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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Children Issues (10)


Top Tips on Separation

The breakdown of a relationship is never easy, especially from a legal point of view. If you are thinking about separating from your partner, our “top tips” can help make the process a little less stressful…

Sort out your finances

Money can cause all sorts of problems during a relationship, let alone after separation. Get your finances in order early on to avoid unnecessary angst.  

If you have joint bank accounts or credit cards consider whether these should be closed or cancelled. If you intend to keep using them you will need to agree how much money can be spent and who will be responsible for paying any debt. You should also consider restricting any overdraft facilities.

If you have a more complicated financial situation it may be sensible to seek advice from an accountant. They can provide advice on tax consequences following the transfer of property or company assets.

Consider the needs of the children

Arrangements for child care including when and where the children will spend time with each parent should be discussed and agreed particularly if you are about to separate..

You will need to consider how joint decisions about children will be made in the future. A parenting plan could be drawn up (see www.splittingup-putkidsfirst.org.uk).   This can be as detailed as required and can also include issues such as how and when the children would be introduced to any new partners. 

Ideally the amount and frequency of Child Support payments should be agreed as in default an application to the CMS for a Child Maintenance Service assessment may be necessary.  If there are no children or if Child Support payments are insufficient to cover one party’s financial needs then thought should be given to any additional support that may be needed by way of Interim Spousal Maintenance. 

Think about getting help

A lot of people are reluctant to consider getting help, but counselling can often be very helpful in coping with the stress of relationship breakdown.

If you think it could help to try and get the relationship back on track thought should be given seeing a marriage counsellor. If the relationship is at an end then a family therapist, family consultant or counsellor could help work through issues surrounding the separation and communication.

Work out sensible living arrangements

Will both parties still be living in the house together?  Sometimes this will be a necessity.  Consider any practical steps that can be taken to make this easier.  Alternatively, if one person intends to leave then who will that be and where will they go?  Importantly, consider how two households would be funded.

Update your Wills

Consider whether the terms of your will are still applicable post-separation. You may want to remove certain beneficiaries. You should also consider whether any death in service benefits under any pension provision need to be amended.

Seek legal advice early on

We deal with things like this every day and have considerable experience in these matters. We are committed to providing constructive dispute resolution options and sensible advice. Seeking legal advice early on can help avoid problems down the line.

If you require any advice about separation contact Melanie Pilmer (melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com, telephone 01284 717418) or another member of the Family Team at Greene & Greene for an initial discussion.   For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.


In Divorce “Fair” Doesn’t Always Mean “Equal”

“Sharing is sometimes more demanding than giving” - Mary Catherine Bateson

It is a common assumption that within a divorce the capital assets, such as the house, savings and investments, will be divided equally.

Most of you may be surprised to hear about the recent case involving Essam Aly and his wife Enas, where she was awarded 100% of the capital assets.  The case has been reported as a legal first.

Courts depart from equality every single day on the basis of need.  Sometimes this unequal division is due to varying contributions to the marriage or the fact that they have brought different value assets into the marriage. 

In this case the unequal division was due to the husband’s failure to support his wife and two children after he moved to Bahrain in 2012.  The Judge took the view that Mrs Aly could not rely upon her husband for future provision for her and their children and awarded her 100% of the capital assets to reflect that Mr Aly would retain all of his income and was unlikely to provide any on-going support to his wife and children. 

Although the circumstances are rare, with Mr Aly being based in Bahrain and outside of the reach of the court’s usual enforcement process, this case should be seen as a warning to those seeking to avoid their responsibilities on a breakdown of the marriage.

The Family Team at Greene & Greene have a wealth of experience in advising in relation to the financial aspects of divorce and separation.  All members of the team are trained Collaborative Lawyers.  Greene & Greene also offer a Family Mediation Service and the team has significant experience in drafting Nuptial Agreements.  For further information contact Melanie Pilmer on 01284 717 418 or melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com.  To find out more about Greene & Greene go to www.greene-greene.com and follow @greenegreenelaw.


Bury St Edmunds – The New ‘Divorce Capital of the World’?

Up until very recently, London was known as ‘the divorce capital of the world’ due to the perception that its Courts offer more generous settlements for wives in high-value separation, as well as the speed of justice. However, Bury St Edmunds is to move into the spotlight as the Ministry of Justice has chosen the town as the Divorce Centre for London and the South East, taking over from local Courts processing divorces themselves.

Triton House in the heart of Bury St Edmunds will be the venue for the new Divorce Centre. Currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, the building is of sufficient size to be able to offer greater scope to improve the service delivered to Court users. The impact upon Bury St Edmunds is bound to be positive, with an increased staff requirement and a higher profile for its legal sector. Triton House was deemed to be the most cost-attractive option in London and the South East to the MoJ and is expected to be ready for occupation in March 2015.

Some local commentators have stated “local Courts are groaning at the seams” and “the number of unrepresented litigants will make it difficult for the Court to deal with the influx of hearings”. Juliet Harvey, a lawyer in the Family team at Greene & Greene, as well as Chair of the Cambridge & West Suffolk area of Resolution, disagrees. The creation of a regional Divorce Centre will not affect Court hearings because the new Centre is only due to handle Divorce Petitions and associated paperwork, not matters relating to children or finances. Juliet says: “The vast majority of divorce proceedings, being separate to financial proceedings on divorce or proceedings relating to children, are uncontested and the need for parties to attend Court hearings regarding divorce is rare, so it is largely immaterial where paperwork is processed.”

Centralised Processing Centres are not new within the Court Service and centralisation of divorce processing should not lead to any dilution in service for lawyers or those going through divorce.

Follow Greene & Greene via Twitter @greenegreenelaw.


Food for thought

The encouragement by the judiciary to utilise alternative dispute resolution and collaborative law in matrimonial matters has seen an increase in separating couples attempting to resolve matters themselves by way of informal discussions without legal representation.

There are, however, potential traps for the unwary. The husband in the recently reported case of BE v DE would not have anticipated that a meeting with his wife at a restaurant would be used against him in later proceedings.

The case turned on whether the restaurant meeting was carried out on a “without prejudice” basis. The wife thought that the meeting was to try and get the relationship back on track, but the husband came to discuss a financial agreement he had prepared. Crucially, if the meeting was determined to be on a without prejudice basis the wife would not be able to refer to the document within court proceedings. The court decided that the meeting was not without prejudice and as such the wife was entitled to refer to the document produced by the husband at the restaurant, which was harmful to his case.

This decision is a reminder of how important it is for separating couples to tread carefully and seek advice at an early stage. If documents or discussions between a couple are not on a without prejudice basis they could be referred to in later proceedings.  Advice at an early stage will identify the various options for resolving disputes.  If an informal meeting is to take place, which may be an excellent way to resolve issues, consider whether you should seek advice and devise a strategy so as to avoid storing up problems for a later date.

For more information please contact Melanie Pilmer, a solicitor in the Greene & Greene Family and Matrimonial Team on 01284 717418 ~ melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com ~ @greenegreenelaw.


Child Arrangement Orders - All Change?

As from the 22nd April 2014 Residence and Contact Orders in family cases have been consigned to the history books and replaced by the new Child Arrangements Order. So what has changed?

The Child Arrangements Order will regulate with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact and when that will take place. The Court will be making the same decisions as before, but the reason for the change is to remove the labels of “residence” and “contact”. There is encouragement for parents to resolve matters amicably and the new legislation confirms parents must attempt mediation before issuing Court proceedings.

There is a new presumption of parental involvement. It will be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement either direct or indirect of the parent in the life of a child will benefit the child’s welfare. The welfare of the child remains paramount in making any decision.

This presumption does not mean any particular division of a child’s time is required. Will this lead to more shared parenting decisions? Perhaps not – the Court has for a long time started from a viewpoint that it is normally in a child’s best interests to have both parents involved in their life.

What if you already have a Residence or Contact Order? From 22nd April this will be treated as a Child Arrangements Order. A Residence Order will be treated as an Order that provides with whom and when a child is to live with a person and a Contact Order will be treated as with whom and when a child is to spend or otherwise have contact with a person. The legality of these older Orders will not be affected, they will remain valid and enforceable.

For more information please contact Melanie Pilmer, a solicitor in the Greene & Greene Family and Matrimonial Team on 01284 717418 ~ melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com ~ @greenegreenelaw.



As from 29th July 2013, the Child Support Agency stopped accepting new cases. The much maligned CSA is now in the process of winding down. Notices will be sent out from April 2014 to those with assessments under the old regime (CS1 and CS2) confirming that their cases will be closed. Those cases will be migrated over to the new “CS3” system, which will be administered by the Child Maintenance Service.

CS3 is different in a number of respects:

  1. The simple calculation of 15%, 20% or 25% of net income will be abolished. CS3 involves much more complicated calculations based on gross income (however, pension contributions can be deducted).
  2. The new “basic rate” calculation first looks at gross income up to £800.00 per week and then calculates it on varying rates dependent on how many children there are. If the paying party has gross income of between £800-£3,000.00 per week, a deduction is then made from that “additional” income at the basic rate. The resulting figure is then reduced for any other children living in the paying parent’s household (including children of the new partner/step children) and for shared care. No more simple calculations!
  3. When a paying parent earns in excess of £156,000.00 gross per annum, the parent with care can apply to the Court for a “top up” in addition to the Child Maintenance assessed by the Child Maintenance Service.
  4. The new system will use information lodged with HMRC.
  5. The most widely reported change has been that the Child Maintenance Service proposes to charge both parents for using its facilities. Although the final details of the charging structure have not yet been approved, it is believed that all applicants will pay a £20.00 fee. The service will then impose a 20% collection charge which will be levied against the paying parent in addition to the Child Maintenance payments. The service will also deduct 4% of the maintenance received by the “resident” parent. This will be payable on all ongoing payments.
  6. The Government has been promoting its Child Maintenance “options” programme which encourages parents to make their own agreements regarding Child Support. Given the imposition of collection charges upon both parents, there is a significant financial advantage, to agree Child Maintenance.

Juliet has been a part of the Greene & Greene firm since joining in 1988. Dealing primarily with family matters and child related disputes, Juliet’s recent work includes dealing with divorce, cohabitation disputes and child cases following separation of parents.

Also find Juliet on:      Google +        LinkedIn         Twitter

The Family Team at Greene & Greene can advise on the likely amount that the Child Maintenance Service would order under the new scheme and have significant experience in negotiating Maintenance Agreements. For further information, please contact Kate Chandler - 01284 717513 | Stuart Hughes - 01284 717493 |