Thursday, December 22, 2011

What hapened in Family Law in 2011?

The rules changed... New Family Procedural Rules came in with the new fiscal year so ... more delay with mistakes happening ...

Reduction in Court Service... due to financial cuts

Increase in number of care applications... baby P response

Increase in the number of divorces in 2010 ( bit slow on the figures coming through)... blamed on the recession and not on affairs... survey of lawyers stated more people get divorced because they have gone off their partner not because one has had an affair.  In my experience if one party has an affair the other goes off them...  Lots of anecdotal talk about people being too worried about the financial crisis to have an affair. Really?

Increase in number of Children Act Applications for Residence and Contact... a bit like the prisons... we need a reduction in people using this resource because we cannot cope....

Somewhat coincidentally anyone contemplating litigating their finances or children matters has to go for a Mediation Assessment

Lots more Mediators around... or does it just feel like that?  Reminds me of HIPS... the main people who gain will be the training providers

Bill to withdraw Legal Aid unless domestic violence proved (via an injunction or an arrest so the law needs to be involved), a forced marriage or a threat to have your children taken into care.... the Lords are still debating this....

The COOP will be offering a nationwide divorce service via its 5000 outlets and has employed at least 2 lawyers....

No new laws for Cohabitants but a great new case from the Supreme Court which was fair on the facts but opens the door for yet more litigation..

In summary.... the numbers have increased and the facilities have reduced...


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Change equals fear or excitement - You choose

The fear of change can paralyse some people into staying in an unhappy situation for years.

I am grateful to Rosie Hamilton-McGinty for describing the difference between fear and excitement as parallel lines - like railway tracks.  They are so close and the choice to switch is easy.

Think of a fairground ride - some are terrified and some relish the adrenalin rush. It's the same ride just a different perspective.

Divorce and separation means change and events happening that are out of your control.  You can embrace the change and look forward to a new beginning.  Perhaps a change in career as well as marital status - lots of  people use forced change to implement wanted change as well.

Some people can't cope with the change and sink into depression to avoid facing the future.  Some people are so afraid of change they use emotional blackmail to trap their partner - attempted suicide being the extreme.  Divorce is stressful and painful for everyone.  The first step in dealing with the change of separation, whether the choice is yours or not, is to accept that it is happening.  Accept that you will lose your past life.  Accept that you may be lonely, sad, fed up, lost and alone. Understand that everything changes. No one knows what lies ahead whether married or not.  Something totally unexpected will happen in the next 4 weeks which will change your life.  Mark the date in your diary and then look back in 4 weeks time and note what happened - good or bad that you did not expect.  Isn't that exciting?  We all have that life... do not fear life itself...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Planning on getting married again?

Unsurprisingly a number of people who get divorced do get married again.  If you are in that exciting group then check out SimonJohn photography.  Simon is a friend and neighbour of mine and is passionate about photography and it shows in his work.  Every wedding is individual and Simon's portraits make it so.  The shot above is one of his... need I say more?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What's a 37 inch TV worth? 18 months!!!

I am grateful to other legal bloggers for diverting my interest from Family Law to that of the sentences passed down to the first convicted rioters today.  I felt a smile of gladness when I read the Judgement. It is reported by the BBC  

So many people feel that the criminal justice system is unfair - that it is weighted in favour of the criminal - the victim is forgotten and the human rights of the perpetrator take priority.  Years ago I heard the Chief of  Police from one of the Southern Counties stating, tongue in cheek, that a return to Botany Bay may be in order to redress the balance.

Criminal law is about four things:
1.  Punishment or retribution
2.  Prevention of vigilantism - people must have faith that the criminal justice system works
3.  Deterrent - both to the perpetrator and others
4.  Protection of the public

Matrimonial law is about one thing:

Dividing the assets according to judicial discretion.

There is no punishment or retribution.

So many people feel that the law relating to divorce is unfair and rewards the wrong doer.

So often a case is based on need and behaviour will be ignored unless it has the gasp factor. We do mean shocking, for example, the husband shot the wife and she could not work so needed extra help from him but he was sent to prison so had no income - therefore she needed his capital to replace it.

Getting past the disbelief of the unfairness of it all is the first step for many people. Acceptance of the process may then result in the parties negotiating fairly - perhaps via mediation.... our new site is launched today... 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Still wondering if it's worth having a pre nuptial agreement?

Let this be a lesson to you.

Britain's biggest divorce payout has been reported in The Guardian The divorce of Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky resulted in a payout to his ex wife estimated to be in excess of  £100 million.

They did not have a pre nuptial agreement....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Divorced women over 40 - on the slagheap

According to The Guardian women over 40 should give up on online dating. Men are looking for younger models and will not be interested unless they are considerably older. Maybe those contemplating divorce should be given this bleak warning... If you kick him out don't expect anything better and be prepared to take on a man 20 years older.  The delightful prospect of caring for someone in their declining years comes into focus if you are a woman 50 plus.

Online dating is a beauty parade.  Anyone who pretends it isn't is wasting their money.

What are men looking for:

Good looking, slim younger women who have no baggage.

What are women looking for:

Good looking men who are of a similar age.

Does anyone go on online dating and deliberately select someone who is ugly?

What about people who post photos 10 years out of date?

Photos of their friend?

Lie about their age?

Lie about their income?

Lie about their job?

Lie about their marital status?

In other words the world is full of frogs pretending to be Princes.

If you are a Princess keep searching and reject the rejects.  If you are not then... maybe lower your sights.

Online dating is an exchange - work out your level, be prepared to be rejected, or give up and try meeting people the old fashioned way.

There are lots of people out there who have given up on dating.  What they are looking for does not exist. Before getting into the arena work out what you have got to offer.  What do you want from a relationship? Some people are looking for love, some companionship, some sex, some money, some simply wish to escape from loneliness.

My advice to all those women with baggage - use your circumstances to weed out all the unsuitable men at an early stage. Scared your kids will scare him off?   He was not looking for a loving relationship and probably never will be....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cameron slates absent fathers

Father's who exit from their children's lives should feel Society's disapproval and be stigmatised like drink drivers says David Cameron in The Sunday Telegraph.

This statement assumes that all absent fathers are solely responsible for the position their children are in.  Some are indeed feckless, but not all.   
What about mothers who make contact difficult? Who alienate their children from their father?  Who devote their time to ruining contact, to making children feel guilty and who keep a bitter argument going for years? Some of these are the same single mothers who are roundly praised for bringing up children alone.

If David Cameron truly wants fathers to play a full role in their children's lives perhaps the balance of power should be adjusted? That, after all, was why parental responsibility was  brought into effect and why the terms custody and access were changed to residence and contact.  

Some Governments assume fifty fifty shared care on separation. Would this work here? Some fathers are not interested in having such a role but many are.  If children have regular contact with their non resident parent they virtually have two homes in any event. This would have a direct impact on finances.  Many mothers would be reluctant to accept this due to a significant loss of income.  Maybe the whole children's tax credit situation needs to be redesigned? It amazes me the amount people are paid to work less provided they have children - this whole system encourages single parenting and has developed the 16 hour working week.  What are children growing up in such an environment to think?  Oh yes, we have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in Europe....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Separating and want to grab your ex's financial documents?

When couples separate there is often a lack of trust.  This can be based upon events that have happened or worry and anxiety about events that might happen.  Often there is suspicion that the other party is not supplying the true picture of their finances.  Thinking that your ex is going to be less than honest about his/her financial situation can encourage some to take action in what used to be termed "self help" in matrimonial finances and take and copy financial documents for use in their case.

This is no longer accepted by the family courts.  It has been ruled  case of Immerman) that such action is not acceptable and if a party is concerned that the other is being less than honest then an application to court is needed with a request to search their premises Sounds expensive, which is why "self help" grew up in the first place.  If you get it wrong - launch what is in effect a fishing expedition - then there are severe costs penalties.  What about the overriding objective of proportionality?
The only way to take another's documents is if they are left lying around the home (often happens - bank statements left on the breakfast table) or stored in a joint area - such as a shared desk or filing cabinet.

Marco Pierre White has recently won an apology and an out of court settlement from his wife's solicitors Withers as reported in The Telegraph. His wife was advised to take his personal documents - including a letter from his daughter - and Mr White decided to sue and got as far as the Court of Appeal  At the same time the case of Immerman was going through which confirmed that interference with another's documents was reprehensible and not to be upheld by the Courts.  Just to make it even worse for Withers Mr and Mrs White reconciled. 

That is the fascinating thing about family law - nobody can predict what will happen next.

So the advice is - have an open marriage!  

Not in that sense -know the facts before you separate and share information with each other - unless of course you are seeking to keep your money for yourself.

This latest development has been dubbed the cheats charter...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sir Paul McCartney to remarry... great news for everyone..

The announcement that Sir Paul McCartney is to re wed has come just in time for the cynics and moaners who are still reeling from the apparent ecstatic happiness of The Royal Wedding couple.

This has given them lots to criticise.. no fool like an old fool type nastiness.

It has also given the rest of us pleasure that Sir Paul has again found happiness after a traumatic and draining experience with Miss Mills.  He has not sunk into bitterness and misery and self pity he has got on with his life.
A great lesson for divorcees everywhere...  including Miss Mills.

If you want to read more this article in The Guardian spells it out...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Our Prisons are Full but Let's Send Non Paying Dads There

There has been an increase in the number of fathers sent to prison for non payment of Child Support according to The Independent The article suggests there is no logic to the system and one father was summoned over a debt of £700.00. This is punishment pure and simple.  The result is less money for the child...

What to do with dad's who don't or won't pay? Answers on a postcard please...

I have a few suggestions of my own.

What about having a joined up approach to family law? Before dads can make an application to Court for contact they have to go through a Mediation Assessment.  What about encouraging mediation with the CSA?  Have you ever tried to negotiate with the CSA?

I think the CSA which no longer exists (it has been replaced but still functions as the CSA) should be abolished and child maintenance should be handled by the Courts.

I think the CSA assessment should be linked to the amount of money a father pays for his car... lots of self employed dad's pay £800 per month for their car and diddly squat for their kids.

I have lots of similar ideas...

The unfortunate aspect of the system is that the fathers who are punitively punished seem to be victims and those who should be paying manage to avoid doing so and get away with it.

Monday, April 04, 2011

What does a business valuation in divorce achieve?

If there is a dispute as to the valuation of the family business it will be necessary to instruct a forensic accountant on a joint basis to value the business.

What will they produce?

1.  A fair valuation taking into account the company's profitability, marketability, and the shareholding of the husband/wife.  Not only will they assess the value of the business itself but also whether this should be discounted because of the unique skills of the business owner.  Are there any restrictions on sale?

2.  Is the business simply an income stream? Such as an electrician working alone - sometimes these businesses are especially deceptive and people can have large value contracts with large organisations employing lots of subcontractors - so the one man band is not in fact a man with a van.

3.  What are the tax implications of sale?

4.  Does the business have sufficient capital or funding to buy out the husband/wife's potential share?

5.  What was the value of the business when the couple first got together?

6. The forensic accountant should be able to uncover any false assumptions made in the business accountant's valuation if one has been supplied.

Such a report is especially important given a High Court case reported last week.  The husband's business was valued at £2 million prior to the parties relationship and the court decided to exclude £1 million because of this pre acquired wealth.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Divorcing couples have to be assessed for mediation from Wednesday

From next Wednesday couples who wish to issues a Court application for settlement of their financial issues or issues concerning their children will have to go for a mediation assessment - unless they fulfill the exception criteria - such as domestic violence,  or no mediator available (unlikely I think virtually everyone I meet is a mediator these days).

Here's the thing:

Court does not make couples acrimonious.  It is not a chicken and egg situation.  The acrimony was there first.

Not all mediators are experienced or any good at what they do.

Not all mediators are legally qualified - at least 25% are counsellors or such like.

Some mediators have a very poor understanding of the law and although they are not allowed to give legal advice make blanket statements such as:

Contributions will be ignored

It is always 50/50

Some mediators tell the couple that they can get legal advice but do not advise them to do so.

I know some very good mediators ( I count myself as one) but I also know some poor ones and I am concerned that in this recession more people are training as mediators as a way to make money.

I work in family law because the subject consumes me - you need to find a mediator who does it as their passion - not because it's easier to train as a mediator than as a teacher.  I know I have said this before but beware the out of work HIP providers.  There is a bonanza of training options out there for vulnerable people...

My advice...

Always ask for the individual Mediator's CV and first question you ask them at the intake session  "What made you decide to be a mediator?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Want a share of your spouse's premarital asset?

The High Court has ruled that a wife cannot have a bigger slice of her husband's wealth as reported in The Telegraph

What is the position with regard to pre marital assets?

The answer is:

Not clear.

This case has taken into account assets brought to the marriage and the judge has decided that the husband can keep £1 million. This is on the basis that the wife does not need it and it is fair. This is a case I will be quoting a lot and it gives a good summary of the recent approach taken by the Court's to pre marital property.

The longer the marriage and the more the assets have merged the less likely a claim to disregard is to being successful.

Each case is decided on it's own facts. Pre marital assets are not ringfenced in England and Wales. The Court will consider whether they should be a reason to depart from equal division of total assets on the basis of contribution.

An argument against this is need - If the other spouse can show that they need a share of the pre marital acquest then the Court will take this into account in apportioning the assets.

It is crucial to obtain good legal advice in the preparation of financial documents for disclosure and to have a great advocate represent you in Court.

Exaggerating your needs will be discounted by the Court and parties may well be criticised for doing so. Changing your mind part way through a case is a difficult one to pull off as well so it is important to get good advice early.

I know of a mother who cut her costs so low to fund the mortgage on the former matrimonial home for her and her four children that the Court refused to order a maintenance claim and ordered a sale of the house as the husband needed better accommodation to have the children stay overnight. She was unrepresented in Court and he had a good legal team behind him.

Even with good representation people can still feel aggrieved that the legal system is unfair... unfortunately it can be a whole lot worse for others

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fight to end payments to "workshy" ex wife

According to the The Telegraph, the Court of Appeal will hear a banker's case to end his monthly maintenance payments to his ex wife. Initially, he was due to pay his ex wife £1,000 a month to end at the end of 2009, providing her with enough time to become self sufficient.

Unfortunately, Mrs Norman returned to Court to claim a larger sum of money over a longer period of time. Mrs Norman was not working and at an earlier hearing one of the Judges stated that Mrs Norman appeared to think that her husband indefinitely gave her and her children a meal ticket. However, she ruled that she would still receive £12,000 per annum with the payments due to finish in April 2012. By this time she would have found herself full-time employment. Mrs Norman successfully appealed and the payments were extended to 2015.

The parties separated in 1998 after only five years of marriage. The case has been ordered to go before the Appeal Court for a further Hearing. Mr Norman has now quit his job for medical reasons.

This case will be watched with much interest. The opportunity to continually refer the matter back to Court and extend litigation results in large financial and emotional costs for both parties. Lots of ex husbands (and it is usually the husband) settle rather than incur additional legal costs.

The Court has a duty to consider a clean break between husbands and wives; other countries such as Scotland manage to enforce this upon the Court by making maintenance payments limited for a maximum of three years.

It appears on the presented facts that Mr Norman is unable to move on with his life and left with an unending financial responsibility to his ex-wife of five years. He stated that it was like getting divorced twice.

The system in Scotland and elsewhere provides more certainty. Our Government is encouraging mediation, but this is partly led by European legislation. and there is a cost pressure to free up Court time. Perhaps removing some of the Judge's discretion in family law would reduce the number of ex couples litigating?

The date for the Appeal is not yet set. If Mr Norman succeeds this may result in a number of husbands seeking a reduction in their payments to their exs. If the case fails it may result in a number of ex wives seeking an increase. Litigation awaits whatever the outcome. Not forgetting the interlude of a Mediation Assessment of course....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Credit Card Companies predict Divorce 2 years in Advance

According to the Vice President of google credit card companies can predict who is going to get divorced 2 years in advance - with 98% accuracy. What are their spending patterns?

Here's my guess:


Plastic surgery
Weight Watchers subscription
Education and retraining - teacher training, social worker, mediators, TEFL
Gym membership
Nights out with the girls
Weekend away with the girls


Hotels working away
Apps for phone and computer gaming.

I doubt that the spending pattern is of those committing adultery - many marriages survive this. It is of those growing apart....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How do the Courts help children see their fathers?

What do the Courts do if Contact is not being supported by a Resident Parent (usually the mother)?

The whole process is exactly that - a process. There are no short cuts.

The father makes an application for Contact with his children.

The couple are now probably referred to Mediation.

If Mediation breaks down there is a further Directions Hearing.

Statements and perhaps a Welfare Report or a Children's Wishes and Feelings Report (depending on the issues and the children's ages) will be ordered.

About 3 months later there will be another Directions Hearing.

If agreement cannot be reached there will then be a Final Hearing.

An Order is made.

We are now at least 6 months down the line and if the mother so chooses Contact could have been denied in this period completely.

An application for Interim Contact can be made - extra cost and if the mother raises allegations of domestic violence is unlikely to succeed.

Oh yes, if there are allegations of domestic violence then this could necessitate a separate Finding of Fact Hearing in any event.

Add another 3 months.

If the Order is breached its back to Court again for an Enforcement Hearing

The first hearing will be another Directions Hearing

If the mother is found guilty what does the court do?

Send her on community service or if the breeches are persistent send her to prison.

How does all this help a child see his/her father?

How does this help solve the parental dispute?

What is needed is analysis of the protagonists.

If the dad is being controlling/angry send him on anger management. Give him a 3 strikes and you are out card.

If the mother is being bitter/resentful/using the children - have her psychoanalysed and look to take the children out of that environment if she will not change.

It is not normal to fight for years over your children seeing one of you.

What is the issue?



Hatred of your ex?

The courts need to focus on the causes of this behaviour and take out the adversary.

Usually it is one party who is stuck.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Is Mediation Assesment a good Idea?

The Ministry of Justice have announced that they are going to insist that separating couples consider using mediation in order to resolve their disputes prior to making an application to the Court. They need to have at least one mediation awareness session where they will both find out what the process can offer before they decide whether it is right for them or not.

Mr Djamogly states "Mediation is often quicker and less confrontational than going to Court".

"Now everyone will have the opportunity to see if Mediation could be a better solution than going straight to Court".

Everyone always has had the opportunity to consider Mediation. Most of the solicitors of my acquaintance, myself included, discuss Mediation at the first appointment and actively encourage parties to Mediate. Often there are times when Mediation has started and not continued for various reasons. Mediation has been regarded as a panacea of goodness and there are cases where even the mediated agreement cannot be incorporated into a Consent Order because the parties have failed to take legal advice at the appropriate stage. My advice is:-

1. Attempt to Mediate.

2. Make sure the Mediator is a qualified solicitor.

3. Instruct your own solicitor prior to each appointment with the Mediator. It may sound cynical, but Mediators are trained differently to solicitors. As a trained Mediator, I understand that the quest for a solution sometimes can work against one party's best financial interest. As a solicitor, I will always have my client's best interests at heart. This is not a bad thing, but people need to understand the difference prior to embarking upon Mediation. Mediation can indeed work provided both parties are prepared to be reasonable and negotiate. It is not a situation where you expect to go into the arena and win everything. That said, neither is the Divorce Court. Sometimes people will have no choice other than to go to Court. For example, if you have an extremely unreasonable ex, or if you have an intractable problem, such as the sale of the former matrimonial home.

It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Was 2010 a good year?

The Financial year in review by Money Co UK makes interesting reading. Have a look at the year's financial highs and lows. It might make you feel a bit better about things... so many crises and we're still going!

Here's a few I picked out:

1. Ebay made a lot of money.
2. Harry Potter's publisher's profits dropped.
3. UK refused to bail out other EC members.
4. Twitter secured huge funding, and of course...
5. The election and
6. The Royal Proposal

It is interesting to review the previous 12 months when looking forward to this year.

There are a lot of changes happening in Family Law:

1. Couples will need to go for a Mediation Assessment before issuing Court Proceedings (unless they fulfill the exception criteria)
2. New Family Proceedings Rules come into effect in April
3. Alternative Business Structures will be available from October - opening up ownership of law firms to non lawyers - COOP are very interested - they already have a bank and funeral service - why not offer a will, conveyancing and a divorce too?
4. Withdrawal of Legal Aid in November, for all cases except those with domestic violence, forced marriage or a risk of your children being taken into care.

So coupled with a huge change in the procedure it is predicted that there will be a large increase in the litigant in person as well as substantial court closures and cut backs.

My advice to anyone contemplating divorce and separation is to act now ahead of all changes. Why?

1. So much is changing there are bound to be issues.
2. If you qualify for Public Funding you need to apply while it is still available and
3. Procrastination is the enemy of the soul...

Friday, February 25, 2011

What is a Dad?

According to The Guardian a United Nations report states that the role of fatherhood is changing and needs to be redefined. Many children are now brought up in extended families, where they live with a stepfather, or a series of stepfathers and obtain their male guidance from various male relatives in the absence of their biological father. The phrase used to describe these men who live apart from their own children and bring up other children is "social fatherhood". This sounds more like "disposable fatherhood" to me.

What about "virtual fatherhood" for those fathers who have an online family or "substitute fatherhood" for those surrogate dads and "absent fatherhood" for sperm donors?

What about those men who would like to have a shared care arrangement with their own children and be a father, without having to have the mother's permission when to see their children? Are we still to call them "non resident fathers" ?

I feel the focus is wrong....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Divorce Rate Falls Again!!!

According to the Office of National Statistics the number of divorces in England and Wales has fallen for the sixth year running.

In 2009 67% of divorce petitions were filed by women and more than half of those were based on the fact proven being the husband's behaviour.

People are getting divorced later, but they are gettting married later also. The percentage of divorces is increasing based on the number of years married.

If less people are getting divorced surely there should be less need for public funding? Or are more people from low income groups getting divorced as a proportion of the total?

More people are choosing to cohabit. There is bound to be a further review of cohabitation rights. Will this review include the need for Mediation Assessment? If not, the Courts could be emptied of divorcing couples only to be replaced by separating, cohabiting couples.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gay Marriage about to be made legal!

According to the Daily Mail gays will be able to marry in church! Hip, hip, horray.

A civil ceremony conveys the same rights and obligations as a legal marriage but because of the sensitivities of the church the ceremony had to be a civil not a religious one - hence the title and could not be called marriage!

How is this not discriminatory against gay people? Not being allowed the label of marriage is... words fail me but I think you can work out my stance on this one. This was brought into law by a Labour Government and is about to be amended by the Coalition.

Good. Next they need to reform the Law on Divorce....

Thursday, February 03, 2011

What is a Mediation Assessment ?

From April divorcing couples will be required to attend a Mediation Assessment meeting prior to being able to issue a Court Application relating to Matrimonial Finances or Children.

The Mediator will assess whether Mediation is suitable. There will be limited exemptions to being forced to attend. Details not yet released.

Which Mediators are able to carry out these assessments is still to be announced.

In my experience Court is a place of last resort and a lot of people have already Mediated unsuccessfully and spent a lot of time negotiating either direct or via solicitors.

Is this planned? Another rushed piece of legislation like the dangerous dogs act?

Whenever I think of this I think of HIPS - a Government venture to offer a simple solution to a complex problem - gazumping. Well both HIPS and gazumping have disappeared for now. Lots of people made lots of money training others to become HIP providers. There are a lot of Mediation Training Courses available. My advice to anyone thinking of becoming a Mediator is...

don't give up the day job!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arise the Litigant in Person

The reduction in Legal Aid is predicted to see an increase in the number of litigants in person. Is this a problem?

There is no research to suggest that cases take longer with a litigant in person. However the Judge and the solicitor on the other side are expected to assist as far as possible. If your opponent is a litigant in person then you will be expected to approach with caution, it can increase your own client's costs as the litigant in person is given more time, you are expected to assist them, for example producing the Court bundle (5 copies of the evidence) even if your client is the Respondent. You are not expected to give them legal advice but neither can you take advantage of their lack of legal and court procedure knowledge.

I have met with a number of clients who have attempted to represent themselves. In every case they have not known what their legal best interests were and have acted accordingly.

Heather Mills did herself no favours by representing herself. Being a litigant in person for financial reasons is one thing... choosing to be a litigant in person when you can afford representation is a potential act of self sabotage.

There is not just the financial aspect. The emotional shield that a solicitor provides is very important. I know from personal experience. I endured an acrimonious divorce with my ex husband telling me he chose the most aggressive local firm. His financial non disclosure was deliberate and continued. In the end I had to employ solicitors at great financial cost to represent me. They carried out my instructions. I do not think they got a better result than I would have alone but they did remove the huge anxiety of self representation.

One good thing, going through an acrimonious divorce has helped me understand what my clients are going through far better, it's a bit like having a midwife who has had children of her own!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lawyers warn against cheap Divorce Services

An article in The Observer outlines the pitfalls of using an online divorce service.

The article states that it is suitable for people with no assets, or children and who have had a short marriage.

I have seen a number of people who have used an online service and then have had to instruct a solicitor to deal with the financial and children matters so the perceived cost saving is lost.

Trying to sort out your finances without legal advice can result in regret and unfairness... When I first trained I ws told you would not attempt to do your own conveyancing to buy a house so why your own divorce finances?

The message is from the President of the Law Society... it is her job to support solicitors but she does have a point!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do women keep falling for the same type?

Seems like it according to the Daily Mail report on Jordan!!!!.

Katie Price has split from Alex claiming he has turned into the double of Peter Andre!

What worries me about that is I really like Peter Andre! I think he is a great dad.

Oh dear, it is sad to see hopes dashed but Miss Price no doubt has the resources to recover!!!

Apparently she had no Pre Nuptial Agreement which is concerning...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Separating parents to pay Government to work out child support?

In this age of Government cut backs and the Tory aim to promote marriage, the Government is considering charging separating couples if the Child Support Agency, or it's replacement, is involved according to the Daily Telegraph

It is too expensive to run the Child Support Agency. Why not refer the matter back to Court along with the rest of the Divorce? Oh yes, the Government are trying to encourage separating couples to mediate rather than use the Courts.

The Child Support Agency has been replaced by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission which is also going to be replaced. Meanwhile The Child Support Agency carries on dealing with Child maintenance issues.

They state that their backlog has decreased dramatically. In my dealings with them, I only ever elicit a response when I threaten to complain. Some of their rules are just plain nonsense. They can only ask for certain information at each stage and it is beholden on the party to ask why, what, when, how? They make a decision without revealing the reason so again a major investigation is needed to work out what is going on. Under data protection they will not reveal income details to the parent with care. The whole system is unsatisfactory and the variation and appeal process is time consuming and again it is up to the parent to request this.

If the Courts dealt with child support they would have full financial disclosure as would both parents. The procedure would be explained. Appropriate Court fees could be charged.

The threat of a Child Support Agency charge is not going to make people decide to stay married. Or maybe it will... how sad is that? Imagine the kitchen plaque " We only stay together because of the Child Support Agency"

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Pre Nuptial Agreements to be made legally binding?

Government legal advisers are drawing up plans to make Pre Nuptial Agreements legally binding according to the Daily Mail

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Depends whether you want to rely on one or not.

It is a good thing if it provides certainty and reduces litigation.

It is a bad thing if it causes financial hardship.


Legal Advice remains the same:

It is better to have a Pre Nuptial Agreement than not to have one provided it is completed properly -

1. No undue pressure.

2. Enough time to consider whether to sign.

3. The opportunity to take legal advice

4. Full financial disclosure.

5. No fraud or mistake.

6. Takes account of a change in circumstances since it was signed.

A Pre Nuptial Agreement is one of the factors that a judge can take into account and if it is fair and completed properly is likely to be given legal weight.

Why get married without one?