No fault divorce bill ‘needs clarity’

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Draft legislation set to introduce set to introduce no fault divorce in England and Wales needs more work, the Law Society has claimed. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons earlier this month. It then went to the parliamentary Public Bill Committee for detailed examination and consideration. The Law Society, a professional body representing solicitors in England and Wales, wrote to the Committee. If it becomes law the bill would amend the stalwart Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, removing the current need to cite one of five specific reasons when applying for divorce….

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Supreme Court President calls for donations to legal support charity

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The President of the Supreme Court called for donations to a legal charity during a recent appearance on BBC Radio 4. Delivering the station’s weekly Appeal programme, Lady Hale gave her endorsement to the Personal Support Unit, which provides assistance to people facing complex family and civil court proceedings without legal representation. As President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale is the most senior judge in the country. She told listeners: “I know how intimidating the civil and family courts can be for people without legal knowledge or help. Everyone deserves access to justice whether or not they can afford…

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Domestic abuse “lasts 25 per cent longer” in rural areas

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A newly published report paints “a shocking picture” of domestic abuse in rural Britain. According to Captive & Controlled from the National Rural Crime Network, abuse and violence in rural areas continues on average for 25 per cent longer than that in towns and cities thanks to the relative isolation of its victims, who struggle to access support services and shelter spaces. They are half as likely as their urban counterparts to report their abuse at all. Domestic violence in rural areas is more likely to fly under the radar, leaving victims “isolated, unsupported and unprotected” the reports declares, “failed…

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President of the Family Division offers “profound thanks”

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The President of the Family Division has written of his “profound thanks and appreciation” for legal professionals and support staff working in the “heavily burdened” family justice system. In a short letter distributed across the court system, Sir Andrew McFarlane stressed that his message was intended for everyone involved: “I hope that this short message will be read by every judge, magistrate, HMCTS staff member, civil servant, CAFCASS officer, social worker and lawyer involved in the Family Justice system and Court of Protection in England and Wales.” Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is the official name used for…

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Government considers civil partnership conversion for opposite sex couples

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Plans for the introduction of heterosexual civil partnerships have been published by the government. The publication follows a Supreme Court ruling in June last year that denying heterosexual couples the right to enter a civil partnership was in breach of human rights legislation. Civil partnerships were originally introduced in 2004 as alternative to marriage for use by same sex couples. But after the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, civil partnerships were left in place despite calls for their extension to heterosexual couples. The recently published Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 gave the…

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Supreme Court President: divorce finance bill is “threatening”

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President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale has caused a stir by being openly critical of a divorce finance bill currently progressing though parliament. Speaking at the International Centre for Family Law earlier this month, Lady Hale described the Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill, as “threatening” to the “social security system of the family”. The bill was introduced by crossbench peer and legal academic Baroness Deech. It has already completed its passage through the House of Lords, and received a first reading in the House of Commons. If it becomes law, it would make several very significant changes to marital legislation,…

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The balance of rights – anonymity in legal proceedings

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Jeremy Ford of Cambridge Family Law Practice represented the Litigation Friend on behalf of the child in a recent hearing before the President of the Family Division where the Telegraph Media Group Ltd, Associated Newspapers Limited, News Group Newspapers Limited and Reach sought to lift the anonymity order which protected the identity of the Claimant within the Judicial Review and Family Proceedings. The Media Group were successful in their application and the President decided that the anonymity order should be lifted in respect of the identity of the Claimant but not the child.  This important judgment delicately balances the competing…

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Five year-old ‘can receive blood transfusion’ Judge rules

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The critically-ill five year-old daughter of committed Jehovah’s Witnesses should receive a blood transfusion despite the religious objections of her parents, a Judge has ruled. Blood transfusions are forbidden by the evangelical Christian sect and members who willingly accept one for themselves or their children can be expelled. The girl is currently a patient at the Leeds Children’s Hospital and the local NHS Trust applied to the High Court for permission to intervene. Sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, Mr Justice Hayden noted the girl’s life was at risk without a transfusion. She suffers from sickle cell…

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Court documents served via Whatsapp ‘are valid’ concludes judge

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A wealthy divorcee has won the right to have a financial dispute with her former partner heard in English courts after serving him with papers via popular messaging app Whatsapp. Mr Justice Lavendar ruled that the unusual delivery method was legally valid and the case should therefore proceed in English courts. Mandy Gray is involved in a financial dispute with former partner Hamish Hurley. The Judge declared: “Ms Gray issued the claim form [documents initiating a financial claim] in the present action and obtained an order for alternative service [permission to use an unorthodox method of delivering the documents], pursuant…

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Marriage ceremonies to be reviewed

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The Law Commission has launched a review of regulations surrounding wedding ceremonies in England and Wales, some of which date back almost 200 years. The review, scheduled to run for two years, will focus on whether existing restrictions on where marriages can take place should be maintained or more choices made available. Currently, wedding ceremonies can only be held in: registry offices premises which have been specially approved for weddings – for example hotels churches operated by Church of England or its counterparts the Church in Wales and the Church of Ireland, as well as Presbyterian or Roman Catholic churches…

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