Common Law Marriage: Fact or Fiction?

There is no such thing as a Common Law Marriage. Married couples have different rights than couples in a relationship who are living together.

If your relationship breaks down, you may expect and need to receive financial support from your ex-partner at what would be a very difficult time. You may find it difficult to obtain that support, including being able to stay in your own home.

Some couples make agreements, called a Cohabitee Agreement before they begin living together or at any time during their relationship. This avoids uncertainty should they separate in the future. They can also make provision for each other in their wills. This is something that we would recommend and can help you with.

If you separate and don’t have a formal agreement we can help you to hopefully negotiate and reach an agreement. Obtaining advice and information about your options at an early stage is always a good idea.

Our family team at Kidd & Spoor are very experienced solicitors, Collaborative Family Lawyers and Mediators.

Care Fees: The Mythical 7 Year Time Limit

Putting aside the politics (and that can be difficult at the best of times) all of us need to think carefully about future care, whether it is for ourselves, our parents or our grandparents.

Whatever your colours, the only clear news from the government is that the rules are not clear. There is so much information in the media, exchanged in conversation and broadcast daily that confusion has spread very quickly.

In one sense the publicity surrounding social care is positive, because it is generating debate. It has started to make us all consider the reality of care seriously. On the other hand, many of the rumours and political messages are not accurate and, in some cases, misleading. There is NO 7 year time limit. In fact there are no time limits at all.

At Kidd & Spoor we have been striving to deal with many misconceptions and misunderstandings about care costs, financial assessment rules and connected issues for decades. We have succeeded where many others have not. There are complexities but they can be simplified.

There is nothing more rewarding than the smile on a client’s face when they understand how we can help them, and when “niggles” that they have been worrying about disappear, like the mythical 7 year time limit.

Whatever happens at Westminster may or may not trigger rule changes, but that will take time. Whilst the politicians continue to express their differences, the law and regulations remain unchanged.

Come and see one of the team at Kidd & Spoor, or we can visit you at home. First meetings are always free and without obligation. Don’t be afraid to talk it over with us. We have the experience and expertise, and we can help. It won’t cost you a penny to discuss it, but it could save your family a fortune.

Kidd and Spoor are Proud Sponsors of the Northumbria Open 2018

This League Master site covers the Northumbria Men’s, Ladies’ and Summer Squash Leagues, sponsored by Kidd & Spoor.

Men’s Winter 2018/19

The Men’s Winter League runs from Mon 24th September 2018 to Sat 5th April 2019. There are 8 divisions (Premier & Divisions 1 to 7) with a total of 67 teams representing 24 clubs across the county.

Ladies Winter 2018/19

The Ladies’ Winter League runs from Wed 26th September 2018 to Sat 5th April 2019. There are 2 divisions in the first half, splitting into 3 divisions for the second half, with a total of 12 teams representing 8 clubs across the county.

To find out more, click here.

Will Writing Companies Dangers and Pitfalls

Have you or a member of your family been approached by a will writing company?

A cold call over the telephone or at your door?

Somebody recommended through your bank or building society?

Time and again we are consulted by individuals or couples who have come into contact with such organisations. The documents produced are usually beautifully bound, presented in an attractive folder and run to many pages.

Sadly, more often than not the paperwork is either inadequate, serves no purpose at all or, occasionally, does more harm than good. Usually two thirds of the text within the documents is unnecessary, confusing and, in our view, designed to expand the bundle of papers to make it look like value for money. These “packages” are frequently sold to couples in retirement who have a house and/or savings that they wish to protect.

We regularly take instructions from people living locally who have engaged a will writing company many hundreds of miles away and, sometimes, everything has been dealt with by post or over the telephone. The risks for the client are significant.

Many will writers are not regulated by any form of professional body.

If mistakes are made, they may not have adequate insurance to protect you.

The agents sometimes appoint themselves as executors or trustees unnecessarily.

Occasionally the company ceases trading, trustees cannot be found and investments are “trapped”.

Increasingly, over the last five or more years, we have been faced with distraught couples or widows /widowers who have been reassured by the will writer that everything is in order, only to discover, once the documents have been examined by one of our lawyers, that basic errors have been made. The will writing companies routinely charge thousands of pounds to carry out work which, in most cases, is either completely unnecessary or incorrect. Most clients that we look after in these circumstances tell us that they were never given a proper explanation about anything, but trusted the people involved. Sadly, in many cases, that trust has been betrayed.

At Kidd & Spoor we have a team of expert lawyers dealing with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, retirement planning and everything connected with later life. You will meet a real person. We will explain clearly what our recommendations are in your circumstances. It is never a case of “one size fits all” as a lot of will writers assume.

It will cost you nothing for an initial consultation. If you have any concerns about your position, or that of any member of your family, bring the documents in, and see one of our solicitors. It will not take long for us to figure out whether your position is secure. We will provide honest, clear advice and can recommend any changes that suit your circumstances.

We have looked after families since 1870, and will continue doing so for many more years.

Reached boiling point this Christmas?

Christmas should be a wonderful time for everyone. Sadly that isn’t the case for all of us.

Pressure to create a perfect Christmas, coupled with spending time together or with extended family members and the added financial burden can all contribute to a tense and pressurised environment.

The decision to separate should never be taken lightly and can often be a difficult one to make, especially when surrounded by adverts of happy families spending Christmas together. If you are experiencing relationship difficulties this added pressure can often be the final straw. Initially people want advice about their children and financial matters, with advice about a divorce being low on their list.

If you are considering a separation, or, if one has been forced on you, it is always helpful to get early information and advice. Kidd and Spoor have a specialised family team who will be happy to help.

Cohabitation Awareness Week

From 27th November to 1st December, Kidd and Spoor Solicitors will be getting involved in ‘ Cohabitation Awareness Week ’ to raise awareness about the current lack of legal protection for co-habiting couples who are separating.

According to Resolution, an organisation working with Family Lawyers, there are about 7 million people living in co-habiting relationships across the UK, and that this is now the fastest growing family type.

As legislation currently stands, there is little protection for parties when a co-habiting relationship breaks down, including couples who have been together for years and even when they have children together. This is a very different position to the various protections in place for married couples who are divorcing. In a divorce process, after a marriage breakdown, either party is entitled to share in the others income, savings and pension. No such rights are afforded to co-habiting couples when their relationship ends. This can lead to financial hardship, and in some cases leave one of the parties with nowhere to live.

Statistics from a Resolution members survey shows that 89% of unmarried couples who separate, are often surprised to find they have no legal rights.

One option for cohabiting couples is to create a co-habitation agreement, which does offer some protection on separation. A co-habitation agreement could, for example, include details of what a couple agrees should happen, in respect of their finances, should the relationship breakdown. Crucially an agreement can deal with the family home, who can stay there, for how long, and who would pay the mortgage. The agreement may also set out how the couple agree to deal with any shortfall of income and responsibility for debts should the relationship come to an end . Having these very important issues resolved at an early stage can provide certainty and security at a time when couples may feel vulnerable and distressed.

Co-habiting couples also have less protection than married couples on the death of one of the parties. For married couples, without a will, on the death of one, all or most of the assets from the deceased estate are automatically transferred to the spouse (dependent on the size of the estate). For co-habiting couples, without a will, on the death of one, there is no automatic right for the deceased estate to be transferred to the partner. If co-habiting couples want their assets to go to their partner on death, it is vital that they have a will in place.

If you in a co-habiting relationship and want to know more information or advice about your rights, or you want to make a will, please contact Kidd and Spoor Solicitors on 0191 2970011 to speak to the ‘Wills and Probate Team’ or the ‘Family Law Team’

Divorce rates peak for the first time in year

Official figures recently released by the Office for National Statistics show that divorce rates for opposite sex couples have increased for the first time since 2009.

106,959 divorces were granted in 2016 for opposite sex couples. The most commonly used reason for divorce is the unreasonable behaviour of the other party, examples of which can be extremely wide ranging in scope. The figures show a steady increase in the proportion of divorces granted to men, due to their wife’s unreasonable behaviour.

Divorce rates among opposite sex couples were highest among men aged 45-49 and among women in their 30’s. Apparently this reflects the fact that women tend to marry men older than themselves.

However, divorce rates have increased fastest amongst older people, and it is the over 50’s where the divorce rate has increased the most.

According to Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers, this “peak” in rates is not reflective of an overall trend of lower divorce rates in recent years. Resolution believe the overall downward trend of divorcing couples is due to the fact that there is an increase in couples who are choosing not to marry but to live together.

The picture is undoubtedly a confusing one. What is certain, is that the reality behind the statistics
is that for those going through a divorce, it can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time. What we know is, dealing with emotions involved in a separation, often coupled with worries regarding finance and issues regarding children, can feel daunting and confusing.

What we also know is that obtaining early information and legal advice on your options, if you are separating or becoming divorced, can and will provide reassurance and hopefully a plan to move forward.

If you are separating or becoming divorced, and need guidance in terms of what to do next, please contact Jo Scott on or call 0191 2970011.

Magical Time for Some… Difficult Time for Others

Christmas can be a magical time for families. It can also be a very difficult time for others. Loneliness, bereavement and separation can be hugely challenging and Christmas can intensify feelings of loss and sometimes despair.

When you have separated, communication often becomes hard, but discussions with your ex around Christmas are needed more than ever. Who is going to buy which presents, how much are each of you going to spend, and how the children share their time with each of you (and extended families) over the Christmas period can seem impossible.

These issues are important and many people worry about them in the months leading up to Christmas.

Can you have those conversations without them turning into a shouting match or a stand off? The answer is yes. How you have those conversations is undoubtedly the more important question.

Often, when couples argue, they are repeating earlier arguments they have had. It can seem difficult to break an impasse, and even more difficult to have a constructive conversation without it becoming emotional or fraught with anger.

Receiving information and advice at an early stage is invaluable. It allows the discussions you need to have to be put in a legal context which can often break a deadlock and inevitably, taking a constructive approach is the most appropriate way forward.

If you are starting to dread the conversations you need to have before Christmas, or the issues you may face over the festive period and want to know what your options are moving forward, then we will be able to help

To find out more please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011

Does There Always Have to be Someone to Blame?

A recent high-profile divorce case has firmly placed the issue of no-fault divorce back on the family law agenda. The case of Owens v Owens, was interesting and unusual, because the Judges at the Court of Appeal, found that the reasons given by the wife as to why her marriage had broken down, were simply not good enough. The case revives an on-going debate as to whether there is still a need for the Courts to know the details of why a marriage no longer works, and who is to blame. Should it not just be enough that one, or both of parties feels like the marriage is so broken that it cannot be fixed?

The law behind this, dates back to 1973. It outlines that the person applying for the divorce needs to evidence the ‘fact’ which has caused the marriage to break down irretrievably, limited to unreasonable behaviour, adultery, 2 years separation, 5 years separation or desertion.

Many think that this legislation is archaic and needs to be updated to reflect modern life. There is an argument that there are occasions where a no-fault divorce would be much more appropriate, and much less contentious, particularly where there are children of the marriage. ‘Resolution’ an organisation which works with family lawyers, are campaigning to ‘End the Blame Game’.

There is, of course, a counter-argument, that in terms of what getting married stands for, nothing has really changed since 1973. It is still, as it was then a commitment between two people that they are going to spend the rest of their lives together. Although undoubtedly the mechanics of married life have changed, the commitment is exactly the same. Would a no-fault divorce make the process of divorce all too simple, and somehow derogate the institution that is marriage?

The Supreme Court is set to hear the case of Owens v Owens in Spring 2018, and whatever the outcome, it will be of huge significance to both family lawyers and people considering a separation.

As things stand, a fact still needs to be cited in the divorce papers. If you are contemplating a separation or divorce, this is something we can discuss with you as well as all other aspects of the legal process including financial settlements and arrangements relating to children.

To find out more please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011

Divorce and Separation – What do we tell the kids?

One of the most difficult and emotive aspects of dealing with a divorce or separation is what to tell ‘the kids’ and how best to support the children, through what will undoubtedly be a difficult time.

What we know from our experience as family lawyers, is that the collaborative process helps separating parents to help their children.

In fact, it is arguably the most important and beneficial outcome of the collaborative process that separating parents find they are able to co-parent successfully into the future and make decisions between them that impact in a positive way on their children.

In collaborative law, the agenda is set by you, and the children remain high on the agenda throughout. Matters to be discussed range from how and when to tell the children together about the separation, to agreeing the times the children will spend with each parent moving forward.

In our experience, if parents can have these meaningful conversations at an early stage, it will provide good foundations to co-parent successfully in the future. Also, the fact that agreement can be reached together, rather than the court making and imposing terms means that children see their parents are able to work together as “team Mum and Dad”.

The collaborate process itself consists of a series of ‘round the table meetings’ between the separating parties and their lawyers, who are trained in this specialist area of work. The lawyers involved work together and work with you to get the best outcome for all, including your children. They will make an early assessment as to whether the collaborative process is the right approach, as it will not always be suitable.

As a starting point, in terms of what to tell ‘the kids’, Resolution, a body that works with family lawyers, suggest the following statements are helpful:

“While the feelings we have for each other have changed, we will never stop loving you”
“We know this will be hard for you, and we are sorry”
“What has happened is not your fault – you did not cause this”
“Divorce is a grown-up problem that you cannot change”
“You will always have a family. Instead of being a family in one home, you will have a family in two homes”
“We will both continue to be a part of your life”

To learn more about the collaborative process please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011