Beverley Johnson qualified as a Solicitor in 1985 and has worked exclusively within litigation since 1990, specialising in Family Law since 1992. She believes that having four children has enabled her to gain a genuine understanding of the concerns that parties encounter following a separation and divorce, particularly where children are involved. She has dealt with a variety of cases including the very well publicised case of Kelly v Kelly, which attracted international interest. Beverley has also dealt with the division of property, pension rights, child residence and contact issues in all kinds of cases.

Beverley’s skill, knowledge, experience and caring approach in understanding what her clients seek to achieve for themselves and their families frequently assists parties to a negotiated settlement without resort to litigation.

She has over the years built up an excellent team of experts who she works alongside when matters require the input from another source, such as Legal Counsel, Forensic Accountants, Financial Advisors and Health Professionals.

Beverley is only too aware that sometimes outwith office hours help and guidance is required by a client, therefore the ability to communicate with her by mobile telephone is something every client is offered.

Beverley does not provide a legal aid service, but is happy to refer you to a Solicitor who does.

Beverley Johnson
Beverley often says to her clients at their first meeting that divorce is hopefully the very last matter on the agenda, in the hope that – as in the vast majority of her cases – matters are agreed and reflected in a contract known as a “Separation Agreement”.

When negotiation does not work we often conduct contested divorce actions in both the Court of Session and the Sheriff Court.

There are currently four grounds of divorce in Scotland based on the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. These are as follows:

• Adultery
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Non-cohabitation for one year or more with the other parties consent
• Non-cohabitation for two years or more without the other parties consent

Once the ground of divorce is selected the question of jurisdiction is considered to establish in which Court the action is raised.
There is also a “quickie” or “D.I.Y” divorce; this is essentially a form filling exercise which, provided there are no children of the marriage under the age of sixteen years and neither party wishes to seek a financial provision on divorce, qualifies the applicant to seek a simplified divorce either on the grounds of non-cohabitation for one year with the other parties consent, or two years without consent. These forms, known as an SPA or an SPB, can be obtained from us or indeed from the Sheriff Clerk’s office direct – they can also be downloaded here.

The divorce action will either be defended or undefended. If it is defended, the action proceeds in accordance with the Rules of Court (either the Court of Session or Sheriff Court) applicable to family actions. Along the way to a final Proof when evidence is led, it is always possible to reach agreement.

If the divorce is undefended, the evidence and that of the corroborative witness(es) is given by way of a sworn statement known as an “Affidavit”. There will be a period of fourteen days between the granting of decree and issue of the Extract.

There are a wide variety of Court orders to obtain information from the other side (on assets and resources) or a payment to cover the monthly mortgage and home insurance.

Beverley has a great deal of experience in pursuing and defending all sorts of divorce actions and her knowledge and understanding of what is required at the outset is valuable to any client who finds themselves in this situation.

Many couples reflect the terms of their agreement, whether in relation to their children or to their finances, in a legally binding document called a “Separation Agreement” or a “Minute of Agreement”.

It is an extremely important step towards an undefended divorce which minimises the potential for animosity and polarisation between the parties, not to mention the expense of a defended action of divorce.

In the vast majority of cases a full financial picture for both parties is requested to enable a financial settlement to be reflected in a Separation Agreement as “fair and reasonable”.

The current Law governing the division of property between spouses is found in the Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985 as amended by the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. In short, all the property belonging to either spouse at the date of separation, whether it be individually or jointly owned with each other or indeed a third party, less any debts at the date of separation is deemed to be “matrimonial property”. The net value of the matrimonial property is shared “fairly” between the parties to the marriage and quite often “fairly” is in equal shares.

There may be reasons why a greater capital award should be given to one party. In particular a wife may seek to argue that she has given up a career for a few years to raise the parties’ children. Similarly, the source of money or assets used to acquire matrimonial property that was not from the income or efforts of the parties during the marriage may be factors that the Court can consider in determining whether there should be an equal division.

The application of the Law and the knowledge of cases decided in both the Sheriff Court and Court of Session is essential in an ever-changing area of Law. There can be situations which are indeed complex and require a specialist hand to ensure you of the very best outcome.
There are occasions where one spouse may seek from the other aliment or maintenance on a weekly or monthly basis to help with daily living expenses. In determining whether such a payment is reasonable a Court may look at both parties’ financial situations. In particular the Court will look at all the income and outgoings for each party and generally all the circumstances of the case.

An award of aliment before divorce is called “interim aliment” and post divorce is called “periodical allowance”.

In Scotland the “clean break” principle, where after the divorce there should be no continuing financial arrangement between spouses, allows for – where the circumstances dictate – a greater capital sum to be paid where there is the resource to do so to avoid any periodical payment for a fixed period of time (usually less than three years). Periodical allowance is usually only imposed where there is insufficient capital or it is inappropriate to do so.

Parties must also be aware that both private and SERPS pensions can be a very large part of the asset “pot” and that difficulties arise where they are valued as “cash” but of course are not.

Beverley will work with you to ensure you have an understanding of the law and the steps in the process and highlight at the outset the potential for conflict, and of course resolution.

Beverley has extensive experience in dealing with legal issues in relation to children following a separation between parents. In particular she can assist with practical issues such as with which parent a child should reside or have contact with overnight, or for fixed periods of time.

At present only the child(ren)’s parents married to each other or the unmarried father whose name is on the child(ren)’s birth certificate, post May 2006, have automatic parental rights and responsibilities provided for in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

Where there is conflict between the parties – whether they are married or not – in relation to a child(ren), an action can be raised in the appropriate Court to decide the important issues regarding the child(ren)’s state of residence, matters of contact or issues such as which religion the child(ren) should follow or which school he or she should attend.

The child’s views are always considered by a Court before a decision is made, but the older the child(ren) is – i.e. 12 years and over – the greater weight will be given to that child(ren)’s views, as a rule of thumb. The Court is not obliged to follow the child(ren)’s views where the Judge does not consider them to be in keeping with what is in that child(ren)’s “best interests”. A child may instruct a Solicitor or indeed be represented at any Court hearing and we are confident that our approach in having child clients is able to suit their age and understanding.

Beverley has used the services of specially trained Child Psychologists both in helping children in coming to terms with a difficult family situation and in providing external evidence to a Court for the suitability of a particular contact or residence issue.

She also believes that Family Mediation have an important role to play in helping not only the child’s parents but the child(ren) themselves. They provide an excellent service with fully trained counsellors which can often alleviate immediate concerns for either or both parties.
Beverley often advises her clients to keep a diary of contact/residence details which may not be relevant when matters are working well but will be essential if there are problems!

If litigation can be avoided then clearly it is in everyone’s best interests, but there are situations when you need to have the confidence of having strong representation on your behalf or for your child(ren). Beverley can offer you the confidence and experience to get the results you need.

With the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 a new legal relationship for same sex partners was introduced, for the first time in Scots Law this provides property and financial provision similar to that of married couples on death or separation.

This particular area in Law is still very new and so it is even more important to find a Solicitor such as Beverley with wide experience in applying the financial provision rules for married spouses where the principles are almost the same as in this new Act.

Beverley can provide you with that peace of mind in a developing area of law following a breakdown in a civil partnership.

For the first time in Scotland with the introduction of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 in the event of a breakdown in a relationship between cohabiting couples certain financial claims can now be made depending on the parties circumstances.

Also included in this legislation for the first time are the provisions in the event of one partner dying and leaving no Will, providing the opportunity for a surviving co-habitee to make a financial claim on the deceased Estate.

The Act allows a cohabitant partner with children to seek a capital provision in much the same way as if they were married.
An Agreement between cohabiting couples setting out each parties rights and obligations in relation to a wide variety of matters is recommended to avoid any conflict and potential expensive litigation, particularly in relation to the family home, car, contents, etc.

Beverley can advise and prepare such an Agreement for both parties’ peace of mind.

As cohabiting couples are advised to enter into a contract of agreement with their partner to set out their rights and responsibilities in the event of a separation, couples who are about to marry and wish to provide reassurance particularly about financial matters in the event of a separation and divorce are more frequently being encouraged to enter into a Pre-nuptial Agreement.

For many years a pre-nuptial agreement was considered by the general public to be “a waste of paper”. Nowadays, although the enforceability has not been widely tested before the Scottish Courts, it is recognised in the Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985 that the existence of such an agreement may indeed be viewed as a “special circumstance” which may allow a departure from the normal fair sharing rule.

The Courts are likely to give credence to the existence of a Pre-nuptial Agreement if it is properly entered into, executed before a witness and perhaps more importantly narrates that both parties have had the benefit of separate independent legal advice.

Beverley has been involved in both drafting and revising such Agreements for clients and sees that they very much have a part to play in modern society.

Protection from domestic violence, whether between couples of the same or opposite sex and whether married or cohabitants, gives legal rights and remedies when faced with the actual or threat of violence, harassment and abuse – physical or verbal.

The most important first call for help is often to the Police. Often the perpetrator is charged with assault or breach of the peace and removed from the scene. If you have suffered any medical injury you should then seek the advice of a Doctor and have any injuries noted and if possible photographed.

There are also effective civil remedies that can be taken including:

• Common Law interdict
• Interdict with a power of arrest (not open to all couples)
• Exclusion order
• Ejection order
• Non-harassment order
• Orders regulating/declaring/enforcing occupancy rights
• Interdict against removing children

Usually actions for interdict and exclusion orders require a great deal of work in a very short period of time. Beverley and her Assistant can process such actions efficiently and swiftly to the first Court hearing and subsequent service of any Court documents upon the Defender. We will require as much detailed information about the incident(s), including times and dates as well as the addresses of any witness(es), that can be provided to assist in the preparation for any Court hearing, whether interim or final.

You can be assured that Beverley will treat your situation as an emergency and take all steps to secure you and your child(ren)’s safety.

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“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you carried out for me, but more than anything for your advice that helped me through some very difficult times.”
Scottish International Footballer
“Beverley gave me sympathetic but no nonsense advice which gave me peace of mind at a very difficult time.”
Mrs T
“My wife wanted everything but Beverley gave me the confidence that we could sort it out without going to court.”
Mr B

Contact Beverley Johnson

For help with any aspect of Family Law, please contact Beverley Johnson on 0131 622 8477 ~ [email protected] or visit our family law website – www.edinburghfamilylaw.co.uk