• What does normal look like?

    This is a question we are often asked by separating parents deciding how to agree the arrangements for their children. Parents often ask what other families do and what is considered usual or normal when deciding how many nights per week their children should spend with each of them, or how they should divide school holidays.   The advice that we often give is that there is no normal. Each family, and each child, is unique and therefore the arrangements that will be in their best interests will also be unique. What works for one child may not work for …

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  • Renewed Calls for Divorce Law Reform

    The highly publicised case of Mr and Mrs Owens has focused considerable attention on the ongoing calls for divorce law reform in England and Wales. Under the current law, there are five “facts” (reasons) that can be used to demonstrate that a marriage has irretrievably broken down. These are:   1. Adultery 2. Unreasonable behaviour 3. Desertion 4. Living apart for more than two years, where both parties agree to the divorce 5. Living apart for at least five years, even if one party disagrees.   Desertion is a rarely used technical reason for a divorce. Adultery often does not …

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  • Early Neutral Evaluations

    If you are trying to agree the arrangements for your children or your finances with your spouse/ex-partner directly, it is likely that you will be greatly assisted by obtaining an informed, neutral and expert opinion as to likely outcomes were your particular case to be brought before a court. At Family Law Associates we are pleased to offer Early Neutral Evaluations directly to members of the public who are trying to resolve their issues directly, or within mediation.   An Early Neutral Evaluation is a meeting which both parties would attend, and at which both parties would have an opportunity …

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  • Children Arbitration Scheme

    In July 2016, a new Family Law Children Arbitration Scheme will be rolled out.  At present it is possible to arbitrate financial family disputes, but not matters relating to children.  The new Children Scheme will allow disputes concerning arrangements for a child and the exercise of parental responsibility to be resolved using arbitration, rather than the court system.   The benefits of arbitration are now well established in the area of financial disputes.  One of the main advantages of arbitration is the speed with which disputes can be resolved.  When children are at the centre of a dispute, resolving matters …

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  • Will your child maintenance be taken into account when you are applying for a mortgage?

    In January 2016 the Ipswich Building Society announced that they would consider 100% of income from child maintenance when assessing mortgage affordability.  They join a list of other mortgage lenders, including NatWest and Virgin Money.  However, there are some other banks and building societies that will not take child maintenance into account, or only take a certain proportion of that income into account.   This new approach by Ipswich Building Society will make it easier for separated parents to obtain a mortgage but the child maintenance does need to be supported by the Child Maintenance Service (the successor of the …

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  • When to go to back to court regarding maintenance

    A maintenance order is part of the outcome in many divorce cases. These maintenance orders can be time limited, or they can continue during the joint lives of the former spouses until an event, such as the receiving party’s remarriage, terminates the payments.   Whilst these payments are initially ordered on a “joint lives” basis, maintenance orders are always capable of being reviewed and varied. Over the past two years, there has been a significant shift in judicial thinking when it comes to maintenance orders. A joint lives order was almost a certainty for an economically weaker party divorcing in …

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  • How the changes in pension drawdown rules might affect you

    The changes in the pension drawdown rules earlier this year have been well-publicised.  As from April 2015 a person aged 55 or over has the option to draw a tax free lump sum of up to 25% of the value of their pension. While this gives the person holding the pension more flexibility it can have adverse consequences for their spouse in divorce.   There is now a risk that a spouse who reaches the age of 55, prior to a final Financial Order being made, could withdraw 25% of the value of their pension in an attempt to dissipate …

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  • The danger of not having a financial order on divorce

    One of the main concerns of couples who are getting divorced, is the finances. Typically both parties will want to make sure that an agreement is in place that is fair and workable and that gives each of them a degree of financial security.   Where the assets are straightforward couples can sometimes reach an agreement between themselves, but problems can occur much further down the line if their agreement has not been approved by the Court at the time of the divorce. This problem can also arise where the parties have reached no agreement at all but have just …

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