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Divorce & Separation

Is COVID delaying couples from divorcing in the UK?

Melanie Loxley
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I recently received an interesting email from a market research company. Following steady growth in 2019, it indicated that the family law sector in the UK struggled in the first half of 2020 but then slightly recovered in the second half of the year.  ...

No Fault Divorce - It's Official

Karen Johnson
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The Government announced yesterday (7 June 2021)  that the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which will allow couples to divorce without apportioning blame, will come into force from  6 April 2022. This is later than planned, as we had...

What is a Financial Consent Order?

Claudia Hubert
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A financial consent order is a legally binding document that sets out the financial agreement that the divorcing couple or couple dissolving a civil partnership has reached. What is included in a Financial Consent Order? A financial consent order will...

COVID affecting divorce settlements - an update

Philip Hoddell
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  COVID affecting divorce settlements - an update In March this year, I blogged about the long-running case of FRB v DCA (no.3).  In that case, the court ruled that the original divorce settlement would not be changed just because of...

What happens to my jewellery during a divorce?

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What happens to my jewellery during a divorce? The question of how a divorcing couple should deal with jewellery is one divorce and separation lawyers are often asked. This is especially when it comes to the engagement and wedding rings, or family heirlooms...

Dealing with legal costs in financial remedy proceedings

Melanie Loxley
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Since 2006, it has been the general rule that in financial remedy proceedings , the court will make no order as to costs. This means that generally speaking, each party will have to bear their own legal fees. Prior to 2006, the court could and did...

How to deal with insolvency in divorce proceedings

Karen Johnson
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In the UK there are two legal definitions of insolvency. The first is where an individual or business owes more than it owns and the second is when they are unable to pay their debts as they fall due. Insolvency, and the threat of insolvency, brings with it...

Privacy in divorce proceedings

Melanie Loxley
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In this case (Barclay v Barclay [2021]), heard by Cohen J on 5 May 2021, the Financial Remedy Application of the wife of a well-known public figure was attended by accredited media representatives, although they were subject to reporting...

Increase in children applications

Karen Johnson
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The term “private law children matters” is used to describe disputes involving private individuals (usually parents) regarding children. The issues in dispute might include: where children shall live how much time children should spend with...

The Kardashian-West divorce

Alexandra Zahariadi
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After six years of marriage, TV reality star Kim Kardashian and rapper/fashion designer Kanye West are now in the process of getting a divorce . Kim filed for divorce on 19 February 2021, after months of rumours circulating across the media. Recent reports...

Choosing the correct court for divorce proceedings

Philip Hoddell
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Although we often talk about ‘the Court’, there are in fact many different courts in this country. A recent case led to a useful observation from a senior judge about which court should be used to interpret the provisions of an order made within...

Why should I deal with my divorce collaboratively?

Melanie Loxley
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There are many advantages to dealing with a separation in a collaborative manner . Collaborative Law is always evolving. Birkett Long’s team of Collaborative Lawyers  is excited by the introduction of a new Participation Agreement. This...

Divorce and separation - have you considered the pensions?

Melanie Loxley
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Despite centuries of progress towards gender equality, the fact remains that where a couple decides to have children, there is usually one parent who makes sacrifices in their career in order to care for the children. This can have far-reaching effects, not...

Is it possible for someone to lose parental responsibility?

Karen Johnson
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Parental Responsibility is the term used to describe the responsibilities that a person may have in relation to a child and securing that child’s welfare. It covers the right to make decisions about: medical care,  religion,  education...

Million-pound mediation scheme

Claudia Hubert
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Separating parents will be assisted to resolve disputes through a new million-pound mediation scheme that was launched by the Government on 26 March 2021. Under the new time-limited scheme, approximately 2,000 families will be able to apply for a one-off...

Divorce: how Grenfell affects financial settlements

Alexandra Zahariadi
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In a recent case*, the parties’ marriage had broken down in January 2019, after which they decided to initiate divorce proceedings, in addition to financial remedy proceedings. At the heart of the couple’s financial dispute was the jointly-owned...

Can I change my divorce settlement because of Covid?

Philip Hoddell
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That was the question that came back before the High Court in the long running case of FRB v DCA (No.3). What was the court’s original decision? After nearly 3 years of litigation, the High Court made a decision on the case in March 2020.  The...

Is there a gender bias in the divorce courts?

Philip Hoddell
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At first glance, the recently decided case of Finch v Baker appears to show a bias in favour of the wife in a divorce case.  But is that really the case here? What was the background to the case? Ms Finch (the wife) was a highflying TV executive...

Divorce - matrimonial property v non-matrimonial property

Karen Johnson
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A recent case* is a good reminder of the importance of establishing different types of property when dealing with financial remedy issues on divorce. The wife had made an application for a financial remedy order as part of divorce proceedings. The husband...

Financial Remedy Applications: what to expect

Karen Johnson
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Whilst I would consider that an application to the court should be an option of last resort, sometimes it is absolutely necessary. This might be because: there is a benefit to there being a firm timetable, or  because there are difficulties with...

Annulments: How much should a 6 month marriage be worth?

Philip Hoddell
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That is the question that the High Court is likely to have to answer some time later this year as the case of Tabarra v Kassai ends up in court.  The divorce has sensationally hit the headlines after Mr Kassai filed for annulment. His wife of just 6...

Divorce - in a way that suits you

Melanie Loxley
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Do I have to instruct a solicitor to get divorced? No. If your marriage has broken down irretrievably then you can start divorce proceedings through the Court’s online divorce portal. You currently need to rely on 1 of 5 facts to prove that the...

Key changes to Contested Financial Remedy Applications

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Administrative changes, designed to streamline the court process, have recently come into effect concerning where to send Contested Financial Remedy applications on divorce.  These applications are made in divorce proceedings where the parties are...

Is your relationship one of the casualties of lockdown?

Melanie Loxley
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For most, life before lockdown involved seeing your partner for extended periods of time only when on holiday or over Christmas. 10 months since the first lockdown began, many couples have realised that spending all day, every day, under the same roof with...

Divorce agreements: what could happen in the future?

Karen Johnson
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In the divorce courts there is a great deal of encouragement to couples to reach agreements about the division of their finances. Most couples prefer the certainty of an agreement compared to the uncertainty of a trial with all of the attendant expense and...

Domestic abuse in the family court - the year for change?

Phoebe Trott
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Just over two decades ago the Court of Appeal was asked to give guidance on the approach to domestic abuse in child contact cases and Practice Direction 12J was born. It details the approach of the court in cases where there is alleged or admitted domestic...

Powers of the court: the risks of alleging fraud

Karen Johnson
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A recent case of Crowther v Crowther & Ors [2020] EWHC 3555 (Fam) serves as a useful reminder of the court’s powers to make costs orders in relation to preliminary issues and the risks of alleging fraud. The background of the case Mr and Mrs...

The importance of pensions on divorce

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According to a recent report prepared by the workplace pension scheme Nest, women are, on average, between £41,000 to £70,000 worse off at retirement than their male counterparts.  This is due to the pension gender gap caused by the extra...

A Brave New Year? 2021 a new year for divorce

Karen Johnson
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It is fair to say that 2020 will go down in history as an horrendous year. The world has seen wild-fires, riots and murder hornets. We reached a point where we were sick of hearing about Brexit, only for the headlines to be replaced with news of a worldwide...

Consent Orders - how to make an agreement legally binding

Phoebe Trott
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What is a Consent Order? A Consent Order is a legally binding document which records an agreement that has been reached between the parties and has been approved by the court.  Within divorce proceedings a consent order may detail the financial...

No fault divorce and divorce law challenged

Philip Hoddell
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Next week, the High Court will hear a crowd-funded legal action challenging not only the government’s plans to introduce ‘no fault’ divorces but also the existing legislation about divorce and maintenance claims.  No fault divorce is...

The importance of full financial disclosure during divorce

Phoebe Trott
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What is financial disclosure? Financial disclosure should be undertaken in the divorce process to allow each party to set out their respective financial positions and to disclose documentary evidence to one another. This is in order to resolve the...

Is it possible to have a good divorce?

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This week marks “Good Divorce Week 2020” – an initiative run by Resolution. Resolution is the family law organisation whose members are committed to resolving divorce and family law issues in a constructive, non-confrontational way.  ...

Top tips for Christmas contact arrangements during Covid-19

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It is that time of year again, as the countdown to Christmas begins. However, this year the countdown is very different. The COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government will influence how families can spend time together over the festive period. ...

Divorce law reform: changes we have been waiting for

Lisa Collins
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The current legislation To obtain a divorce under the current divorce framework, parties must have been married for at least one year and be able to show that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’, which can be proven by one of five...

Alternative Dispute Resolution: how to avoid family court

Karen Johnson
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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) means a process by which a dispute is resolved other than through the courts. It covers a wide variety of different options and requires careful consideration both at the outset of a dispute and on an ongoing basis....

Millions lost due to conduct in court

Karen Johnson
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This case involved a husband, aged 41, and a wife, aged 38, who both came from very wealthy Indian families. They were married in 2003. The marriage broke down and they separated in 2017.  Following the breakdown, the husband started to hear rumours...

The importance of dealing with litigation in a reasonable manner

Karen Johnson
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This case involved an appeal following a financial remedy order. At the date of the original hearing, the husband was aged 44 and the wife 45. The couple had started living together in 1995, married in 2005 and separated in 2016. They had two children aged...

What is a Separation Agreement?

Phoebe Trott
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A Separation Agreement is a written agreement made between a separating couple. The couple agrees the terms of the separation including reference to maintenance, division of property and any other financial provisions that may be agreed. If you and your...

The right to occupy the family home during the divorce?

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In most divorce cases, the property last shared by a married couple as their home will be one of the key capital assets to be taken into consideration when sorting out the financial matters arising from the relationship breakdown. In some cases, it is the...

Lockdown part II - what it means for family law

Karen Johnson
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With the country poised to enter a second lockdown on the 5 November 2020, I thought that it would be helpful to set out how this will impact issues relevant to family lawyers and their clients.  The courts These remain operational and, should you...

Prison sentence for child maintenance deceit

Philip Hoddell
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A man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for falsifying a DNA test in an attempt to avoid paying child maintenance for his two children.  Despite being present at the birth of the children, who have two different mums, Steven Dixon denied he was...

Separation and relationship breakdown during a pandemic

Karen Johnson
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Separation is difficult at the best of times. It gives rise to many issues and questions which need to be addressed and resolved. Not knowing where you stand, adds to the stress and strain and can make things feel so much worse.  Imagine yourself...

Think before your divorce goes to court: The costs involved

Philip Hoddell
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The Court of Appeal in Rothchild v De Souza recently dismissed an appeal by the husband against financial orders made in the divorce proceedings. His main argument was that the original order had not been fair because it left him with substantially less...

What am I entitled to on divorce?

Melanie Loxley
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This may be the first (and possibly for you the most important) question you have, if you are separating from your partner. In a nutshell, you may be entitled to some or all of the following:- 1.    Property If your partner owns property...

How to get the most from your family and divorce lawyer

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Family law disputes and the ending of relationships or civil partnerships can be emotionally difficult and costly, especially if they result in contested court proceedings.  At this moment in time, the cost of legal advice is clearly important....

Financial rights for unmarried couples

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Cohabiting couples are, all too often, unaware of the law as it applies to their relationship. Couples living together in unmarried relationships, contrary to popular belief, do not share the same legal rights and financial claims as their married...

Compensation for a bad marriage?

Philip Hoddell
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Most financial cases in divorce are dealt with on the basis of ‘needs’.  This is where there is only just enough to go round (and sometimes not even that) and a judge has to determine what each spouse needs, and how those needs can be...

No holiday to Scotland, but you can claim maintenance in England

Philip Hoddell
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In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court has held that a wife can pursue her ex-husband for maintenance through the English courts, even though they lived in Scotland and got divorced there.   When Emma Villiers separated from her wealthy...

No fault divorce - on demand

Philip Hoddell
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The Government’s no fault divorce legislation (“The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation bill” as it now is) is likely to be signed into law very soon, having now concluded its passage through the House of Commons. But what is the actual...

Can I get divorced during lockdown?

Melanie Loxley
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The end of a relationship is generally a very difficult and upsetting time.  For those who are in a failing relationship during lockdown, it must be even harder. If you find yourself in this situation then here are the answers to some questions you may...

Can I divorce during the coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown?

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A common question being asked of family lawyers during the current crisis is whether it is still possible to obtain a divorce whilst the UK remains on lockdown. The simple answer to this question is yes. However, depending on what stage the divorce...

Divorce, pension sharing and the Jersey courts

Philip Hoddell
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A recent High Court case shows how important it is to consider what the courts of different jurisdictions can do when a couple divorces.  The background details to this case is that after a long marriage, the husband left the family home in Berkshire...

Supporting families following parental separation

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On 2 April 2020, a message was issued on the importance of supporting children and families following parental separation from Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division. His message came as a result of a second report published on 12 March 2020...

The impact of Coronavirus on the family justice system

Melanie Loxley
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The impact of the Coronavirus on our everyday lives is huge. Now that much of the UK is working from home or being unable to work, schools closed and our everyday routines and luxuries taken from us. One would be forgiven for thinking that the family...

How do I change my name?

Lisa Collins
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The most common method for changing your name is through the use of a deed. The following circumstances would require you to get a change of name deed completed: Changing your Christian name or adding a middle name Changing your name after a gender...

4 top tips for cohabiting couples

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The number of cohabiting couple families has risen significantly in the last decade and, yet, there remains a myth that common law marriage exists and that cohabiting couples automatically have legal rights and protection if their relationship ends or their...

Is coronavirus going to cause a spike in divorces?

Melanie Loxley
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We are hearing reports that coronavirus may be responsible for a spike in divorce rates in certain provinces in China. This could be a side effect of couples being quarantined and the stress associated with being isolated with a loved one for a prolonged...

Coronavirus: a quick how-to guide for co-parenting

Karen Johnson
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We have been looking at some frequently asked questions and one that appears a few times is co-parenting. It’s fair to say that co-parenting effectively, following the breakdown of a relationship can be difficult at the best of times. These are not the...

Domestic Abuse and COVID-19

Karen Johnson
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The current health crisis being dealt with across the globe is placing exceptional strain on people and businesses as Governments fight to contain the coronavirus and protect public health, whilst maintaining key services.  Advice to the vulnerable and...

COVID-19 and the impact on family law

Karen Johnson
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The world is currently facing a global pandemic of proportions and impact that we have never seen in the modern world outside of the movies. The personal and economic consequences are immense, and the coming weeks and months will no doubt bring further...

Divorce is easy (unless it isn't)

Philip Hoddell
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From an early age, all divorce lawyers have drummed into them the fact that you cannot act for both a husband and a wife in a divorce. We will know that under our code of conduct that is a non-negotiable point. It does not stop us often being asked though,...

Compensation on marriage breakdown and divorce

Karen Johnson
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In recent news, there has been talk of a case decided by Mr Justice Moor following a private hearing in London. He awarded a wife compensation of £400,000, in addition to 50% of their £10 million matrimonial pot, to reflect his finding that she...

Court overrules divorce settlement twice

Karen Johnson
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The case of Goddard-Watts v Goddard-Watts was in the news last week. The case is notable because of the highly unusual decision to set aside a financial remedy order, not just once but twice. The millionaire couple, James Goddard-Watts and Julia...

Court proceedings over child arrangements

Karen Johnson
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Figures were released earlier this month showing that Cafcass received a total of 3,284 new private law cases (involving 4,040 children) in December 2019. This was 7% higher than December 2018. This continues a trend of an increased number of private law...

Beware of the online divorce

Philip Hoddell
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Government statistics show that as many as 40% of divorces are now being dealt with online. But what is the background to this and where are the pitfalls of an online divorce?  Online divorce was introduced by the Ministry of Justice in 2018. A lot of...

"National Divorce Day" 2020 - So how was it for you?

Muntech Kaur
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The phrase "Divorce Day", traditionally the first Monday in January, is coined by the media rather than family lawyers. Many who practice family law, including family lawyers who are Members of Resolution , are likely to agree. So, it is...

Do you have rights to contact as a grandparent?

Lisa Collins
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The breakdown of relationships impacts not only on the immediate parties separating and their children but also extended family members. Grandparents are taking on a more involved role with their grandchildren due to working parents and the cost of child...

Will you marry me: the legal implications of marriage

Karen Johnson
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"Will you marry me?" is quite possibly one of the most anticipated questions that many people hope to hear in their lifetimes. It is a question that is loaded with love and hope for a future filled with happiness. It is easy, and completely...

Divorce Day - 6 January 2020

Karen Johnson
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The 6 January 2020 is Divorce Day; the first working Monday of the year, when family lawyers start to receive new enquiries from people who are faced with the prospect of separation and divorce. The reason for this is often put down to families having...

The danger of ignoring divorce papers

Philip Hoddell
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Increasingly, the family court is willing to step outside of strict rules of procedure where it appears fair for it to do so. The decision made in the recent case of Ali v Barbosa demonstrates this. The facts of the case were quite interesting, as the...

Common questions about the divorce process

Francesca Cozens
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What are the procedures to do before filing for a divorce? It is extremely rare for a divorce to be defended in England and Wales. This is because the Law Society has put in place protocols in an attempt for the process to be less antagonistic. Before we...

Common misconceptions about solicitors and how they work

David Feakins
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A lot of people may feel concerned about the prospect of having to speak to a solicitor. It may be that you want to discuss a family issue, a dispute you are having with a neighbour or wanting to prepare a will. Solicitors are here to provide the support...

Two recent cases of parental alienation

Lisa Collins
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Parental alienation, as identified by Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), is when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other...

Celebrity divorce - be careful it's a jungle out there!

Philip Hoddell
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I previously blogged about non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and how Paul Hollywood’s girlfriend had allegedly ended their relationship when he asked her to sign one that would effectively have gagged her from talking about their private life. Now it...

Parental alienation - two cases, two very different outcomes

Philip Hoddell
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I previously commented on a case involving parental alienation , and the Judge’s decision in that case to transfer residence from the mother to the father as a result. Last week, two decisions have been published involving the topic, however, with...

Should the divorce courts overrule other courts?

Philip Hoddell
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In divorce, not everything might appear to fit neatly within the jurisdiction of the divorce courts. Couples often run businesses together or one may employ the other. There may be family trusts, or assets held with other family members outside of the...

6 top tips for separated parents over the festive season

Francesca Cozens
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Christmas can be a stressful time of year for many people. For separated parents, child arrangements at Christmas can bring additional anxiety. Family law solicitors across the country are being asked this question – ‘Where should our children...

FAQs on financial issues during divorce - part 2

Melanie Loxley
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In the second of a 2 part series, Mel Loxley, who is a Solicitor and Partner in the Divorce and Separation team of Birkett Long and based in our Colchester office, answers a number of frequently asked questions by those who are facing divorce. Part 1...

Is the Judge's ruling final in divorce?

Philip Hoddell
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In divorce proceedings, very few financial cases get as far as a trial. When they do, the presiding judge often has to conduct a delicate balancing act between competing claims. What the law regards as ‘fair’ between husband and wife would not...

FAQs on financial issues during divorce - Part 1

Melanie Loxley
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In the first of a 2 part series, Mel Loxley, who is a Solicitor and Partner in the Divorce and Separation Team of Birkett Long and based in our Colchester office, answers a number of frequently asked questions by those who are facing divorce. Part 1 focuses...

Celebrity divorces - rumour has it...

Philip Hoddell
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It has been reported this week that Adele was only married to her husband, Simon Konecki, for 11 months before they separated. Divorce proceedings are currently ongoing in Los Angeles and documents reveal that they married on 6 May 2018. Original reports...

What makes a good divorce lawyer?

Lisa Collins
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Our divorce lawyers in Chelmsford have been discussing what they think makes a good divorce lawyer. Do you agree with what they say below? Lisa Collins, Partner and Head of South Essex Divorce & Family team: “A good divorce lawyer will have...

What is domestic abuse or domestic violence?

Karen Johnson
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Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. It can occur between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender...

What happens to my earnings after divorce?

Philip Hoddell
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In an earlier blog, called ‘ For how long should spousal maintenance be paid? ’, I commented on the Court of Appeal case of Waggott v Waggott and the judge’s comments that, “any extension of the sharing principle to post separation...

Who is entitled to what on separation?

Melanie Loxley
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Test your knowledge Lynn and Paul have been in a relationship for 30 years. They lived together over that time in a property owned in Paul’s sole name, which he bought a year before they met. They have two children together, who are now aged 27 and 25...

What happens to my money if my child's relationship fails?

Philip Hoddell
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Getting on the housing ladder has never been more difficult for young couples. It is often the “bank of mum and dad” that steps in to help buy that first property.  But with more and more couples choosing to live together rather than getting...

What happens at the first meeting with a divorce lawyer?

Melanie Loxley
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If you are having problems in your relationship and have decided that you need to seek legal advice from a divorce lawyer, it is likely you have never been in that situation before and that you have some concerns about what that meeting will involve.  ...

Are Generation 'Z' more likely to demand a pre-nup?

Philip Hoddell
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Generation ‘Z’ refers to those born from 1996 onwards, the generation following millennials. A recent YouGov survey suggests that this generation is more likely to take a pragmatic approach to marriage and protect their assets by signing a ...

Don't lose your Decree Absolute

Philip Hoddell
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The Decree Absolute is the final court document which confirms that a marriage has legally ended. We will always send you the original of your Decree Absolute and will recommend that you keep it in a safe place, as it can prove difficult to obtain another...

Is arbitration in family law a good alternative to court?

Melanie Loxley
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Arbitration is an alternative way of resolving disputes outside of court proceedings. It is growing in popularity in family cases, largely, I would imagine, because of the expense, uncertainty and huge delays that we currently face in the family court...

Hiding assets before getting divorced

Philip Hoddell
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Divorce can be a very stressful time and a question I often get asked is, “How can I protect my assets when I am getting divorced?” There will often be a queue of well-meaning friends and relatives lining up to give people advice about what to do...

Divorce: what happens to adult children still at home?

Karen Johnson
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According to the latest information released by the Office of National Statistics, the number of young adults living with their parents is continuing to increase. It is estimated that in 2018, 1 in 4 young adults, aged between 20 and 34, were living with...

What not to do when getting a divorce!

Philip Hoddell
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When going through a divorce process, do not: 1.    Send the divorce petition to the court without consulting your spouse/their legal adviser Within the current system, you cannot get divorced without “pointing the finger” at...

Celebrity separation: Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Philip Hoddell
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Celebrity baker, Paul Hollywood, has certainly hit the headlines this week after his girlfriend, Summer Monteys-Fullam, allegedly dumped him after refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But who is in the right here and what is the legal status of...

Divorce law reform - equality or equity?

Philip Hoddell
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Many people are aware that the government intends to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce. This is with the stated aim of reducing the acrimony that can sometimes accompany marriage breakdown. However, what some people may not know is that Crossbench...

What are controlling behaviour and coercive control?

Philip Hoddell
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Legislation designed to protect victims in abusive relationships has already led to much comment in the press. We are also seeing more and more claims of it being made in divorce proceedings. But what exactly is controlling or coercive behaviour? The...

Collaborative law: a better way...

Melanie Loxley
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I have just completed my training to be a collaborative lawyer. I have to say it has shown me that there really IS a better way to deal with the breakdown of a relationship than the approach that family lawyers have traditionally taken. I have been a member...

Planning a trip abroad with children after separation?

Francesca Cozens
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If your surname is different from your child’s, here is what you need to know when travelling abroad with them. Planning a holiday after separation can bring with it some additional complications. If you are planning to travel abroad with a child and...

Divorce: why not put your cards on the table?

Philip Hoddell
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I have previously blogged about how honesty is the best policy in divorce proceedings , but when and what you can disclose is still a much-misunderstood subject. The High Court has recently issued some further guidance which might help. Divorce lawyers...