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Divorce & Separation

Will no-fault divorce affect my financial settlement?

Shelley Cumbers
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From 6th April 2022, it will be possible to obtain a no fault divorce, marking one of the most significant changes in divorce law this country has seen in the last 50 years. The change in the law has been long-awaited and will end the blame game for...

What is a Gender Recognition Certificate?

Claudia Hubert
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A Gender Recognition Certificate (“GRC”) is a formal document issued by the Gender Recognition Panel to legally recognise an individual’s acquired gender in the UK. At birth an individual’s gender is registered on their birth...

Who gets to keep the dog?

Farrah  Harvey-Nawaz
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Ralph is a few feet tall, has short hair, excitement of a toddler, but a build of an adult. He has kind eyes and a cheeky smile. Ralph is a beautiful Labrador also known as “Ralph”, “Doggo”, “Fur-baby” and...

Fasting for a month! Working as a Solicitor during Ramadan

Farrah  Harvey-Nawaz
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You may have heard that it is the month of Ramadan for Muslims around the globe, but may not quite understand what it entails. This is not one of my usual legal blogs but it is one of practice – especially as I continue to work during...

Divorce Deadline - No Fault Divorce coming soon

Karen Johnson
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Divorce law is changing and from the 6 April 2022 , it will be possible for all divorcing couples to obtain a no fault divorce.  It will in fact no longer be necessary to prove or allege adultery nor unreasonable behaviour and nor will they have...

Forensic Imaging Orders in Divorce Cases

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A recent High Court case has highlighted the dangers of looking for your spouse’s confidential information to use it in a divorce.  What is the problem here? Both husband and wife have an obligation in divorce proceedings to provide full and...

The Importance of following correct divorce proceedings

Karen Johnson
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A recent case of Randhawa v Randhawa saw the court setting aside a decree absolute made 12 years ago. The parties in this case had married in 1978 and the husband had petitioned for divorce in January 2010 on the basis of the wife’s unreasonable...

Nesting and Child Arrangements

Karen Johnson
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The term “Nesting Arrangement” refers to an arrangement whereby the children remain in one property (generally the family home) and the parents take turns living in the property and looking after the children. A recent case In a recent case of...

Don't Ignore the Pensions

Karen Johnson
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A Survey by ‘Which?’, of its members in November 2021 uncovered that only 15% of divorcing couples included pensions in their divorce settlement and 53% said that pensions had not even been discussed.  Now, it was a small survey of only 453...

10 top tips on getting divorced amicably

Melanie Loxley
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Getting divorced is rarely seen to be a positive thing. Ending a relationship is an extremely stressful life event. As a family law solicitor for the past 18 years, I have advised many people going through a relationship breakdown. Here are 10 top tips on...

The divorce stats are in

Farrah  Harvey-Nawaz
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According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), “in 2020, there were 103,592 divorces granted in England and Wales, a decrease of 4.5% compared with 2019”. This number is broken down further to account for 102,438 opposite-sex divorces and...

Child maintenance - what can separated parents do

Shelley Cumbers
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The question of child maintenance, including how much should be paid and what factors are considered in the calculation, is common for separating families and often addressed in an initial discussion with a family law solicitor following a relationship...

Merry £550 Million Pound New Year!

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After many years of litigation, the High Court finalised a financial settlement between the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and his estranged wife (the youngest of 6 wives) Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussain.  Just in time for the festive...

UK's Biggest Divorce Settlement - what could you be entitled to?

Phoebe Trott
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The UK Family Court recently ruled on what is said to be the biggest divorce case in British history. Princess Haya was awarded a sum of just over £550 million in her divorce from Sheikh Mohammed, the prime minister of the UAE.  Princess Haya was...

New Year, New You.

Farrah  Harvey-Nawaz
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Happy New Year to you. With the start of 2022, you may have made an endless list of resolutions and if you are like me, you have most probably gone slightly off track on the “healthy eating” one. However, putting those pesky resolutions aside,...

New year, new beginnings: divorce and family law

Shelley Cumbers
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With every new year comes new opportunities and the chance to make a fresh start. This can involve setting a series of new year’s resolutions or planning new adventures for the year ahead and beyond. For many this may include exercising more, losing...

Read the forms properly

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In a recent High Court case, one partner lost more than £750,000 when he didn’t read the forms properly during the purchase of a large property with his ex. Which case was this? Christopher Rowland v Sharon Blades was heard in the High Court...

Changes to the divorce process following Brexit

Shelley Cumbers
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 On 31 January 2020, the UK exited the European Union (the EU). A post-Brexit transition period then followed until 31 December 2020 during which time, the UK was generally treated (with some exceptions) as if it were still a member of the EU and most...

Good Divorce Week 2021: A better way

Shelley Cumbers
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The Birkett Long Divorce and Family team is proud to support “Good Divorce Week 2021” which runs from 29 November to 3 December 2021. The Good Divorce Week is an annual initiative run by the national family justice organisation Resolution . Its...

The impact of contested court proceedings on children

Shelley Cumbers
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The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (NFJO) has recently published a research paper outlining children’s experience in contested private law court disputes. These are court proceedings between separated parents regarding the child arrangements,...

No fault divorce - when should I speak to a solicitor?

Melanie Loxley
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Many are eagerly awaiting the introduction of no fault divorce on 6 April 2022.  It has been a long time coming and will enable couples to formalise the end of their marriage or civil partnership without casting blame or having to wait for 2 years or...

Beware the Bank of Mum and Dad: following divorce

Melanie Loxley
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As a family lawyer, I see many cases where one of the parties have received a significant sum of money from their parents; often when buying a home.  Unlike a mortgage however, money that comes from “The Bank of Mum and Dad” is not...

What is a Statement of Information form?

Shelley Cumbers
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If you are involved in divorce proceedings and have reached a settlement with your spouse regarding the financial matters arising from the breakdown of your marriage, what should you do and what information must you provide to the court? Many divorcing...

Beware of the DIY Divorce

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What is a DIY divorce? There are quite a lot of websites offering DIY divorces.  They will sometimes claim that their use makes a divorce quicker, cheaper and/or more straightforward.  So why should I beware them? A high court judge has recently...

10 reasons to choose Birkett Long as your divorce solicitors

Melanie Loxley
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There are many reasons why Birkett Long should be your first choice of solicitors in the event you need help with a family law issue, my top 10 are set out below: 1.    Legal Recognition Birkett Long’s family team has been ranked a...

Can I change my child's name?

Shelley Cumbers
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Parents involved in a relationship breakdown will often have lots of questions to ask surrounding the arrangements for their children, including how to manage their day-to-day care, how to deal with child maintenance and how to organise where the children...

The divorce portal: Makes divorce easier, but beware!

Melanie Loxley
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At Birkett Long our family team have been waiting for a long time for the divorce process to be made more efficient and I am pleased to say that in my experience so far, the divorce portal has enabled divorces to be processed far more quickly than had been...

Gone are the days of paper-based divorce applications

Phoebe Trott
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Since April 2018, spouses and their legal advisers have been able to apply for a divorce through the online court portal. The use of the online portal will become mandatory for legal advisers from 13 September 2021.  This means that instead of filling...

Housing Needs and Divorce

Karen Johnson
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The question of, where a divorcing couple and their children may live following separation and divorce is often one of the most pressing and worrisome issues facing a couple. Accommodation is a basic necessity and yet the family home is often so much more...

Court fees to increase

Karen Johnson
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31 August 2021 saw the government publish its response to a consultation process into court fees and proposed increases.  A majority of respondents to the consultation opposed such a move, considering now was not the right time due to the impact that...

How to record a financial agreement in divorce

Shelley Cumbers
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If your marriage has broken down and you reach an amicable agreement with your ex-spouse in relation to the financial matters arising from your separation, it is important you ensure the agreement is properly recorded.  This will help to avoid any...

What happens if I'm divorced overseas?

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As global communications shrink the world ever faster, there is no guarantee that a married couple will necessarily both live in the same country following separation. So, what happens when one of them starts divorce proceedings in a different...

COVID-19 vaccines for children: when parents disagree

Claudia Hubert
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With the announcement that the COVID-19 vaccination is being rolled out to children as young as 12, separated parents may face difficulties in deciding whether their child will be vaccinated. This week, the BBC has reported that 370,000 children are...

Government Delays "No Fault" Divorce

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What is no fault divorce? In 2020 the Government passed an act enabling either spouse to divorce the other without having to give a reason and preventing the receiving spouse from defending the proceedings. Although passed into law, the act has not come...

Dealing with short childless marriages on divorce

Shelley Cumbers
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The Family Court has a broad discretion when dealing with the financial matters arising from divorce. They must consider all the circumstances of the case, the first consideration being given to the welfare of a child of the family who has not reached the...

The divorce process: what next for Mr and Mrs Hancock?

Karen Johnson
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On 28 June, I was invited to talk to Ben Fryer on BBC Essex, in light of the news last weekend that Matt Hancock had left his wife and resigned as Health Secretary after breaching social distancing rules and an apparent inappropriate relationship with his...

Parenting after separation or divorce

Shelley Cumbers
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Often, parents involved in a separation or divorce find it difficult to communicate effectively when their relationship breaks down. There are many reasons for this, including the cause of the breakdown of the relationship, the way the separation happens,...

Pre-nuptial Agreements - not just for the rich & famous

Shelley Cumbers
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Whilst the idea of signing an agreement to deal with the separation arrangements on divorce is not a romantic one, compared to the exciting plans of organising the wedding, celebrations and honeymoon, pre-nuptial agreements are still an important matter to...

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

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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?

Shelley Cumbers
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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

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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?

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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?

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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...

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

Shelley Cumbers
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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

Shelley Cumbers
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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

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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?

Shelley Cumbers
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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

Shelley Cumbers
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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?

Shelley Cumbers
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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

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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

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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

Shelley Cumbers
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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

Shelley Cumbers
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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?

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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

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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

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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?

Shelley Cumbers
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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

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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

Shelley Cumbers
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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

Shelley Cumbers
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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)

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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...