Cotswold Family Law

ARE PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS LEGAL OR NOT?

Are-Nuptial Agreements are made by couples before they actually get married, setting out the arrangements for that marriage and, in particular, what they would like to happen should they separate.  Generally they deal with financial issues and how their assets will be divided should they get divorced. Pre-nups are most common where one party has(…)

IS THE FAMILY COURT FIT FOR PURPOSE?

Many couples involved in divorce or issues related to children would say very definitely “no”.  It can seem as though the “system” is against you.  The Courts are not really designed with people in mind; they are rather run by and for lawyers.  The individuals whose lives are being decided by the Judges rarely understand(…)

THINKING ABOUT DIVORCE?

According to the media, January and February are peak times for people to consider a divorce.  Whether it is because it is a new year and they want a new start or because the weather is so miserable, people have run out of money after Christmas, there is not a lot to look forward to,(…)

WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR FINANCES IN DIVORCE

In order to advise properly as to terms for financial settlement within divorce, we need to see both parties’ full financial details and supporting documents.  Clients can find this an extremely frustrating and drawn-out process, particularly if the other party is not in any particular hurry or will not co-operate. In terms of getting your(…)

DO PARENTS FAIL TO SEE THE EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON THEIR CHILDREN?

A new report by Netmums suggests that separating parents are in denial about the effect of the divorce on their children.  Netmums, the parenting organisation, surveyed a thousand parents and a hundred children separately and concluded that parents see their divorce very differently from their children. According to the report: Almost a third of under(…)

MEDIATING FAMILY FALLOUTS AFTER A DEATH

It is not commonly realised that if you live with someone to whom you are not married, if you do not make a Will leaving your assets to them, then on your death they will not automatically receive anything from your estate. Family arrangements are now increasingly complex.  People may have married and divorced, remarried(…)

CHANGES IN FAMILY LAW – A NEW DEDICATED FAMILY COURT

The Crime and Courts Act 2013 introduced the concept of a single Family Court, which will deal only with family matters.  This, it is anticipated, will be operational from April 2014.  The Family Court will deal with all family cases with the exception of two areas of law: those involving the jurisdiction of the High(…)

CYCLING FROM LONDON TO EDINBURGH AND BACK IN 4 DAYS

As most of you know I recently embarked on a cycling event for Oxfam (my Just Giving page is www.justgiving.com/nickysbike).  This was a cycling event which takes place once every four years, it is run by Audax UK which is an international long distance cycling organisation and riders from all over the World participated.  Entry(…)

A NEW WAY TO FUND LEGAL PROCEEDINGS?

 It is often a problem for one party who does not work to fund legal proceedings if they do not have access to joint funds or any independent means.  They may negotiate a loan from their solicitor on the basis that they will repay the costs once the house is sold but it is obviously(…)

PROPOSED CHANGES TO CHILD MAINTENANCE

The child support agency has had its critics and its difficulties. It was temporarily replaced by CMEC (but nobody noticed the difference and CMEC itself was abolished in March 2012). Since then the Department for Work and Pensions has been responsible for the CSA which in turn was replaced by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)(…)

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

This might be a strange question as everyone assumes they know what mediation is.   But when you also have collaboration, arbitration and compromise, what exactly is mediation and how does it differ from the other approaches to problem-solving? With mediation there is generally one mediator with two people who have, for whatever reason, not been(…)

CHILDREN IN CONFLICT

As you may be aware, it is not so much parental separation that causes problems for children but conflict they may see or experience between parents.  Conflict may not be obvious: silence can be a form of conflict which some children may be very sensitive to and affected by.  However difficult it may be for(…)

WHAT IS A MARRIAGE?

I am writing this following the recent debate about same-sex marriage – should it be allowed, should it go ahead, what do religious institutions feel about it. But what does the Law say about it? This encouraged me to look at the whole issue of void and voidable marriages. A marriage is void if it(…)

THE HIGH COST OF DIVORCE

There has been plenty in the press recently about the rising number of complaints about family lawyers, in particular to the legal ombudsman.  The main reason for those complaints seems to be the cost of divorce in terms of legal fees.  I am not going to defend the position of family lawyers here but I(…)

HIGH STREET LAWYERS TO DISAPPEAR?

Are lawyers about to disappear from the high street?  Are we going to have to introduce different ways to deliver legal advice – by email or telephone?  Is it going to become an expensive luxury to actually sit down face-to-face with a solicitor? The Co-operative Society have recently announced that it has recruited 3,000 high(…)

WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THE LAW?

My feeling is that most people want and assume the law to be on their side, to create fairness, to right wrongs, to put things in order. But when a person comes to me to seek fairness, it tends to be interpreted from their perspective.  In a matrimonial dispute, the Court does indeed want to(…)

IF YOUR CHILDREN GET DIVORCED

Parents are increasingly having to get involved with their children’s divorce.  Perhaps it is one aspect of the recession that parents are needed, not just as a shoulder to cry on but to provide financial support.  This can take the form of paying the legal fees or more often lending money (perhaps that should be(…)

PAY-AS-YOU-GO FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Employing lawyers can be expensive which is why we have introduced a new way to pay.  It is actually a completely different way of using or accessing legal services.  We want to make it as easy as possible to get advice that you can afford.  Obviously the more time you spend with the lawyer the(…)

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

I think there is huge confusion with the term mediation, what does it mean, how much does it involve giving legal advice or information or does it just mean listening to two people arguing?  How does collaboration fit with mediation – what is the difference? I think as lawyers we have really failed to get(…)

IS A PAIN-FREE DIVORCE POSSIBLE?

I think the short answer to this is possibly not, unless it is a short marriage without children, then it might be, but even then I am sure one person will be more upset than the other if they are in some way on the receiving end of news that they did not want to(…)

THE ETIQUETTE OF DIVORCE

It seems to me that there should be a guide on how to behave during a divorce, whether you are the couples themselves or their friends and families.  Everyone knows people who are separating or going through a divorce and it is usually a painful process for all concerned.  Although it is a common occurrence(…)

FALLING IN LOVE OR HARASSMENT?

You may have heard on the news about recent changes to the law on harassment.  By coincidence I am reading a book by Robert Dunbar ‘The Signs of Love and Betrayal’ where there is a description of a recognised condition known as Clerambault’s syndrome (named after a French psychiatrist) which is an obsession or more(…)

GROWING BUSINESS

It does seem rather strange that managing the growth of a business is much more difficult than just carrying on doing the same thing with no growth.  It is probably rather like cycling; it is much more difficult cycling downhill because things can get out of hand and it requires for more skill than cycling(…)

THE BEST LAWYER?

This blog was prompted by a telephone call I received late one Friday from someone extremely anxious about the way his separation was going.  He had hoped to keep things fairly low key and amicable between himself and his wife.  A family friend was acting as a go between in helping them to sort out(…)

A CHILD’S DILEMMA

I am reading a fascinating book at the moment – ‘The Science of Love and Betrayal’ by Robin Dunbar, it is all about why people fall in love, is there any scientific or logical reason for this, does it actually help the development of the human race? It appears not, we do not actually need(…)

WHO IS TO BLAME?

I sometimes think that blaming someone else is a national sport, as a nation we seem to be quite good at it. If there’s a problem then we blame the bankers, the politicians, those claiming benefits, those not paying taxes. It’s never our fault or our responsibility. An interesting example is education. Employers are always(…)

THE MODERN MEDEA

Medea is a Greek Tragedy written by Euripides around about the 5th Century BC. It tells the tale of a wife scorned by her husband so enraged by her predicament that she takes revenge through their children. In her desire to hurt him she kills their children. Far fetched? Well, I have just been listening(…)

WHEN IS A MATRIMONIAL ASSET NOT A MATRIMONIAL ASSET?

A typical matrimonial asset would be the family home; bought together, lived in together and when the parties separate it needs to be dealt with in a way that ensures both have somewhere to live.  The property is either sold or transferred to one or other of the parties.  This is on a relatively equal basis(…)

BACK TO SCHOOL – TIME FOR A CHANGE? DON’T FORGET THE KIDS

Divorce and Children Apart from the Olympics it’s been a pretty awful summer for many:- whether it be washed out summer fetes, no improvement in the economy (whatever that means!) or graduate unemployment, times have been difficult for some.  Thank goodness for the Olympics which gave us all something else to focus on. However back to(…)

10 WAYS TO AVOID A DIVORCE LAWYER – Part 1

1)   Marry the right person. This may sound obvious, but it is amazing how many people really do marry the wrong person, or fail to take sufficient time to make sure they make the right decision. Far better to try and ensure a correct decision than have to undo the wrong on later. Divorce is(…)

RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS – WHO WOULD DO IT?

I am sitting here in the office at 11 o’clock at night doing one or two things which I thought might take me an hour or two but has taken a lot longer and I still have a pile of bad debts to deal with! Yes the freedom that being your own boss gives you,(…)

CHANGING FAMILIES

We perhaps all know that the traditional nuclear family – mother, father and children that they have produced together, although possibly the “norm” is by no means the only concept of “family” which society recognises. With the increasing recognition of same sex relationships, other family arrangements are made and it follows too that when these(…)

NEW RULES FOR FAMILIES?

The Family Justice Review (“FJR”) was the long awaited report into the running of the family courts.  It came out at the end of November and in February the Government proposed changes to contact arrangements and this caught the headlines.  It is perhaps unfortunate that some of the other less provocative, but very sensible, proposals(…)

WHAT ARE FATHERS’ RIGHTS?

The Family Justice Review (“FJR”) came out at the end of last year, but due to its length it has taken some time for it to be digested and in February the Government proposed new laws to enshrine some of its principles.  This caused some press activity because the recommendation or suggestion that children should(…)

CHILDREN OFF TO UNIVERSITY? IS IT TIME FOR A DIVORCE?

It appears to be an ever increasing trend that people are divorcing later in life.  Many first time divorcees are now over the age of sixty.  When children leave for university or leave home for other reasons is often a trigger for people to re-evaluate their situation.  It is not uncommon for people then to(…)

IS THE DIVORCE PROCESS UNFAIR TO MEN?

I make no apologies for revisiting this issue as it does seem to be a common concern – see the Daily Mail article published on March 10 by Louis de Bernieres.  There is a widespread perception that both with the divorce process and any issue or argument over children if it is conducted through the(…)

LEGAL ISSUES FOR THE OVER SIXTIES

You might imagine that the main concern for the over sixties is either making a Will, if they don’t already have one, considering changes to an existing Will, or thinking about a Lasting Power of Attorney.  Incapacity can be caused for a variety of reasons – Dementia or Alzheimer’s are the obvious causes, but even(…)

WHY LAWYERS DON’T SHOP AT THE CO-OP

This is perhaps a facetious comment, but it reflects the deep suspicion with which many lawyers are viewing the arrival of alternative business structures.  But what does this mean for the non-lawyer?  Well, the Government would say that it means a better deal for consumers.  It means that different businesses can provide legal services.  So(…)

THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT SIGNING A WILL PROPERLY

The Court of Appeal recently heard a case about just that – what was the effect of the wrong person signing the Will?  In 1999 Mr and Mrs Alfred Thomas Rawlings signed mirror Wills leaving their joint estate to one another or, when they were both dead, to Terry Michael Marley – who was not(…)

COLLABORATIVE LAW REVISITED

Hopefully it is clear that I am an advocate of collaborative law, that when parties separate it is far better for all concerned – them, their children, the wider family – if arrangements about how to separate, who is going to look after the children, can be made by agreement.  Certainly an agreement that both(…)

LAW COMMISSION ANOUNCES REVIEW OF FINANCIAL PROVISION ON DIVORCE

The Law Commission is about to examine how assets acquired by either party to the marriage prior to that marriage or civil partnership are to be treated, or assets received by gift or inheritance.  To what extent should they be automatically shared. When parties separate the major asset is generally the matrimonial home.  Both parties(…)

MORE CONTACT FOR DADS?

There has been a lot of media response recently to the Family Justice Review looking into the issue of shared parenting and the government’s response to that.  The Family Justice Review chaired by David Norgrove actually stated that they did not feel legislation would be helpful because of their analysis of similar legislation introduced in(…)

SEPARATING AND PERHAPS IT’S ALL GETTING OUT OF CONTROL?

Generally speaking when parties separate one person will have realised that the relationship has broken down a long time before the other.  They will have been thinking about what to do next; maybe they have met somebody else or just decided that the relationship is not going anywhere and they would rather move on to(…)

POST HOLIDAY BLUES? FACEBOOK AND DIVORCE

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about the effects of the Christmas holidays on families and the resulting surge in divorce figures.  Is this really true?  Are lawyers inundated with new divorce cases in January?  Well, most of my colleagues would agree with me that it is actually a bit(…)

COLLABORATIVE LAW IN ACTION

What does a typical case look like? Let us take a fairly typical example of a couple in business together – the husband is a builder or plumber and his wife is employed by the business doing the books or answering the telephone, in a part time support role as they have young children who(…)

COHABITANT’S RIGHTS ON DEATH

The Law Commission has published its recommendations on reforming the law on intestacy and family provision claims on death, which include a proposal that certain cohabitants should be entitled to inheritance rights when there is no Will.  The situation at the moment is that if you are living with someone to whom you are not(…)

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT OUR OFFICES?

What is so special about our offices, situated as they are in beautiful countryside on the Warwickshire / Oxfordshire border, with amazing views over the Feldon Valley and, somewhat amazingly, a herd of Water Buffalo.  Well, for a start there is ample free parking, they are easy to find, just off the main Shipston to(…)

SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT – AFFECT FOR COHABITEES

The Supreme Court, England’s most senior court, recently made a decision dealing with the ownership of property when the owners are unmarried.  This has consequences for all cohabitees.  The case concerns an unmarried couple Ms Jones and Mr Kernott.  They met in 1981 and had 2 children together.  In 1985 they purchased a house in(…)

WHAT’S NEW IN CHILD MAINTENANCE?

As many of you will know, the Child Support Agency is to be replaced CMEC, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and they have now published their proposals for a new statutory child maintenance scheme which, amongst other aspects, includes plans to increase the amount of maintenance paid by parents on state benefits and others(…)

THE MOST POPULAR AGE TO GET DIVORCED?

There were several articles in the press recently about the latest divorce figures suggesting that the only reported rise in the divorce rate is amongst the 60+ age range.  This doesn’t necessarily mean of course that this is the most popular age for divorce, merely that there is a new trend, the numbers of those(…)

WHO CARES FOR THE CHILDREN?

You may have heard the recent decision that legislation is not going to be introduced that gives the perception of a presumed favour of shared parenting when a relationship breaks down.  What does this mean? Whenever parties separate and there are children then a decision has to be made as to whom the children are(…)

WEDDINGS – SOME LEGAL THOUGHTS

From a lawyer’s point of view marriage is not about love – it is a legal transaction.  Whatever the feelings of those involved, getting married affects your legal status.  By getting married you acquire rights to another person’s property and pension that you do not acquire simply by living together.  There is no such person(…)

HOLIDAYS AND DIVORCE

Is it possible to have a happy family holiday post-divorce?  No divorcing person needs to be told how important their children are and no divorcing parent needs to be told how stressful the process can be and how difficult in particular the summer holiday period can be.  There is the practical difficulties of arranging childcare(…)

SEPARATING AND FACEBOOK

There has been a lot of talk in the press recently about why people might reveal aspects of their personal life on Facebook to their detriment.  We have heard tales of students exploits photographed on Facebook that come back to haunt them when they apply for jobs and increasingly married couples are announcing their divorce(…)

DADS AND DIVORCE

Father’s Day is coming up and for some separated or divorced fathers that can be a day full of painful memories of lost or infrequent contact with their children.  There is a perception that the courts are somehow unfair or biased towards mothers, but this really isn’t the case anymore.  Most judges after all are(…)

WHY MAKE A WILL?

Everyone, young or old, should make a Will, not a popular pastime admittedly, but more important than you might think.  There are serious consequences of not having a Will.  Should you die before you partner, if you are not married your partner is not your next of kin and will not inherit unless you make(…)

ALL CHANGE AT THE FAMILY COURTS

From 6th April 2011 everything changed, or was said to have changed, in the family courts.  All the court forms were changed and the major innovation was the introduction of mediation – as though mediation something new!  Everyone contemplating a divorce or separation will have been through some form of mediation, even if they may(…)

MOVING PREMISES

We are just in the throes of moving office which is becoming ever more complicated.  It is not just that we seem to be dependent on BT to produce line and internet connection, but we are faced with completely empty rooms and we have to lay out two offices and a reception area.  This means(…)

IS A GOOD DIVORCE POSSIBLE?

When people separate they are generally going through enormous distress and anxiety, so how can it be in any way good?  There is the point that although the process can be a very painful one, for some people they end up in a better place emotionally.  The relationship, for whatever reason has not worked and(…)