Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Family law experts expand into county town

Shropshire couples facing the breakdown of a relationship have been urged not to rush into formal divorce proceedings.

Gemma Himsworth leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and the firm has now widened its services to offer advice from its town-centre offices in Shrewsbury too.

“January is one of the peak times of the year for divorce, particularly after families who would not usually spend a lot of time together have been in close quarters for the intensive Christmas and New Year period.

“In fact, Christmas is becoming an increasingly busy time for divorce applications, with more and more online proceedings launched on Christmas Day itself. And as well as online divorce applications peaking at this time of year, this month we’ve seen the usual annual spike in enquiries in person at both our Telford and Shrewsbury offices.”

Mrs Himsworth urged couples to steer clear of quick-fix divorce proceedings online, as the process would not suit everyone’s circumstances.

“The online process only deals with the marriage, and not with financial matters or issues relating to children. It’s all well and good filling in an application online, uploading documents and paying fees over the internet, but this kind of fully digital divorce will not be appropriate for everyone.

“You won’t receive advice online about the legal implications of divorce, and you won’t be able to make sure that any necessary paperwork is completed correctly. So although it may seem tempting to try to do everything online in order to speed up the process and make things less complicated, you may actually be creating a situation that causes real problems as the divorce moves forward.”

Mrs Himsworth urged couples to seek professional advice to sort out the finer details of divorce in order to protect themselves from future legal action.

“For instance, if a couple gets divorced but doesn’t deal with their finances in a recognised legal agreement, they could be storing up trouble – it means they will still have claims against one another, including on any assets they acquire after the marriage is over or on any inheritance they may receive. And in an extreme case where maybe one of them wins the lottery, then arguably their former spouse could still make a claim.

“The online divorce system does not replace existing paper-based applications, but for some people it provides a quicker and easier service – couples though should be careful and should not hesitate to seek out expert advice if they’re unsure of how to proceed.”

Pic: Martin-Kaye’s family law team now offering advice in Shrewsbury too – from left, Jane Tinsley, Gemma Himsworth and Emma Parker