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Why does it take so long to get divorced?

Philip Hoddell
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Recently published statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that it is now taking longer to get divorced than at any time since records first began.     So, how long does it take to get divorced?   The average time from the...

Child arrangements during separation

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The recent statistics released by CAFCASS, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, show that last month was the highest demand in April for 4 years regarding the amount of applications in private law child cases. Below is an explanation...

For how long should spousal maintenance be paid?

Philip Hoddell
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This remains one of the most difficult questions to answer when dealing with divorce but a recent Court of Appeal decision may have shed some light on the current trend, at least in the more senior courts.  Mr and Mrs Waggott were both unhappy with the...

Why should I pay child maintenance when we have equal shared care?

Philip Hoddell
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Ever since the Child Support Agency was introduced in the early 1990s it has had a bad press, often for the inability of the complex systems used to take account of what happens in the real world. The Child Maintenance Service, which has replaced the CSA in...

How can I make sure my disabled child is looked after when I die?

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If you are the parent or carer of someone with a disability, then the frightening and daunting thoughts of what will happen to them when you can no longer support them, either through your own ill health or demise are sadly all too common.  We at...

Child contact intervention - what is this?

Yolande Millar
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Child Contact Intervention may be recommended by Cafcass in disputes regarding children. Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) is asked by the court to work with families. Their role is to safeguard and promote the welfare of...

Child contact frustration

Yolande Millar
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“This afternoon a wholly deserving and tearful father has asked the court’s permission to withdraw his application to enable him to spend time with his son” said His Honour Judge Bellamy in the first paragraph of his Judgment in the case of...

The best interests of children

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Minority communities colliding with the population. The recent Court of Appeal case of Re M (Children) [2017] shows a tragic insight into how the views and beliefs of some can still have a devastating effect on those people who break away from a small...

Do I have any rights as a grandparent?

Muntech Kaur
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In a case determined in December 2017 by the European Court of Human Rights, in respect of an application made by maternal grandparents of an Italian national seeking to have contact with their three grandchildren born in 2001, 2002 and 2004, the Court ruled...

Is there an alternative to the family court?

Muntech Kaur
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With the increase of litigants in persons, the overburdened family courts, delays caused by court closures, and the increasing view of the public and profession that the family court is not fit for purpose, is there an alternative to the family court? ...

"What is the future of child maintenance?"

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Did you know that all parents are financially responsible for their children? When an absent parent fails to fulfil this obligation, the other parent can seek assistance in recovering child maintenance from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) – the...

When contact is not in the best interest of a child

Muntech Kaur
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For a little girl named B , the court process has spanned almost all of her life and continues to be ongoing.  In the matter of F v H & Anor [2017] EWHC 3358 (Fam) , the court is concerned with B, a little girl aged four and a half. B’s...

The cost of disagreements in Children Act proceedings

Melanie Loxley
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In a recent relocation case entitled S v S, the parties managed to incur legal fees of £938,000. The Judge was rather scathing of the way the case had been conducted and, most unusually for Children Act proceedings, ordered the father to pay some of...

Can a spouse get out of their promise to the court?

Philip Hoddell
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Financial agreements between divorcing couples can sometimes contain many complicated provisions. The court has quite a limited range of powers (the payment of maintenance or a lump sum, transfer or sale of a property, sharing of a pension etc). So often...

Parents on the run

Muntech Kaur
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There has been a considerable amount of media coverage concerning the matter of two brothers, aged 6 and 9, who were abducted by their mother in March 2017. It has been a long judicial process for this family which initially commenced by way of an...

Alienation - a form of child abuse!

Yolande Millar
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The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) believes deliberate parental alienation accounts for the majority of the most entrenched family disputes, possibly as much as 80 percent. Cafcass works with children and their families not...

Parental alienation 'I was manipulated by my father'

Melanie Loxley
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It is heart breaking to hear the story of “Emma” (14) in the media today and her experience of parental alienation by her father. Sadly, her experience is likely to be shared by many children in the UK, where parents simply cannot put...

Fined for alienating children

Philip Hoddell
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An Italian Court has set what is believed to be an historical precedent by fining the mother of three children 30,000 Euros for attempting to alienate them from their father.  All of the people remain anonymous, but commentary on the case suggested...

BRANJ - Exit "Better in Britain"

Philip Hoddell
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The breaking news this week that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt has shocked many people, but probably surprised fewer – Hollywood marriages don’t normally seem to last the distance.   There is certainly no shortage of...

Hope for wrongly accused parents

Liz Jones
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You may have seen this heart wrenching story on Good Morning Britain yesterday. Read/watch here These two cases are very sad indeed. The court’s paramount consideration is always the welfare of the child and the courts can only work with the...

Fragile foster children need a secure home

Liz Jones
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I recently read this article on the BBC news website - 'Foster children harmed by frequent moves' I act on behalf of many children in foster care. It’s always sad when they have to move placements for what ever reason and of course, it...

Grandmother being sent to prison for not saying where her daughter was

Liz Jones
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You may have seen this deeply emotional story in the news.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-33134781   This case has moved on from mum abducting a child to the grandmother and partner being sentenced to prison for contempt of court. This is...

Study shows no bias towards mothers in court applications regarding children

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A charitable trust known as ‘The Nuffield Foundation’ has recently published details of research that their researchers carried out and the full findings were published on 2 June 2015. The research looked at applications being made to the court...

Relocation, relocation, relocation...

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We are seeing more relationships than ever between couples of different nationalities.  If that relationship breaks down, what happens if one parent wants to return to their native country with their children? We are also living in a world which...

Think of the children!

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On 22 April 2015 a judgment regarding a children matter was handed down. The matter (Re H-B(Contact) involved a long standing contact dispute. By way of background, as a matter of last resort, an application can be made to the court in relation to children...

Leaving children home alone

Liz Jones
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A comment in response to “ Essex parents arrested for leaving children home alone ” in the Halstead Gazette. It is never acceptable practice to leave young children at home alone. There is no definitive age for doing so but the consequences...

Child Maintenance Service - application fee and charges

Philip Hoddell
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The Child Support Agency (“CSA”) is gradually being replaced by the new Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”) following more than two decades of pretty poor performance by the CSA. At the same time, the CMS has introduced application fees...

The cost of a child in 2014

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According to their website, the Child Poverty Action Group is “the leading national charity working to end poverty among children, young people and families in the UK”. The Child Poverty Action Group, together with the Joseph Rowntree...

Grandparents day - should grandparents have an automatic ability to apply for contact orders?

Philip Hoddell
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This Sunday is national Grandparents day, and as many families plan a happy day of celebration with three (or sometimes more) generations coming together, it is worth taking some time to consider the legal position of those grandparents who don’t see...

Children and Family Court Advisory & Support Service - CAFCASS

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In relation to any application to the court in relation to children matters, the court have to determine what is in the best interests of the children.  To do so, the court considers what is known as the “welfare checklist”.  The court...

New charge for users of the Child Maintenance Service

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As from 11 August 2014 the Government are beginning to charge users of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), previously the Child Support Agency/CSA, a fee for using their services.  The idea is to try to encourage parents not to use the CMS, but instead...

The New Child Maintenance System - 30 June 2014

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As of today a new system of Child Maintenance comes into force which will phase out the CSA (Child Support Agency) over the next 3 years. A new scheme is welcome in light of the failings of the CSA, which was reported to have £2.3 billion in...

Is it the taking part that counts?

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Within family law, when it comes to deciding issues in respect of children the matter always boils down to one question, “what is in that child’s best interests?”. It’s a complex question and the court have a fairly wide discretion...

How could Facebook affect your family?

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Facebook has just celebrated it’s 10th anniversary and is obviously hugely successful and a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family. But does it pose a risk to private family life? The press have published copies of facebook...

Enforcement of child contact orders - new research

Philip Hoddell
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When couples separate, the majority are able to agree who their children will live with and how often they will spend time with each of their parents. A minority can’t, and although this is one area where mediation is often very successful, every year...

Child abduction by parents

Philip Hoddell
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I have blogged before about cases where children have been taken from their country of residence by one parent.  The preliminary legal argument is then usually about whether the children should be returned to the country they came from for the courts...

How old is old enough?

Philip Hoddell
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I have written before about the legal implications of a parent unilaterally moving children from one country to another. The usual rule is that children should be promptly returned to the country where they usually live, for legal decisions about their...

Government introduces a presumption of shared parenting

Philip Hoddell
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The government has confirmed that it intends to introduce legislation to provide for a presumption of shared parenting. The Children Act of 1989 will be amended to provide that a Court is to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of each...

International Child Abduction

Philip Hoddell
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Both Italy and Australia are signatories to the Hague Convention on child abduction (as is the UK). Broadly this states that if children are wrongly removed from one member country to the other, the Court of the country where they are physically present will...

Access rights - To move or not to move?

Philip Hoddell
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The High Court has just ruled that a mother of two children should be allowed to move from her current address provided she and the children remain in England and Wales (the countries covered by the High Court). This overturned an Order made two years...

Online law advice or a friendly face?

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I sometimes feel that the internet is taking over the world. We can bank, shop, socialise and obtain information on every topic imaginable on line. How about obtaining legal advice via an “information hub” when your spouse has just left you,...

Government takes control of Child Support Agency

Philip Hoddell
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The government is proposing to take over the Child Support Agency and make it part of the Department for Work and Pensions. The CSA has been criticised by pretty much everyone since it was first introduced nearly 20 years ago. Notorious for its incorrect...