Mediating family fallouts after a death

It is not commonly realised that if you live with someone to whom you are not married, if you do not make a Will leaving your assets to them, then on your death they will not automatically receive anything from your estate. Flowers in window - CroppedFamily arrangements are now increasingly complex.  People may have married and divorced, remarried or lived with somebody and they may have had children with a number of different partners;  so it is often not clear as to who “their children” are.  What happens when people die without a Will or without making their intentions clear? If there is uncertainty, if it is not clear who is going to inherit, then families can, and often do, fall out.  Perhaps there is an unmarried partner - they will have a claim to part of the estate - obviously any children will also have a claim, and possibly children from a previous marriage will have a claim if they are still and young and dependant in any way.  What about a spouse or an ex-spouse? If the person who dies is living with someone to whom they are not married then that person may expect to inherit the house, but under the Rules of Intestacy it may pass to children or other relatives.  Houses are valuable assets and are worth arguing over.  All the family members have different and competing interests.  If they all instruct Lawyers to argue their case and there is a possibility that the matter will go to Court then tens of thousands of pounds can be spent and those very assets that are in dispute are used up paying legal fees! Ideally you should make a Will that sets out your intentions very clearly but if there is no Will or if there is still a dispute, then far better to consider mediation. Mediation is very relevant when there are family fallouts and disputes about Wills or what is to happen to assets on death, just as it is relevant when people separate.  It is equally important to try and resolve differences without going to the Court and for all sides to reach an agreement that they can be happy with.  Otherwise a lot of money can be spent going to Court where an arbitrary decision is made which may suit no one. Far better to mediate than to litigate. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.
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Civil Partnerships – a new kind of convention?

mediationCivil partnerships recognise the validity of same sex relationships. They provide the same legal and social recognition as heterosexual couples who marry. It is a public statement, sign of commitment and a legally recognised category. As with marriage, civil partnership changes the legal relationship between couples and gives them certain rights, responsibilities and entitlements which they would not have if they were in a casual, unrecognised relationship, if they were merely cohabitees as opposed to being married or in a civil partnership. In some ways same sex relationships are flouting convention, possibly not the typical picture of a nuclear family or how society would portray family and marriage relationships generally. Yet civil partnerships once unusual, perhaps unconventional have acquired a new acceptance and have become almost conventional. Not only may they include the exchange of rings but quite often the couple decide to adopt the same surname. Ironically, such outward signs of convention can appear very unconventional and challenging. If two men living together choose to adopt the same surname, this is quite unusual, if same sex couples exchange rings or have a lavish public ceremony, somehow this adoption of classic conventions appears to be flouting them too. It is an interesting situation whereby the very essence of convention and acceptability – a wedding, exchange of rings, adoption of the same surname in a same sex relationship seem challenging and a flouting of convention. We now have the ultimate sign of marriage – the divorce or the dissolution of civil partnerships and these cases are now going through the courts in the same way divorcing couples have for many years. The Lawrence v Gallagher case established clearly that financial claims within a civil partnership are to be dealt with in the same way as a marriage, that means in legal speak that the same financial remedies are available to people within a civil partnership as within a marriage. Couples acquire the same legal rights and remedies. This is also perhaps an example of where the law is ahead of public thinking – there is absolutely no difference between same sex and heterosexual relationships in law but perhaps not yet in society. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.
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Falling in love or harassment?

weighing scalesDuring last year around the time there were changes made to the law on harassment, I was  reading a book by Robert Dunbar ‘The Signs of Love and Betrayal’ where there is a description of a recognised condition known as Clerambault’s syndrome (named after a French psychiatrist).  It is an obsession or more particularly a delusional belief that a particular individual is very much in love with them.  This particular belief is usually so intense that nothing the object of desire says or does will shake it.  All attempts to stop the unwelcome attention of the individual concerned are interpreted as playing hard to get in order to test the suitor’s resolve.  It is evidently more common in women.  In fact it occurs more frequently in older women and more often women who are or have been married.  There are a few examples of celebrities who have suffered from this and it also features in Ian McEwen’s novel ‘Enduring Love’.  From an evolutionary point of view this kind of obsession makes a certain sense.  Once you have made up your mind whom to take as your lifelong partner, then the best thing is to go for it as hard as you can.   Although women are impressed by attentiveness, men are probably more easily swayed by persistence, if only because to quote the book “they are usually happier than women to settle for whatever they can get”.  As Dunbar goes on to say life is much too short to waste time searching for Mr or Ms Perfect.  There is a trade-off to be had between continuing to search forever and just getting on with the biological business that having a relationship is all about – reproduction.  You are not going to do significantly better by rejecting an endless series of suitors in search of the perfect mate.  Do not forget too, that even if the perfect mate does exist, they know how perfect they are so will only be willing to settle for the perfect mate of the opposite sex.  They end up with the pick of the bunch. If you wait around too long you may be completely left out.  Anyway there is no such thing as the perfect mate although perhaps you need to believe you have found him or her. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.
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