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.