St Valentine of Rome

St Valentine of Rome

Patron saint of lovers, epileptics, bee keepers and plague

Who was Saint Valentine? That’s a question surrounded in mystery as there were several; however, three Saint Valentines are associated with 14th February:

  • A Roman priest;
  • A bishop of Interamna (Terni, Italy); and
  • A saint who suffered in Africa

Nothing else is known of the last one, but various accounts of the first two suggest that they may, indeed, be one and the same person, and the Catholic Church acknowledges one Saint Valentine: a martyr who died on the Via Flaminia near Rome.  In 496 AD, The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I; however, due to a lack of concrete evidence about him, his name was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969.

Born in 226 AD in Terni, Italy, the legends attributed to Saint Valentine are numerous but involve his death by clubbing, followed by beheading on 14th February around 269 / 270 AD:

  • One legend states that he was imprisoned for refusing to deny Christ and sacrifice to pagan gods. Whilst in prison, he restored the sight of his jailer’s daughter, with whom he had become friendly.  Prior to his death, he wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it “from your Valentine”;
  • Another legend centres on him performing Christian weddings. The emperor, ‘Claudius the Cruel’, believed that married men made very poor soldiers and so banned the marriages and engagements of younger citizens, but Saint Valentine continued to marry couples in secrecy.  It is claimed that Saint Valentine cut hearts from parchment and gave them to soldiers and persecuted Christians as a reminder of their vows and God’s love.

So, how did Saint Valentine come to be associated with love?  This is generally thought to be the work of Geoffrey Chaucer. Around 1381, Chaucer wrote the Parlement of Foules (aka the Parliament of Foules) in which he wrote: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”  By linking courtly love with the celebration of the Feast of Saint Valentine, it is possible that he may have invented the tradition many look forward to each year.

Co-habitation … What Are Your Rights?

Co-habitation … What Are Your Rights?

The biggest misconception most couples have is surrounding the rights that they may have against their partner if they are cohabiting and are not married.

A recent survey carried out by National Centre for Social Research, released in January 2019, confirmed that “almost half of people in England and Wales mistakenly believe that unmarried couples who live together have a common law marriage and enjoy the same rights as couples that are legally married.

“The first findings from this year’s British Social Attitudes Survey reveal that 46% of us are under the wrong impression that cohabiting couples form a common law marriage – a figure that remains largely unchanged over the last fourteen years (47% in 2005) despite a significant increase in the number of cohabiting couples. In contrast, only 41% of respondents rightly say cohabiting couples are not in a common law marriage.

“Responses to the question show that people are significantly more likely to believe in common law marriage when children come into the equation; 55% of households with children think that common law marriage exists; only 41% of households without any children do so.”

This is simply not true: if you are not married, then you are not in a common law marriage and you do not have the same rights as those couples who are married.

So what happens if you are not married?  Currently, in  England and Wales there are no laws in place setting out what rights/claims cohabitees have against their partner if they separate (this is different in Scotland).  It does not matter how long you have been together, or how many children you may have together, the basic point is that you have no automatic rights to make a claim against your partner.  This is often a surprise to people when they come and see us, expecting us to advise them that their partner has a duty to provide them with financial support following the breakdown of their relationship (which may be the case if you are married).

The reality is that there is no one law which sets out a cohabitee’s rights.  There are lots of different laws which deal with different issues.

If you are living with your partner in a house, you need to check how you own it.  Do you own it jointly, does your partner own the property outright, or do you own it?   General property laws apply to the ownership of the property.  If you own it jointly, the position is more straightforward.  But what if you live in your partner’s property, can you make a claim?  It depends on whether you have made a financial contribution to the property, which might be a contribution to the purchase price, a contribution to the mortgage payment, or a contribution to any works carried out on the property.  If you have, then you are likely to have an interest in the property.  If you have made no financial contribution to the property, it is unlikely that you would be able to claim a financial interest in the property.

Does it make a difference if you have children together? In short, the answer is no.  As there are no laws in place protecting cohabitees, and strict property law applies, it usually is not a relevant factor that you have children together.  That does not give you a claim against your partner’s property.  It will give you a claim for child maintenance, and you might have a claim under the Children Act to claim some financial support.  This might be in the form of school fees payments, or a lump sum to cover a specific requirement that the child may have.  It can cover a property for a child, but it is important to note that the property does not belong to the child, it remains the property of your former partner, and they only have to provide a property for you and the child to live in until the child reaches their majority.  Therefore it is not the same as a divorce when, for example, a property is transferred to the wife outright.

Is there anything you can do to avoid these issues?  Yes.  At the beginning of the relationship it is advisable to enter into a cohabitation agreement which sets out the expectations of the parties at that stage should the relationship breakdown in the future.  This can be what might happen to the house, whether one party can stay in the house with the children until a specific date or what each party will receive from the net proceeds of sale.  Whilst it can be depressing to think about the end of the relationship at the beginning, it is better to have the discussion then, and not when you are in the middle of the breakdown of the relationship.

For more information, or preliminary, confidential discussion please contact our Family Team.

Article written by Emma Benyon-Tinker, Associate in our Family Team.

International Surrogacy – What to expect

International Surrogacy – What to expect

Embarking on a surrogacy arrangement abroad can be daunting for any couple wishing to engage in the process.  There are lots of things that the intended parents need to consider to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

As it currently stands, there is no single legal process for parents wishing to engage in an international surrogacy arrangement.  With every case, careful attention and legal planning is required to ensure that parents are able to engage in the process without the pitfalls.  It is vital that all intended parents plan properly and consider using countries that are well-established in the surrogacy field.

There are many countries across the world that welcome the process of surrogacy and it can be seen that North America, particularly California and Canada, is very popular because of its experience and laws in this specific area.  For children born in Canada or the United States, they are recognised as Canadian or American citizens and parents from the UK can obtain a passport within a three month period.  It is normal to expect that the majority of those parents engaged in this process travel back to the UK with the child’s/children(s) foreign passport.  Parents must be aware that there is no guarantee that they will be admitted with their child/children to the United Kingdom because of visa complications, and so careful planning is required.  Intended parents can, of course, apply for a British Passport or an entry clearance visa stamp in the United States prior to travel to eliminate any issues.  However, parents must be aware that this can take time.

A British passport is generally only available immediately if the surrogate is unmarried and the British biological father is registered on the child’s birth certificate in the United States (for particular states).  The alternative is that the child/children will be registered as a British Citizen or will have to apply for an entry clearance visa.

For other countries that are perhaps not as well-established as the United States or Canada, such as Thailand, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and India, there are multiple options to consider.  It is vitally important that intended parents undertake as much research as possible to eliminate any possible pitfalls.

Intended parents are able to obtain a British passport for their child/children if he or she is born British or successfully registered as a British Citizen.  Parents can apply for an entry clearance visa, which is granted on a discretionary basis where intended parents can undertake to apply for a parental order.

A visa either takes the form of a stamp in a foreign passport or a free-standing travel document if the child has no passport.

Planning is vital and parents must be prepared to stay in the birth country for a period of 4-5 months.

For more information, or a preliminary, confidential discussion contact our Fertility expert Anne-Marie Hamer.

South West SFE and SOLLA Hold First National Joint Event

South West SFE and SOLLA Hold First National Joint Event

On Thursday, 24th January 2019, Emma Gray, an Associate Solicitor at Everys, and Ian Evans, Head of Later Life Advice at Five Ways Financial Planning, organised the first ever national joint Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) event.  The networking morning was held at Exeter Race Course and was attended by over 50 lawyers and financial advisers from all over the South West.

Emma Gray, who is also the Regional Co-ordinator for the Devon and Cornwall region of SFE, said: “It was very exciting and rewarding organising the event, especially as it was the first one of its kind.  The day was very informative with excellent presentations from our guest speakers.  The partnership between SFE and SOLLA is a perfect fit and Ian and I are already planning the next South West joint event for later this year.”

Both SFE and SOLLA are pleased with the collaboration. Tish Hanifan, Founder and Joint Chair of the Society of Later Life Advisers, commented: “I’m delighted to see that both organisations have come together to consider important aspects of Later life advice.

This kind of collaborative approach can only ever be in the best interests of clients who will benefit from an integrated approach to both the legal and financial aspects of Later life decisions.”

The speakers were:

  • Dr Laura Palmer of South West Brain Bank who discussed their research in helping to find a cure for Dementia and Alzheimer’s;
  • Aly Dickinson, a death doula from Living Well Dying Well, who spoke of her work in helping people at the end of their lives in order to ensure, as far as possible, that they die in the way they want;
  • Emma Gray from SFE who gave a background to SFE, how to become a member and a number of case studies of scenarios where lawyers and financial advisers can work together better in the best interests of their clients; and
  • Ian Evans from SOLLA who covered the intricacies of how to become a SOLLA member and the benefits of financial advisers working with lawyers.

For more information regarding the Devon & Cornwall Branch of SFE please contact Emma Gray on 01404 540941 or, and for more information on SOLLA Bristol & Somerset Regional Group please contact Ian Evans on or 01934 511511. For all other SOLLA enquiries please contact

Looking to Dazzle at DASLS

Looking to Dazzle at DASLS

Emma Gray and Elle West shortlisted for DASLS Awards 

We are delighted to announce that Emma Gray and Elle West have been shortlisted for the Solicitor of the Year and Rising Star categories of the 2019 Devon and Somerset Law Society Awards.

Emma Gray, Associate Solicitor in the Private Client department, is shortlisted for the Solicitor of the Year Award. Emma was nominated due to her tireless efforts in bringing people’s attention to the issues of the elderly and vulnerable. Emma was recently promoted to Associate Solicitor and in June 2018 she was appointed Regional Co-ordinator for the Devon and Cornwall region of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE). Emma is organising the first ever national networking event for SFE & SOLLA members (Society of Later Life Advisers), with the aim of encouraging professionals to work together in their clients’ best interests. Emma is also a ‘Dementia Friend’.

Elle West is a trainee solicitor also in our Private Client department and is shortlisted for the Rising Star Award. Elle is completely focused on delivering excellent client care and exhibits a strong determination to succeed in all that she does. In addition to her training contract with us, Elle attends the University of Law in Exeter and is studying for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) part-time.

James Griffin, Everys Solicitors’ Managing Partner, said: “We are very proud of both Emma and Elle. Being shortlisted for the awards is recognition of their dedication to their profession and their clients. We wish them the best of luck for the awards ceremony.”

The formal dinner and awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, 4th April 2019 at Exeter Cathedral.

Honiton and Sidmouth Offices Expand their Service Offering

Honiton and Sidmouth Offices Expand their Service Offering

Everys Solicitors has announced that Emma Benyon-Tinker, Associate Solicitor, has relocated office to Honiton, with one day a week – Wednesdays – spent at the Sidmouth office. Originally based in Exeter, Emma’s services could only be accessed via an appointment system, whereby she would travel from Exeter to either Honiton or Sidmouth specifically for an appointment. Now, people can pop in at any time to get the advice they need.

Emma said: “It had become increasingly obvious that both offices needed to have somebody from the Family team to be based there. The demand for Family services keeps growing and we felt that to deliver the client care that we have become known for meant that we have to be visible and available to the local community. I am delighted to help grow the offices and I’m looking forward to getting to know my new surroundings.”

Emma is a trained collaborative lawyer, a trained mediator and a Resolution Accredited Specialist. She specialises in family disputes, including divorce, civil partnership dissolution, financial issues, cohabitation disputes, pre-nuptial agreements, domestic abuse and all children’s issues.

Emma is available at Honiton from 9am until 5pm, except Wednesdays, and can be reached on 01404 43431; on Wednesdays, she can be reached in Sidmouth on 01395 577983 or