Citizens Advice Northern Ireland launched their Free Debt Advice Service funded by the Money Advice Service in April 2016.
In her guest blog for Life Law NI, Gemma Willis, Money Advice Project Manager, Citizens Advice, describes the service and how to get in touch.
The Citizens Advice Debt Advice Service was launched following recent research from Money Advice Service which showed that 15% of the adult population in Northern Ireland are over indebted.
The service aims to provide advice and support for those who are struggling to deal with debt. This is now more important than ever when we consider that in our society, many families face new and challenging pressures. One of the greatest of these is debt.
The Citizens Advice Debt Advice Service offers free, confidential and impartial advice and is available throughout Northern Ireland via face to face, telephone and online services. We offer debt advice in each Council area and our freephone helpline is available across Northern Ireland.
Clients can access the service in the following ways:-
Problem debt is rarely an isolated financial problem without additional consequence. The stress of managing tight finances, dealing with creditors, as well as the stigma associated with problem debt can lead to mental health difficulties, family breakdown and addiction.
Citizens Advice Northern Ireland wants to engage with clients at the earliest opportunity as unfortunately research also shows that individuals will wait more than a year before they seek advice. This leads to further distress and pressure on families.
You can speak directly to a specialist debt adviser at Citizens Advice in Northern Ireland by clicking here. Our webchat service is open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. If outside these hours, you can leave a message and a Debt Adviser will get straight back to you on the following working day.
The world is becoming a smaller place with ever greater opportunities for people to travel and work abroad. Increasing numbers of people are meeting and marrying someone from another country and as such, many families now have both a multicultural and an international dimension which would have been far less prevalent a decade ago.
If this family unit breaks down, there are a number of additional issues which can arise. Here are some of the ways an international dimension can have an impact on family breakdown:
It may be possible for divorce proceedings to be brought in more than one jurisdiction.
The choice of jurisdiction can have a significant impact on the outcome of divorce proceedings as different countries apply different sets of rules, especially when it comes to the division of assets. It may be financially advantageous to a spouse to issue proceedings in one jurisdiction rather than another. It is extremely important to seek legal advice about the different jurisdictional options at the very earliest stage as often the Court where proceedings are first issued will be the Court which ultimately decides the case.
There may be a limit in the Court’s power to enforce orders in relation to property or assets in another jurisdiction.
On divorce, there may be a limit to what a Court can do in relation to assets held in another jurisdiction. For example, if a couple own a holiday home abroad, there may be difficulties in enforcing a Court order dealing with this foreign asset.
There may be issues regarding where the children should live in the future.
After the breakdown of a relationship, one parent may wish to move back to their country of origin with their children. However, if they do this without the consent of the other parent or permission from the Court, they could well be accused of abducting their child and proceedings could be brought for the return of the child to the place in which they had been living. Indeed, in some countries these actions could amount to a criminal offence. It is crucial that legal advice is taken so that you are fully informed before deciding how to proceed. It is also important if your child has been taken without consent that you take steps as soon as possible if you wish for them to be returned.
Could a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement help?
One way to try to avoid the uncertainty of what may happen should a relationship break down is to enter into an agreement while the relationship is working well. Whilst these agreements are regarded by some as unromantic, they are a practical way of agreeing what should happen if things don’t work out. Such an agreement could record what would happen to the assets following relationship breakdown. It could also record the parties’ intentions about the children such as where they would live, their maintenance and education. The agreement could also settle which Court would have legal jurisdiction if there is a dispute.
Many countries recognise pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements or at the very least take its terms into account when ascertaining what the parties’ intentions had been. It is important to find out if the jurisdiction in which you will be living would do so.
If you would like further information on any legal aspect of divorce, please feel free to contact us confidentially here or leave your comments below