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