More than 40 per cent of divorcees now borrow from friends & family

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A full 41 per cent of people aged under 55 now borrow from friends and family to finance their divorce, according to a recently published report. By contrast just 11 per cent of divorcees aged 55 or over reported having done so. According to Divorce in the UK – can we improve the process?, this stark difference is likely due to the fact that older divorcees were more likely to have been eligible for legal aid at the time their marriages ended. Eligibility for legal aid was drastically curtailed in 2013. Younger people have also embraced online divorce. While two…

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Senior Judges say thank you to family law professionals

By | the family courts | No Comments

Two of the most senior family law judges in England and Wales have thanked legal professionals for their efforts in maintaining the legal system during the current covid-19 pandemic. Lady Justice King and Mrs Justice Theis issued a message on behalf of Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, who is currently recuperating from heart surgery. They wrote: “It would not be an exaggeration to say that this year more than any other has been extraordinary. Even in these unprecedented times each one of you has played your part to keep our heavily burdened system functioning.” The swift…

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Court transfers care of nine year-old to father

By | Children, Law news | No Comments

A nine year-old girl has been sent to live with her father by the High Court thanks to her mother’s continuing involvement with a New Age organisation. In Re S the parents had separated when the girl was just a year old. The mother then became involved with Universal Medicine, an Australian group which promotes New Age spiritual beliefs and healing practices, which it calls the “Way of the Livingness”. The daughter was closely involved with the mother’s lifestyle, eating the same restricted diet and attending healing sessions and group events. The father came to believe the doctrines of Universal…

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Calls to NSPCC reach record numbers

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Over 22,000 calls were made to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) during the lockdown months of April, May and June. The figure represents an increase of almost a third over the monthly average for the three months prior to lockdown. A total of 8,287 calls were made in May alone: the highest number on record. Callers expressed concerns about possible the neglect and abuse of children they had encountered or the behaviour of parents. The charity reports that it referred a higher-than-normal 40 per cent of lockdown calls to local authorities  or the police…

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23 year-old divorce decree corrected by High Court

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A final decree of divorce issued 23 years ago contained an incorrect date, the High Court has ruled. X v Y concerned a couple who married twice – firstly at a secret ceremony in Spain in 1993 not attended by their families, and a second time in England a year later after reconciling with their relatives. The second ceremony would not have been allowed to proceed if they told the registrar about the earlier marriage in Spain because, under English law, they were already married. Two years later the marriage broke down. Mr X petitioned for divorce on the grounds…

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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

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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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