Tuesday, 13 December 2016


Elderly Care  -  A Broken Promise

When the Conservative party were elected as the governing party on the 7th May 2015 into this countries 56th Parliament  one of their election mantras was that the most anybody would have to pay on their long term elderly care would be £72,000.

Shortly thereafter on the 17th July 2015 this promise was broken and some say consigned to the long grass never to see the light of day again.  The principle is contained in the Care Act 2014 and can be reviewed under the Act in May 2020.  This broken promise can be viewed as political cowardice or political pragmatism depending on your point of view.  The truth is that as things stand there is no solution to the long term elderly care funding and resource gap now reported to be at a tipping point.

If reports from those in the know are to be believed the latest solution is to increase Council Tax by as much as 7% to pay for the lack of resource. An announcement is expected by the Communities Secretary this Thursday the 15th December.  This proposal has already been attacked as nothing more than a short term fix and dumping a problem of the governments making on local authorities who are the biggest providers of social care in this country. 

The truth of the matter is that reform of elderly social care in this country is a difficult matter.  Some say impossible.  That may be true but others say nothing is impossible. The reality is that something has to be done at a time when it is reported that :-

          1.    One third of residential care homes are at risk of closure.

          2.    5,000 care beds have been lost in the last 18 months and                               one tenth of the social care budget since 2010.  
          3.    One in ten people have elderly care bills of £100,000 or more.

No matter the unfairness it is still vital that the existing system is understood. It is the need to understand what the system can and cannot provide, combined with the need to be persistent and to get advice early that is key.

The above is an overview only.

Andrew Douglas

For a FREE appointment and to find out
answers to the questions that need answering 
also to get the care you or a loved one needs
email Andrew Douglas and his  team
or simply call on 0800 072 8636.

Alternatively visit our website abdcare 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016


Make sure your kids don’t get double sprouts – planning Christmas across two households

Christmas is traditionally seen as a time for families. But parents know only too well, it can bring plenty of challenges too – there is always so much to do, and there can be stresses and strains as you try to ensure that your children have a great time.

For divorced and separated parents, Christmas can require particularly careful planning. After all, how many children like brussel sprouts, let alone facing the dreaded “greens” twice, and possibly on the same day! 

More seriously, Mum, Dad and the children can find themselves feeling confused, disappointed and frustrated during the festive season.

Christmas across two separate households, and between extended family on both sides, can be very difficult for children and for their parents too. But with a bit of planning and willingness to compromise, separated parents can go a long way to ensuring that their family still has a merry Christmas.  The main thing to remember is that you are both still parents – and putting the children’s needs first is essential for their well-being and happiness.

The first Christmas apart can be especially difficult. The emotional pain of the split may still be strong, and even if this is not the case Christmas can bring unfamiliar expectations, pressures and decisions. Understandably, both parents will want to be with their children. But, separate homes with perhaps additional travel time in-between, visiting extended family, etc. can all make splitting Christmas and Boxing Day a real headache. It is important to remember though, that arguing can be very damaging to the children. 

Here are my top 10 Christmas tips: 

1. Put your children’s needs and feelings first. Discuss arrangements with the other parent and try to share both the pleasure and the responsibilities. 

2. Plan early. Leaving arrangements to the last minute can make discussions much more difficult. Agree the plans, and keep the children informed about them.  Agree how handover times will work as these can be particularly difficult. 

3. Think long-term and stay flexible. You may want to be with the kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sometimes it’s not practical to split the time for a variety of reasons including, travel distance and, visiting relatives, etc. Bundling children into a car on Christmas Day when all they want to do is play with their new toys and eat the chocolate off the tree, may not be the best way to start a happy day. It may be fairer and easier on your children - to agree to alternate which household the children spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in, from one year to the next. 

4. Don’t ask your kids to choose between Mum and Dad. This puts them in an impossible and unfair position. Difficult decisions should be taken by adults.

5. Let the children know that even though things will be different, Christmas can still be special. Work together with your children to create new Christmas traditions in each home.

6. Take the children to visit family and friends. Christmas can be a good time to strengthen the children’s important relationships with relatives like grandparents or cousins. This also helps provide some stability for children when their lives are changing.

7. Don’t over-do things. Sometimes separated parents can feel guilty which leads to them over-compensating by doing too much. This can overwhelm children and leave them feeling exhausted and stressed. 

8. Don’t compete with your ex over presents for the children. Instead, discuss what presents to buy so that you don’t duplicate. Consider whether it would be helpful to continue the tradition of a joint present from both of you; and allow your children to decide where they will keep their gifts.

9. Help your children make or buy gifts for their other parent. Children need to experience the joy of giving. This also lets them know that you support their relationship with the other parent.

10. Compromise and be positive. If you don’t get exactly what you want, be gracious about it for the children’s sake, as well as your own. Holding grudges, is a negative emotion that will stay with you for a long while. It may well end up colouring your better judgement on other issues.  You can always try a different arrangement next Christmas; and if you are spending Christmas without the kids, use the time positively – make plans with close friends and family members or take time to do something special for yourself.

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
Peter Berry for
further details and if you wish
to organise a free initial

Friday, 2 December 2016


What do I have to consider?

"My husband and I split up two years ago. There were no serious arguments; we both felt we didn’t want the same things, or each other, anymore. I live in the family house in Marlborough with our children, aged three and six. He sees the children at weekends. He gives me money for them and he pays the mortgage. I would like a divorce now so I can move on with my life. What do I have to consider?"

Divorce or Separation is a very worrying and stressful point in anyone’s life. Decisions often do not come easily, by any means. Here are some of the initial issues that may need to be considered:  

Are there any remaining emotional issues?

It’s clear how you feel, but is your husband ready to move on finally? You have been able to agree a lot between you, but it would be sad to see one of you left unhappy at the thought of final closure particularly if this impacts on your children. 

Do you have grounds for a divorce?

Yes. The marriage must have broken down irretrievably and one of the following facts must be proved: - adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years with consent or five years without consent. In England and Wales, divorce is still based upon either “blaming your spouse” or a long period of separation. You have been apart for two years so with your husbands consent, it is possible. 

DIY Divorce?

The so called “DIY quickie” or “internet” divorce ends your marriage, but that is only half of the story. It does not resolve your children’s arrangements, the financial arrangements, or help you plan for the future. 

Parenting Plan

If you and your husband would like to have a written agreement concerning your children’s up-bringing and the time they spend with each of you, then a Parenting Plan would be worth while considering. This could provide you both with reassurance and certainty for the future.

Financial Arrangements

Financial arrangements are far from straight forward. Is it likely that your family assets will be shared, but sharing does not necessarily mean equal shares and how soon will it be before you each receive your shares? Will the family home be sold or preserved to a later date and who will be paying the mortgage in the meantime? Do you need a monthly payment from your husband to maintain the bills, can he afford to continue paying anyway?  All quite practical issues but far from easy to resolve, even leaving aside more thorny questions like pensions, new relationships etc. Are you able to talk to your husband about his views and plans for the future? 


Do you and your husband have one, do you need one? A divorce is a fundamental legal change in your status and you should both certainly think about want might happen. Planning ahead may not be the most important thing on your mind at present, but only you know what you wish to happen, and time spent now, will undoubtedly save your family and friends a great deal of extra worry and stress.  

Bespoke Advice

To coin a phrase, “there is no substitute for good advice” and divorce is such a fundamental change in life that good advice is vital. Each family is different, and the advice we give is carefully tailored to your particular circumstances.  

If you and your husband would like to work out all the “details” together and remain in control of decisions concerning your families future, then I recommend that you both consider:-

a “Collaborative” Law approach  www.collaborativefamilylawyers.co.uk

By choosing legal representatives who are committed to the constructive
  resolution of family disputes and issues.

Awdry Bailey Douglas have two highly skilled Collaborative Lawyers within its Family Law Team, myself and Cindy Ervine

Also, all of our Family Lawyers are members of Resolution, a national organisation that is committed to a constructive, non-confrontational approach to sorting out family law matters. Members of Resolution follow a clear code of practice and work to find solutions that consider the needs of the whole family - and in particular the best interests of any children.  
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
Peter Berry
for further details and if you wish to organise
your free initial consultation.