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As of the 1st December 2014 there have been changes to the law regarding shared parental leave – changes that also apply to those adopting a child. This modification allows parents to split the maternity/ paternity leave over 52 weeks.

Previously, fathers were able to take over leave from the mother after the baby is 20 weeks old. This has now changed as the mothers can give any unused maternity allowance to their partner as soon as compulsory leave has finished – this currently stands at two weeks.

What does this mean for employers?

These changes won’t have a large impact on most employers due to the fact that the time span hasn’t been massively changed. The biggest impact will be that employers will need to understand the new regulations and amend their procedures to take account of the changes. More...

christmas separated families

Traditionally Christmas is a time to spend with your family and friends. It’s generally a happy time and the season of goodwill but unfortunately this isn’t always the case for separated families and their children.

Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time for separated families, especially when one parent doesn’t have the opportunity to spend time with the children during Christmas. Separated families may feel as though everyone else is enjoying the perfect family festivities, while they feel more isolated and alone than during the rest of the year.

Coming to an Agreement

Karis Wookey, a family law solicitor at Howells Solicitors offers her advice to parents who find themselves in this situation as the festive season arrives:

From a legal aspect, it can be very a frustrating time for the non-resident parent if the resident parent doesn’t grant them time with the children over Christmas. The best case scenario is to come to an informal agreement between yourselves, perhaps where you alternate each year.  However, if this is not possible we can help you make an Application to Court to obtain a legally binding Order setting down the days/times you see your children over the festive period. More...

changes to stamp duty

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has today (December 3rd 2014) revealed a new regime for Stamp Duty Land Tax, which will produce a much lower tax change for most buyers.

Commenting on the Stamp Duty Land Tax Reforms announced yesterday in the Autumn Statement, Mark Hobbs, managing partner of Howells Solicitors’, Wales’ largest residential practice welcomed the changes saying that they were “sensible and good for the market.”

The law firm is responsible for over 800 residential property completions each month. Although the immediate changes to the system have resulted in the accounts department at the law firm working overtime to ensure potential complications caused by the reforms for home buyers due to complete today and in the next couple of days are managed accordingly, they do allow clients to chose whether to pay the tax at the new or current rate depending on which is best for the buyer.

Mr Hobbs said, “The reforms remove the big hikes in Stamp Duty at former pinch points especially for properties in the £250,000 and £500,000 categories. Big savings in the middle market will push more sales along next year which might counter the traditional pre election lull. One could argue that it is a clever political move by The Chancellor of the Exchequer as it placates those calling for the introduction of a Mansion Tax but from a conveyancing viewpoint the reforms are fair and will benefit those taking their first steps on the property ladder as well as those moving up it.” More...

pros and cons of diy divorce

The Government’s changes to legal funding in 2013 means that legal aid for divorcing couples is now near enough non-existent – except in cases involving domestic abuse.

And as a significant proportion of the 120,000 divorcees in England and Wales are doing so amicably, increasing numbers of people are keeping the costs of their permanent separation down with a DIY divorce.

What is a DIY divorce?

In English and Welsh law, married couples don’t have to instruct a solicitor in order to get divorced.

A DIY divorce effectively enables both parties to represent themselves. Couples can obtain the necessary documents to begin the process, complete the relevant forms and then process the divorce through the courts. The court charges a petition fee of £410 however those in receipt of benefits or on a low income may be exempt from all or part of the court fee. More...

Arranging detailed wills is very common for us, but lots of people have very specific instructions regarding the distribution of assets. Here’s a question regarding how inheritance can be protected:

Q: I love my daughter and want her to benefit from my estate when I pass on, but I don’t want her partner to receive a penny off me. Is it possible to ensure that her partner doesn’t get his hands on any of my daughter’s inheritance even if they are married by the time I pop off? Is her spouse entitled to inheritance or is there a way of protecting inheritance from a spouse?

A: There are several ways that you can protect your estate from your daughter’s partner. For example, in your will you could leave your estate in trust for your daughter so that she is only entitled to the income.

If you decide to go down the route of a trust, it should state who will benefit on your daughter's death. This could be any children she may have and also needs to cover the situation should she die without leaving any children. Make sure that the trust has another beneficiary apart from your daughter, so that it can be shown that the trust is not only for the benefit of your daughter. More...

With effect from 15th February 2015 EU Regulations on Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) allow consumers who bought our services online to submit their complaint via an online complaint portal.

We are required under the regulations to provide our clients the following information:-
  1. Link to the ODR platform - please follow the following link for further information (http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr).
  2. Our contact email address in case of a complaint under the ODR regulation – Andrea Coombes andrea.c@howellslegal.com