Wednesday, 30 November 2016


“I am sure my wife is planning to end our marriage. We are arguing about our money worries,  I fear losing my job and any hope of getting another mortgage if we do split up. I feel like I am about to lose everything, what should I do? "

The “double whammy” of Christmas bills and financial uncertainty will make January 2017 a very stressful time for many families. Recent surveys suggested that nationally up to 1 in 4 relationships are under strain and one of the major factors is money worries. “RELATE” the national relationship counselling service, have reported a 59% increase in the number of enquiries it is receiving.   

Financial worries are rarely the main cause of a relationship break down, the added strain of money worries tends to open more deeply routed personal issues. Couples find it more difficult to ignore their differences. Accusations start flying and relationships can quickly fall apart.

If you have not already done so, I recommend that you both seek help to communicate about your feelings for each other. Your arguments may be the end result, but the causes are likely to run much deeper than money worries. Wiltshire has some of the best Couple counselling services available.     

If your marriage is truly over, then beware the stress and strain of trying to manage on your own. You have already started to worry about what the future holds, and it is very likely that your spouse has similar fears and concerns.  When you add these issues together, along with the prospect of losing your employment, it is without doubt a hugely stressful time.  

There is never going to be such a thing as a ‘good’ divorce or separation but in my experience the traditional approach of going to Court first before resolving issues, polarises attitudes quickly, and forces couples to highlight their differences. This can lead to the acrimony and family “feuds”. The emotional costs of this approach are enormous and the effect on children and wider family members can be long lasting. 

But does it have to be this way?

The majority of people really do want to resolve issues without confrontation. Protecting their children from emotional harm and the worry of separation is a high priority. Love may be lost, and you may not “agree” everything, but one thing is clear, if parents can retain a positive and respectful relationship, their children are more likely to grow up happier and more secure as a result. So how do we achieve this?

Expert advice and good communication are the keys. Finding the right process to resolve differences, and committing to resolve the problems are the first stepping stones.  So what “process” or approach might be best for me? 

Get legal advice, so you know where you stand.

Get help with emotional issues, your GP may have a practice counsellor, or can refer you. 

RELATE help couples communicate, whether trying to rebuild their relationship, or to help cope with parting.    
Mediation can also help couples trying to plan a way forward, particularly for child arrangements.     
Collaborative Family Law, enables couples to meet with their legal advisers to find solutions together, around a table.     
Court. The last resort for many, but sometimes a timescale and a clear set of rules are needed.                        

Peter Berry
Family & Collaborative Lawyer

Peter Berry is a Family and Collaborative Lawyer who is based at
the Firm's Marlborough Office.

Please contact
for further details and if you wish to organise
your free initial consultation.


Monday, 28 November 2016


The New Code of Practice

I am a proud member of Resolution which is a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way.

Resolution membership is about the approach I take to my work. Resolution have a Code of Practice which members follow and  means that  I will always seek to reduce or manage any conflict and confrontation, support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first and act with honesty, integrity and objectivity.

I have been working as a family law professional for over 21 years and appreciate, that clients reach the best outcomes when they are helped to understand and manage the potential long-term financial and emotional consequences of decisions. This is why I use experience and knowledge to guide my clients through the options available to them.

As a Resolution member, I have signed up to a Code of Practice that will demonstrate to clients the approach I will always take. The Code promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.

If you decide to work with me, this means:-

I listen to you, will be honest with you and treat you with respect.

Explaining all the options and giving you confidence to make the right

Helping you focus on what’s important in the long-term.

Helping you balance financial and emotional costs with what you 
        want to achieve.

Working with others to find the right approach and the best solutions
        for you.

Managing stress in what can be an already stressful situation.

The new Code of Practice is being launched TODAY  (28.11.16) to commence the start of “Good Divorce Week”. This years’ campaign will be focusing on no fault divorce and improving rights for cohabiting couples.

If you have any queries or seek further information please contact me Cindy Ervine.

Cindy Ervine
Matrimonial Solicitor and Collaborative Lawyer

Cindy Ervine is a Matrimonial Solicitor
and Collaborative Lawyer who is
based at the firm's Devizes office.

Friday, 25 November 2016


Owning your home, and claiming that your partner only pays “rent” towards the bills, may be a recipe for disaster...

Mr Burton found this out the hard way when his ex was awarded £33,522 by a Court in compensation, for payments she had made to the property he owned.  Liden v Burton 2016 EWCA.

Cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK. National Statics show that cohabiting couples have more than doubled, from 1.5 million families to 3.3 million families in 2016.

If you own your own home then before a new partner moves in, it is very important to establish exactly what they will contributing to, why and how much. This may sound clinical or even off putting, but had Mr Burton taken advice and set the ground rules properly, he would not need to pay £33,522 now.   

Protecting your property from claims, or agreeing the share your new partner will be entitled to if they contribute, is something that can be achieved in a Cohabitation Agreement or a Declaration of Trust. Later on,  if marriage is contemplated, it is also possible for the Agreements to continue within a Pre-Nuptial.  

Take advice, before its too late, or you could be heading back to see your mortgage broker sooner than you thought.

Peter Berry
Family and Collaborative Lawyer

Peter Berry is a Family and Collaborative Lawyer who is based at
the firm's Marlborough Office.

Please contact
for further details and if you wish
to organise a free initial


Monday, 21 November 2016


Then make sure your Pension rights are properly checked out. 

Due to new state pension rules, people who Divorce now will only be entitled to a state pension based solely on their own National Insurance (NI) record.  Well why not, some might say….

However, if you have not worked, perhaps because you have been caring for your children then you may not have made any NI contribution for a number of years.  You may have thought that your husband or wife’s NI contributions could be used to top up your NI record.  After all, you have been at home caring whilst your spouse has worked.  You have both contributed towards  your families needs, but in different ways.  Under the old pension rules, a Divorcee could claim missing NI contributions from their ex-spouses NI account and in the vast majority of cases, this had no impact or loss for the ex-spouse.  For many getting divorced, this was an important provision, which enabled them to receive a full state pension on retirement.  Not so anymore.

The new “single tier” state pension has replaced the old two-tier system of basic and additional state pensions.  Entitlement to a state pension is now solely based on your own National Insurance (NI) record.
There will be a lot  of people,  predominately women who are not working and have no idea about this change. The new full state pension is currently set at a maximum of £155.65 a week, based on 35 years of NI contributions.  For each year under the 35 limit you lose 1/35th of the full amount, equivalent to £4.45 a week or £231.25 a year.  You need a minimum of 10 years of contributions to receive the state pension.  If a spouse takes a career break for 5 - 10 years or possibly more whilst caring for children, then the impact of this break in NI contributions could be very significant on retirement.

Pension rights on Divorce and seeking a Pension Sharing Order are complex matters and essential  to get right.  Pension Sharing Orders allow spouses to balance out the pensions that they have, to achieve a fair division.  This can involve a division of the value of the pension schemes, or the pension income that will be received on retirement. Where one spouse will lose out, perhaps as a result of a shortfall in their National Insurance record, a Pension Sharing arrangement can often be used to redress that shortfall.

Whilst pensions may not be top of your priority list right now,  getting expert advice will set you up for a more secure retirement prospect later in life.

If you are Divorcing or thinking of separating, take specialist advice from our Family Team.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Does Dementia care at home create a “ living hell”!!

This week warnings by the Alzheimer’s Society highlighted shortcomings in the quality of care at home for people diagnosed with Dementia. Some 850,000 in the UK have been diagnosed with this condition, half of whom rely on care workers coming into their home.

A survey carried out by the charity reveals that almost a third of home care workers have no training in dealing with the condition. Lack of training can have devastating effects and can be life changing.  The survey has highlighted that shortfalls in care have resulted in people ending up in hospital because of infections being missed, having to stay in soiled clothing because care workers don’t know how to calm them enough to change their clothing.  There have also been instances of people being found in the middle of the road as a result of home care workers not properly securing peoples homes. Clearly the examples used can create a “living hell”.

Warnings by the Charity serve a purpose because hopefully it will drive up the standard of training in the care industry. The charity estimates that an extra £25 million would cover the cost of the training and which would pay for itself. This is because a consequence would be a reduction in hospital admissions and a reduced need for people to move into care homes.

The cause of the poor care highlighted by the charity is not only lack of training but lack of resource and an inability to then risk assess people with Dementia.  If you find that you or a loved one has or is suffering in the ways described you can complain to the Care Quality Commission.  If the care has been put in place by your Local Authority you can use their complaints procedures. Other remedies for poor care caused by lack of training and failure to risk asses can include a claim for damages because of breach of duty of care.  Injunctions are relevant if the care is tantamount to abuse.  There are in addition other options.  If you use the options, standards will eventually improve.

The above is an overview only.  For a FREE appointment and to find out answers to the questions that need answering  and to get the care you or a loved one need email Andrew Douglas  or his  team. Alternatively call us on               0800 072 8636.

We have offices In Marlborough, Royal Wootton Basset, Devizes & Chippenham. You can visit our website www.
Andrew Douglas


Are Local Councils failing to meet the needs of the elderly!

Age UK have published a report today the 17th November 2016  identifying the fact that 1.2 million people don’t get the help they need from adult social care services in their area and some 696,000 people get no help what so ever.  This of course is an indictment on the system but not necessarily a fault which lies at the door of adult social services.

Local Authorities in this country are the main providers of care for the elderly both in the community and in more structured residential care homes.  They have a must do duty pursuant to the Care Act 2014. This duty is to provide care services to people in their community for the purpose of preventing, reducing and delaying the need for care and support.

Why therefore do so many elderly people go without either adequate or no help what so ever.  There are of course a number of reasons.  Firstly the sheer numbers of people requiring care and support makes a Local Authority’s task almost impossible.  Secondly there is lack of budget at council level.  Thirdly the test which is applied and adjudicated on by Local Authorities only requires them to provide services where there is a significant need on the part of an adult or carer who needs care and support.

A further reason why some people get no support at all is because they do not know their rights or where to go to start the process.

Most people will not know that a Local Authority must (not should) carry out a needs assessment on anyone who has needs for care and support now or in the future irrespective of whether those same needs will be eligible or will qualify financially.  Further, if you are rejected, you need to know that there is an appeals process. For the purpose of starting the process contact by telephone, email or call in to your local adult social care department.  Do not take no for an answer.

The above is an overview only. For a FREE appointment and to find out answers to the questions that need answering  and to get the care you or a loved one need email Andrew Douglas or his  team. Alternatively call us on               0800 072 8636.

We have offices In Marlborough, Royal Wootton Basset, Devizes & Chippenham. Alternatively visit our website www.

Andrew Douglas


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Pay your maintenance or you could end up in Prison…

Mr Migliaccio, a former city banker, narrowly escape the four walls of a Prison cell when the Court of Appeal upheld a claim by his former Wife that he owed unpaid maintenance and other monies to her of £9,600. 
This recent Court of Appeal decision (Magliaccio 2016 EWHC 1055) highlights that whilst punishment by way of imprisonment is a very rare occurrence in Family Law cases, the Courts are becoming increasing more forthright in punishing spouses who defy Court Orders. 
Mr Migliaccio claimed before the Court that he had resigned his job at the bank and had unilaterally decided to reduce his maintenance payments to a level he wanted to pay, rather than the amount set by the Court. Needless to say, the Court was not impressed. The Judge noted that at the time of the original Order in 2015, Mr Magliaccio had assets of over £400,000 and an income of over £140,000 p/a. 
Mr Migliaccio was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment, but this was suspended for 28 days so that he could pay up, or face the prospect of a prison cell in default. 

For more information, please contact 

Peter Berry is a Family & Collaborative Lawyer who is based at the firms Marlborough office.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Brexit vs Parliamentary Sovereignty

I'm confused. One of the main reasons many people voted for us to leave the EU was because they don't like the power the EU has to impose laws on us nor the power that the Court of Justice of the European Union has to overrule the decisions of UK Courts. Many people voted for us to leave the EU because they wanted our Parliament to have the final say. They voted to take a stand for Parliamentary sovereignty which is a fundamental part of our great constitution. For those unfamiliar with this principle, 19th century philosopher AV Dicey described it best:

"The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely that Parliament has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament" (A.V.Dicey 1885). Note that "no person or body" includes the Government.

For many there has always been a perceived conflict between Parliamentary sovereignty and the EU,  so having voted in June to leave the EU in order to transfer power back to Parliament you would expect these same people to welcome any High Court ruling which upholds the supremacy of Parliament and the English constitution?

Apparently not.

Instead of congratulating Gina Miller in her land mark victory to uphold and protect the Supremacy of Parliament, she and the three High Court judges who found in her favour have been subjected to racist attacks and have been condemned as "enemies of the people" by a proportion of the mainstream media.

It is essential for people to understand that the High Court ruling has absolutely nothing to do with Brexit. It certainly isn't an insult to democracy. Quite the opposite in fact. What kind of democracy would we live in if the current Government who were elected having received just 36.7% of votes in the last general election had an unfettered power to make whatever changes they liked? This would be wholly unsatisfactory for the 63.3% of the country that didn't vote for them and is exactly why we have a supreme Parliament which includes the democratically elected House of Commons which is intended to be representative of the population, to ensure that nobody's view is ignored.

Unfortunately for Mrs May, what should have been made clear to the public is that referendums are not legally binding. Promises by her predecessor have put her in a difficult position. Had Parliament intended to enable the Government to trigger Article 50 this would have been made clear in the statute. This is not the case. So what now?
Tom Paget - Solicitor, Commercial

If Mrs May is serious that "Brexit means Brexit" then she needs to bring the decision before the Members of Parliament as quickly as possible and we must rely on those members to represent and give effect to the wishes of those that elected them.

However you voted, what is clear is that we will gain nothing by leaving the EU unless we respect the High Court's decision and the supremacy of Parliament.