• Is an “out of court service” more appropriate for my family than court?

    The number of court cases relating to children has increased significantly since the beginning of 2016, and there is no sign of this trend slowing down.  Sir Andrew McFarlane, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, is conducting a review of the system and has said the family courts are having to “run up a down escalator” due to the increased burden. The president of the family division has said that some parents needs to be persuaded not to bring their cases to court, in order to reduce the pressure and begin to stop the delays that are …

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  • A quick guide to pre-nuptial agreements

    Most people are aware that a pre-nuptial agreement can be entered into before marriage in order to help determine what would happen to finances in the event of any divorce. What people are often not aware of is that a pre-nuptial Agreement is a complex legal document with various technical requirements that need to be complied with. This means that even if you think that your pre-nuptial agreement is going to be very straightforward, it will still need to be properly drafted by a specialist solicitor to ensure that it is valid. Pre-nuptial agreements are not currently binding in English …

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  • Christmas Day Divorces

    January is a famously busy time for family lawyers, with many couples on the brink of separation finding the stress of Christmas to be the final straw for their relationship. The first week of the New Year has become a much talked about period for new divorce enquiries. This year, with the introduction of an online divorce petition in May 2018, it seems that this busy period for divorces started earlier, with government figures saying that thirteen people actually completed the online application on Christmas Day. According to the Ministry of Justice, there were a total of 455 online applications …

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  • 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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