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16 August 2018

Middle-aged people are increasingly choosing to live together rather than get married.  This is especially noticeable within the 50-64 age group of people who have never married, where cohabitating relationships are increasing year on year.  In 2002, just 6.1% of those in the 50-64 age group who had never married were in a cohabiting relationship. However, in 2017, this figure rose sharply to 12.9%. 1

Family law solicitors are explaining that the increase is most likely due to fears held by one or both parties that, if they marry, they would lose a substantial amount of their assets and wealth in a future divorce settlement.

Cohabiting couples are not afforded the same legal protection as married couples in the event of the relationship ending. The myth of common-law marriage persists and often leads unmarried couples to wrongly assume they will be able to claim a share of assets owned by their partner should they separate.  When an unmarried couple separate, they will each keep any assets and bank accounts that are in their own names. If there are any jointly owned assets, then the law will assume that each party has an equal share of ownership and that the assets should be shared accordingly. Some provision is made for couples with young children under section 1 of The Children Act 1989 – but this offers no permanent solution for the parent living with the children.

15 August 2018

The Home Office has issued new guidance to parents and others travelling with children this summer.

Anyone travelling with children under the age of 18 who is either not the child’s parent or appears not to be the parent because they have a different surname to the child will be asked to prove that they either are the child’s parent or have consent from the parents to take the child abroad.

The Home Office tweeted recently: “We have a duty to safeguard children and to prevent people trafficking, child sexual exploitation and other crimes. That is why Border Force officers sometimes need to ask additional questions.”

13 August 2018

Not many parents are aware that if they have children together and then marry each other afterwards, they are required in law to re-register their children’s births. There has been quite a lot of confusion about this on social media and parents’ forums and groups. Our blog aims to help clear up that confusion. 

The relevant legislation is Section 2 of The Legitimacy Act 1976, which requires parents to legitimise their child after their marriage. This dates back to an age when illegitimate children (those born to unmarried parents) were unable to inherit from their parents. Registering children born before their parents’ marriage means the children would be legally recognised as “children of the marriage” and therefore able to inherit their parents’ estate. 

09 August 2018

The Legal Services Board have now approved proposed new rules by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority which require law firms offering certain service  to publish their fees online.  Those who offer probate, motoring offences, immigration, debt recovery of amounts up to £100,000, and employment tribunals will have to implement these rules in December this year.  

The published fee information must also include details of disbursements, and whether they may be subject to VAT; and details of what is included in the services such as “key stages of the matter and likely timescales for each stage”. The fee information must be displayed in a “prominent place” on the website, and the information must be “clear and accessible”.

The action on transparency follows on from the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendation in 2016.

07 August 2018

When a loved one has passed away, the very idea of navigating through the probate process can be overwhelming. Ideally, finding the right legal help for probate should be quick and easy so that you have much more time to focus on other matters.

But the process of administering an estate can be long and stressful, and although law firms should be doing all they can to help make the process as straightforward as possible for all their consumers at such a difficult time, the fact is many aren’t, and a lack of transparency in pricing means it is not realistic for a grieving legal customer to easily compare probate quotes while also finding the time to sort out all the other crucial matters involved with the death of a loved one. Recently released statistics have shown this.

New research has shown that clients in need of a probate solicitor are still not shopping around for the best deal on the right legal service for them. The Legal Service’s Consumer Panel’s annual Tracker Survey found that many customers were failing to make good use of the available resources to help them compare prices from many firms, such as comparison websites and customer review websites. One of the survey’s main findings is that the number of consumers who shop around for a legal service continues to remain low, with just 27% of respondents reporting they search the market for the best option. Worryingly, with only 16% comparing prices, probate is an area where customers appear to shop around the least.

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