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Tricia Ashton

Surrogacy surges across England and Wales

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The number of parental orders issued by the family courts has increased by almost 400 per cent in a decade, according to a recently published report Parental orders are issued by the family courts in order to transfer the status of parenthood from the surrogate mother of a child to the intended parents or parent. In 2011, 117 such orders were issued in England and Wales – but by last year 2020 that had risen to no less than 413. Under current legislation in England and Wales, a surrogate mother retains the legal status of parent after birth, even if…

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Divorce applications now fully online

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From September 2021, all applications for divorce must be made online, the government has announced. Previously online filings were an option but not obligatory. The new requirement, first announced in August, applies to marriages but not to the dissolution of civil partnerships. Civil partners will still need to apply on paper to the regional divorce centre at Bury St Edmunds, as will applicants for judicial separation and nullity. Judicial separation is a rarely sought alternative to divorce in which the parties remain legally married but lead separate lives. This can be an appealing option for couples who have a religious…

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Children who see divorced parents arguing ‘more likely to develop anxiety’

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Children of divorced parents who witness arguments are more likely than their peers to suffer from anxiety and other mental health problems, according to new research. Researchers at Arizona State University interviewed 559 children aged 9-18, asking whether they had been involved in conflict between their parents – for example witnessing rows, hearing negative comments made by one parent about the other, or being asked to pass on negative messages. The youngsters were asked to describe how they felt about these experiences. Those children who had seen arguments were more anxious, specifically about the possibility of being abandoned by one…

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Domestic abuse victims who own property now eligible for legal aid

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Following a recent ruling in the High Court, victims of domestic abuse will no longer automatically be denied legal aid if they jointly own property with their alleged abuser. Previously, the Legal Aid Agency classed such people as in possession of capital and therefore not eligible for assistance, even if they were unable to access that capital because it was tied up in the property. But the High Court has now insisted that the Agency does have the authority to award funding in such circumstances. The case was “strategic litigation” to clarity a point of law. It was brought by…

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