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Family and Matrimonial

Dirty John - he's not the first and he won't be the last

Nikki Aston
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A current hot topic of water cooler discussion is the Netflix hit series – ‘Dirty John’ – a true story about the life of John Meehan, a con artist and sociopath. The series tells the story of how he met unsuspecting women on the...

What responsibilities do absent parents have after several years without contact with their children?

Sellina Kauser
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The concept of a traditional family unit has changed over time and, in some situations, this can create problems. According to the Relationships Foundation’s report ‘The Cost of Family Failure Index’, the economic impact of family breakdown...

'No fault' reforms set to mark new era for divorce law in England and Wales

Helen Saggers
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Following years of campaigning by members of the public and the legal profession, the government has taken a major step to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce in England and Wales. In a move that has received widespread support, legislation has been...

Holiday checklist for separated parents (not forgetting Brexit!)

Nikki Aston
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One way of getting through the chill of winter is to plan and book a summer holiday in warmer climes. From just a few hours of internet browsing, your dream break can be booked – something to look forward to until the thaw sets in. However, the...

Busting the myth of common law marriage

Beverley Harrison
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Browsing the weekend newspapers recently, I came across an article which confirmed something that, from years of experience practicing family law, I had long suspected. The piece highlighted a British Social Attitudes survey which reveals that almost half of...

Divorce in farming families

Lyn Brisley
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The dynamics of farming life are unique in the way they impact on the relationships within the families involved. There is a 24/7 element to it which means that the stresses and strains of combining business and family commitments can sometimes lead to the...

Single parents granted access to Parental Orders in surrogacy cases

Ben Hills
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It is now possible for a single parent of a child born through surrogacy to have a Parental Order made by the Court, providing for that child to be treated as the legal child of that single parent. This follows an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and...

Surrogacy - what's the legal position in the UK?

Sellina Kauser
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For couples who discover that they are unable to have children, the news can be devastating. Same-sex couples may also face challenges when it comes to starting a family. For many of those facing this situation, surrogacy may be an option. But what is the...

Relationship breakdowns - coping at Christmas and planning for the new year

Lyn Brisley
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It’s a sad fact that peace and goodwill may not be present in every household this Christmas. The festive period can often bring relationship breakdowns to a head and the ensuing new year period, in which making a fresh start is encouraged, may lead...

Parental Alienation

Ben Hills
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Parental alienation involves the attempt by a parent to use methods of psychological manipulation to alienate a child from the other parent. It is a factor increasingly examined by the Court when it comes to Children Act proceedings. So, what can you do if...

Civil partnerships - an update

Paula Piquer Ruz
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Back in July, I wrote here about the discrepancy between the rights of same sex and different sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. In the article, I alluded to the likelihood of the extension of civil partnership rights, and now the law is about...

Supreme Court ruling stirs lifetime maintenance payment debate

Roger Gurney
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The debate over the fairness of granting lifetime maintenance payments following divorce is not new. The Supreme Court’s recent decision to grant an appeal against the increasing of such provision, in the case of Mills v Mills 2018, sends the message...

Civil partnerships: where do we stand?

Paula Piquer Ruz
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Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004, allowing same sex couples to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. This seemed to be an intermediate compromise, providing legal protection for same sex couples whilst avoiding...

Divorce goes virtual, but complex cases will keep their day in court

Lyn Brisley
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A new online service to apply for a divorce has been announced. The Ministry of Justice confirmed plans for the nationwide scheme for online divorce applications follows a successful pilot earlier this year and is confident that the system will cut the...

The Owens case and the case for no-fault divorce

Lyn Brisley
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The ongoing divorce case of Owens-v-Owens is highly significant. Tini Owens wants a divorce. Her husband, Hugh Owens, does not. This situation is contrary to most petitions for divorce which are usually uncontested. So far, the courts have found in Mr...

How to make contentious child arrangements less painful for the children involved

Lyn Brisley
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A marriage or partnership breakdown can feel even worse if there are children involved. Whilst the scenario involved will depend on the unique circumstances of the family unit, it is imperative that the children are protected from any animosity between the...

The myth of the 'quickie' divorce

Nikki Aston
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If you look in any tabloid newspaper from week to week, there will no doubt be a mention of the latest celebrity being granted a ‘quickie’ divorce. This perpetuates the idea that a party to a marriage seeking a divorce can obtain a Decree Nisi...

Can a pre-nuptial agreement help to save your marriage?

Lyn Brisley
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The 2018 wedding season is just around the corner and has an extra buzz with the prospect of two royal ceremonies. If you are tying the knot this year, then you probably have most plans in place already. But have you considered adding a pre-nuptial agreement...

Family finances make divorce negotiations increasingly complex

Nikki Aston
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With divorce rates rising and an increase in the value of family assets, couples are being urged to do more to settle financial affairs during the good times.  According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) , the overall...

Divorce: The rights of grandparents

Nikki Aston
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A contentious divorce can often sour relationships, not just between the parting spouses, but throughout the wider family group too. Courts do their utmost to protect the interests and the wellbeing of any children involved but what about the older...

New family court guidance aims to protect children from domestic abuse

Nikki Aston
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Family court guidance aimed at protecting children from violent parents during custody disputes and designed to improve the treatment of abuse victims has been introduced in England and Wales. Until now, family courts have operated on the presumption...

Arbitration - the future of family dispute resolution?

Nikki Aston
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Relationship breakdown can be difficult, and can involve many elements to resolve, such as property, finance and arrangements for children. It can seem very daunting, and in the event an agreement can’t be reached, the automatic assumption may be that...

The new Resolution Code of Conduct

Nikki Aston
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Our family law team are members of Resolution, an organisation of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way. Resolution membership is about the approach we take to our work. This means that...

What's yours is mine - or is it?

Nikki Aston
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After practising in family law for over 11 years, I have encountered many clients who have lived with a partner for years without marrying, and wish to seek advice as to their financial entitlement upon the breakdown of their relationship. All too often...

The kids are alright?

Nikki Aston
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For many, it is somewhat a grey area on what age children should be left alone at home. There is no right or wrong answer, as the law in the UK does not stop a parent from leaving their child at home alone. Instead, it states that children must not be...

No fault divorce - time for change, no more conflict

Nikki Aston
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There has been much discussion over the past few years about the need for divorce law and procedure to be updated in line with our changing times. Resolution and some senior members of the Judiciary, have called for the introduction of no-fault divorce. ...

The end of Brangelina - but what about the children?

Nikki Aston
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There has been much media interest in the recent announcement of the divorce of 'A-list' celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. After nearly 13 years together, and a joint fortune of approximately $400 million, speculation mounts as to how...

Resolving conflict - the mediator's way

Helen Saggers
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Can conflict ever be a good thing? In the context of divorcing and separating couples, the answer is probably not. Most people would agree that being in sustained conflict can be exhausting. Most strive for a harmonious balance life, free from the stresses...

To leave or not to leave? That is the question

Helen Saggers
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Decision day on the EU referendum is looming, soon the die will be cast. This issue has polarised and rallied many. Views on the subject veer from strong to indifferent. Some have rallied on the streets, on campaign buses, through social media and some have...

Divorce down as pre nups rise

Lyn Brisley
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The first working day in January is commonly known as Divorce Day, when family lawyers receive more enquiries than at any other time of the year, but they are more likely to be faced with ‘silver splitters’ than young couples these days. The...

Are you entitled to a larger divorce settlement?

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A landmark Supreme Court ruling in favour of two women who say they were misled by their ex-husbands and should get more money in their divorce settlements has received a huge amount of media attention recently. Varsha Gohil and Alison Sharland - who had...

How can I protect any gifted money I give to my son/daughter in helping them set up their first home if a cohabiting relationship fails?

Beverley Harrison
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It's not uncommon for parents to do everything they can for their children when it comes to setting up their first home, with those owning their own business often in a more comfortable position to help. However, what used to be a case of starting a...

Heiress repaid millions she gave husband after he cut children out of Will

Lyn Brisley
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Following on from our recent blog about an estranged daughter who won £163,000 in a landmark legal battle after challenging her mother's Will , a news story has hit the headlines today about an heiress who will not have to pay her husband such a...

Nailing down agreements on divorce

Lyn Brisley
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A Supreme Court ruling will allow a former wife to make a claim for a share of the fortune amassed by her husband 30 years after they parted, as no binding consent order was made when they divorced. Kathleen Wyatt has been granted permission to lodge a...

Millionaire's divorce battle will have implications for all

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A woman has won a landmark Court bid to claim cash from her millionaire ex-husband more than 30 years after their marriage broke down - and the ruling could have major implications for all divorcing couples. Kathleen Wyatt first took legal action against...

Quickie divorce, fact or fiction?

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Recent high-profile celebrity separations have drawn a huge amount of attention to so-called “quickie divorces” which, according to the media, allow a couple to end their marriage just weeks after splitting up. But ask anyone with any personal...

Pre and post nups look set to be binding in future

Lyn Brisley
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Pre and post nuptial agreements are likely to be given binding status, in a move that’s intended to give couples a more predictable outcome on divorce. The Law Commission’s report, Matrimonial Property Needs and Agreements, proposes that the...

Offshore company assets no longer safe in wealthy divorce

Roger Gurney
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Wealthy divorcing couples should keep an eye on this case, particularly where offshore companies are involved, after all seven of the Supreme Court judges ruled in favour of the English estranged wife of a Nigerian oil tycoon. Michael and Yasmin Prest, both...

Family mediation encouraged after publication of latest divorce figures

Roger Gurney
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Separating couples are being urged to use mediation instead of Court proceedings after a list of England and Wales divorce hotspots was recently revealed. The latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice from October 2011 to September 2012 show...

Britons believe children should come first in divorce

Lyn Brisley
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An overwhelming majority of Britons believe that putting a child’s interest first or avoid conflict, are the most important factors to consider when going through a divorce, according to a survey from Resolution. According to the results, 78% say that...