Employment Settlement Agreements

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty and unprecedented disruption to most businesses. Tough decisions are being made to help weather the ongoing storm and, as a result, an increasing number of employees are facing termination of their employment contracts.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may be offered a Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement). For the agreement to be binding, you will need to obtain independent legal advice.

Parry Law offers efficient, expert and friendly independent legal advice to employees for a fixed fee.

Contact Graham Checksfield in complete confidence on 01227 276276, to find out how he can assist you, and help provide certainty and resolution.

Complying With Child Arrangements Orders During Lockdown

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak the Family Court has issued important guidance on how to comply with Child Arrangement Orders during the current lockdown.

The guidance emphasises that parents must abide by the rules on staying at home and away from others issued by the government on 23 March.

However, government directions outline an exception to the mandatory stay at home requirement where parents do not live in the same household, so that children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

The court’s guidance further clarifies that does not mean that children must be moved between homes, emphasising that parental responsibility (PR) rests with parents and not with the court. Whether a child is to move between parental homes is a decision for the child’s parents to make after assessing the circumstances, including the child’s health, the risk of infection, and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in either household.

The guidance further highlights that parents can exercise PR and agree that the terms of a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) should be temporarily varied. Any agreement should be recorded in a note, email or text message.

Where parents do not agree to vary the arrangements in a CAO, but one parent is concerned that complying with the CAO would be against advice from Public Health England or Public Health Wales, that parent may exercise PR and vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe.

If, after the event, the actions of a parent acting unilaterally are questioned by the other parent in the Family Court, the court will assess whether each parent acted reasonably and sensibly in the light of the official advice and the stay at home rules in place at that time, together with any specific evidence relating to the child or family.

Where, due to parental agreement or otherwise, a child does not get to spend time with a parent as ordered, the courts will expect alternative arrangements to be made to maintain regular contact between the child and their parent within the stay at home rules. For example, facilitating indirect contact by FaceTime, WhatsApp Video, Skype, Zoom or other video connection or, if that is not possible, by telephone.

Where COVID-19 restrictions cause an order to be varied, the spirit of the order should be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements.

For more information please contact us.

How do I make a will during lockdown?

During these uncertain times, we have been contacted by an increasing number of people to draft wills and prepare powers of attorney as word has spread about the safe method that we have devised to administer these documents.

Naturally we all have to be mindful of official advice on self-isolation and social distancing, which are particularly important for the elderly, ill and vulnerable, but here at Parry Law we have perfected a flexible system to ensure that your wishes are legally executed.

Our initial meeting is via telephone or email so we handle any enquiries that you may have without the need for you to put you or your family at any unnecessary risk. 

Once it is time to sign and witness your documents, if you do not wish your friends or neighbours to assist in this task, we have a tried and tested plan that keeps us all safe!

As always, you will receive sympathetic, timely and practical advice and assistance from our specialist team based at our Whitstable and Herne Bay offices.

Call us now on 01227 276276 – we’re here to help you.

Government Increases Statutory Legacy Entitlement

Research conducted in 2018 found that more than half of adults (54%) living in the UK did not have a Will in place and 59% of UK parents either did not have a Will, or had one that was out of date.

A valid Will ensures that your important decisions such as the distribution of your assets and the guardianship of minor children are implemented.

What happens if you die without a valid Will?
Under the laws of England and Wales, the “intestacy rules” govern how a person’s estate is distributed on death in the absence of a valid Will. When a person is married with no children, their spouse will inherit the entire estate. However, if the deceased had children, the rules dictate that the surviving spouse will receive (i) a legacy, known as the “statutory legacy” (of currently £250,000), (ii) all the deceased’s personal chattels and (iii) half of the remainder of the deceased’s estate, with the remaining half passing to the deceased’s children.

With effect from February 2020, the statutory legacy has increased to £270,000, which is in line with the Government’s promise to raise it in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) at least every five years.

Although on the face of it this appears to be a positive move, based on the experience of the Wills, Trust and Probate team here at Parry Law in dealing with intestate estates, it still falls short of ensuring that those closest to you receive the protection you may believe they will get under the law.

The risks of not having a valid Will:

  • Unmarried cohabitees still do not receive anything from a deceased’s estate under the intestacy rules. Therefore, if you wish to provide for a cohabitee, a close friend or anyone else for that matter, you would need to make such provision in a valid Will.
  • A common misconception, and often an incorrect justification for not having a Will, is that a spouse will automatically inherit everything. As you will have seen above, where the deceased dies leaving children, the deceased’s spouse will not necessarily inherit the entire estate. This could be problematic for a surviving spouse and could lead to important assets, such as the family home, being divided or co-owned by the surviving spouse and the children.
  • Under the intestacy rules, the children inherit at 18. For many parents this may seem too young to receive a potentially large sum of money. Therefore, it is essential to have a Will in place to provide mechanisms to protect a child’s inheritance.

So, despite the welcome recent legislative change, it is still our advice that it is of vital importance to take appropriate advice and to get a valid Will in place.

No-Fault Divorce Back On The Agenda

The government has moved quickly to put much-anticipated divorce reform back on the parliamentary agenda by reintroducing legislation to end what the justice secretary calls ‘needless antagonism’.

The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill came to a standstill twice as a result of September’s prorogation of parliament and December’s general election. The bill, which introduces provisions for no-fault divorce and had previously passed through two readings in the Commons and the committee stage, has now been introduced to the House of Lords.

Current law requires spouses to evidence at least one of five ‘facts’: adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation (if the other spouse consents to the divorce), or five years’ separation (if the other spouse disagrees). 

The bill will replace the requirement to evidence conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown. The possibility of contesting the decision to divorce will be removed. The court will be able to make a conditional order after 20 weeks has passed from the start of proceedings.

Upon hearing the news Perveez Sethna, Partner & Head of Parry Law’s Matrimonial & Family Department commented: “We wholeheartedly support the sentiments and intentions of this bill. By averting the need to play the blame game there should be less resentment which should allow families to more easily move on with their lives.”

Banded Fees to be introduced for Probate Applications

From May 2017, the way fees are charged for probate applications will change. The current flat fees (£155 if the application is made by a solicitor, or £215 if made by an individual) are to be replaced with a banded fee structure.

This means that small estates (of less than £50,000) will be able to proceed without any application charge being payable, but the probate application fee will otherwise be dependent on the size of the estate.

It is expected that for estates with a value between £50,000 and £300,000 the probate fee will be £300, estates up to £500,000 will pay £1,000, and those up to £1,000,000 will pay £4,000.  This will be a significant change from the previous structure for some applicants, but a solicitor can help guide you through the process.

If you would like to discuss the changes or any other probate related matter, please get in touch with our private client department.

Strode Park is Parry Law’s new charity of the year for 2016

strode colour

Parry Law are delighted to be supporting the Strode Park Foundation as their chosen charity.

Established 1946 the Strode Park Foundation is a Kent charity providing vital care and support services for children and adults with disabilities.

The Foundation aims to meet all levels of need, from those requiring a small amount of home care and support to people with more complex disabilities requiring neuro-rehabilitation or 24 hour nursing residential care.

Strode Park promotes independence well-being and choice throughout its care services and enables people to live life the way they choose.

We look forward to this special partnership in this particularly special year for Strode Park as they celebrate their 70th Anniversary.