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On the value of legal representation

By | divorce, FAQ, Law news, News, the family courts | No Comments

The status of legal representation has recently appeared in the news, again. Readers of our blog might already be aware that since LASPO (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, 2012) when Legal Aid was largely removed for family cases, more than a third of all family court proceedings feature unrepresented parties (litigants in person) on both sides with many more family hearings where one party is represented and the other is not. Huge numbers of litigants are having to find their way through the minefield of law and procedure rules without legal assistance. Problems arise for all…

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Contempt of Court and Family Proceedings

By | divorce, financial, Law news, News, the family courts | No Comments

This week, we are taking a look at what can happen in family proceedings if an individual thwarts court orders and is held in contempt of court. Being held in contempt of court can invoke draconian consequences for litigants, however the more draconian consequences such as committal to prison have rarely been applied in the family court. Recently, an 83-year-old property developer was jailed for contempt of court after obstructing his financial settlement with his ex-wife. This is a timely reminder of the Court’s powers and sadly, how acrimonious litigation can entrench an individual to such an extent that they are not…

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Movement in cohabitation claims – recognition of financial dependence

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The law on cohabitation and inheritance has come under scrutiny again as the High Court has ruled in favour of a woman who was neither married to, nor in joint property ownership with, her late partner and who initially received nothing from his £1.5 million estate after his death. In a ruling handed down on 29 March this year, the High Court ruled in favour of 79-year-old Joan Thompson who, it said, should be entitled to a distribution of her late partner, Wynford Hodge’s estate. In Thompson v Raggett, Joan Thompson pursued a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants)…

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The role of Fact Finding hearings in family proceedings

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This week we examine the role of fact finding hearings in family proceedings. Fact finding hearings are sometimes required in family proceedings when it is necessary to get to the bottom of allegations between parties, when the truthfulness of these allegations might have a bearing on the outcome of the case. Frequently, the “facts” underlying the narrative are difficult to determine as the contrasting narratives of two former partners with subjective views of their former relationship, often contradict one another. In these hearings, judges must give a detailed judgment, setting out reasons for the findings of fact and the conclusions…

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The Tightening of Domestic Abuse Legislation

By | the emotional side, the family courts | No Comments

Domestic abuse has been in the news again. A recent report released by the Fawcett Society, here, has found that violence against women and girls is ‘endemic’ in the UK. It considers that the legal system is failing women and needs fundamental reform. The report, which the Fawcett Society says is the first of its kind, calls for a number of specific changes to the legal system. These include extending the definition of coercive control to include after a couple have separated, making any breach of a domestic abuse order a criminal offence, making ‘up-skirting’ an offence, making misogyny a…

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Early legal advice helps resolve legal problems sooner

By | financial, Law news, the family courts | No Comments

Research conducted for the Law Society by Ipsos MORI shows a clear statistical link between seeking early legal advice and resolving legal problems sooner. “Without early advice, relatively minor legal problems can escalate, creating health, social and financial problems, placing additional pressure and cost on already stretched public services,” said Law Society vice president, Christina Blacklaws. Early legal advice, defined as ‘within 3 months of the issue first occurring’, helps people to identify solutions– meaning simple issues do not needlessly spiral or end up in court, bringing unnecessary costs to the taxpayer. Professional legal advice is defined as advice from…

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It’s snowing! Let’s talk about Freezing Orders…

By | divorce, FAQ, financial, the family courts | No Comments

Most separating couples will sort out the fair division of their assets on divorce by agreement however this is not always the case for everyone. Unfortunately, there are situations where an individual considers hiding or disposing of their assets, in an attempt to minimise the resources that they must share with their spouse. Unsurprisingly, the law says that the parties to a divorce must be totally honest and transparent when disclosing the full extent of their resources because, without all the facts, it is impossible to determine a truly fair financial settlement. If a spouse is tempted to hide assets…

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Can Children Thrive in Modern Family Structures?

By | Children, News, the emotional side | No Comments

What is important in families to support healthy psychological adjustment and gender development for children? Is family structure the crucial factor? That is, does parents’ gender, number, their sexual orientation and genetic connection matter for children’s development? What role is also played by other factors such as the quality of relationships in the family, warmth, levels of interaction, openness of communication and methods of discipline? Research conducted by Susan Golombok, Professor of Family Research and Director of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, in her recent publication, ‘Modern Families – Parents and Children in new Family…

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Jewish transgender parent successfully appeals letter-only contact order

By | Children, Law news, News, the family courts | No Comments

The exclusion of a transgender woman from her children’s lives must be reconsidered, the Court of Appeal ruled late last year, in a case that contrasts what has been considered to be deeply discriminatory practices in some communities against the more broadminded outlook of the modern world. A woman left her family and the broader Orthodox Jewish Haredi community in Manchester two years ago after deciding to transition from male to female. Her estranged wife refused to let the transgender woman see their five children claiming they would be ostracised by their very religious and conservative neighbours if they did so, despite pleas…

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On Being ‘Published’

By | FAQ, Law news, News, the family courts | No Comments

Regular readers of our blog might well be aware that the legal system in England and Wales is based on both statute (laws passed by Parliament) and case law (decisions by the higher court judges which set ‘precedents’ to be followed in future cases), these precedent cases are published and available to all to read and consider. In England and Wales there is a principle that justice must not just be done, it must also be seen to be done. Family cases are often heard in private, and the privacy of the family court has been criticised for being an…

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