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Latest legal news on estate planning, including wills, trusts, executries, powers of attorney, and family law from our Edinburgh solicitors. For legal advice, contact our lawyers on 0131 225 7558.

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In what has been described as a “landmark” court ruling, a mother has won the right to have her two children returned to her from Russia, where they have been staying unlawfully with their father.

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A recent report from the Legal Ombudsman of England and Wales details worryingly high levels of client dissatisfaction in the area of family law. Although this report relates to England and Wales, solicitors in Scotland should take note of the concerns raised and ensure that they are dealing with their clients in a fair and transparent way.

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Talk to the experts

When a relationship sours, it's easy to quickly jump into divorce proceedings without stopping to think. Tensions are high and many people don't take much time to contemplate the complexities of the divorce process – they just want to terminate their union.

Always talk to a relationship expert or Scottish family law practitioner before you make any decision about whether to go down the divorce route. This way you'll be sure you're making the right, rational decision.

The firm highlights that, while broken marriages used to be traditionally dominated by younger couples who had spent a relatively short time together, many break-ups and divorces are now being driven by older couples after decades of marriage. And, as the majority of these separating couples usually have grown-up children who have flown the nest, their divorce settlements typically include negotiations over issues such as pensions and savings to ensure they are financially set for life as old age singletons. Fiona Rasmusen, partner and family law specialist at Gibson Kerr, said: "We've seen a significant change in the past decade where growing numbers of older people are choosing to get divorced in Scotland. In generations gone by, many people would get to pensionable age and not want the hassle of going through a divorce in their advanced years – but these days it is far more socially acceptable to separate and divorce in your 60s and above. "

The firm says that many Scots currently recognise the importance of having a Power of Attorney, as it allows their relatives or close friends to take control of their affairs if they become incapacitated and unable to manage for themselves.

The documents are intended to avoid lengthy and expensive court proceedings which are sometimes required in order for the family to properly manage the person's money and property if they themselves are not able to.

The firm says that the agreements are proving popular among couples who choose to get married later in life, people with longstanding private business interests, or for couples who have children from previous relationships and want to "ring fence" their inheritances from any divorce settlement.

And it adds that, as statistics show that one in three marriages in the UK ends in divorce, many couples view making a prenuptial agreement is a prudent, rather than depressing, option to consider in their pre-wedding plans. Fiona Rasmusen, partner at Gibson Kerr, said: "Pre-nuptial agreements have historically been viewed with a lot of caution and skepticism by some couples, as they were seen as an admission that you thought something was going to go wrong with your marriage.

The boost in matrimonial cases has been fuelled by a rise in enquiries for divorce proceedings, pre-nups and financial settlements over the past year – which the firm believes have stemmed from the gloomy economic climate.

Fiona Rasmusen, partner at Gibson Kerr, said: "It's a tough economy at the moment and many people are worried about their jobs and their money. It's not only causing tensions among married couples over their assets, but it also means that divorcing couples are more determined than ever to get their fair share of their shared wealth.

The boost in matrimonial cases has been fuelled by a rise in enquiries for divorce proceedings, pre-nups and financial settlements over the past year – which the firm believes have stemmed from the gloomy economic climate.

Fiona Rasmusen, partner at Gibson Kerr, said: "It's a tough economy at the moment and many people are worried about their jobs and their money. It's not only causing tensions among married couples over their assets, but it also means that divorcing couples are more determined than ever to get their fair share of their shared wealth.

Unlike in England - where partners can be awarded maintenance if one party (commonly the wife) cannot adequately support themselves without maintenance from the other – Scottish law prefers to give both partners a fresh start, or "clean break", when they separate. However, Gibson Kerr says that this scenario can have serious financial consequences for people who are divorcing in Scotland - and the firm has urged women in particular to fully consider how their separation could cost them in the future.

Edinburgh-based Gibson Kerr, which specialises in family and personal law, has highlighted the trend of using social networking sites to complain about partners during divorce proceedings – or "bitter twittering" – as a phenomenon that is is becoming increasingly prevalent across the Unites States and in the UK.

The Edinburgh legal firm says that numerous websites are now offering "low-cost" online divorces, which are proving popular with couples who are put off spending money on legal advice during their separation. Many people view the DIY option as a way of dodging fees and as a method of speeding up the divorce proceedings. But Gibson Kerr, which specialises in Scottish family law issues including divorces, wills and powers of attorney, stresses that using an online service is a risky step, as the documents are often poorly written and contain hidden costs – meaning that there is little or no financial benefit to using them.

The Edinburgh firm says that many couples are unaware of the legal position when it comes to pets during divorce cases, and some even expect to fight for custody of their dogs and cats if the split with their partner is acrimonious. However, Gibson Kerr stresses that these couples should be aware that pets are treated the same as other mutually-owned property such as cars, money or property in the eyes of the law - and the welfare of the animals is not considered when it comes to deciding which partner will retain ownership of their pet.