Divorce settlement solicitors Newtownards

Grounds for Divorce in Northern Ireland

Emma Coey

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on various aspects of our lives. Many relationships have been affected. A recent BBC report (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-54117821) suggests that we are likely to see a ‘divorce boom’ as the pandemic has intensified relationship difficulties. The prospect of initiating divorce proceedings may now be a consideration for many of us. As understanding of the grounds on which divorce may be granted is a helpful starting point.

Firstly, it is important to remember that in Northern Ireland you need to have been married for at least two years before you can petition for a divorce. Your marriage must have broken down irretrievably, and your petition must be made on one of the following grounds.

Adultery

This ground can be used when your spouse has committed adultery during the time of your marriage. You must be able to prove that your spouse has committed adultery, which can be difficult to do in court if your spouse has not admitted to it. It is important to remember that if you continue to live with your spouse for more than six months after they have committed adultery, then you cannot use this as a ground for divorce.

Unreasonable behaviour

To be granted a divorce on the ground of unreasonable behaviour, you must be able to show that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you can no longer be reasonably expected to live with them. For example, if they have been verbally or physically abusive towards you, if they have alcohol or drug addictions which have made them difficult to live with, or if there is a lack of communication between you.

Desertion

If your spouse has left you for at least two years without your consent and without cause and it is clear your spouse has no intention of returning, you may petition for divorce on the ground of desertion.  This ground is rarely used because it has been largely displaced by reliance on the fact of two years separation which is explained below.

Two years separation

You can be granted a divorce if you and your spouse have lived separately for two years, provided that your spouse consents to the divorce. You can still live in the same property as your spouse for up to six months, but you must live completely separate lives for example, cooking separately and not spending any time together.

Five years separation

If you and your spouse have lived separately for five years or more, you can ask the court for a divorce on this ground. You do not need your spouse’s consent and there is therefore no defence to this ground.

No fault divorces?

There has been some suggestion recently of introducing ‘no fault’ divorces, which would allow a couple to divorce simply because their marriage has irretrievably broken down.  Many support this idea as it could reduce conflict, remove blame and simplify the divorce process. Others, however, fear it could have a negative impact on the sanctity of marriage, by making divorce too easy.  While ‘no fault’ divorces may be something seen in the future, for now divorce in Northern Ireland remains possible only on the grounds described above.

If you would like advice in relation to divorce proceedings, or any other matrimonial issues please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our us by email at info@boydricesolicitors.com.

Boyd Rice Solicitors- top for injury claims in Newtownards

Neil McGranaghan

Figures released by Department for Communities confirm Boyd Rice Solicitors assisted more injured people than any other Solicitor in Newtownards in 2019.

The figures also confirm that we handled more injury claims than any other Solicitor in Bangor, Portaferry and Comber.

For over 30 years Boyd Rice Solicitors have been representing injured clients. The statistics demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing legal advice, help and support to the people of Newtownards and surrounding areas who have been injured in an accident that was not their fault.

We offer a free initial consultation where we will confidentially discuss the circumstances surrounding your accident and will handle your case through to conclusion. We regularly attend Newtownards Court on behalf of our clients ensuring that they get the best possible result.

Neil McGranaghan who manages the Litigation Department in Boyd Rice commented as follows;

“The figures highlight our commitment to assisting injured clients in Newtownards and the surrounding areas. We will help to alleviate the stress caused by an accident by guiding our clients through the legal process involved in making a claim with minimal fuss. We have established relationships with the leading medical experts in Northern Ireland ensuring that our clients obtain a full understanding of the extent of their injuries with a view to achieving the best possible outcome in their case.”

 

Neil is a member of the Association of Personal Injuries Lawyers (APIL), a group of Lawyers who are dedicated to protecting and enhancing access to justice, improving the services provided for victims of personal injury and campaigning to change the law wherever appropriate.

Neil can be contacted on 02891817715 or by email neil@boydricesolicitors.com

What to Look out For When Purchasing a New Home

Government announces Stamp Duty “Holiday” in Summer Statement

Ben Wall

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, today announced that the threshold for Stamp Duty liability would be increased to £500,000.00 – with immediate effect. Boyd Rice Solicitors have clients that will benefit from this within the week, saving up to £10,000.00. This “holiday” will last until the end of March 2021.

We are expecting a lot of activity as buyers aim to take advantage of this welcome boost. For further information please see https://www.ftadviser.com/mortgages/2020/07/08/chancellor-confirms-stamp-duty-holiday/ or call our office on 02891 817715 to discuss how we can fulfil your house moving needs.

Case arising from a broken streetlight settles for £4,000 plus costs.

Ben Wall

Boyd Rice Solicitors were instructed to act on behalf Mrs D in relation to her personal injury claim arising from a fall in a dark street.

Mrs D was leaving her daughter’s house in the early evening when she tripped and fell over a trailer bar. Mrs D was unable to see the obstruction as the area was pitch black. Mrs D travelled to the Ulster Hospital in her daughter’s car for treatment of injuries to her ribs, face and knee. The streetlight responsible for the area was not operational at the time of the incident.

Although x-rays of her knee and chest showed no fracture, Mrs D had suffered significant bruising with the pain in her knee subsiding only after an injection. She also had facial bruising.

In what proved to be a very interesting case, our client advised that her daughter in-law’s neighbour had made complaints about the faulty streetlight for 3-4 months preceding the accident as well as reporting it to their local MP.

Neil McGranaghan directed a letter of claim to the Department for Infrastructure. Correspondence alleged the incident arose from the Department’s negligence in failing to ensure the safety of the public emphasising the fact that the streetlight was not working at the time of the incident and had not been working for some time. Liability for the accident was disputed by the Department for Infrastructure and we issued Court proceedings on our client’s behalf.

Although a Court date was set, settlement was reached without the need to attend Court for the sum of £4,000 plus our client’s legal costs.

Following the successful conclusion of their claim our client commented as follows;

Thanks Neil! Always kept me up to date with everything. My claim was handled very quickly and efficiently.

The issue with broken street lights is widely reported in local media. If you sustained injuries from a fall due to lack of street lighting and would like to arrange a free consultation please contact us by phone on 02891 817715 or by email claims@boydricesolicitors.com

Update on Coronavirus

Neil McGranaghan

In keeping with public health recommendations, we would encourage our clients to contact us by phone rather than attend our offices. This is to ensure the safety of both our clients and our staff.  If you require a face to face meeting we will of course endevour to facilitate you.

Thank you for your understanding.

Protection from Harassment

Ben Wall

Harassment is something with which we, as a society, are becoming more and more acutely aware of. Especially in this digital and social media age where people can be bullied and abused online. If you are suffering from harassment you need to be aware that you are not alone and that we can help. First though, if your harassment is at the hands of someone you’re having or had a relationship with; a family member; or someone you’re living with or lived with, then see our page relating to Non-Molestation Orders.

For harassment at the hands of anyone else you may be able to find protection through The Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997. This legislation states;

A person shall not pursue a course of conduct—

(a)which amounts to harassment of another; and

(b)which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

A “course of conduct” must involve conduct on at least two occasions and includes speech.

The legislation creates a criminal offence, which can lead to imprisonment and it also creates a civil remedy where you can obtain a court injunction restraining the harasser from continuing to engage in the conduct which constitutes the harassment. If the harasser breaks the terms of that injunction then that again constitutes a criminal offence and imprisonment may follow.

We are here to talk and listen to the problems you are going through. You will not be judged in any way. Just by opening up to someone you may begin to feel like there are people on your side and that you can gain the strength to do something about it. We can liaise with the PSNI on your behalf if you do not feel strong enough to do that.

Please do not let funding concerns deter you from getting in touch with us. We will provide you at the outset with estimates of all our fees and charges. There may be the possibility to agree a flat fee at the outset of your case. Alternatively you may be entitled to legal aid. We will be able to explore these options on your behalf.

For many years Boyd Rice Solicitors have been representing people who are going through this difficult time in their lives.  We devote care and attention to our clients and you can contact your assigned solicitor by phone or email.

Please call us now on 02891 817715, email family@boydricesolicitors.com or complete our Online Enquiry for a FREE, no-obligation discussion and let us explain how we can help you.

What to do on discovering a spillage from your neighbour’s oil or septic tank.

Ben Wall

As the winter weather continues to take hold we all dread the prospect of problems with our heating system as complex issues leave us in the cold in more ways than one. It is recommended to have boiler care or to ensure this is covered under your home insurance to make sure you won’t be out of pocket. Septic tanks require similar care, and again we would recommend you have adequate insurance to avoid a bill where anything goes wrong.

But what happens if a malfunction in a neighbour’s oil or septic tank has led to a spillage onto your property? This could be from a breach in the tank due to rust or wear-and-tear, or even a mistake by their contractor leading to a release of hazardous liquids onto your land. A gradual or sudden release of hazardous liquid causes trouble to your land both on the surface and soaking down through the layers of earth below. As well as this it is a risk to your personal health, with septic tanks a source of many forms of harmful bacteria with E. coli especially an example.

The first thing to do on discovering the spill is to limit the spread and minimise the area affected. To do this and reduce the risk of harm to yourself you should contact a specialist contractor as soon as possible. They will establish the full extent of the spillage and will take necessary samples for examination to confirm the source of the spillage as from neighbouring land. The contractor will also ensure any dangerous materials are disposed of correctly to minimise further harm to the environment.

A spillage will badly affect agricultural land used both for grazing and for growing crops, while on the residential side this will affect the marketability of the property. In both instances any spillage incident needs to be dealt with as soon as possible to minimise the damage.

With severe financial and environmental implications, you will be glad the responsibility for the loss or damage you have suffered is with whoever caused the spill in their use, storage or transport of the substance . We will ensure you are fully compensated for all loss, from the diagnosis or advice of a specialist contractor to the full clean-up of the affected land and disposal of all contaminated remnants. Where necessary we liaise with the Department of Agriculture, Envronment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to ensure all protocols are adhered to with no hassle to you.

If you have been affected, please contact one of the claims team on 02891 817715 , or by email at claims@boydricesolicitors.com and let us explain how we can help you.

We offer a free initial consultation where we will confidentially discuss the circumstances of the incident and will assess how we can assist you in the best way possible. We use leading experts to investigate spillages and our team of environmental consultants are extremely experienced.

Purchasing a new home conveyancing

Time running out to open your Help to Buy ISA.

Ben Wall

A Government initiative launched in 2015, the Help to Buy ISA is the perfect way to help people get onto the first rung of the property ladder.

Available from a range of Banks and Building Societies, the account is available for all first-time buyers. Under the scheme, the government will boost your savings by a 25% bonus when you put them towards your first house. The minimum you can deposit into your Help to Buy ISA to claim the bonus is £1,600. The maximum bonus available is £3,000 on savings of £12,000. These are the maximum and minimum per person, meaning that where you are buying with your partner you could both save separately to claim a full £6,000.

It is vital you open your Help to Buy ISA account before the 30th November 2019 as after this date they will not be available. Once you have opened your account you may continue to save a maximum of £200 a month until 30th November 2029. You then have until December 2030 to claim your bonus. Although you have the option to deposit up to £1,200 in the first month, you may also open the account before the deadline but wait a few months (even beyond the 30th November 2019) to deposit any cash and maximise savings. We would recommend checking these options with your specific Bank or Building Society.

When it comes to buying your first home all you need to do is close the ISA and ensure you receive the relevant closing letter. On receiving this closing letter we will apply for the Government bonus on your behalf and will put all funds including the bonus towards the purchase of your property. Our experienced team will guide you throughout your move into your dream home and will be happy to claim your Government bonus with no hassle for you.

If you are ready to buy your first home call us now 02891 817715, email property@boydricesolicitors.com or complete our Online Enquiry for a FREE, no-obligation discussion and let us explain how we can help you.

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Boyd Rice Solicitors continue to expand with the addition of two new appointments

Neil McGranaghan

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mary Lowry as a Solicitor in the Family and Matrimonial Department. Mary has extensive experience in handling a wide variety of Family Law matters and regularly appears in the High Court and Family Care Centre on behalf of her clients.

In addition, we continue to invest in future members of the legal profession with the second Legal Executive appointment of this year (following on from Emma Coey who joined the Firm at the start of the year). Jack Morrow has joined us from a large regional law firm and will be assisting in the Conveyancing and Litigation Departments.

The appointments will ensure that we continue to provide our clients with a high level of service and will allow for continued growth in the practice areas of Conveyancing, Family and Litigation.

Lastly, we are happy and proud in equal measure to report that Christina McDowell is now a Trainee Solicitor having taken a place at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. Christina began her formal training in September 2019 and will qualify as a Solicitor in September 2021. We wish her every success during her training.

conveyancing law solicitors

Boyd Rice Solicitors’ Guide to Conveyancing Terminology

Ben Wall

Tell your deed from your deposit with our conveyancing jargon buster

As legal professionals it is all too easy for us to fall into the trap of using complex legal terms and phrases when we discuss your conveyancing with you. We do our best to avoid this and to explain matters to you succinctly and clearly. We want you to understand how your property transaction is progressing throughout. To assist with this, we thought we would provide you with a handy glossary to some of the key words and phrases for those occasions when we do use a technical phrase you may not understand.

Conveyancing

Where better to start. Conveyancing, in very simple terms, is the word to describe that area of law with is concerned with the acquisition and transfer of property and rights in property.

Title

In the context of conveyancing there are two possible meanings to this word. One is the equivalent of ownership of land and rights in it, i.e. to have title to land is to have ownership of it. The other is the proof of such ownership, i.e. the evidence such as documents like title deeds which establish the ownership of the land.

The Contract

Up until the contract is signed either party can choose to walk away. The agreement becomes binding when the purchaser signs the contract (also known as the offer to purchase) and it is sent to the vendor’s solicitor for the vendor to sign. The vendor signs it then a copy is returned to the purchaser’s solicitor. It is deemed to be binding when it is received by the purchaser’s solicitor. It is common for this to take place close to completion.

Completion

This is the date when money is transferred from the purchaser’s solicitor to the vendor’s solicitor and the purchaser gets into their new home. It is not the end of the work for the solicitor as the transaction will have to be registered.

Freehold/Leasehold/Fee Farm Grant

If you own a freehold interest in your land then you have effectively absolute ownership of the land. It has the potential to last forever.

If you have a leasehold interest then ultimately the land will revert to the freeholder however it is typically for leasehold interest to last up to 10,000 years here in Northern Ireland so it is unlikely the freeholder will be getting the land back any time soon. You will have to observe covenants and pay a ground rent to the freeholder.

A fee farm grant is like a hybrid of the other two interests. It lasts forever but there is a rent to pay. However this rent is usually a nominal rent which is not collected.

Land Registry

There are two land registration systems in Northern Ireland. The land registration system records the ownership of land and the Land Registry is the office that administers this system. Since 2003 whenever any property in Northern Ireland is transferred for value there is a compulsory obligation to register the property with the Land Registry if it has not already been done so. This has helped to increase transparency and certainty in the ownership of land here.

Registry of Deeds

This is the second land registration system here. This system records the existence and priority of deeds and the Registry of Deeds is the office that looks after this. The move to the Land Registry system, as noted above, has made conveyancing a much easier and more certain process.

Deed/Transfer

This is the document that will be used to register the transfer of ownership from vendor to purchaser. If the property is registered in the Registry of Deeds a deed is drafted by the purchaser’s solicitor and signed by the vendor. If the property is registered in the Land Registry then a prescribed form – “transfer” – is used. The signed, or “executed”, deed/transfer is provided to the purchaser’s solicitor after completion to allow registration to take place.

Covenants

A covenant is a “promise” contained in a deed which regulates the behaviour of those people that have interests in land. These are usually more commonly found in leasehold estates but as more and more new developments are created with freehold estates they are increasingly relevant to freeholders. Examples include the restriction on making alterations to building on the land, the requirement to pay rent and rates and often matters that could be seen as trivial – such as a prohibition on playing musical instruments between 11pm and 8am. Your solicitor will advise you prior to your purchase as to what covenants are relevant to your new property.

Deposit

Most people tend of think of the deposit as the difference between what the mortgage company is providing them with and the purchase price. However what the deposit really means in the conveyancing process is a sum of money paid by the purchaser to the vendor at the point where the parties enter into contract (usually 10% of the purchase price). Deposits have become less and less common and are usually only encountered in transactions involving new build properties and auction sales.

Fixtures and Fittings

Fixtures have traditionally been regarded as those things that would require considerable effort, probably tools and skill to remove. Fittings are generally regarded as things that can be un-hooked, un-plugged, lifted or removed without great effort, tools or specialised knowledge. If you are selling your property, your solicitor will provide you with a fixtures and fittings list to complete so that the purchaser knows what you intend to leave and what you intend to remove.

Searches

You will have heard the phrase “searches” in relation to conveyancing. These can encompass a wide variety of matters. Bankruptcy and Enforcement of Judgment Office searches will be required against the vendor/s to ensure there is nothing noted which would preclude the vendor from selling the property. If the property is registered in the Registry of Deeds then a search is required to ensure no document has been lodged which would gain priority over the would-be buyer. If the property is registered in the Land Registry then a similar search would be required. If the property is in the Registry of Deeds then a map search of the area to which the property relates is required to ensure some or all of that land has not already been registered in the Land Registry. The vendor will also be obliged to produce a Statutory Charges Register search which will indicate whether the property is affected in any way by statutory restrictions which are not noted elsewhere.

Property Certificates

The vendor will provide two property certificates prior to completion. One will be obtained from the local council and will indicate a number of matters including any licensing or building control matters affecting the property. The other – regional property certificate – collates information from the Roads Service, NI Water, the Planning Office, etc relating to the property and takes a little longer to be produced.

Mortgage

This is a loan secured against your property. If the borrower doesn’t make the repayments in respect of the loan then the lender can apply to the High Court for a Possession Order so that they can sell the property and recoup their money.

Ground Rent

If you own a leasehold interest in land there will be a ground rent. This is paid to the freeholder of the land (or an agent that collects it on their behalf). Ground rents are usually quite small (indeed some are nominal and not collected). The vendor is required to discharge the ground rent balance prior to the sale of the property.

We hope this brief guide helps you understand the process a little better. If there are any terms that you have heard and you are still not sure of the meaning please contact us on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.