Thursday, 22 December 2011

Recession fears fuel rise in 'HP Divorces'

The media, it seems, is constantly full of the threat of a new recession.

As all of us have witnessed that economic downturn has consequences not just on the financial markets but in families too.

Family law solicitors at Pannone have reported a growing trend in the structure of divorce settlements influenced not only by the effects of the 2008 slump but by fears that Britain is about to plunge into the second half of the dreaded 'double dip' recession.

Partner Ed Kitchen has written a fascinating article on the topic for the Huffington Post

The issues Ed discusses make it all the more important for you to obtain divorce advice before agreeing the terms of a financial divorce settlement.

For more advice on divorce read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Clamp down on new dads?

The government is considering a number of proposals designed to force new dads to sign their children’s birth certificates, it was reported in The Telegraph today.  Surprisingly, around 50,000 babies born each year in the UK do not have their fathers named on their birth certificate.

Currently, only mothers are required to be registered, despite the 2009 Welfare Reform Act which states that mums must provide the name of the baby’s father, risking a £200 fine and imprisonment for perjury if they fail to do so.  Since the coalition government came to power this requirement has not been enforced, despite David Cameron’s well publicised attack on absentee fathers, whom back in June he likened to ‘drink drivers’.

Forcing fathers to sign birth certificates could help to ensure new dads fulfil their responsibilities to their children, including financially.  All parents who are registered on their child’s birth certificate automatically have Parental Responsibility.  Along with certain responsibilities, this also affords rights which may otherwise only be acquired by agreement between the parents, or court order.

Signing your child’s birth certificate can therefore be a crucial passport to greater involvement in the arrangements for your child’s care.  If you are at all unsure about your parental rights and responsibilities you should speak to one of our expert Family Law Solicitors today. 

For more advice on issues involving children, or for Divorce Advice, follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Getting tough on Parental Child Abduction

Today's Daily Telegraph reported a call by the Lord Chief Justice for tougher sentences to be imposed on parents who are convicted of abducting their own children, opening up the possibility that they should be charged with the  serious offence of kidnap which can carry a life sentence.

The Lord Justice described abducting parents as causing 'unspeakable cruelty' and referred to the increase in cases where abducted children are taken abroad, sometimes for very long periods - a reflection no doubt of the 'global village'

Hopefully this will act as a deterrent but in addition to the criminal law, families who find themselves in this heartbreaking situation can also turn to Family Law Solicitors for help.

Specialist Family Law lawyers in the field of child abduction can act very quickly to ask the court for an order for a child to be returned from abroad under the terms of an international treaty.

For more advice on family law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


It is reported in the Mail and other papers today that an unhappy wife has announced her desire for a divorce from her husband by putting a homemade banner near to the M4 announcing “For Xmas Dan, Jude wants a divorce”.

We frequently see on roundabouts and other prominent positions, birthday greetings and other forms of congratulation but it is more unusual to be so public about your unhappiness.  Having said this, Jude will not be the first person who has sought to shame her partner and make public a desire for a divorce.  There have previously been complete billboards referring to the other spouse’s infidelities.            

The question in the Reading area will no doubt be ‘who is Jude’, ‘who is Dan’ and ‘what exactly has Dan done ?’

Most people do not seek to ‘go public’ about the breakdown of their marriage as for most people it is a very personal situation.  People seek the advice of friends and family who can provide huge moral support and advice.

However, if you are in a situation where you see your relationship as at an end and you want divorce advice, you should contact a family law Solicitor.

For more advice on divorce, follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @divorce_experts.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Nuclear Doom

The Daily Mail has reported findings from a new think tank that show that only 1 in 6 people now consider themselves to be part of a “traditional” family structure. They explain that people living in nuclear families with married parents and siblings are now in the minority.

Whilst these findings have come under heavy criticism from other analysts, statistics do indicate that more and more people are choosing not to marry. The reasons why individuals are less inclined to marry will vary but a fear of divorce is likely to be a common theme.

There is lots of misunderstanding about divorce law and in particular divorce settlements. Family Law Solicitors can offer advice regarding all types of relationships including: marriages, civil partnerships and cohabitation.

For more divorce advice follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts".

Monday, 5 December 2011

Will Divorce Lead to More Sex in the City?

It has been reported in the media that Candace Bushnell, the author of Sex in the City, is to divorce her husband of nine years. Candace is likely to be one of a growing number of women who are wealthier than their spouse and as a consequence may have to pay money to her husband as part of their divorce. There is likely to be speculation about their financial settlement including whether they have a pre-nuptial agreement. Pre-nuptial agreements may not be considered romantic, but they should be given serious consideration by the financially independent women, who are portrayed in Sex in the City, if they are planning to marry. At least Candace will be able to recoup any financial loses caused by her divorce by writing about her experience.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts".

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Is the tax man going to be collecting more than just your tax....?

Child maintenance may be deducted directly from a parent’s earnings by the taxman, under proposals which have been announced by the Government. The Work and pensions minister Maria Miller has suggested that the new scheme would make it harder for ‘wayward parents’ to avoid paying for the upkeep of their children.

In addition payments would ordinarily be based on the non-resident parent's gross income from the most recent tax year, which could be obtained directly from HM Revenue and Customs. This would, in the Government’s view, make it harder for a non-resident parent to avoid payment by not disclosing their full income.

The proposals are likely to be music to the ears of those parents who find their former spouse or partner attempting to avoid their financial responsibilities. Although it will not answer the problem of self employed business people who want to avoid payment. Others will also no doubt wonder whether the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission which replaces the CSA can be trusted not to make mistakes?

For more advice on child maintenance or issues surrounding separation and divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @divorce_experts.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Divorce advice: the straw that breaks the camel's back

The Daily Mail has recently reported that some women endure years of infidelity and cruelty before calling time on their marriage over something which seems far less significant in comparison.
It follows news that Anne Sinclair - wife of former International Monetary fund MD Dominique Strauss-Kahn - is allegedly considering divorce proceedings following claims linking him to a call-girl network, despite previously standing by him when he was accused of sexual assault on a New York hotel worker earlier this year.
A similar story emerged about Demi Moore's decision to divorce Ashton Kutcher - not after his infidelities first came to light - but after claims that he spent their sixth wedding anniversary in a hot tub with another woman.
I frequently advise clients on grounds for divorce when there have been problems in the marriage for many years but it is one recent incident - relatively nondescript in comparison - which ultimately leads to the decision to divorce.
For more advice on divorce and financial settlements, follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_Experts

Friday, 25 November 2011

Botham's son on a sticky wicket?

It is story the stuff of which headline writers dream.

Liam Botham, son of a cricket legend, is going through the divorce process. A dog belonging to his new girlfriend, whose company runs 'adult parties', disappears while at the property occupied by his estranged wife and their 3 children.

Mr Botham must seek advice from his divorce solicitor and take care before making any accusations, particulary as there are children involved who would no doubt be upset to read any hostile comments made by him about their mother.

His divorce lawyer may suggest changing arrangments for the children who the story report he currently sees at the property, which is owned by his father Sir Ian Botham.

If a financial divorce settlement has not been reached and Mrs Botham is found to have taken the dog it may impact on her credibility if the case goes to court.

For more advice on divorce law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hands off my assets

Today's Daily Mail reports the extreme steps taken by Karen Flook to prevent her ex getting a share of her lottery win as part of a divorce settlement.

Karen and her husband had separated but not started the divorce process when she discovered her £130,000 win. She heard the myths of divorce and sadly instead of taking expert divorce advice about financial divorce settlements she decided spend the lot.....and more!

The story tells of 2 Mercedes, 5 star holiday, Cartier watch...and 5 breast enhancements (to name but a few) which put the money literally out of her ex's reach when they did divorce. She, however, has been left owing around £60,000.

A specialist divorce solicitor would have been able to advise Karen on divorce law and the less extreme steps which she could take to protect her assets.

For more advice on divorce law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The dangers of living and working together

It is reported from Scotland that the former partner of businessman Alan Savage is seeking damages from him because she gave up her job to come and live with him.  Since the relationship ended the lady in question has entered into a civil marriage in the USA, but has been unable to secure similar employment. 
The case is taking place in Scotland and the couple were not married.  The law on cohabitation in Scotland is also different to English law.   Nevertheless it highlights the issue of whether, on divorce or the end of cohabitation, one "spouse" can seek compensation from the other in respect of earnings for career prospects that have been damaged or put on hold directly because of the relationship.  In many cases, this will be because one partner, often (but not always) the wife, will have given up work to look after the children.
When considering financial settlements on a divorce, the concept of maintenance can often take this idea of compensation into consideration.  However, if a couple is not married, there is no legal requirement for maintenance and one party to the relationship can be seriously disadvantaged.  Despite calls from family lawyers to modernise the law in this area, the Government still has no plans to introduce legislation protecting unmarried couples when their relationship breaks down.
One possible form of protection that couples should consider is a cohabitation agreement which both can sign, regulating their affairs whilst together and if they separate.   For more advice on these and other related family law issues follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Demi and Ashton - the end of something sacred?

News has filtered through that Hollywood stars Demi Moore and Ashton Kuchar are to divorce, so ending their 6 year marriage.  The split is announced amid rumours of Mr Kuchar's infidelity and comments attributed to Moore about sacred vows and values.  Whilst it is unlikely that either will be financially prejudiced as a result of the split, Moore's reported comments will resonate with many separating couples.
In England, unless a couple has been separated for a period of at least 2 years, divorce proceedings can only be started if one spouse "blames" the other, either for their adultery or unreasonable behaviour.  Despite attempts to introduce a culture of "no-fault" divorce, the law remains as it has done since 1973.  Many divorce lawyers think this a shame as it often adds unnecessary levels of tension and emotion to a situation that is quite difficult enough for the families going through it.
Another consequence of the "fault" based divorce process is that it can extend the myth that the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage will in some way be recognised in any arguments over divorce settlements or how much time the children will spend with each parent.  The reality is that only in very, very extreme circumstances will behaviour be a factor in determining these issues.  The philosophy is, effectively, that there are two sides to very story and, simply, a court does not have the resources to investigate allegations.  Still less is there a "tariff" system for penalising either spouse. 
Decisions over divsion of financial assets and children remains the subject of fairness and what is in the best interests of the children.  Where possible, couples should try to work together on these issues as it will save them time and money as well as providing a more stable platform for their children.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Thursday, 17 November 2011

My Space or Yours?

A judge in Connecticut has ordered a husband and wife to swap passwords for their Facebook, My Space and online dating sites as part of their divorce proceedings.  The couple’s divorce solicitors can then hunt for online evidence of cheating and, if anything is found, it may be ammunition for a more favourable divorce settlement.

With more and more of us using social media to post photos online and get in touch with old friends, colleagues and classmates it’s no surprise that spouses are increasingly finding evidence of their other half’s indiscretions online.  If you live in England, rather than America, what impact will this evidence have on the divorce advice you receive?  Is it grounds for divorce?

In England the only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  This is proven by relying on one of five facts, including your spouse’s adultery.  If your spouse refuses to admit to adultery the only options are to change your divorce petition or to prove the adultery, which is easier said than done.  A family law solicitor can advise you fully on your options and help guide you through the divorce process.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @divorce_experts.

Friday, 11 November 2011

No 50:50 Split for fathers

A recent government report has rejected the suggestion that after a divorce children should divide their time equally between their parents.
Where children are involved a crucial element of any Divorce advice will relate to their welfare and how their best interests should be protected in any divorce settlement.
The law puts the childrens' best interests first and looks at each case on its unique facts - no one solution, such as dividing the childrens' time equally between the parents , will suit all families. The current law provides a checklist to help the courts make what can sometimes be extremely difficult decisions about a child's future if the parents cannot agree.
Family Law Solicitors  can provide advice and support relating to child issues  both in helping to reach an agreement or if this is not possible in dealing with the court process in this important area of family law. 
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Recent divorce settlement - beyond reasonable?

There has recently been much press coverage in respect of the financial settlement awarded to Mrs Grubb by the Court of Appeal following her divorce from Mr Grubb.
The Telegraph Newspaper questioned whether the £4.4 million divorce settlement was beyond Mrs Grubb's reasonable needs and provided detail of the 9 bedroom country home which she would retain as well as a lump sum payment and child maintenance provision.
Although I have not yet been privy to the full details of this case, it is apparent that this was a lengthy marriage - some 26 years and involved considerable wealth in the region of £12 million.
In England the Court has a wide discretion and the family law judges have a list of factors that they must take into account and apply to each case before them.  Those factors, amongst others, include the income and financial resources available to the parties now or in the foreseeable future, the standard of living enjoyed by the family during the marriage and the length of marriage.
Therefore in many circumstances, what may appear as a settlement beyond most people's wildest dreams it will of course be relative to a couple's own personal circumstances.
The so called big money cases will invariably get much press attention but they will often have little impact, if any, on the average divorcing couple.  Each case needs to be considered on its own facts and therefore expert divorce advice from a specialist family law solicitor.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Is Hugh Finding Out How Expensive Children Can Be?

It has been reported in the media that Hugh Grant's former girlfriend, Tinglan Hong, has recently given birth to their daughter. Given that they were not married, Ms. Hong has limited financial claims against Hugh. She is not entitled to the equivalent of a divorce settlement for herself. The only claims that she can make are on behalf of their daughter. However, not only will Hugh be obliged to pay generous child maintenance for his daughter, Ms Hong could apply to court and request that Hugh provide a house and a car and meet other expenses until their daughter is an adult. Hugh may well have taken legal advice, as it has recently been reported that Ms Hong is now living in a £1.2million house owned by Hugh's cousin and has recently acquired a £40,000 Mercedes. Although Hugh is no doubt delighted to have become a father, he may now be finding out just how expensive having children can be. Read more divorce advice on our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Disclosure - What's mine is not necessarily yours

The recent press coverage of Lisa Tchenguiz and her divorce from Vivian Imerman highlights one of the most difficult and controversial issues for divorce lawyers, particularly with regard to financial settlements, namely how to deal with someone who is not giving full documentary disclosure of their finances.  In particular, the question arises as to when, if ever, can one party obtain and use undisclosed information belonging to the other.
The Tchenguiz/Imerman case remains the latest word on the subject and the position is not necessarily a happy one.  Essentially, if one party does not comply with their duty to provide full disclosure, the other cannot just take their paperwork unless they would normally have access to it.  Many couples will have important financial documents filed wher both can access them.  It may also have been the case that, prior to the divorce, wives would have access to their husband's papers (and vice versa).  The problem arises if one party steps beyond that threshold and "breaks in" to a locked study, desk or computer and then passes any documents on to their lawyer.  The lawyer may then be compromised and cannot look at the documents.  In some cases, the lawyer may no longer be able to act.
The old adage that "two wrongs do not make a right" applies, although it can seem very unfair that a person who is deliberately not complying with their duty of disclosure can then cry "foul" against their spouse party for producing relevant information.  It is a timely reminder of the court's clear message that parties should not take the law in to their own hands.  Anyone who has such concerns should discuss what they can and cannot do with their lawyer before taking any action.
For more divorce advice follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Friday, 28 October 2011

Jeremy Clarkson alleged to have had affair with former wife

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has come under fire for allegedly having an affair with his former wife, Alexandra Hall, whilst married to his current wife, Frances. He is said to have revealed himself as one of the super-injunction celebrities in a move to make the claims public.

The Daily Mail, in reporting the story, advises that if men want to protect their reputation, they should behave. But is it just men who are guilty of having affairs? In my experience of drafting divorce petitions, men are no more likely to have affairs than women. And a recent survey by a leading firm of accountants found that, for the first year since the survey began, having an affair slipped to the second most cited ground for divorce; the most common cited ground was simply growing apart or falling out of love.

And the implications for Mr Clarkson? A divorce settlement which will no doubt make the headlines.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Domestic violence and new government proposals

The press have today reported upon new government proposals which would give people the power to find out from the police if a new partner has a history of domestic violence. It follows a campaign by the father of a woman killed by her ex-boyfriend.
The Home Office are launching a consultation which asks whether the protection of victims of domestic violence can be improved by the establishment of a national domestic violence disclosure scheme and how it would work in practice. More details can be found on the home office website and the closing date for responses is 13th January 2012.
Of course victims of domestic violence are men and women alike and protection from the court can be obtained in certain circumstances. Pannone LLP can provide sensitive and constructive advice on such issues and we can be contacted on 0800 840 4929 or by clicking You can also read more at  

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Husband receives share of wife's lottery win.

It has been reported that a hotel porter has won a chunk of his ex-wife's £500,000 National Lottery win after a High Court fight.
According to the Daily Mail, Justice Mostyn concluded that the prize was 'non-matrimonial property' but when the wife used some of it to buy a house she converted 'part of her non-matrimonial assets into matrimonial property'. This decision is the first case concerning the treatment of a lottery win 'in financial remedy proceedings following divorce' by a judge in England.
Any money built up during a marriage is normally considered a joint asset. It should be noted that the husband was not awarded half of the winnings. The particular circumstances led the judge to award the husband a lump sum of £85,000. There is a suggestion that the outcome is unfair as it will encourage husbands and wives to try and keep their own wealth separate from joint funds to avoid their spouse receiving an equal share.
Most cases will still be determined by the needs of the parties. It remains of crucial importance to ensure a consent order is drawn up recording the terms of any financial agreement reached between spouses. The absence of a consent order could result in a spouse receiving a share of any future lottery winnings.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Monday, 17 October 2011

Phones so smart they provide grounds for divorce

A New York husband claims to have used an App secretly installed on his wife’s new iphone 4S to prove that she has been seeing another man.

The screen shot from the ‘Find My Friends’ App posted by Mr Metz on the Macrumours website appears to show his wife in a very different location to that indicated by her text message to him.

Although Mr Metz’s comments on the site indicate he considers this gives him grounds for divorce there could be many reasons why she has not told him where she has been. He should ensure he takes divorce advice before taking any further steps.

Mr Metz also appears to think he will receive a substantial divorce settlement as he states on the website that his wife is ‘the rich one’.

Divorce law is, however, complicated and there are many factors which govern how a financial divorce settlement is reached.

The smart move would be to find an App to locate a specialist family law solicitor to provide him with expert divorce advice.

For more divorce advice read our family law blog  or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

21st Century Marriage

According to statistics revealed by the Daily Mail today, in 25% of marriages the wife earns more than her husband.
In addition, there are an increasing number of cases where the wife is the breadwinner and the husband the homemaker. Gone are the days of the traditional gender roles. The current economic situation and standard of living now dictate the roles of the husband and wife. This can place huge pressure on a marriage.
When any relationship ends, the courts have difficult decisions to make. Previously the court would assume that any children would remain with their mother and provide for contact with their father. Now, no assumptions are made and there are many cases where there is either a shared care arrangement or the children remain with their father and have contact with their mother.  
When determining the financial aspects of a divorce, the courts look at several criteria including the needs of the parties, their resources and contributions to the marriage. The intention is that a settlement which is fair to all parties is reached. This can now mean that wives end up paying their husbands maintenance.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog, follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

‘Fake’ divorces on the rise in China’s property bubble

Financial issues usually feature centrally in a couple’s decision to divorce.  Falling house prices in the UK have recently had a negative effect on the number of divorcing couples.  The family home is frequently the biggest asset; if it doesn’t sell then finalising a divorce can be difficult, particularly if one party can’t afford to purchase the other’s interest.

Lindsay Kinnealy, Head of Overseas Property Law at Pannone Solicitors, reports in the Overseas Property Professional magazine next month that despite China (in common with many countries) having put in place fiscal austerity measures, somewhat paradoxically there has arisen a “housing bubble” leading to some areas placing a “two properties per family” restriction on house purchases.  In other areas only one property can be owned.

To get round this restriction couples are reportedly faking a divorce so they can register additional properties under their different names.  It is alleged that “fake divorce certificates are being produced … with the encouragement of banks and real estate agents”.  Apparently the phenomenon has even made it into a Chinese soap “reflecting their property bubble fears with characters struggling to raise a mortgage”.

It is difficult to envisage such a shift happening in the UK, with most people simply bedding in during this prolonged economic downturn.  However, it is more difficult to “fake” a marriage and if a divorce is inevitable it is worth seeking divorce advice now in anticipation of the long awaited recovery.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog, follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts or call Pannone Solicitors on 0800 840 4929.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Nightmare of Parental Child Abduction

A recent report in the Irish press highlighted the increasing frequency of child abductions, including parental child abduction, which is probably not surprising in these days of relatively cheap and easy foreign travel and  more 'cross border 'marriages.
Sadly, as all Family Law solicitors giving divorce advice know all too well, these cases often involve a separating or divorcing couple where one parent takes a child out of the country without agreement or refuses to return with the child after a holiday abroad.
When this happens it can be a terrifying ordeal for the 'left behind' parent. The law on this type of case is specialist and complex and can vary according to where the child has been taken. But there are steps that can be taken by a child abduction solicitor to bring the child home and it is vital that when this happens the right legal steps are taken straight away.
For more advice on child abduction and all aspects of divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts "

Monday, 3 October 2011

Temporary Marriage

It has been reported in the press today that due to the high rate of divorce within two years of marriage in Mexico City, the city's assembly is proposing reforming divorce law so that couples marrying can decide the length of their marriage, subject to a minimum term of two years. 
The marriage contract could be renewed if the couple remain happy.  The contract will apparently include provisions on how children and financial settlements would be handled if the couple separate. The aim is to avoid the divorce process.
The idea of a fixed term marriage seems quite alien but the concept of a marriage contract appears in line with having a pre-nuptial agreement. Such agreements are designed to enable couples to decide at the outset of their marriage how they would wish to deal with money and children should they separate.
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Myth of Common Law Marriage

The Office for National Statistics has recently published an overview of trends in cohabitation in Britain over several decades. The research shows that in the last few decades the number of men and women who have ever cohabited has risen in all age groups. 

The research also shows that cohabitation seems to be a relatively short term type of relationship. After 10 years of living together 50% of the couples have married each other, just under 4 in 10 have separated, and only 1 in 10 are still living together as a couple. If you are living with someone without being married you might think you have similar rights to married couples if the relationship breaks down or one of you dies. You would be wrong. There is no such thing as a common law marriage and cohabitants have very few rights that arise out of the relationship. 

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Better The Devil You Know?

It has been reported in the press this week that the sports wear tycoon, Mike Ashley, has reunited with his ex-wife, Linda. According to reports Mike paid Linda a divorce settlement in the region of £50 million in 2003. Experience tells me that  a divorced couple getting back together is not as uncommon as you would think. Divorced couples who have children often do their best to put their differences aside for the sake of the children. Often this can lead to the couple remaining friends. However in some situations this can lead to the rekindling of their romance, which can then lead to the couple remarrying. Anyone in this situation should consider if a pre-nuptial agreement would be appropriate for them.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts.

Friday, 23 September 2011


Our colleague Lindsay Kinnealy who heads our International Property team has written a great blog about the impact of divorce upon any property owned in France.

For the complete blog, please see the Pannone Family Blog.

For more divorce advice  follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

To marry or not to marry?

The Telegraph today reports that in the early 1960's fewer than one in 100 adults under the age of 50 were living together as unmarried couples whereas the figure has now risen to one in six. There may be a number of reasons for people not marrying. Perhaps people are worried about what will happen to their assets upon divorce, particularly if they have built up considerable wealth themselves during their lifetime.
A common misunderstanding is that those who choose to cohabit and do not marry have "common law" rights. This is simply wrong. In certain circumstances cohabitation may leave one of the couple vulnerable if the relationship breaks downparticularly if the property in which they lived was owned by their partner and they have made no financial contribution to it. It is however very fact dependant.  
For more advice on divorce and cohabitation issues follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts .

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ever get that sinking feeling?!

In the papers today there are reports of criminal proceedings brought against a woman who allegedly sank her ex-husband's luxury boat in Brighton Marina in 2004 after their marriage ran into difficulties.  The lady in question has, according to reports, pleaded guilty to damaging the boat and faces sentencing next month. 
Whilst the report focuses on the criminal consequences of such behaviour, it also serves as an example of a rare case of the kind of conduct which can be taken into account by the court when considering how a couple's financial assets should be divided following a divorce. 
Many people wrongly assume that when looking at a financial settlement, the court will consider issues such as why the marriage ended, or unkind or ill-treatment by one spouse towards the other.  It is, however, only in very limited circumstances that conduct will be deemed relevant to how the assets are divided on divorce.  Case law provides guidance on the kind of behaviour which will be taken into account - examples include attempted murder, deliberately squandering assets and intentionally causing significant damage to assets or property.  Raising the issue of conduct in circumstances where it will not apply can lead to increased costs and potentially a longer delay before the proceedings can be concluded and it is therefore always advisable for people to seek guidance on whether or not raising the issue will be beneficial to their case.

For more divorce advice  follow our  divorce blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

When parents can't agree schooling

Over the next few weeks, many parents will be applying for secondary school places for their children and in some cases, arranging for their children to sit entrance exams.  It is not unusual for parents to disagree which school a child should attend, or what the order of preference should be, and when it is such an important issue which potentially has a significant impact upon a child's future, the discussions can sometimes become quite frought.
I am often contacted by parents to ask who can decide in the event they can't agree, and whether they can just go ahead and make the application without the co-operation of the other parent.  The simple answer is that where both parents have Parental Responsibility (which most parents have), neither has a right of veto, and the decision needs to be agreed.  In some circumstances, the courts can make a Specific Issue Order relating to which exams a child will sit, or which school they will attend, but the courts will always try to get the parents to reach a compromise first.  Mediation can also be useful in helping the parents discuss the various pros and cons of each option, and helping the parents consider the others point of view.  Obviously if having done that, they can't agree the legal system can help.

For more divorce advice  follow our  divorce blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Is the high divorce rate in online game because divorce process is easy?

Website has reported that the online game Maple Story has a divorce rate of 75% for its online ‘marriages’. The role playing game allows players to have a virtual marriage at a cost of $25 in real money. Apparently the marriage provides some perks which assist in the game playing, as well as having the status of being married.

A divorce in the game will set you back 500,000 mesos (the online game currency). However players are not required to split up their property, pets or any ‘enchanted items’. Players are free to marry again 10 days after their divorce.

Does this high in-game divorce rate support the argument that where ‘marriages’ can be entered into easily and where the divorce process is relatively simple and painless, the divorce rate will be higher? Whilst we do not have details of the grounds for divorce in Maple Story, it does not appear to be challenging to obtain one. It certainly does not require players to seek legal advice on divorce law from a family law Solicitor!

Can the experience on Maple Story mean anything to us in the real world? Can it be argued that as divorce can be a relatively complex and difficult process, it is more likely that people will be certain before entering into a marriage, or before leaving one?

For more divorce advice  follow our  divorce blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How to divorce your dragon

News appears today that Duncan Bannatyne of "Dragon's Den" fame has allegedly stated that he will have to lay off staff within his businesses in order to provide interim support for his estranged wife.  She is reportedly asking for £1,000 per day.

The story raises two issues.  Firstly, one partner (often but certainly not always the wife) will need financial support from the other until a divorce settlement is reached and implemented.  The second is the ability of the payer to provide that support from their own resources. 

Historically, business owners have claimed that their resources are limited and that their businesses have coincidentally run into trouble at the same time as their marriage.  In recent times, those claims and fears may have more validity, especially when set against the current economic climate.  The key question is not so much what a business is worth, but whether it could or should be used to fund interim arrangements and overall settlements.

In many cases, the court will rely on expert accountancy evidence to determine such questions.  The divorce lawyer's skill lies inbeing able to identify issues and ask the right questions on behalf of their clients.  For more divorce advice  follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @ Divorce_experts.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A spy in the camp

According to research, increasing numbers of people are snooping on their partners online.
Apparently, women are the more likely to do this. 20% of women in relationships admitted to checking up on their partner compared to 10% of men.
Increasing numbers of divorce petitions include a reference to a form of social media, in particular facebook, as an example of the other party's unreasonable behaviour. Petitioners cite the either respondent's addiction to or inappropriate use of social media.
For more advice on divorce read our family law blog, follow us on Twitter or call Pannone on 0800 840 4929.

Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?

It has been reported in the press that a husband in France has allegedly been ordered to pay his wife over £8000 in damages because of a lack of sex during the marriage.
After 21 years of marriage, the wife filed for divorce apparently blaming the break up on her husband's inactivity in the bedroom. A judge granted the divorce and ruled that the husband was solely responsible for the split.
His ex-wife took him back to court demanding compensation for ‘lack of sex’. THe husband was penalised under a section of France’s civil code which states that married couples must agree to ‘a shared communal life’ which includes an active sexual relationship. 
In England and Wales, absence of a sexual relationship has been cited as an example of unreasonable behaviour in divorce petitions. However, this is not a consideration for the court when considering s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and financial settlements in divorce.For more advice on divorce read our family law blog, follow us on Twitter or call Pannone on 0800 840 4929.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Affairs no longer the leading reason for divorce?

Grant Thornton’s 2011 matrimonial survey sought the opinion of 101 family lawyers in England and Wales on various issues surrounding matrimonial work undertaken by family lawyers.

For the last 8 years the findings of the survey have established that the top cited reason for divorce is extra-marital affairs. However this year, for the first time, the top cited reason given by the participants was that the parties had ‘grown apart’ or ‘fallen out of love’. 27% of the responses suggested that this was the most common reason for a marriage breakdown. Extra-martial affairs came a close second at 25%.

Interestingly, in these difficult economic times only 1% of the family lawyers responding to the survey thought that business problems were the leading cause of marriage breakdown and divorce.

For more divorce law advice please see our website at

or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

‘Tough love’ vital for children of divorcing parents

Think tank ‘Demos’ has published research on the UK’s drinking habits, The Telegraph reported over the weekend, showing strong links between a child’s upbringing and his or her future relationship with alcohol.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, according to Demos children whose parents divorce are “more likely to have ‘problematic drinking behaviours’”, due either to the stress of the divorce process or impact it has on the parent/child relationship.

The research reveals that children are affected most, not by divorce itself, but by a parent becoming ‘disengaged’ from their child as a result.  Divorcing parents must remain emotionally engaged with their child, regularly demonstrating warmth and affection particularly when a child is under five, to reduce the chances of their pre-schooler drinking to excess by the time they reach 16.

However children also need discipline particularly during the emotional upheaval caused by separation, and parents must ‘set and enforce clear boundaries’.  If parents can work together and set aside their own issues, their children are far less likely to develop such social issues in their teens.

It is vital to obtain divorce advice from a specialist family law solicitor if you are concerned about co-parenting following separation. 

For more advice on divorce read our family law blog, follow us on Twitter or call Pannone on 0800 840 4929.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Recent press reports suggest that even though there has been little improvement in the financial climate, many couples who had put their divorce ‘on hold’ in the hope that things would improve are now finding that they cannot wait any longer.

For couples where resources are already stretched, achieving a divorce settlement which divides the available resources in a way that gives them the best possible standard of living, both in the medium and the longer term, is a growing challenge for divorce solicitors.

Pensions is an area where divorce advice is particularly important to make sure that the best use is made of the funds that are available and this can make a big difference to a person’s future financial security.

Static property prices are a further difficulty and in some cases where the proceeds would not stretch to provide two homes the answer may be a divorce settlement where the sale is delayed until a future date, such as when children have completed their education.

For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts

Friday, 19 August 2011

Formula 1 Billionaire’s daughter to marry – is she in need of Family Law Advice?

You may have read in the press recently that Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter has recently announced her engagement to businessman Jamie Stunt.

It is reported that Bernie Ecclestone is keen to protect his billions by ensuring his daughter signs an “ironclad” prenuptial agreement. This begs the question - can pre-nuptial agreements protect inherited assets? 

A pre-nuptial agreement is a formal agreement entered into prior to a marriage or civil partnership which sets out who owns what at the time of marriage and also how the couple envisage that those assets should be divided in the event of divorce or separation. At present, divorce law is clear that pre-nuptial agreements are not “ironclad” in England and Wales.

If you would like to discuss a pre-nuptial agreement with one of our divorce law solicitors, please contact us on click here or call us on 0800 840 4929. We are available to take your call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Divorce Can Impact Children of All Ages - Even Rafael Nadal

Tennis enthusiasts will be aware of the problems that Rafael Nadal has had with his knees. This was the reason he gave for pulling out of Wimbledon in 2009. However, Rafael Nadal has indicated in a book about his life that this was not the only reason for his dip in performance. Sadly his parents' divorce had a negative impact upon him.  In his book he states that he "was depressed, lacking in enthusiam" as a result of the divorce.

Separating parents often worry about the impact that their divorce will have upon their young children. Less parents worry about the impact that it will have upon their adult children. Divorce is often a difficult time for all involved. Dealing with matters as amicably as is possible will often soften the impact of divorce upon a couple's children.

 Read more divorce and family law advice on our blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Trading with your divorce settlement

The New Zealand Herald News has recently reported on the growing trend of 'divorce parties' amongst divorcees, wishing to rid themselves of unwanted items kept by them as part of their divorce settlement.  The paper interviewed a businesswoman whose company is specifically dedicated to organising such events.  The items can range from clothes to handbags to pieces of furniture.
As part of reaching a financial agreement on divorce, you will need to consider with your family law solicitor, how you wish to deal with personal possessions and the contents of the family home.  Once the division of your goods and chattels has been agreed and implemented, you are free to do with them as you choose.  You may actually prefer to get rid of some of this baggage of your married life, psychologically moving on.
At Pannone, our divorce lawyers are able to discuss with you the resolution of all financial aspects arising from the breakdown of your marriage, including dealing with smaller, more personal, items.   For further details about what we can do for you and the divorce advice which we can provide, please click here.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Men increasingly victims of violence by their partners

There have been numerous articles in the press in recent week involving domestic violence by women against their male partners. 

Domestic violence is something which is more commonly thought of as a 'women's' issue' but there can be no dispute that it affects a large number of men too, and the numbers of cases reported have steadily increased over the last few years. 

BBC Radio 5 recently reported that figures from the CPS indicate that the number of domestic violence convictions of women for violence against men has risen from just 1,500 in 2005, to almost 4000 this last year.

Violence in the home, whether against women, men or children, is treated seriously by the family courts and there are various measures which can be put in place to protect victims.  If you are a victim you should consult a family law solicitor urgently. It can also be grounds for divorce.

In Manchester, a new scheme of 'exclusion orders' which are served by the police is being trialled, which it is hoped will make it easier for victims of domestic violence to obtain urgent assistance, pending more long term measures being put in place.

The message is clear that the law is there to help any victims of domestic violence, and people should not be scared of obtaining legal advice from a specialist divorce lawyer or family law solicitor as to the various remedies available.

Read more divorce and family law advice on our blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Monday, 8 August 2011

Alternative approaches to settling children disputes

When people come to see me about residence and contact disputes, I always explain to them that court proceedings should always be a matter of last resort.  It is far better that parents agree something between them, even if it is not exactly what they would want, rather than have something imposed on them by the court that neither of them may like.  It is also important that people remember they will have to continue to parent the child/children together for many years, long after the litigation has finished, and sometimes the damage done by court proceedings can make that even harder.
A problem that many separated parents face is that of communication.  When a relationship has broken down, especially in difficult circumstances, it can be hard to have civilised discussions over the children without the emotion of background issues taking over.  Whilst a court order can help in some circumstances, it does not help to improve this issue.
For that reason, parents are increasingly being encouraged to look at alternative methods of settling their dispute and ways to improve how they communicate about issues surrounding their children.  One of the main ways the courts encourage this in children law disputes is through the Parenting Information Programme (known as PIPs). 
A recent report published by the Department of Education called Building Bridges looks at this issue.  The report concludes that parents should be encouraged to look at more creative ways of approaching their differences, rather than going to court immediately.  Parents are also now required to consider attending mediation before issuing a Children Act application, unless the matter is urgent.
Certainly, obtaining legal advice from a family solicitor can be a useful first step, so that parents know where they stand, but it is important to remember that this is just one of many different options that can be used to help separated families settle issues in dispute.  Any specialist children lawyers will be able to advise clients as to the range of alternative methods available, and help them consider the most child-focused way to reach a resolution.

Marriage advice not divorce advice

Jennifer Anniston and new boyfriend Justin Theroux are in couples’ therapy, according to Grazia magazine, and have only been going out a few months.  Apparently this is to work through potential relationship issues before they become reasons for splitting up.  Whilst it seems a typically American approach which would never catch on here, evidence shows that the reverse may be true.

Given the rate at which British couples are divorcing, sometimes only a year or two into their married lives, we are tentatively embracing the ‘American’ approach and talking through our issues in a way which may reverse the decades old trend of increasing divorce numbers, according to Julia Llewellyn Smith writing in The Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

Couples who are married in a religious ceremony, particularly Irish Catholics, have long been obliged to attend pre-marital counselling.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were counselled by the Archbishop of Canterbury before their April nuptials.

According to Relate, which runs premarital courses on discussing issues such as finances and bringing up children (often major issues when a couple seeks a divorce) it is an important process which could effectively identify catastrophic marital issues before a couple makes that expensive walk down the aisle. 

The average UK couple spends hundreds of hours planning their big day.  The message seems to be that spending two or three more in couples’ therapy may prevent a new husband or wife from ever needing divorce advice. Couples may even choose to formalise their new understanding in a pre nuptial agreement.
For more advice on any of the issues raised follow our family law blog or follow us on!/Divorce_experts  

Friday, 5 August 2011

Will legal aid cuts cause the courts to grind to a halt?

The legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill was published last month. Today Jon Robbins writing in the Guardian suggests that the legal aid cuts will bring more DIY cases into court and consequently cause the legal system to grind to a halt.

The proposed cuts include the removal of legal aid in all private family law cases unless there has been established domestic violence. The consequence of this would be to prevent individuals obtaining legal aid for family law matters, including divorce proceedings and children act proceedings (such as residence and contact disputes).

Mr Robbins notes that last year there were 211,000 family law cases where initial advice and assistance was provided and a further 53,800 where individuals were provided with representation at court under the legal aid system. In future where would those 264,800 people turn?

It is widely anticipated by many family law solicitors that more individuals will choose to act as litigants in person, rather than privately paying for a family solicitor. It is argued that this will cause considerable delays in the already overburdened court system. There is also a concern that those who lack the knowledge and experience to put forward their case effectively will be detrimentally affected if they do not receive proper support and assistance.   

For more advice on family law follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Genius must be shared in a divorce settlement

Billionaire Henry Silverman has reportedly argued that his wife should receive a reduced divorce settlement because it was his 'innate genius' alone that lead to the accumulation of his alleged $450 million fortune.
Under divorce law in England the starting point is a 50/50 division of a couple's finances. The divorce solicitors may then try to find reasons why one party should receive  a greater share. One reason is known as a 'stellar contribution' which no doubt Mr Silverman considers he made.
The family law courts are however very reluctant to treat such exceptional financial contributions as a reason to depart from an equal split of martial assets even where the wealth it generated is extraordinary. This is because our divorce law views the contributions of the breadwinner and homemaker as equal.
Unless, therefore, the genius that generated the wealth is such as to induce a 'gulp' rather than a 'gasp' it will not effect the terms of the divorce settlement.
You will find more divorce advice in our family law blog or you can follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The effect is the same...

It is reported that the Government has delayed a consultation on equality betwen marriage and civil partnerships from the summer to the autumn.  This has apparently upset many gay rights campaigners who feel that both options should immediately be available to all, regardless of sexual orientation.  Currently, marriage can only take place between a man and a woman, whilst civil partnerships are only available to same sex couples.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this approach, there is little practical difference to the advice given on divorce at the end of a marriage or when advising parties who wish to dissolve their civil partnership.  The only real difference appears in the reasons given for the end of the relationship.  Married couples can cite adultery as one of the reasons why the marriage has failed.  The same is not available to those wishing to end their civil partnership.

When considering the financial consequences, however, divorce settlements are based on the same law and principles as apply to civil partnerships.  Parties can share remedies in respect of capital, income and pension.  The court will apply the same legal principles to determine a fair settlement on a divorce or when dissolving a civil partnership.  The welfare of any children of the relationship is of paramount importance, before going on to consider a range of other factors.

For more advice on divorce or dissolving your civil partnership follow our family law blog of follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Now it's reported Linda Evangelista won't get her son out of bed for less than $46,000...

Linda Evangelista is allegedly seeking around £28,250 each month by way of child support from the father of her four year old son. It is reported this includes money for a chauffeur, security and nanny.
The claims have sparked media outrage, not least because Evangelista herself is believed to be worth around £5 million. 
Family law solicitors will advise, however, that such awards can be made as part of divorce settlements in England and between unmarried parents who separate in this country.
Child support in a divorce settlement or paid on separation reflects the wealth of the parties. Helpful if the father, as in Evanglista's case, is allegedly one of the richest men in France.
The family law courts can, if funds permit, include a carer's allowance to cover such costs as a nanny, cleaner or car.
Hopefully Francois-Henri Pinault has a good family law solicitor as these claims can indeed be substantial.
Read more advice on divorce and family law in our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Monday, 1 August 2011

You can stay at home dad...

A family law judge recently decided that a father, who has full time care of his 11 year old daughter, should move out of his home so that the girl's mother, who lives in Bulgaria, could stay there while visiting their daughter.
This meant not only the father but his new partner and their child having to find somewhere to stay during the visit.
Fortunately a higher court has overturned this decision and they can can stay in their home.
The court can make requirements in connection with a parent seeing a child after a divorce or separation if they think it in the child's interests. This might be where they should meet or who else can be present. Moving out of your home was not considered to be one.
Specialist family law solicitors will be able to provide you with more information about arrangements for children after a divorce or separation.
For more divorce advice read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.