Government releases new funding for mediation

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The government has announced an additional £5.4 million in funding for family mediation. The new funding extends an existing scheme which provides mediation vouchers worth £500 to couples undergoing divorce or separation who are interested in reaching out-of-court agreements on potentially contentious issues like finances or living arrangements for children. More than 8,000 mediation vouchers have been distributed by the Family Mediation Council so far, and the newly announced £5.4 million will fund an additional 10,200 vouchers. According to research conducted by the Council, nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of the first 2,800 voucher recipients succeeded in reaching out-of-court…

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Application process for lasting power of attorney legislation could move online

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The application process for lasting powers of attorney may become available online if plans recently announced by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) are approved. Power of attorney is the authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else, usually if their capacity to do so themselves becomes impaired by illness, age or disability. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 there are two kinds of power of attorney: • Ordinary power of attorney: usually used for people who need temporary help (for example, during a stay in hospital); and • Lasting power of attorney (LPAs): formally known as ‘enduring powers of…

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Brother and sister remain habitually resident in England and Wales, High Court rules

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A brother and sister who have been living with their grandfather and aunt in Libya for almost two years remain legal residents of the UK, the High Court has ruled. Both parents are Libyan citizens, and both come from wealthy families. After marrying in 2007 they moved to the UK to attend university and start a family. Their son and daughter are now aged 12 and 13 respectively. In addition to being British citizens, the children also hold Libyan citizenship thanks to their parents. In 2020, the father travelled back to Libya with the children to visit his family. Sitting…

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Crown Prosecution Service highlights domestic abuse stereotypes

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There is no typical victim of domestic abuse, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has declared in newly published guidance for prosecutors. In an announcement accompanying the document, the CPS stressed that, contrary to stereotype, both men and women could be victims. According to CPS domestic abuse lead Kate Brown: “Many people seem to have a fixed idea about what a domestic abuse victim looks like and what their circumstances are. They are wrong. This is a crime which affects both men and women from every walk of life. But these damaging misconceptions can have a real impact on a case…

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Court of Appeal declares findings against father ‘unsafe’

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Findings of abuse and assault made against the father of three children were unsafe, the Court of Appeal ruled. The children – twin boys aged nine and their 12-year-old sister – saw their father regularly following the breakdown of the parents’ marriage in 2017, regularly staying overnight at his home. But then arguments between the parents began and the 12 year-old refused to continue seeing her father. In June 2019 the father threatened legal proceedings and the mother began to restrict the time the twins spent with the father to daytime visits. The father applied for a child arrangements order:…

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Acrimonious divorce proceedings cost husband millions

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The acrimonious aftermath of a brief marriage cost a husband millions of dollars, the High Court has heard. Opening his judgement, Mr Justice Peel explained: “The parties were married for no more than about five months, and have no children. They are both in their fifties. Such cases should be easy to resolve. Not so here; the parties have litigated bitterly, at enormous cost and in minute forensic detail for over a year and a half.” The husband in this case was a US citizen, a successful software engineer who worked on the west coast of the United States. Meanwhile,…

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Revised divorce form to provide more information

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A new version of a key form used in divorce has been published. Form D81 is completed and signed by both parties to a divorce once one has applied for a financial settlement that would result in a legally binding ‘consent order’ (so called because each party consents to the agreement). D81 is formally entitled Statement of information for a consent order in relation to a financial remedy – it details each party’s financial circumstances and is used by the family courts to determine whether the agreed division of assets and property is fair and reasonable. The joint signatures also…

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Bill raising minimum age of marriage gets third reading

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A bill raising the minimum age for marriage to 18 received an unopposed third reading in the House of Commons in late February. Under current legislation, 16- and 17-year-olds can marry in England and Wales with the consent of their parents or guardian, but the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill would remove this provision if it reaches the statute books. Following an amendment, it would also prevent under-18s from travelling to Scotland or Northern Ireland to marry. The latter prohibition will also apply in reverse and extend to marriages conducted in other countries too. An official note on…

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Therapist granted declaration regarding her father

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The adult daughter of a woman born following an affair has been granted a legal declaration concerning the identify of her biological father. The therapist, ‘Ruth’, is now in her early 60s. She was born out of wedlock to a then 18-year-old mother. The mother, ‘Constance’, was from an orthodox Jewish background while the father, then aged 27, was an Irish citizen. When the mother became pregnant, the father, ‘Patrick’, refused to marry her, leaving her in a difficult position. In the family division of the High Court, Mr Justice Mostyn explained: “Constance needed to find a husband quickly as…

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Government plans changes to Human Rights Act

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The government has announced plans to revise the Human Rights Act, making Parliament the ultimate arbiter in human rights case rather than the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. According to the Ministry of Justice, the “far-reaching proposals” would, however, maintain a firm commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights, on which the Human Rights Act 1998 was based, incorporating its provisions into UK law. Contrary to popular belief, the European Court of Human Rights is a separate organisation, unconnected with the European Union, and the UK remains a member. But the revised legislation would, the Ministry claims…

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