March 10, 2020

Our family law solicitor gives her insights on divorce reform and cohabitation laws

Samantha Sinclair, family law solicitor and collaborative lawyer based at our York office has shared her insights on key issues in the Yorkshire Post’s ‘Legal Matters’ section. The feature, which also reveals her tips for lawyers embarking on their profession, appears in full below.

What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?

Divorce reform. Legislation currently making its way through Parliament will enable separating couples to obtain a no fault divorce. This is the biggest change to divorce law in over 50 years. Under the current system, unless couples have lived separately for two years, a spouse has to rely on a fault based reason for divorce including unreasonable behaviour or adultery. This can further fracture relations at an already difficult time.

Under the new system proceedings will include a timeframe of six months from petition stage to a marriage being ended to build in a period of reflection. It will also prevent a spouse from refusing a divorce if the other spouse wants one. This shifting the emphasis from fault and blame to resolution is fundamental for a family when dealing with matters following separation.

What law would you like to see changed?

The law surrounding cohabitation. Currently when separating, an unmarried couple that have lived together do not have the same financial protection as spouses when they divorce. This can place men and women in a financially vulnerable position with limited options available to them. Here at Jones Myers we have been long standing supporters of the campaign for cohabitation reform. Until then I would urge those who are considering moving in with their partner to seek legal advice about setting in place a cohabitation agreement. 

What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?

Work as a family lawyer is always interesting. Every client is different which means that no two cases I embark on are ever the same. I am passionate about assisting clients to find solutions that work for them and their children. It is important to stay open minded and creative when providing advice and helping clients to overcome the various challenges they may face during the separation process.

Who in the legal world do you most admire?

Baroness Hale of Richmond. She is proud to be a feminist and has worked hard to improve diversity within the legal profession. Throughout her career, Baroness Hale has also spoken out on many controversial issues and I very much admire her for this.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Working in the law is a hugely rewarding career but can be very stressful at times. It is important to find a work life balance that works for you.  Find yourself a mentor who you can discuss work related matters with on a regular basis.

Call us at Leeds on 0113 246 0055, Harrogate on 01423 276104, or York on 01904 202550. Visit, email or tweet us @helpwithdivorce