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Mike Devlin
 

Assessing true toll of the recession

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This first appeared in the Wigan Observer on September 23rd 2014 Q: How has the recession affected families? When the so called “great recession” hit the UK in 2008, it caused huge and well publicised problems for...

Why an 'average' day is anything but

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This first appeared in the Wigan Observer on July 23rd 2014. Q: What are the most common family related legal problems that you encounter? A: I could keep this really short and say that no two days are alike, and everyday really does bring...

Family matters - family related legal problems solicitors encounter

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This first appeared in the Wigan Observer on July 15th 2014 Q: What are the most common family related legal problems that you encounter? A: I could keep this really short and say that no two days are alike, and everyday really does bring something new....

A new dawn for financial provision on divorce

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How many times is it said that the law on financial division following divorce is an art not a science. Those who have been in practice for some time very quickly learn never to ask your client are you happy with an outcome... more likely can you live with...

Why are more people deciding not to get married?

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This first appeared in the Wigan Observer on June 17th 2014 Q: Recent figures suggest nearly half of today’s 20 year olds will not get married. Why are more people deciding not to get married and what are the implications? A: On the 11th June...

Dispute resolution - is it really the future?

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Mediation has been around for many years and throughout that time it has been pushed by the government as the future for resolving family disputes. Do we really believe it is the way forward or is it just another cost cutting exercise by the government...

Changes to child maintenance

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This column first appeared in the Wigan Observer on June 3rd 2014. Q: How will recent changes to child maintenance affect new parents who wish to make payments through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) ? A: There have been more changes in relation...

High emotions on the field and off it

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This first appeared in the Wigan Observer on May 21st 2014. Q: I have read an article that suggests the amount of domestic abuse cases rises during the World Cup. Is this true? A: As England’s domestic football season comes to a close with last...

What family court changes mean to you

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on May 6th. Q: I have heard something about changes to the family courts and mediation? What does this mean for separating couples? A: From April 22nd 2014, the Family Law system has undertaken what some see...

Beware pitfalls of internet divorces

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on 22nd April 2014. Q: Is using online divorce and family law services a good idea? A: It’s now 12 months since the loss of Legal Aid for most family law cases not involving issues of domestic abuse....

Winners and losers in the game of life

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This column was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 25th March 2014 Q: The latest lottery winner and his partner must be delighted with their £107million windfall. But the fact they’re not married has made me wonder about my...

The pros and cons of pre-nups

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This column was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 11th March 2014 Q: My partner and I are set to marry later this year; however, I have inheritance I would like to protect if our marriage was to end in divorce. Should we consider...

A rise in domestic violence against men

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This column was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 25th February 2014 Q: I have been with my girlfriend for 6 months and I have recently noticed her behaviour changing. She has become possessive and gets angry easily; after she has calmed down...

The lottery of marriage - romance v commerce

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Family law is an unpredictable area…it is an art not a science. In recent years there has been a move towards prenuptial agreements to try and avoid some of the distress and expense attached to the breakdown of a marriage. The central theme of...

Where there is a Will, there is a way

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on 11th February Q: My long-term partner has recently passed away without making a Will. Where do I stand legally with his inheritance? A: None of us want to think about the inevitable but as the saying goes...

Valentines Day - Should we open Pandora's box?

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The grey depressing month of January has passed and the shops are awash with romantic cards for Valentines Day. For some it is the perfect opportunity to propose but should we take a step back and think what happens if the red roses are no longer welcome and...

A fair share doesn't have to mean equal

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This column was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 28th of January 2014 Q: I am currently in the process of separating, how should my partner and I go about dividing our possessions? A: When separating from a partner , dividing the personal...

Family Matters - The changing face of family law

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on January 14th 2014 Q: I have heard that families will have to go through mediation before going to court to resolve family disputes - is this true? A: As the New Year commences there are a couple of stand...

Family Matters - Not such a happy new year for everyone

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 31st December 2013 Q: I’m thinking of separating from my partner. What do I need to consider? A: Each New Year is celebrated for the passing of one year and the arrival another. With it the...

Family Matters - A journey from foster care to a career in law

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 17th December 2013 I was encouraged to write about my own childhood experiences of foster care after recent news about allowing children to remain in their Foster Homes until 21, and having overheard...

Family matters - Dealing with domestic abuse concerns

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This column was first published on the December 4th in the Wigan Obsever Q: I’ve recently become concerned about my daughter’s partner’s aggressive behaviour. Who should I turn to for help? A: Before knowing how to deal with...

Family matters - Christmas presents family dilemmas

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This column was first published on the October 19th in the Wigan Obsever Q: This will be the first Christmas since my partner and I have been separated. We can’t agree on who will have our children on Christmas day. What is the best way to reach a...

It's our right to challenge the state through the courts

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The wrongful removal of a Roma child from her biological parents in Dublin because she didn’t look like them is a timely reminder of the importance of our right to challenge the state through the courts. In a settled peaceful society like ours it is...

A quiet rebellion?

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Government decided some years ago that the family justice system was ripe for reform. Cases were taking too long. There was an over reliance on expensive expert witnesses. Lawyers paid by the hour had no incentive to settle cases quickly. Judges and...

Fall in mediation applications for family disputes

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This morning, Justice Minister Lord McNally told Sarah Montague on the BBC’s Today programme that it was too early to say whether government cuts to legal aid have led to a fall in applications for mediation in family cases. Pressed by Ms...

'Common law marriage' myth needs addressing

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A recent survey of Members of Parliament has revealed that 69% of parliamentarians agree there is a mistaken belief in the existence of 'common law marriage' among their constituents. Steve Kirwan, who leads Resolution's work on...

Family Matters - Unmarried couples have few rights

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This article was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 9th of October 2013 Q: I live with my long-term partner, we're quite happy as we are but where would we stand legally if we did separate? A: Over the past few years there has...

Family Matters - Putting children's needs first in a break-up

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer on the 24th September. Q: My partner and I have been together for almost 12 years, however recently things haven’t worked out and we have decided to separate. I don’t know how to break the news...

Family Matters - Children and Divorces

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer. Q: I’m currently paying child maintenance to my former partner of my two young sons. I have heard that next year the Child Support Agency will come to an end and a new system will take its place....

Family Matters - DIY divorces

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This was first published in the Wigan Observer, 27th August 2013 Q: My husband and I are considering divorce. As we’re both in agreement, I have been researching DIY divorces on the internet that claim they can provide all the paperwork for...

Foster carers and special guardians missed out on entitlements

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An important Ombudsman’s report was published last week following an investigation into Liverpool City Council and its Social Services department. The Ombudsman found that in 340 cases which it had been made aware of, the Council had not paid family...

Media abuzz over Nigella photo

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The media is abuzz with the story that Nigella Lawson was held by the throat by her husband whilst having an argument about their children in a fashionable London restaurant. According to Charles Saatchi the picture of him putting his hand around the throat...

Private family law cases increase

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The Independent reported on a 27% increase of private family law cases before the courts in May of this year compared to the same time last year. CAFCASS released figures yesterday revealing that 9,398 new private law family cases were heard in May. This...

Landmark decision of Petrodel v Prest, can the corporate veil be pierced?

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There has long been an established principle in English law that you cannot pierce the corporate veil. In other words a company is a separate legal entity and you cannot go behind it to release assets to satisfy matrimonial needs. So a long awaited decision...

I am thinking of adopting a child

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This column originally featured in the Wigan Observer on June 11th 2013. To quote the Department of Education “The Children and Families Bill takes forward the Coalition Government’s commitments to improve services for vulnerable children and...

Why do we need family lawyers?

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We are in a new era where some people feel they do not wish to take legal advice and they trawl the internet. We check out medical advice on the internet and are even told to go and read articles about the safety of drugs...maybe we don’t need doctors...

Strains placed on relationships by baby arrival

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In The Times today there is reference to a study 'Sleep Sex and Sacrifice' which examines the stresses and strains placed on relationships by the arrival of a baby. The study was based on a survey of 1403 parents, a third of whom were classed as...

Domestic abuse leads to mothers death

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Maria Stubbings of Chelmsford in Essex was strangled with a dog lead in 2008 by Marc Chivers who had already killed a previous girlfriend. This happened despite the fact that Chivers had already been convicted of assaulting Ms Stubbings and had served a...

Politicians 'divorce' mirrors growing trend in over 50s calling time on their marriages

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In the Times today it is reported that Senior Tories have begun to plan for the divorce of their party from the Liberal Democrats. This mirrors a growing trend in couples in their 50s calling time on their marriage. There is no doubt that a break-up is...

Journalist wins Orwell prize for investigative journalism

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Andrew Norfolk, a journalist at The Times, has jointly won the Orwell prize for journalism alongside Tom Bergin from Reuters. Andrew won the accolade based on his investigation into the sexual abuse of girls at care homes in Rochdale and beyond. Andrew has...

Do we need to forum shop to get maintenance or just apply the law?

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It has been reported recently in the national press that your chances of obtaining maintenance are governed by the area you live in. So when should you make an application and what are your chances of success? There are two types of maintenance, support...

The price of divorce - don't be caught out

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I was listening to BBC Radio 5 live on my way into work recently when the presenters began discussing the recent report published by the Legal Ombudsman, “The Price of Separation”. The report reveals that one in five (18%) of the...

Will you propose on Valentine's Day?

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Valentine’s Day is approaching and the shops are awash with greetings cards. Did you know that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in one form or another across the world and yet it dates back to the 14th century? It is the one time of...

Should the ground of adultery remain and is it relevant to gay marriage?

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The long debated Gay Marriage Bill has finally been voted on. It has attracted so much controversy from all walks of life and has almost become an election issue for the Tory party. The purpose of the bill is to allow same sex couples to marry...

Is the voice of the child really heard in children proceedings?

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When a relationship breaks down which involves children, one of the first questions is what will happen to the children? The court will not intervene where the parents are sensible enough to work together and do what is...

Coronation Street highlights domestic abuse among men

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As fans of Corrie will know, over the past few months poor Tyrone Dobbs has been at the centre of a gripping story about domestic abuse. His pregnant fiancée Kirsty Soames turns into a monster – who no-one likes when angry – every time...

Going to court... what is the etiquette?

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Despite common belief, a good lawyer will attempt to assist you to settle your case without recourse to litigation. They are options that you can try such as mediation or old fashioned negotiation between lawyers. However, in some cases for various reasons...

How to get the best from your family lawyer

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Getting divorced can be a frightening process and many people have not accessed lawyers before and suddenly find themselves in a new arena. Legal fees can be an expensive process but at Stephensons we offer total flexibility as to how you...

Forced marriages

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The issue of forced marriages has been in the news again. The Times has reported this week on a worrying trend of adults with learning disabilities entering in to marriages with spouses from overseas. The suspicion is that the marriage is used...

Should you forum shop if you are cohabiting?

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How many times have you heard the term “Common Law Marriage.” Mr Average seems to think that certain rights attach to this terminology but the reality is the term means nothing. If the parties are formally married they are...

Does social media have a place in family proceedings?

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It has to be said that the idea of social media influencing family proceedings is not only foreign but something that would be frowned upon as unacceptable. However, most children these days are using some sort of social media whether Facebook...

Do we have a duty to promote marriage?

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Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge since 2000 and a family specialist barrister before that, has launched a foundation to promote marriage. He is backed by other members of the Judiciary and some religious institutions. Their aim as quoted...

All is fair in love but not in war!

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The law in relation to unmarried couples remains very different to that of married couples. The Law Commission recently reported on recommendations to provide some level of equality for unmarried couples but to date these have not been...

Is arbitration just for the rich and famous?

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Arbitration isn’t a new concept. It has been used successfully in commercial disputes for some time. However, commercial disputes are often funded by a company and not by individual’s earnings after tax. Family disputes are often...

Priscilla Queen of the Desert star moves centre stage to the Court of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal has today handed down its first judgement in a civil partnership case. The case concerns Peter Lawrence a city banker and his civil partner Donald Gallagher, an actor who recently starred in Priscilla Queen of the Desert....

The conundrum of hidden assets

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How many times are we faced with clients who believe their spouse has assets but they are unable to provide any detail. There is of course a duty on all parties to produce what is called full and frank disclosure of their assets but many...

Civil partnership and gay marriage

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The controversy continues with the Catholic Church resisting the redefining of marriage to include gay couples whilst the government is due to introduce the consultation. The government seems to have...

Stalking to become a crime for the first time

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Welcome news in the protection of victims of harassment and intimidation is David Cameron’s announcement that stalking will become a criminal offence for the first time with offenders potentially...

Clare's Law pilot scheme

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The 'Clare’s Law' scheme will give people the right to ask police about their partner’s past. The father of Clare Wood, Michael Brown, has been campaigning to change the law after his daughter was killed by her boyfriend, George...

Has the recession deepened the commitment to marriage?

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It has been reported by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia that marriage has been strengthened by the recession. In part it may be that people’s commitment to marriage has...

Mediation v Arbitration v Litigation

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The world is moving fast and the law is being accessed differently. People have choices as to how they wish to settle their disputes. The options are becoming greater as to how disputes are settled....

To propose or not to propose? - That is the question

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February 29th 2012 – a leap year. Tradition dictates that a woman can ask a man for his hand in marriage. Historically it has never been seen to be appropriate for a woman to propose. In fact...

Where are we up to with Legal Aid reforms?

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Amendments to the Legal Aid system are never far from the minds of any high street lawyer. We have all been caught up in the lobbying, arguing and worrying about what is going to happen and the...

The show is not over until the fat lady sings!

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Getting involved in a deeply entrenched emotional divorce means that the recovery will be so much slower and more painful. Not only that it can lead to financial and professional ruin....

No hearts for Valentine's Day

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When parents separate or divorce it often brings pain not only for the parties themselves but for the children. It is well know that divorce, if managed badly, can be very negative for children. Much...

Record number of children removed into care

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A record number of applications to remove children into care was announced today. Is this the result of a dramatic decline in the standard of parenting across the country? Is it a reflection of over-caution by social...

Shared parenting after separation

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The government announced today that it will introduce a legally binding presumption of shared parental for fathers and mothers after separation. Australia introduced a similar law giving shared parental rights several...

Knighthood for life - Sir Fred Goodwin becomes plain Fred

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We have entered a new era in the last week when we found that not only are jobs not for life but nor are knighthoods! Fred Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood which he received for banking services in 2004. He does of course get to keep his...

Violence in the home - who are the real victims?

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A recent study by experts from University of London and at the Anna Freud Centre suggest that children living in homes where violence takes place may actually have their brains affected by their home life situation, in a similar way to soldiers...

Kernott v Jones - Mr 10%

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There has been a development in the law following the Supreme Court Judgment delivered yesterday in the case of Kernott v Jones. The judgment has clarified the previous case of Stack v Dowden and has provided assistance...

Family Justice Review aims to improve family law system

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The Family Justice Review has recently published its final report making a range of recommendations aimed at improving the family justice system and minimising delay. The Review says "no legislation should be...

Update on legal aid reform in family cases

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My last blog was about legal aid reform and without wishing to be repetitive I feel the need to blog again on the same subject as I feel so strongly in my opposition to the proposals for legal aid cuts. The Law Society called for a pause...

Is Father Christmas not only supposed to come once a year?

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Albeit it’s only November, I have already seen the beginning of the inevitable Christmas shopping promotions. As everyone is supposed to know, Christmas is all about spending time with one another’s families, however that can be a...

What's mine is mine and what's yours is ours?

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When people divorce, the biggest animosity often surrounds the division of the assets. Following many landmark cases over the years, the court is required to consider the needs of the couple, sharing and compensation alongside issues of...

Internet dating - a quick route to true love or an abyss of stranger danger?

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Plans are currently being considered for women to win the right to force the police to confirm whether their partner has a violent history. The proposal is called ‘Clare’s Law’ and was launched on 17th July...

What place do pokes and tweets have in family law?

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The use of social networking sites has become a daily issue for family lawyers . They have led to many allegations of extra marital relationships not only being formed as a result of links but also being found out by their spouse who has seen comments...

Law and Order UK - high drama at the expense of accuracy?

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For anyone who saw this Sunday’s episode of Law and Order UK, I’m sure you’d agree that it was packed full of tension, emotion and suspense. The episode revolved around an apparent abduction of a young child as his mother enjoyed a morning...

Parental child abduction - prevention is better than cure

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The Foreign Office recently announced that there had been a 10% rise in the number of children abducted by a parent and taken to a country that was not signed up to a global child abduction treaty. The common abduction destinations are...

Access and custody... or residence and contact?

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Regular viewers of the Manchester-based ‘soap’ Coronation Street will no doubt be aware of the recent story line involving Steve MacDonald, Tracy Barlow and their on-going disputes surrounding who gets ‘ custody of’ and/ or ‘...

Should 'runaway dads' be shamed like drink-drivers?

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On Fathers Day, David Cameron wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph declaring “that families are the cornerstone of our society”. No doubt a majority of people may agree with this. However, he then went a...

Holidays, anticipation and excitement... or nothing but stress?

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Summer is just around the corner now and if you are lucky, so is that holiday that was booked for you and the children. You have confirmation of the deposit paid, you have booked seats together on the flights, and the date on the calendar as a reminder to...

New police initiatives to protect victims of domestic violence

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Lancashire police are considering new ways of protecting repeat victims of domestic violence which includes putting cameras into the family home. Whilst the practicalities of this are yet to be announced, it is believed that having cameras at...

Another week, another family review (or two)

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When is a rape not a rape or not a serious rape? If the Minister of Justice doesn’t know, what chance for the rest of us? The Government has been having similar problems with the definition of domestic violence. Why...

Wayne Rooney twitter spat

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Wayne Rooney has recently been involved in a spat on Twitter with a Liverpool fan. Rooney tweeted “hope u turn up if u don't gonna tell everyone ur scared u little nit. I'll be waiting” but later went on to say it was “a bit of...

Proposed changes to the Public Funding Scheme

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From the beginning of this firm, we have always been very committed to our communities in providing legal advice under the various Legal Aid Schemes. However significant changes are planned in 2012 to the schemes which are currently available for help with ...

Reform of the legal aid system for family cases

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In January, Stephensons' family law solicitor Tim Galbraith blogged about government proposals for a reform of the legal aid system in England and Wales: Reform of legal aid system . No firm decisions have yet been reached and the outcome has been...

Grandparent 'access agreement' proposed - Family Justice Review

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Further to our blog ‘ The Budget, family law and grandparents! ’ on 24th June 2010, the coalition government’s proposals for consultation have been set out in a report by David Norgrove, Chair of the Family Justice Review. ...

Mediation for all before divorce?

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Assets, children, money, time and a lot of energy all come into play when someone finally makes the life changing decision to bring a marriage to an end. The word ‘ divorce ’ conjures images of stress...

Negative equity?

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It seems that property prices whilst slowly increasing do not seem to be reaching the values prior to the recession. From my experience it shows that couples are still struggling to maintain their properties and are continuing relationships or leaving the...

The treatment of inherited assets upon divorce

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In England and Wales the law relating to financial property on divorce is discretionary, which brings with it the obvious advantage of flexibility to provide for the countless different circumstances of divorcing couples, however, it also...

Gay wedding ban or equality?

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The first Civil Partnerships between same sex couples were entered into in 2005 following the passing of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. The numbers of Civil Partnerships peaked in 2006 with 16,106 couples formalising their relationship. Since...

Changes to law for unmarried couples?

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I have just been reading an interesting article in ‘The Times’ newspaper that talks about a senior law judge remarking that changes to the law should be made to protect couples that are not married but live together. I quote...

Reform of Legal Aid system

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On the 15th November 2010 the Government published proposals for reform of the Legal Aid system in England and Wales, set out in a Ministry of Justice Green Paper. Under these proposals (and according to the Government’s own figures), nearly half a...

Lottery millionaire has to pay his ex wife £2 million - beware it could be you

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News has broken this week that divorced lottery millionaire Nigel Page has paid £2 million to his ex wife Wendy after scooping £56 million on the Euromillions jackpot this year. That is despite her leaving him...

Are cohabitation agreements worthwhile?

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More and more people are now deciding to regulate the terms of their relationship. As marriage is on the decrease more people are cohabiting. Cohabitants should be warned however that common law wives and husbands do not have the same...

Facebook & adoption - A double edged sword?

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There is no doubt that the emergence of social network sites such as Facebook has changed the way that we all communicate with each other. At the touch of a button, you can find long lost friends and relatives. The British Association of ...

For love or money - should we have a prenuptial agreement?

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The Supreme Court have finally pronounced their judgement in the long standing case of Radmacher v Gratiano. Most people will be familiar will the facts of this case as it has been dragged through the tabloids on...

Do common law wives/husbands exist?

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It seems that a day doesn’t go by without someone referring to themselves as a ‘common law wife or husband’. Many unmarried couples live with the assumption that if they have cohabited for a number of years they...

Children used as witnesses in family law proceedings?

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On more than one occasion during the time I have been practicing as a family solicitor , clients have asked me if the Judge hearing their case will have the opportunity to hear evidence from their child within the Court proceedings....

Contact centres: supported not supervised contact

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Contact centres play a crucial role in assisting families with re-establishing contact in often acrimonious disputes over contact. However there is often a misconception that this contact is supervised by the Centre, and co-ordinated...