What happens if I give up work once I’ve had children?

One week on from the Royal Wedding (fab, wasn’t it?) and Meghan has already attended her first Royal event as Harry’s wife when she accompanied her new husband to a Buckingham Palace garden party on Tuesday.

Scenario One: Royalty and (potential!) Children

Meghan resigned from her acting role in Suits shortly after her engagement to Harry was announced, and no doubt she will be kept very busy with her Royal duties or possibly even the pitter-patter of tiny feet in the next few years.

There should be no worries and division of assets and mortgages in their world. A nanny would probably be available if required. 

Scenario Two: The Real World of Children and Work

But what happens to non-Royal spouses who choose to give up work to raise a family? Do they prejudice themselves if they later divorce?

No. It is well-established law that a stay-at-home parent’s contribution to family life is equal to the other spouse’s financial contributions. How does this work in reality though?

If Mr Smith is going out to work every day, and Mrs Smith stays at home with the children, he cannot argue that he should get more money from the house, just because he’s paid the mortgage.

The courts would recognise that Mrs Smith has saved the family money by not having to pay for expensive nursery fees, and by taking on the majority of the childcare herself without Mr Smith having to reduce his working hours, she affords him the opportunity to advance his career.

The same applies where it is the husband who stays at home as the primary carer for the children and the wife goes back to work.

Of course there might be situations where Mr Smith made significant contributions towards the family finances above and beyond paying the mortgage each month, which may be factored into the financial settlement if possible and appropriate.

If you would like further advice about dealing with the Real World, please contact our family law team who can give accurate and detailed advice on your circumstances.




Harry and Meghan: Prenup or No Prenup? That is the question ...


The banns have been read, the dress has been fitted, and the nation is poised for a glorious Royal Wedding.

No matter the size of the wedding, anyone who has helped to arrange one will know that hours upon hours of work go into them.

One of the most important jobs on the To-Do list for wealthy couples is often to have a Prenuptial Agreement drafted and signed. Prenups are designed to protect the parties’ individual wealth in the event of a divorce later down the line. We know Royals are not immune to divorce, but they are also traditonalists who might find the idea of hedging their bets to be distasteful.

If the rumours are true, Harry and Meghan are not having a Prenup. If one of the most modern and forward-thinking royal couples are choosing not to have one, wbut is this a good idea?

What if there's a Royal Divorce?

The same divorce law that applies to the rest of us will apply to them.

Presumably, each party would instruct a divorce solicitor and commence proceedings in this jurisdiction. Any couple going through a divorce will usually be advised to try to negotiate a settlement without going through stressful and expensive litigation. They will follow a disclosure procedure, and try to reach a compromise, with a legally binding agreement being drafted to protect them.

So would a Prenup be a good idea for you - whether or not you're royal?

If you are bringing personal wealth into a marriage which you would like to protect, particularly if you have children from a previous relationship or this is a second marriage, then yes. We would recommend making an appointment with one of our family law specialists at least 3 months before the wedding is due to take place so we can fully advise you on the options, cost, risks, and benefits.

Our Family Law department's telephone number is 01245 264494.



Silver Divorces: Can There Ever Be A Silver Lining?

Life expectancy is on the up. The average man can expect to live to 78 and the average woman can expect to achieve the grand old age of 82. Is the thought of spending 20-plus years of retirement with your spouse really that unbearable?

Apparently so.

So called Silver Divorces are on the increase. Over 60s are the only age group where divorce rates are rising … and rising. But why? And what happens next?

Looking Forward to Retiring Together?

Retirement is supposed to be your reward for years of hard work. Your chance to live the life you always wanted - focussing on hobbies, making time to visit family, spending summers in the garden and winters in the Canary Islands.

In reality, it can also mean suddenly spending all your time, day-in/day-out, with your spouse and realising you have nothing in common now that the children have flown the nest. You may both have different ideas of how to spend hard-earned pensions, with one eager to make the most of it and the other keen to preserve it for the children and grandchildren.

Should You Carry On Regardless?

Nowadays it is far more socially acceptable to decide to seek a brighter future rather than stick rigidly to vows you made perhaps 40 years ago when you were both different people.

The thought of “starting again” can be daunting for anyone at any age, and perhaps even more so for the retired husband who has never had to cook or clean for himself, or the retired wife who has never had to be responsible for paying bills or going into the loft.

However, fresh starts bring a wealth of new opportunities. There are a number of online dating websites solely for the older generation, meaning life doesn’t have to be lonely. Organisations such as Saga offer travel opportunities and other services exclusively for over 50s.

Legal Help With A Separation or Divorce

Cunningtons can help you to deal with a separation in an amicable and cost-effective way. All of our family solicitors are members of Resolution which means we deal with matters in a way that allows both parties to maintain their respect and dignity.

Our family solicitors are experts at advising on all of the legal implications that flow from separations later in life, such as divorces, judicial separation, properties and pensions.

We can also assist you to protect your assets if you are considering cohabiting or remarrying a new partner.

Let us help you work towards a brighter future. If you would like a free 30 minute appointment to find out more about your options, please contact us today.



Prenuptial Agreements

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A Prenuptial Agreement (sometimes called a “Prenup” or a pre-marital agreement) is a formal signed agreement entered into by a couple before they get married. Its intention is to set out very clearly what the parties have agreed will happen to their assets (both jointly held assets and those held in their sole names) in the event of a future divorce or permanent separation.

Is a Prenuptial Agreement binding?

Not automatically, no. The existence of a Prenuptial Agreement does not prevent or forbid either party from making an application to the divorce court for a financial order. However, either party can show the Prenuptial Agreement to the court and ask that it be upheld. The divorce court has the power to depart from a Prenuptial Agreement if it feels that it is necessary to do so. No solicitor can guarantee that a Prenuptial Agreement will be upheld by the courts, either in whole or in part.

However, they are likely to be upheld by the court if:-

  1. Both parties had fully and honestly disclosed their assets to the other party before the Prenuptial Agreement was signed and there is a record of that disclosure;

  1. Both parties had their own independent legal advice on the Prenuptial Agreement;

  1. The Prenuptial Agreement was signed at least 21 days before the wedding;

  1. The Prenuptial Agreement contained a provision for it to be reviewed regularly;

  1. The Prenuptial Agreement is fair and jus

 Who should have a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial Agreements are becoming more and more popular. They are particularly popular in second marriages where perhaps the parties each have children from their first marriages and/or went through a difficult divorce, or where one party to the marriage is significantly wealthier than the other party.

What can a Prenuptial Agreement say?

The Prenuptial Agreement can specify that certain assets will not be included in the matrimonial pot if the parties divorce further down the line. Prenuptial Agreements can also specify that any inheritances should be excluded from the matrimonial pot. The court will want the Prenuptial Agreement to make appropriate provisions for the well-being and maintenance of any existing or future children. 

What if we have already got married or we haven’t got enough time to sign the Prenuptial Agreement before the wedding or we are getting married within less than 21 days?

You can have a Post-Nuptial Agreement instead but there is always a chance that one party may refuse to sign it after the wedding, even if they promised that they would sign it before the wedding. You may also wish to consider postponing the wedding until a Prenuptial Agreement can be prepared and signed.

Can we change the Prenuptial Agreement after it has been signed?

Yes but only if you both agree.

This sounds like something I need, who do I call?

Call us today on 01245 264494 to arrange a free initial appointment with one of our expert family law solicitors to discuss your needs and options.


The Consequences of Lying About Your Assets in a Divorce

The Judgments delivered by the Supreme Court in the recent cases of Gohil and Sharland reconfirm what all family law solicitors have always known: if you mislead the court about your level of wealth and the court finds out, any previous financial order can be set aside.

Alison Sharland's settlement

Alison Sharland divorced her husband Charles in 2010 and accepted a financial settlement of £10m plus 30% of the proceeds of shares that were held by her husband if he ever sold them. Mrs Sharland accepted this as she thought it amounted to 50% of the assets. At the time of the divorce, Mr Sharland had valued his company at £47m. It later emerged that it was likely to be closer to £600m. The Supreme Court were satisfied that, had the original Judge known the true value, he would never have made the financial order that he made.

Varsha Gohil's story

Varsha Gohil accepted a financial order in 2004 for £270,000 plus a car. Her husband had said that there were no assets, only debts, and he would only be able to pay Mrs Gohil the lump sum by relying on help from his family. In 2008, Mr Gohil was charged with serious money laundering offences and was then sent to prison in 2011. During his criminal proceedings, it emerged that he had not been honest about the level of his wealth within the divorce proceedings. Again the Supreme Court stated that Mr Gohil had a duty to the court to provide full and frank financial disclosure and he had not done so.

Lying. Doesn't. Work.

In both cases, the Supreme Court has set aside the original financial orders and the cases will effectively start from the beginning again – only this time any financial order will hopefully be based on accurate and honest information.

The lesson here is be honest - or risk serious consequences. At the very least, costs orders can be made against you and at the very worst, you can be sent to prison for perjury.

The real problem is that these two ladies were fortunate enough to become aware of their husbands’ fraud. There are bound to be many cases where the victim either never discovers that fraud has taken place or can never prove it.

Help With Your Divorce

Cunningtons Family Law Department are ready to help you with all aspects of divorce. Please call us on 01245 264494 to arrange a free appointment.


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Cunningtons LLP in Great Square and Tofts Walk in Braintree, Essex, is the head office for Cunningtons Solicitors across the UK. Established in 1748, the Braintree head office in Great Square is still in its original offices. This amounts to almost 300 years of Experience and Tradition.

The Senior Partner at Cunningtons’ Braintree office is David Drake. Paul Fenton is the Joint Managing Partner. He, along with Johanna Withams are the residential conveyancing partners at the Braintree practice. They are supported by qualified Solicitors and Licenced Conveyancers.

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