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?"