What is a cohabitation agreement?

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Cohabitation has become an increasingly popular choice in recent decades. According to recent data from the Office for National Statistics, a startling 88 per cent of opposite sex couples now live together before tying the knot, an increase of 19 per cent in a little over 20 years. For some couples cohabitation means postponing that walk down the aisle or trip to the registry office – for others it means avoiding marriage altogether. Quite why so many contemporary couples now delay or shy away from traditional marriage is a complex topic. Social attitudes and priorities have certainly changed and widespread…

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Senior Judge endorses family court transparency

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The media should be allowed greater access to the family courts, a senior judge has declared.x` In a statement accompanying the publication of a new report on the topic, Sir Andrew McFarlane declared: “The present system in the Family Courts whereby a journalist may attend any hearing but may not always report what they observe, is not sustainable. I have reached the conclusion that there needs to be a major shift in culture and process to increase the transparency.” As President of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir Andrew McFarlane is the most senior family law judge in…

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Court limits children’s contact with their mother

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The children of a Russian father will have only supervised contact with their mother after the High Court accepted findings that she had alienated them from their father. In Re A and B (Parental Alienation), the father was a Russian was a Russian citizen and the mother from Armenia. They married in Moscow and moved to London the following year, shortly after the birth of the first of their two children. Six years later the couple separated. In 2014, during the subsequent divorce proceedings, a shared care order was made by the new retired family court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley. This…

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Divorcing wife loses maintenance claim over jurisdiction

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The British wife of a French airline pilot has lost a claim for maintenance made in the English courts. In TMB v PLB, the couple had met in 2003 and live together for a number of years, initially in France. Both parties are now in their 50s. After a decade together the couple moved to Hong Kong, and married there the following year. They later relocated to the Philippines and it was there that the marriage eventually broke down. The husband moved back to Hong Kong while the wife continued to live in the Philippines on a tourist visa. In…

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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

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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

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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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