Supreme Court considers maintenance law

By | divorce, financial | No Comments

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against a ruling that the English courts had the authority to order him to pay maintenance to his ex-wife. The couple had married in England in 1994 before moving to Scotland. When they separated in 2012 the wife returned to England. The following year she filed for divorce in the English courts. But when the husband filed his own petition in 2014, the divorce was officially allocated to the Scottish courts because the couple had lived north of the border throughout their marriage. The wife agreed to drop her own divorce petition and…

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Radical Divorce Bill Awaits Approval

By | divorce, Law news | No Comments

The radical Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament this week and is now awaiting Royal Assent, the final stage in the creation of new legislation. The key change introduced by the legislation will be the removal of the current requirement to cite one of five ‘facts’ or reasons when applying for a divorce. These are: Adultery Unreasonable behaviour Desertion Two years’ separation by agreement Five years’ separation without agreement The requirement to cite these facts has been a bone of contention for decades, with lawyers and campaigners arguing that attributing fault in four…

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Government to review domestic abuse employment rights

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The government has announced a review of the best ways to protect domestic abuse survivors in the workplace. Topics under consideration will include flexible working, unplanned leave, and protections against financial abuse, such as paying the employee’s salary into a different account or providing emergency payments. Examples of best practice within the UK and abroad also be examined. Written evidence has been invited from employers across the country, on the following issues: What practical circumstances arise in relation to domestic abuse and work? What support can be offered in the workplace for victims of domestic abuse? What is possible with…

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Judge considers human rights in ‘tragic’ surrogacy case

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In a precedent-setting case, a widow has been declared the legal parent of a surrogate child. The case, Re X (2020), concerned a couple referred to in the judgement as Mr and Mrs Y. They wanted children but had been unable to conceive, and several rounds of IVF had also failed. They began to consider surrogacy and were eventually introduced to a second couple, Mr and Mrs X, who agreed to enter a surrogacy agreement with them. As surrogacy for profit is not legal in the UK, this would have been a personal arrangement between the two families. An embryo…

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Court of Appeal upholds decision to register transman as ‘mother’ on birth certificate

By | Law news, News | No Comments

The Court of Appeal has refused a bid by a trans man to be registered as the father of a child he gave birth to. The case concerned a journalist who legally and medically transitioned to life as a male during his 20s, receiving a gender recognition certificate, under the Gender Recognition Act, in 2017. Nevertheless, the man retained the capacity to have children and eventually conceived via in vitro fertilisation the following year. But when the journalist attempted to officially register the boy’s birth, the registrar insisted that he would have to be listed on the birth certificate as…

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Report into remote hearings during lockdown published

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A ‘rapid consultation’ into the effectiveness of remote hearings in the family courts has been published by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. Remote hearings via video conferencing software or telephone became the default after social distancing measures began in March. Over 1,000 respondents submitted their views and experiences over two weeks in April, including legal and social work professionals, parents and carers. Many said they were concerned about the fairness of remote hearings. Amongst the issues cited were maintaining privacy, the absence of facial expressions and body language during audio hearings, and potential disadvantage to people with disabilities or who…

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Family Division President rules out remote hearing in complex family case

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

The case against a mother suspected of abusing her child must be held in person, the President of the Family Division has declared. Re P (A Child: Remote Hearing) [2020] EWFC 32 concerned a mother suspected by her local authority of fabricating or inducing illness in the child, a practice known as ‘Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy’ or more formally, ‘Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another’. She disputes the allegations. The local authority launched proceedings against the mother in April last year, following lengthy previous disputes with other members of the child’s family. The seven year-old was sent to live with a friend…

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Supreme Court Justice Retires

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Veteran Supreme Court Judge Lord Wilson of Culworth has retired after reaching his 75th birthday. Lord Nicholas Wilson had served on the Supreme Court for nine years, after a distinguished 40-year legal career as a barrister and judge, including more than a decade sitting in the Family Division of the High Court. Due to the current pandemic restrictions, his fellow Justices were unable to stage the usual farewell ceremony. Instead Court President Lord Reed recorded a special video paying tribute to his colleague on behalf of Deputy President Lord Hodge and the ten other Justices of the Supreme Court. Lord…

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Northern Ireland to roll out remote family hearings

By | the family courts | No Comments

Judges in Northern Ireland will begin hearing uncontentious family cases remotely from next week, the most senior judge in the Province has announced. Remote court hearings are conducted via telephone or video conferencing software. Sir Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, said the move marked the beginning of a “gradual and incremental” increase in the number of cases being heard in Northern Irish courts since the pandemic restrictions were introduced. He hoped the move would help clear the backlog which has since built up. All hearings would be held in line with “public health guidance”. The initial…

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Couple’s foreign marriage should be annulled, family court rules

By | Law news, marriage | No Comments

A woman born in the Philippines cannot divorce her husband because their marriage was bigamous, a family court judge has ruled. The hearing, conducted remotely via Skype, concerned a couple who married in the Philippines in 2005 before later moving to the UK. The wife filed for divorce in July 2018. The husband countered, later the same year, with a claim that their marriage had been bigamous because the wife had still been legally married to another man at the time of their wedding. It should therefore be annulled he argued. In addition, the husband noted that their marriage certificate…

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