to be learned for all couples going through a divorce.

“Both sides in a divorce are obliged to reveal the full extent of their personal finances – both at the start of the case and throughout the entire process. And it’s no good trying to hide your assets to protect them from your spouse as the consequences could be extremely serious – you could even face a prison sentence.”

Mrs Himsworth said the case from the USA showed that with today’s modern technology, nothing was secret and legal representatives had more information at their fingertips than ever before.

“It’s vital that both sides give full and frank statements about their financial position, because by claiming to have less than you actually do have, you would be depriving your former partner of their fair share.

“Both spouses must be open about their circumstances for the entire course of the court proceedings so there will be no opportunity to siphon off assets once the case has begun – and indeed any attempt to hive off any assets at any point could also lead to a custodial sentence.”

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Law firm helps hospice to deliver counselling service

Staff from a Telford law firm have joined forces with a local children’s hospice to create a new counselling service in the area.

The team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, have supported Hope House for many years by holding regular fund-raising events and activities.

And now, counsellors from the hospice’s counselling and bereavement team are using space at the law firm’s headquarters to deliver their first Telford-based support sessions.

Alison Carter, a partner in the law firm and head of the personal injury team, has been a key supporter of the new initiative and has been instrumental in working with the hospice team to make the sessions happen.

“We are very pleased to be supporting Hope House by offering the space within our offices for counselling as it’s clear that the service was very much needed in the Telford area.

“Thanks to our central location with plenty of convenient parking right outside the door, families can access the support they need in difficult times more easily.

“And if by offering this space we can help to take away just some of the stress and worry they are facing so they don’t have to travel so far, then that’s an excellent result.”

To raise funds for Hope House, staff at Martin-Kaye have taken part in all kinds of fund-raising projects including dress down days, cake sales, raffles, and sponsoring a race at a horse racing night.

Hope House offers a range of services including respite and end of life care at its two hospices and/or within the family home, and support such as counselling and advocacy.

Counselling and bereavement support is offered to hospice families and to those in the community who have been affected by the death of a child or young person under the age of 25 at the time of death.

They need to raise over £6.5 million every year to maintain their services and receive just one month’s funding per year from statutory bodies.

Following referral, bookings for the counselling and bereavement sessions at Martin-Kaye’s Telford office will be managed by the Hope House team.

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Pic: Alison Carter – partner and head of the personal injury team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford – prepares the space for the Hope House counselling sessions

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Clock is ticking on settled status scheme

Employers must protect their business by ensuring overseas staff can continue working for them no matter what happens over Brexit.

That’s the warning from employment law specialist John Mehtam from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, who is urging company bosses to take action as soon as possible.

“The EU Settlement Scheme is now open for applications from European Union, European Economic Area and Swiss nationals, and their non-EU family members living in the UK.

“The Government has introduced the initiative as part of its Brexit negotiations, and anyone whose status matches the criteria will have to apply to the scheme in order to continue living here.”

Mr Mehtam said if there is a Brexit deal, individuals would have until June 30, 2021 to apply – but if there is no deal, the deadline would be brought forward to December 31, 2020.

“If your employee has been a resident in the UK for five continuous years or more, they will be eligible for settled status under the scheme. But if they’ve been a resident for fewer than five continuous years, they will be eligible for pre-settled status that may be converted to settled status at the five-year point.”

Mr Mehtam said employers were under no legal obligation to inform employees of the scheme, and it was each individual member of staff’s responsibility to make their own application.

“But clearly, it’s in an employer’s interests to ensure that relevant staff can continue to work for them going forwards, no matter what happens over Brexit. So it’s important that company bosses act fast if they want to maintain their workforce and ensure their legal status is confirmed.

“Online application is free, and staff will need to prove their identity and their residency statistics in order to complete the process. Don’t let your staff leave it too late – if they play a key role in your business, you need to encourage them to apply in good time to make sure they can stay.”