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ASH HOUSE, PINEWOOD BUSINESS PARK, COLESHILL ROAD, MARSTON GREEN, SOLIHULL, B37 7HW, ENGLAND
Tel:
Work 0121 770 1221
Fax:
Fax 0121 770 7110
Email:
Web:
www.mercymessenger.co.uk

The firm: Mercy Messenger Solicitors was established by founder partner Mercy Messenger in 1983 and is continually developing and strengthening its expertise.  The firm is widely regarded as one of the leading matrimonial and family law specialist practices in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The aim of the firm is to provide services of the highest quality which produce fair and effective results.

Mercy Messenger Solicitors are fortunate to have the consultancy services of partner David Messenger who is a specialist commercial lawyer with extensive corporate finance experience. To the firm’s clients he brings a thorough understanding of their business concerns and of the valuation aspects that can arise out of relationship breakdown, especially the implications for family businesses.

Clients : Clients come from a broad range of backgrounds and the majority, if not all, of the firm’s clients come by way of recommendation by colleagues, friends or family, as well as via referrals from other lawyers, accountants, surveyors and pension advisers.

Mercy Messenger Solicitors have also established a reputation in successfully concluding cases for clients coming to them for a second opinion with reservations about advice they have previously received.

Types of work undertaken: Marital and Civil Partnership Breakdown: A decision to separate has an enormous impact on clients and their families. Mercy Messenger encourage their clients to take their time and consider carefully at the outset all options available to them in order to assist them in reaching such a big decision.

This decision has to be reached by the client, and the client alone, once they have come to terms with their situation and are ready to move forward.

When clients switch to the firm from previous advisors, a constant theme is that a divorce/dissolution petition has been issued before the client has been made aware of the financial implications. It is the firm’s practice to ensure that the client is informed at the first meeting of the parameters of the financial settlement to enable them to make an informed decision as to how to proceed.

Children: Arrangements for children can become particularly controversial and problematic following a relationship breakdown, whether within or outside a formal relationship.

Mercy Messenger have found that an increasing number of clients have been refused access to their children following separation with allegations made to the Police and Children’s Services. The firm understands the emotional impact this has on the parties and the importance of ensuring their children are protected/contact is re-instated where appropriate.

A highly technical field is that of Fact Finding Hearings in children matters. The complex cases the firm is used to dealing with frequently involve such a Hearing. Support and reassurance is offered to those involved to help alleviate the pressure of going to Court.

Mercy Messenger assist clients in relation to:

  • Deciding where and with whom a child will live;
  • Agreeing how much contact a child has with the non-resident parent or grandparent;
  • Making decisions in relation to particular circumstances affecting a child (such as schooling, health, or holidays) (Specific Issues);
  • Preventing a problem from occurring in relation to a child (such as removal from the country) (Prohibited Steps); and
  • Determining the issue of Parental Responsibility for a child.

When advising clients in relation to children matters, the welfare of the children is the paramount consideration. With this in mind, the firm encourages clients to consider arrangements with their former partners which are in the best interests of the children. The firm discuss and negotiate on behalf of the client in cases where relations between the parents are no longer amicable.

Financial Arrangements: Mercy Messenger advises clients as to the right “package” of financial settlement Orders for them based on a careful analysis of the assets and income of the parties, as well as looking to the eventual outcome and the practical impact of the settlement for the client moving forward.

The firm is experienced in utilising the Court’s powers to safeguard assets if clients have concerns regarding the manipulation of the asset base.

Reallocation of Family Assets : A 50/50 start point is just that – a start point. Mercy Messenger consider needs and what assets are matrimonial and shareable and what are not, for example, assets acquired by one party before the relationship started or inheritances.

The firm advises across the spectrum, from modest asset bases to multi-million pound cases.

The firm works hard to assist clients with limited assets to achieve a fair outcome for them and their children moving forward.

The firm is alert to the fact that a number of clients have suffered a financial disadvantage as a result of the breakdown of their marriage and one party may have suffered in terms of their ability to generate an income for themselves. The firm understands that this can be a key worry for clients and is an area that is thoroughly examined during the course of negotiations and within Court proceedings.

Maintenance : Dealing with maintenance can be a challenge, and from the perspective of the payer it can seem an extremely unattractive feature of a financial settlement. Mercy Messenger explore all possible options, either to reduce the burden of maintenance on a payer, or to maximise the amount and duration of maintenance for a recipient.

Questions which arise include:

  • Is this case suitable for a maintenance arrangement or should there be an immediate cut off of support between spouses (Clean Break).
  • If there is a maintenance liability, for what duration should this be in payment – short term or life long?
  • What impact does a maintenance award have on the division of capital and pension?

The Wider Team : Considerable attention is given to building a team at an early stage, including retaining Counsel and technical experts who are best suited to the individual client.  The firm has established connections with the leading sets of Family Law Chambers across the country as well as with very experienced forensic experts.

Agreements:  Pre, Post and Mid Nuptial Agreements: Mercy Messenger have experience in advising clients who are looking to protect pre-acquired, family or inherited wealth against the risks of relationship breakdown.

In the right circumstances pre, post and mid nuptial agreements can be extremely valuable evidence of what was intended by the parties at the relevant time in their relationship provided they are entered into legitimately and according to conditions set out in recent case law.

In the alternative, as pre, post or mid nuptial agreements are not automatically binding on the Court, the firm assists clients who feel that they ought not to be held to a financial agreement which is unfair to them in the event of a subsequent breakdown of the relationship.

Breakdown of a co-habiting relationship: Mercy Messenger advise on the protection available through Trust Deeds and Cohabitation Agreements, particularly where one party has been primarily responsible for the funding of the family home.

Personal Arrangements: The firm are supportive of clients who arrange their own financial agreements and strive to achieve what is discussed in the form of a legally binding Court Order, whilst advising about the importance of having a complete picture and understanding of the parameters that would be adopted by the Court when reviewing an Order.

Family and Property Protection: Coercive Control and other Inappropriate Behaviour: It may be that the client feels vulnerable or threatened in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown. Alternatively, a client may feel that they are being wrongly accused. Mercy Messenger Solicitors are alert to these problems and have extensive experience in advising clients in relation to their position in respect of protective Court proceedings such as Occupation Orders or Non-Molestation Orders.

The firm are also alert to the difficulties faced by clients who have experienced coercive control over the length of the relationship, particularly in terms of psychological and financial abuse.

Property Issues: Mercy Messenger Solicitors are experienced in dealing with related property issues for clients and liaising with the Land Registry to provide protection by way of appropriate regulations. Most commonly, the firm can:

  • Protect home rights for our clients in the event that the matrimonial home is solely owned by the other spouse;
  • Obtain other protective registrations;
  • Deal with the transfer of property between spouses once a financial settlement package has been defined.

The firm are also used to “getting to grips” with more specific property issues where they will impact upon the future use of the land or property by the spouse who will retain it. Recent examples include ensuring that a valuation of a matrimonial property was adjusted to take into account the blight of the land by the HS2 development, and that commercial land that had development potential was properly valued for the purposes of the matrimonial “pot”.

Confidentiality of information: The possession of documents belonging to the other party to the breakdown of a relationship is now a highly regulated and complex area. In certain circumstances, use of confidential information belonging to another can constitute a criminal and/or civil offence.

That said, the firm understands that access to detailed financial information is required in order for cases to be comprehensively and fairly resolved.

Mercy Messenger stay fully up to date with the latest case law developments guiding this area of the law and can advise clients as to their remedies, either when steps have been taken by their former partner to invade their personal privacy and the privacy of their documents, or alternatively as to the steps that can be taken within divorce proceedings to secure, if required, crucial documents.

Appeals: Mercy Messenger Solicitors have unrivalled experience in relation to Appeals, and have an in depth understanding of the time sensitive nature of Appeals whilst being fully aware of the technical aspects involved.

The firm are happy to review files for this purpose when the case has been conducted by other advisors in the first instance. If it appears to us that the earlier advice was deficient we can point clients in the direction of specialist firms dealing with professional negligence.

Second Opinion : Mercy Messenger have established a reputation in successfully concluding cases for clients coming to the firm because they are looking for better advice for an ongoing case due to a variety of concerns about their current lawyers due to their failure to:

  • Be responsive and pro-active;
  • Take the time to understand the case thoroughly;
  • Think the financial aspects through and advise at the earliest opportunity the likely outcome;
  • Follow what we term the “jigsaw puzzle approach” to cases. That is looking at all aspects and slotting in the financial pieces of the jigsaw to give the client the overall picture; and
  • Think ahead, not just dealing with the current situation but how clients are to be placed in terms of future financial changes, such as:
  • The ending of child support payments;
  • How to deal with the cost of keeping a house for children at University; and
  • What income will be available on retirement.

In some instances, clients are also looking for advice to re-open old cases.

Alternative Routes to a Successful Outcome : Settlement away from the Court is always encouraged.

Financial mediation is excellent, but many cases that come to Mercy Messenger are as a result of this not being properly thought through. To be successful, there should be complete transparency of finances between the parties, and knowledge of their rights and responsibilities. The firm strongly advise when this point is reached that this is the time for professional mediation.

  • Number of UK partners: 2
  • Breakdown of work %
  • Family: 100

Above material supplied by Mercy Messenger.

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