SEPARATION AND DIVORCE
Following the break-up of any family unit, there will, inevitably, arise issues which require to be resolved. The taking of early advice in relation to these issues is essential. We have extensive experience of dealing with all of the issues which can arise, such as the financial consequences of separation and divorce, and child welfare related issues (including the most commonly encountered issues of residence and contact).
RESIDENCE AND CONTACT
When couples with children separate, the most pressing child welfare related issues which generally arise are with whom the child or children of the relationship should live, and whether and under what circumstances the child or children should have contact with the parent with whom they do not live. These issues are now known as ‘residence’ and ‘contact’. Early independent advice should always be sought with a view to minimising, as far as possible, the effects of a separation upon the children of the relationship. We have many years of experience in advising separating spouses or partners in situations such as these.
People have a right to live their lives not only without being abused or harassed by others, but also without the fear of being abused or harassed by others. If that right is being infringed, you should be entitled to apply for the protection of the Court, whether that be in the form of an Interdict with Power of Arrest, an Exclusion Order or a Non-Harassment Order. We have extensive experience of applying for protective orders on behalf of clients, and would recommend seeking early advice in relation to the issue, should you find yourself in such a position.
The issue of a child’s parentage is fundamental to a child’s identity. In cases where parentage is in doubt or is disputed, there is a pressing need for early resolution in the interests of all concerned. We are able to assist in instructing the appropriate DNA testing process and progressing the issue appropriately thereafter. Public funding under the Legal Advice and Assistance Scheme may be available, depending on the particular circumstances of the case and your own financial circumstances.
ADOPTION AND PERMANENCE
In certain circumstances, the legal processes by which the welfare of children is safeguarded are applications for adoption orders and permanence orders. Access to legal representation is essential at the earliest possible stage once a decision is made by a Local Authority to pursue or support an application for any such order. If you are affected by an application of this type, or wish to pursue an application for adoption of a child, we can assist with appropriate advice and, in suitable circumstances, representation.
Should you have been involved in an accident (whether a road traffic accident, an accident at work or tripping in the street) and thereby suffered injury and/or loss in the last three years, we can give advice in relation to the possibility of pursuing a compensation claim against the person or organisation said to be at fault. We have many years of experience of representing clients who have had the misfortune to suffer personal injury through no fault of their own, and guiding them through the process of bringing a claim. However, very strict time limits apply to such claims under Scots Law and you are therefore encouraged to take legal advice sooner, rather than later. We are able to assist in these circumstances and, according to circumstances, are able to progress any potential claim which you may have either under the Standard Legal Advice & Assistance Scheme which operates under Legal Aid legislation, or, alternatively, on a “no win no fee” basis. Irrespective of how the claim is funded, in the first instance, it is in virtually all cases the insurers of the party alleged to be at fault who will pay for the legal fees incurred in bringing the claim itself, in circumstances where liability (i.e. fault) for the accident in question is established or admitted by the party at fault. The effect of this is that, if you are successful in your claim for damages, it is highly likely that all legal fees and outlays incurred on your behalf will, ultimately, be met by the insurers of the party at fault, and you will, ordinarily, receive all of the monetary damages which you are entitled to without any deduction in respect of legal fees or any “success fee” which you may otherwise require to agree to in the event that your case is to proceed on a “no win no fee” basis if instructing other firms of solicitors or claims companies offering “no win no fee” services.
We guarantee that your first interview at our office in relation to a possible compensation claim with our specialist claims department will be at no cost to you, irrespective of your financial circumstances.
CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION APPLICATIONS
If you have been the innocent victim of a crime of violence and have suffered injury, whether mental or physical, in the last two years, you may be able to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for an award of compensation. We have very extensive experience of pursuing such applications on behalf of clients and are confident that we will be able to assist you in such circumstances with the benefit of our knowledge of cases of this nature.
ADULTS WITH INCAPACITY
It is an unfortunate but inevitable fact of life that, as we get older, our ability to look after our financial affairs and our personal welfare affairs could potentially be affected by the onset of mental illness or old age. In such circumstances, there is a real need for people to be able to take decisions relating to others’ financial affairs and personal welfare. However, these decisions cannot generally be taken in the absence of a properly prepared and registered Power of Attorney on the one hand, or an Intervention/Guardianship order granted by a Sheriff, on the other. Many people in Scotland now grant Powers of Attorney. In the year 2014/2015, the Public Guardian registered in excess of 55,000 Powers of Attorney (or approximately 250 each day). Just over 2% of these did not contain any financial powers. In our experience, it is unlikely that a nursing home will agree to accommodate a prospective resident unless there is either a Power of Attorney or a Guardianship Order in place. If you think this may be an issue for you, or if you have a family member or loved one who is in the unfortunate position of being incapable of making decisions in relation to matters affecting their financial affairs and/or personal welfare affairs, early advice is recommended. We can assist both with Powers of Attorney (which are granted by an adult while he or she still has capacity) and Intervention/Guardianship Orders (which are granted by the court after an adult has lost capacity). What is not commonly known is that special streamlined procedures are currently in place under Legal Aid legislation which means that an application for a Guardianship Order will be funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board as long as the application itself contains an application for powers relating to the welfare of the adult in question. Legal Advice and Assistance may also be available in relation to the preparation of the application for civil legal aid itself.
EVICTION ACTIONS (LANDLORD OR TENANT)
Whether you are a landlord seeking to bring a tenancy to an end, or a tenant threatened with eviction (for whatever reason), we are able to act on your behalf and provide appropriate advice and, if necessary, representation at Court.
DEBT MATTERS / BANKRUPTCY / SEQUESTRATION
At the present time, in particular, there are few of us who do not worry about money in one way or another. Debt is a very real concern for most people and, if you are worried about your financial circumstances and your ability to pay what you owe, early advice is essential. We can help to explain your options to you and assist you with taking the appropriate steps to protect your position with regard to debt.