• 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Litigants in Person

    On 1st April 2013 the government withdrew legal aid for most family cases. The purported rationale behind this decision was to encourage people to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation. This actual reason was to save money.   The problem is that where there are many cases in which ADR is appropriate, there are many cases in which it is not. It is also worth noting that even if you, as a client decide to attend mediation you will still need legal advice to understand your position and your options so that you can negotiate properly. You will …

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  • Court cases relating to children not in decline

    Litigation over children is not decreasing significantly despite the government’s push for parents to attend mediation. In April 2011, the government made it compulsory for parents to consider mediation before making an application to court in relation to arrangements for children. The idea was that parents should attend a meeting to find out about the mediation process before they could make an application to court, and that this should significantly reduce the number of court cases issued each year. However, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice, the number of cases has fallen slightly but not dramatically. In the …

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