cohabitation agreement

Cohabitation Agreement

In the last 15 years there was a sharp increase in the number of cohabiting couples that led to a rise in complex legal disputes when these relationships come to an end.

The number of unmarried couples has doubled since the mid 1990s. In contrary to common belief, an unmarried couple doesn’t have the same legal protection as those who are married. This can mean that one partner can be left without nothing, as the law treats their property as separate.

What is cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement, also known as living together agreement, is a legal document, enforceable by the court if it is properly executed and providing you have both been truthful about your finances and each obtained separate legal advice upon its terms. Such an agreement is used to set out which partner owns what and in what portion of the shared assets. It also let’s you document how the shared property, personal belongings, contents of the property, savings and other assets will be split after the break-up. It can also cover other things like supporting and maintaining children, as well as dealing with bank accounts, debts, and joint purchases, such as a car.

The cohabitation agreement can also cover things like:

  • Deposit on shared home
  • Life insurance
  • Pets
  • Pensions
  • Next of kin rights

You have no direct legal rights in a relationship if you are not married or in a civil partnership except in respect of mutually owned assets.

What are the benefits of getting a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can provide peace of mind, as it can protect either or both of you during break up. By coming to an agreement, before or whilst living together you will:

  • Have clear understanding of your financial commitments 
  • Avoid misunderstandings regarding the ownership of the property, your rights, and responsibilities
  • Avoid difficulties and disagreements if you split up.
  • Having clear evidence if court proceedings are required.

Why do you need a cohabitation agreement?
The law in the UK currently does not give any financial protection to people cohabiting unless they are married. If a non-marital relationship comes to an end, this can leave one party completely destitute if they have no assets of their own. For more information on detailed aspects of cohabitation law and cohabitation agreement, contact us on 01983 632006 or email us on

signs of a toxic marriage

Signs of a toxic marriage

Every relationship has its ups and downs and its occasional flare-ups. Not everyone has to quit on their marriage because of these obstacles.

However, if there are physical abuse, adultery, desertion or other major transgressions involved, they are an obvious indicator that the relationship is in trouble. Although, signs can be a lot more subtle than that, they can be just as toxic.

A toxic marriage – depending on your situation – is a chronic condition characterised by ongoing unhealthy mental, emotional, and physical issues that are unresolved then fester into even bigger problems. 

There is a good chance you are in a toxic marriage if you are already suspecting it. It can be just a general uneasiness, or you can point to concrete examples. Every relationship has its rough spots, and it does not necessarily mean your marriage is a lost cause. With time and effort some toxic situations can be remedied.

We have created a checklist to help you identify behaviours and actions that can define this more clearly. By recognising these behaviours, you are more inclined to take some sort of action to fix them.

1. Jekyll & Hyde behaviour

It is always uncertain what to expect from your partner. One moment they are caring and warm, then in the next they produce unnecessary rage and anger towards you. An abusive partner might use intimidation tactics.

2. Depression.

There are many things that can cause depression, but if you trace it back to your relationship or marriage, that is a sign of toxicity. Depression spills over your other relationships making you feel isolated. The longer the depression stays, the harder it is to get out of that mindset.

3. Exhaustion

Toxicity is life-draining. You will feel drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually by your surroundings and situation.

4. Overcompensation

Everyone in a happy marriage talks about how good and happy their relationship is. However, if you feel the urge to overcompensate by talking about how great your relationship is then it can be a sign of insecurity and unhappiness.

5. Misgivings about your marriage

In some circumstance, you should not listen to what other people say about your marriage. However, it is worth listening to people who have your best interest at heart. Especially if they are worried about the relationship/marriage you are in.

6. Secrecy and hiding friendships

Sustaining a separate social circle is healthy, to a certain extent. If you start purposing, pursuing outside friendships that do not include your partner/spouse, or becoming defensive and secretive when asked about them, it can be a sign your relationship is unstable.

7. Thoughts of infidelity

You may suspect your partner of adultery or yourself as an escape from the situation. This is also a sign of toxic behaviour.

8. Broken trust

Defending every little part of your life is a sign of distrust. It also opens doors to entering your toxic behaviours as a self-survival mechanism.

9. Avoiding emotional support from your partner

You don’t trust your partner for basic emotional support and in fact you go to anyone but your partner for help. In healthy relationships, spouses support each other. You may also notice your partner not being supportive of your goals and achievements.

10. Indifference and distance

whether the issue big or small, it is a sign of disrespect if they are not paying attention.

11. Becoming the scape goat.

You are blamed for everything, real or imagined, to shift their flaws away from themselves.

12. Your partner is lying about your marital finances.

Hiding money or going on a spending spree to put your marriage in a hole is a devastating thing to uncover down the road.

13. Spending more time with your children.

If there are children involved, you find yourself spending more time with your children which can be beneficial for some time apart. It can also be wedge in breaking your relationship apart if boundaries are not set.

14. Controlling behaviour

When one partner makes themselves to be the gatekeeper for both of your lives without your input, and doesn’t consider your participation, you are being taken for granted (or worse). If you notice your actions, relationships and finances being monitored and controlled by your partner, it is a sign of controlling behaviour.

15. Manipulation.

Your partner turns everything into a mind control exercise or engages is devious argumentative actions. Your partner blames you for everything that goes wrong which can make you end up feeling small, confused and often exhausted.

16. Toxic enabling

In a co-dependent relationship, an enabler constantly comes to the rescue of their spouse and encourages negative or unhealthy behaviour. If the line is drawn during argument but then you later give in to keep the “peace” that makes you a toxic enabler.

17. small imperfections to big issues.

When you draw a line, but then you don’t call your partner out on it, you are to blame for growing a toxic relationship as much as your partner.

18. wrapped up in each other’s lives.

While your partner should be your main relationship, things can go from healthy to toxic when you exclude others and focus solely on your spouse. That excessiveness can create an unhealthy way of jealousy and possessiveness.

19. small fights to big fights

Things get blown out of proportion in a toxic environment. The fight about the small things can be a fight about one major thing.

20. Tension

Marriage is a place of comfort. If you are constantly second-guessing yourself or feel on edge and unable to relax around your spouse. This can mean there’s an underlying issue.

21. You are absent from home

Home should not be a place of misery but a place of refuge. When your marriage starts becoming toxic you may find excuses to avoid going home for a while instead of confronting your feelings and the situation.

What should I do next?
Some marriages can come out of rough patches and toxicity. However, if you tried everything to resolve matters with your spouse leading nowhere then you may need to consider the hardest step forward. 
For further information on the complex aspects of divorce and Family Laws involved around the process or if you are looking to apply for a divorce then contact us on 01983 632006 or email us on

hidden costs of divorce

Hidden cost of divorce

42% of marriages now end in divorce across Wales and England and couples spend more than £44,000 on average on when they divorce or separate including lifestyle changes as well as legal fees.

Achieving a fair decision of all financial issues surrounding a divorce or dissolution of a registered partnership is stressful.

A study from Aviva shows the hidden cost of divorce as £21,979 per person or £43,958 per couple. The figures reveal a 57% increase since the study was last carried out in 2006 when the cost of divorce was around £28,000. While the data suggests legal fees for divorce have fallen over the period – from £1,818 to £1,280 – with many opting for substandard online services, additional costs such as moving house and child maintenance payments mean the overall price of separation has risen.

Considering the core costs of a divorce, studies viewed additional expenses that people may buy following or during a divorce.

Goods and delights

The study found 13% took a holiday to celebrate their newly single status at a typical cost of £1,925, while the same (13%) treated themselves to new technology, spending an average of £1,292 on gadgets and devices. A small portion (4%) spent an average of £1,067 on jewellery.

For 53% of couples took longer than six months to settle financial matters and four out of ten respondents said they were financially worse off following their separation. The typical time to settle after a divorce was 11.5 months. One in ten couples (11%) stated the process took more than two years.


Divorce is an emotional process for anyone going through it and for some, therefore counselling can provide a great amount of help. 4% of people decides to go on counselling or therapy following their divorce, costing £1,063 per person on average. Talking to someone about what you are going through and allowing them to help you get through it can help you through the process.

Health Insurance Coverage

You may already have health insurance coverage; however, this may be an added expense if you only have health insurance coverage through your spouse’s employment benefits. That coverage will change after the divorce; therefore, it is advised looking into any coverage your employer may provide.

Child maintenance costs and extras 

When a couple divorce, usually there are children involved. Therefore, living arrangements and child maintenance costs need to be solved, including additional expenses. Child maintenance costs £4,606 annually for the paying parent and 15% of people paid £1,222 for entertainment and gifts for children.

Child Maintenance Service can calculate how much child maintenance one parent should pay the other if you can’t agree on a payment.

There are several factors that they will consider:

  • How many children you have
  • The income of the paying parent
  • How much time is spent with the paying parent, whether the paying parent is paying child maintenance for other children

Divorce is a legal process, however there is so much more to it than the legalities. If you are getting a divorce, we can advise on all aspects of your case, including what you may face afterwards. For further information on the complex sides of divorce, dissolution, and Family Laws contact us on 01983 632006 or email


The rights of an unmarried father

In the UK, almost half of children are now born to unmarried parents which significantly increased in the recent years, escalating enquires regarding the rights of unmarried parents and most commonly about the rights of unmarried fathers.

This article breaks down certain aspects about the right and responsibilities an unmarried fathers have and what procedures can be approached in regard to the custody of the child(ren).

Parental rights and responsibilities
In section 3 of the Children Act 1989 where parental responsibility is defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.”

Briefly, an unmarried father can have about the same parental responsibility as a married father can. The mother of the child automatically has parental responsibilities, and the father can obtain these responsibilities by attaining one of the following:
1. The father in question obtains a Parental Responsibility Order
2. He enters into a formal Parental Responsibility Order with the mother of the child, which will be filed at court.
3. He (the father of the child) is jointly registered the birth with the mother and his name is on the birth certificate and the child is born after 1st December 2003.

The parties involved must attempt mediation before making an application, unless the application for the court order is urgent.

What is mediation? Mediation is a process that allows negotiation between two families regarding the future arrangements for the children with the help of a neutral third party. Mediation is recommended when the two parents find it hard to agree.

Custody rights
The father can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This means when the application is granted this would set out when the child is meant to spend time/live with the father and if it is in the child’s best interest to have contact with both parents, unless there are circumstance to the contrary.
A father is also able to apply for a ‘joint live with’ order to the court. If granted, the child would set to live with both parents.
If the father wishes to be the main carer and have the child live with him, he needs to make an application to the court.

“How do I take my child abroad if I am unmarried and/or separated?”
If the father wishes to take his child(ren) abroad on holiday, he must obtain a Permission from everyone with Parental Responsibility or a court order.
For further information on the aspects of Family laws and Child Arrangement orders or if you want to apply for a joint to live with order then contact us on 01983 632006 or email


How your employer can help you during your divorce

How your employer can help you during your divorce

Dealing with divorce can be a stressful period for both parties even if you are on good terms to some extent. 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce and 90% of the divorces happen to people of working age. Many people often avoid contacting their employer and seek the advice of relatives before going to a solicitor.

Divorces can differ from case to case but if you are unable to agree on the arising arrangements regarding children and financial matters, either directly or through other dispute, then court proceedings will be required. Court hearings can take a great amount of time and energy.

In this article, we will walk you through certain steps and information you need to consider before asking for adjustments with your employer.

Communication is the key

A divorce is never easy. When your circumstances are starting to affect your day-to-day life, including work, it is advised to make your employer aware of the state of affairs you are in. Your employer may have relatively limited legal obligations, however making them aware of your key dates can offer you flexibility. 

Annual leave

When it comes to the dates of your court hearings, you need to make sure you have a day reserve for each hearing and essential meetings. This means you need to set aside enough annual leave for these purposes.

Flexible Working Request

Legally, an employee can request flexible working once they have been employed at least 26 weeks and only one request can be made in any 12 months period. However, the starting point is your employers flexible working policy, and you need to consider the adjustments, you are requesting, are temporary or permanent. Once you have decided the adjustments you require, you need to send a formal written proposal. Then your employer has an obligation to consider your written proposal and a decision is made within 3 months.

Parental leave

Parental leave is another option you can consider taking if your employer’s flexible policy is restricted. Unfortunately, parental leave is unpaid, however your employer cannot refuse you to go on parental leave. You are entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave per child up to their 18th birthday, if you have been with your employer at least a year.

For further information on the intricate aspects of child arrangement orders and family law surrounding a divorce contact us on 01983 632006 or email .

Michael Spoors Solicitors expands into Southampton

We are proud to announce that Michael Spoors Solicitors our expanding across Hampshire with the opening of a new office in Southampton. The move will give us the ability to act on behalf of many more clients in need of expert knowledge of family law to meet a successful outcome in highly emotional circumstances.

“The decision to expand further into Hampshire and open a second office in Southampton was a logical step in our business growth strategy,”

said Michael Spoors, Owner and solicitor at the firm.

“We aim to establish closer ties with our Hampshire based clients which will further strengthen our service capabilities in the South of the UK and it’s critical that we meet clients where they live to service them most effectively.”

Having opened our doors back in 2016 and established ourselves as a premier family law firm on the Isle of Wight dealing with issues such as divorce, child settlement and cohabitation for many families across the Island, the opening of a new Southampton office was an obvious choice. This move will be the start of further expansion plans, supported by our recently updated brand and web materials to reflect the businesses growth.

For more information or to get in contact with a Michael Spoors representative in your area, contact or contact 023 8218 0283 for our Southampton office, White Building Studios, 1-4 Cumberland Place, Southampton, Hampshire, SO15 2NP or 01983 632006 for our Isle of Wight headquarters, Bugle House, 118a High Street, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1TP.

top ten tips

Top 10 tips for working with your family law solicitor

1. Start early

When relationship breakdown it can be one of the most stressful times of your life. If you plan to take legal advice, then plan early so that you can focus on resolving issues. Be calm and focused and hopefully you can achieve a quicker successful resolution.

2. The children should always come first

If there are children involved in the case, then they should always be the priority. Their welfare should be the first thing you consider when you make decisions. They are often the most effected member of the family when it comes to divorce and will remember the experience for the rest of their lives. The Court considers the children’s welfare to be of the up most importance in any case, so consider them first.

3. Be respectful

Family disputes that have gone as far as a solicitor are very difficult and stressful situations to overcome, full of emotion and it can be difficult to be respectful towards those who have hurt you. However, if you are rudeness or abusive behaviour will only deter your ex-partner from negotiating. Revenge can often be self- destructive especially if there are children involved as you may still need to deal with your ex-partner in the future.

4. Be honest

Always be open and honest with your family law solicitor. If you hide information, it will result in increased costs and animosity as well as lengthier disputes. It’s our job to work with the truth to give you the best result we can and during the process everything always comes out so it’s always best to be honest with your solicitor.

5. Think about the long and short term

Don’t just consider the short term but also long-term arrangements. What you arrange for the children now will not likely affect you when they are adults so aim for a result that works both now and in the future for you.

6. Compromise

Agreeing to decisions whether big or small is the only way to reach a settlement. If issues fail to be resolved then you will likely end up in expensive, stressful, and costly Court proceedings. Is it important who gets the fridge? Pick your battles and consider where it is best to exert your energy and spend your legal costs.

7. Think about settlements

Blunt rejection to offers to settle can sometimes make matters worse. Consider all offers carefully. On the most part initial offers will not be acceptable, but it could give you something to work with moving forward. Likewise, don’t accept an offer without fully considering it then you may find yourself worse off. It is a balancing act but consider all offers.

8. Why go to court?

Going to court is an expensive exercise and is often not the best for either party. We will always help you consider all your options and sometime the best option is the wait rather than go straight to court. Equally sometimes you do need to take immediate action. Be considerate of all the options presented to you and consider what is in the best interest of you and your family.

9. Don’t assume that what works for someone else will work for you

Every relationship is different. Everyone has different reasons for breaking up along with different finances and dependants. What has worked for your neighbour may not work for you. There are so many factors to consider that every case is different and so come with an open mind and help us get the right result for you and your family.

10. Look to the future

Don’t focus on the pass and pass actions and blame which can hamper your ability to negotiate with a clear head. Look to the future and focus on life after your case when you can move on. Consider the outcome you want and work towards that rather than trying to punish your ex-partner for the past.

Billionaire Divorce

That well versed saying is true, “Money can’t buy you everything”. Even a billionaire can end up having a failed marriage ending in divorce. Most recently and notable of late is the fallen marriage of Bill and Melinda Gates. The Microsoft tycoon’s divorce is set to be one of the largest in history as the private investigators are called in and rumours of affairs emerge.

The divorce will see Bill and Melinda not only split their vast fortune estimated to be in the region of $124 billion but also the future of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation comes into question. So what’s the story of this famous partnership and how did it come to an end?

Bill and Melinda met at Microsoft, where Bill made his fortune. Melinda Gates started at Microsoft as a marketing manager for multimedia products, such as the Encarta multimedia encyclopedia. They started dating in 1987 and married in 1994. They have three children and live in a mansion overlooking Lake Washington in Seattle.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation began in 2000, and has since become the world’s largest private charitable organisation

Why divorce?

The pair announced,

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates tweeted on 3 May. “We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

 Although exact reasons have not been given the Washington superior court did say that

“this marriage is irretrievably broken”.

It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that “on at least a few occasions” Bill Gates had pursued women which worked for him and that Bill gates had an affair 20 years ago which ended amicably. It is believed his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex trafficker may also have some part in Melinda’s decision to file for divorce.

What? No Prenup?

One of the biggest revelations to the Gates divorce is that the couple have never had a prenuptial agreement in place. When the couple married in 1994 Bill Gates was the richest man in the US and so the lack of a prenup had come as quite a surprise and could have helped make assets easier and clearer to divide. One thing is for sure, as this celebrity divorce continues down the long and windy road we will see more and more information leaked to the media with secrets from the couples long marriage exposed.

child arrangement order

What is a child arrangement order?

The biggest concern to everyone involved in a divorce or separation is the welfare of the children from the relationship. Sometimes when things cannot be worked out amicably the child’s welfare is decided through the courts. At this point a child arrangement order can come into effect. But what is a child arrangement order?

A Child Arrangements Order is an order that determines who the child or children live and spend time with and who they may have contact with. Child arrangement orders can differ based on each cases personal circumstances of the family but will always look to put the best interests of that particular child first. Child Arrangements Orders are governed by section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

There are many questions that we hear from our clients when it comes to the arrangements for child arrangement orders and so here, we try to clear a few of these common questions up.

What happens if a party breaks the rules of the Child Arrangements Order?

The only way the court can be aware of a breach in a child arrangement order is if a formal application for enforcement is made. The Court will only make an Enforcement Order if it is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a person has failed to comply with the order.

When making an Enforcement Order, the consequences of breaking the order can be severs ranging from giving the party concerned a warning, fine, community service, or even a prison sentence.

What if all parties agree to depart from the arrangements set out in the Child Arrangements Order?

If everyone involved in the Child Arrangements Order agree the changes, it would not be in breach of the order to depart from its terms. However, the changes to the agreement are not legally binding unless the order is formally updated by the Court. If the informal agreement comes to an end at any point, the parties will have to revert back to the original order.

Can a Child Arrangements Order be changed?

Over time and as the children get older family circumstances and the children’s needs change and the court are well aware of this fact. Therefore, the court allows for applications for variation of an existing Child Arrangements Order as long as it is proven to be in the child’s best interests.

How long is a Child Arrangements Order in force for?

The ‘contact’ element of a child arrangement order will remain legally binding until the child reaches the age of 16 unless stated otherwise in the order. This is in accordance with section 91(10) of the Children Act 1989. At the age of 16 it becomes the child’s responsibility to decide how much contact they would like to have with the parent they do not live with.

The ‘live with’ element of a Child Arrangements Order remains legally binding until the child reaches the age of 18, although the Court rarely enforce this order beyond the age of 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances.

For further information on the complex aspects of child arrangement orders or if you are looking to apply for a Child Arrangements Order then contact us on 01983 632006 or email for more information.

The difference between pre and post nup agreements

Many of us have heard of a prenuptial agreement, often made popular by the rich and famous who have used pre nups for some astounding outcomes. Take Robert and Shiela Johnson for instance. Robert Johnson, America’s first African-American billionaire and co-founder of BET, settled a divorce with his wife of 30 years to the value of $400 million when their marriage ended in 2002. The prenup made this outcome possible as it was up held in court and Sheila was awarded half of their joint assets, making it one of the biggest divorce settlements in history.

Less people however are aware of a postnuptial agreement. So what’s the difference?

The main difference between a pre and a postnuptial agreement is that if you require a prenup in your relationship then this needs to be implemented before you are legally married. A ‘postnup’ can be added any time after getting married.

Splitting up is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind when they are getting married and so a ‘prenup’ can be a difficult subject to broach as you approach your wedding day. Sadly however 44% of marriages do end in divorce and so if you and your partner regret not thinking about getting a prenuptial agreement before getting married, a postnuptial agreement could be the solution for you.

A postnuptial agreement will document what you and your partner want to happen to your money, property and assets if your marriage or civil partnership did break down and came to an end. Postnuptial agreements are commonly used if you and your partner have married  but wish to set out how your finances will be distributed if you separate. Both a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement could be the deciding factor if your divorce settlement ends up in court as the court will generally stick to the terms of your agreement unless the effect of it would be unfair.

Michael spoors solicitors have years of experience drafting pre and postnuptial agreements so that you can relax and enjoy your relationship without fear of what might happen if the relationship breaks down. So if you are looking to join the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z or Donald and Ivana Trump and get a pre or postnuptial agreement, then we can give clear and concise advice. Contact us on 01983 632006 or email for more information.