A day in the family team

3 August, 2017
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

In this week’s edition of Cripps Pemberton Greenish in a Day, Cripps Pemberton Greenish’s very own trainee solicitor blog, we catch up with Tom Pimenta for a peek at life in the family team.

A day in the family team

8.45am: I arrive at work and prepare a Twitter post for the family team’s page. This means that I keep up to date with changes in the law.

9.00am: I attended a two day hearing in Hastings on a child arrangements matter 

earlier this week so I finish off the attendance note from the meeting. Trainees in the family team get a lot of opportunities to attend hearings. This is a great way to see the law in action and has enhanced my understanding of family law. It is fascinating how late in the day parties negotiate a settlement in these cases. Unlike commercial disputes, a large proportion of cases settle in the middle of proceedings.

10.15am: With a divorce, the parties must obtain two court orders to reflect the stages of divorce. The first is the “decree nisi”, where the parties prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is followed by the “decree absolute”, which is an order that legally states that the marriage is at an end and enables the parties to remarry. Following the conclusion of the financial claims last week, I prepare an application for a decree absolute.

10.25am: My supervisor asks me to draft a letter explaining the consequences of our client releasing his matrimonial home right. The home right prevents the property being sold without our client being notified. Our client has agreed to remove this in exchange for an undertaking from their spouse’s solicitors. The undertaking confirms that they will hold the proceeds of sale pending resolution of financial matters and will not release them without the consent of both parties. This ensures our client’s interest in the property is protected.

10.45am: A client calls to confirm that they would like to proceed with their divorce and so I prepare the petition. The only ground for getting a divorce is the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” This is then evidenced by one of five facts. In this case, the fact used is the husband’s “unreasonable behaviour”. This involves providing a summary of examples of the spouse’s unreasonable behaviour. I liaise with the client to finalise the particulars and then send the draft to the husband’s solicitors for comments. Agreeing these between the parties saves costs and makes later negotiations more amicable.

11.30am: I attend a client meeting to discuss claims that a former partner is making against our client. The case is complex as it involves an unmarried couple who had divided their assets for their children during their relationship. As the parties are unmarried, the claims will require use of broader civil law rather than the family law rules. We look into undue influence when our client entered into certain contracts with her partner and whether we can use this to challenge transfers of her property to him.

1.00pm: I meet up with another trainee for lunch where we discuss the summer ball preparations. We are organising an after dinner “Would I lie to you?” themed game using statements collected from colleagues.

2.00pm: I review a client’s draft Form E, which contains their financial disclosure. When resolving the financial matters arising from a divorce, both parties must provide full and frank financial disclosure. From this, the total asset pot can be ascertained. I prepare a list of further documents that we will need to see before we can complete the form and send this to the client.

4.00pm: We have a hearing next week to assess which location divorce proceedings should take place in. Both the husband and wife have issued divorce proceedings in separate jurisdictions. I prepare the brief to counsel, which involves collating all of the relevant documents on the file and ordering them in lever arch folders.

5.00pm: I have a conference with counsel in London tomorrow so I review the papers and read up on the law to prepare.

6.00pm: I review my list of tasks for tomorrow and leave the office to attend the family team’s summer drinks. The team host this in the “Sky Lounge” in the Tunbridge Wells office. We have invited a number of the barristers and financial advisers that we have worked with.

Tom’s profile

Name: Tom Pimenta

Current Seat: Family

Previous Seats: Development, Commercial Disputes, Investment (Commercial Property), Employment, The Advisory Group (Private Client)

Studied: Law (LLB) at the University of Southampton, LPC at the University of Law, London Bloomsbury

Most recent holiday… Dubrovnik, Croatia