Family courts operating online

By | Law news, the family courts | No Comments

Since the prohibition placed on public gatherings on March 23, the family courts have begun to operate on a remote basis. Unless there is a good reason not to do so, all hearings will now take place via video conference or telephone, while document and information exchange is undertaken via email. But this approach cannot come “at the expense of a fair and just process”, Family Division President Sir Andrew McFarlane has stressed Writing last month, Sir Andrew McFarlane explained that, despite the difficulties posed by operating a system remotely that was designed for face-to-face contact: “…There is a strong…

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The number of couples citing adultery has a reason for divorce has dropped by 50% in ten years

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The number of couples who cite adultery as a reason for divorce has dropped sharply since 2008, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In that years 20,765 divorce petitions made that claim, but by 2018 the figure had fallen to just 9,205. The 2008 figure was itself a significant fall, from the no less than 36,310 who cited adultery in 1998. Retired High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge, who established campaign group the Marriage Foundation in 2012, said the continuing drop suggested a social shift had taken place. “I think people are more grown up…

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Spotlight falls on vulnerable people during virus lockdown

By | Children, Living together/cohabitation, the emotional side | No Comments

Vulnerable groups face even greater risks under the current coronavirus ‘lockdown’, recent claims suggest. Speaking after a recent meeting of the COVID-19 emergency committee in Manchester, the city’s deputy mayor said the police had already seen incidents related to the continuing restrictions and expected a surge in serious cases. Lady Beverley Hughes declared: “I think we are beginning to see a rise in domestic abuse incidents. We anticipated this might happen in the very stressful circumstances for many families.” One contributory factor was the economic strains many families face as hours are cut and jobs are lost. She explained: “The…

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Orthodox children ‘should live with both parents’, court rules

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

The two children of an orthodox Jewish mother should live with their father part of the time, a family court judge ruled in a recently published judgement. ‘A’ and ‘B’, aged nine and seven, have been the subject of multiple family court judgements as a result of their parents’ contentious divorce after the father chose to leave the family’s strictly orthodox Haredi community in London. His decision was described in a subsequent ruling as having had a “cataclysmic impact on each member of the family”. After leaving the father became involved with the more moderate Modern Orthodox community and the…

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“Grossly unfair” financial settlement overturned in court ruling

By | financial, the family courts | No Comments

A “grossly unfair” financial settlement following a divorce has been overturned by the Court of Appeal. XW v XH concerned a family court ruling originally made in December 2017. On that occasion, a Judge awarded the wife just 29 per cent of the couple’s assets because he believed the husband, a successful businessman, had made a “special contribution’ to the couple’s wealth. The ‘special’ or ‘stellar’ contribution proviso allows family court judges to grant more of a couple’s shared assets to one partner in a divorce if they are deemed to have made a particularly significant contribution to the couple’s…

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Mother awarded compensation for stalled career in divorce proceedings

By | divorce, financial | No Comments

A former solicitor who gave up work to become a full time mother has been awarded compensation of £400,000 in her divorce proceedings. The award – recompense for the salary she would have earned had she continued her legal career – was in addition to an equal share in the couple’s substantial overall assets of £10 million. At a private family court hearing, Mr Justice Moor explained that the wife had taken primary responsibility for the couple’s two children while her husband, also a solicitor, had focused on his career. The Judge insisted that the case should not be seen…

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Huge public support for legal aid

By | Law news, News | No Comments

Despite severe cutbacks in recent years, the public remains overwhelmingly in favour of legal aid a new report suggests. Legal needs of Individuals in England and Wales was jointly published by the Law Society and the Legal Services Board. It presents the findings of a major online survey conducted by the polling organisation YouGov last year, featuring input from over 28,000 people on 34 different legal issues: the biggest survey conducted on this topic to date. A decisive 92 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of legal aid. A significant majority (64 per cent) reported involvement in…

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Chasing child maintenance when your ex lives abroad

By | Children, FAQ, financial | No Comments

If you are separate from, or divorce, your partner, you may receive spousal maintenance from them: ‘alimony’; as it’s termed in the United States. Then again, you may not: it’s all down to personal circumstances. Whether you do or do not will depend on your individual circumstances, but if you have children, and they live with you following the separation, then the situation becomes much clearer: there will be no questions about you right to receive child maintenance payments from your ex. The provision of financial support is a legal obligation placed on all biological and adoptive parents. But the…

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Divorce linked to family history

By | divorce, Law news | No Comments

A person’s genetic background may influence the likelihood of them getting divorced, according to a joint US-Swedish study. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States and Lund University in Sweden examined data concerning nearly  83,000 individuals. Previous studies had shown that the children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced themselves in adulthood but researchers had been assumed this was due to learned behaviour. To try and shed further light on the causes, the US-Swedish team compared the marital histories of adopted children in their data to that of both their adoptive and biological parents. Lead…

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Court fee refunds now available

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The Ministry of Justice has launched a service allowing litigants who paid court fees between April 2014 and March 2018 to apply for refunds. A review in 2018 concluded that some litigants in the family and other civil courts had been overcharged during that period, with fees set above the actual costs incurred by the judicial system. The scheme applies both to overcharging and wholly erroneous fees. The Ministry noted: “As part of our ongoing improvements we are making to the justice system, we will continue to annually review the level at which court fees are set, including the methodology…

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