• 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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  • Mediation-Arbitration – a helpful hybrid

    Mediation can be a very helpful process when a marriage breaks down. It is a process which allows people to reach solutions which they feel are best for them.   Sometimes, despite the best efforts of the parties and the mediator, it does not prove possible to agree all issues within the mediation process. There are times when some things can be agreed but others remain in dispute.   If there are things which are not agreed within mediation, the appropriate next steps need to be considered. This can sometimes be daunting for the people involved as many people believe …

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  • Resolution’s Parenting Charter

    As part of the Resolution Manifesto for Family Law, Resolution proposes a Parenting Charter which clearly sets out what children should be able to expect from their parents if they are separating, and what separating parents need to do in the best interests of their children.   This part of the manifesto differs from the other aspects (the full manifesto can be found here) as it does not call for a change in the law or public policy.  Resolution hopes that the charter will be a tool for lawyers, mediators and others working with separating couples, as well as for …

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  • Are we heading towards no-fault divorces?

    At present, the law sets out the circumstances in which a divorce can be obtained.  If a couple wishing to divorce would like to do so without apportioning blame against one another, the current law requires them to wait for a period of two years before they can proceed.  If they do not want to wait that long, then one of them will need to cite another reason for the divorce – usually either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.   The apportioning of blame can make an already difficult process much harder.  An element of unpleasantness can be introduced at a …

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