Friday, 28 December 2012

Mother and Daughter Reunited after 3 Years

Atiya Anjum Wilkinson has been found safe and well in Pakistan and is expected back in the UK later today. Atiya was taken to Pakistan by her father in 2009 having told Atiya’s mother, Ms Wilkinson, that he was taking their daughter to Southport for the day. He later sent a text to say she would never see her daughter again and it has taken three years to track her down.

Atiya’s father returned to the UK and is currently serving a prison sentence for being in contempt of court by refusing to reveal the whereabouts of his daughter. Atiya’s father, Mr Anjum, is still serving his fourth jail term, handed down in April 2012 by Mr Justice Moor, for a period of 12 months.

It’s not known how or where she was found but today Atiya will be home with her mother and family after three years apart.

This story has a happy ending but sadly, this is not always the case. If you believe your child is at risk of abduction take specialist legal advice and action immediately to prevent the removal in the first place. Having your child returned to you, once they have left the UK, all depends upon whether they have been taken to a country who has signed up to the 1980 Hague Convention on the civil aspects of child abduction and it can be a difficult and long road to securing their return.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Louise Halford

Friday, 21 December 2012

Allocating Christmas (with help from CAFCASS)

All family lawyers who deal with child disputes are all too familiar with how important it is to parents to have Christmas morning with their children. When separated parents live geographically close, and their relationship remains amicable, witnessing their child’s delight on Christmas day morning can be shared. When their relationship is at best strained, the only answer is for the child to have two Christmases.

Where parents are unable to agree where and with whom their child will spend Christmas day, this matter can ultimately be decided upon by the courts as part of a contact/residence case. Parents are often worried about how the court will make a decision about these issues. When faced with such disputes Judges are required to consider first and foremost what is in the child’s best interests, and follow what is known as the “welfare checklist” to help them do so.

Wherever necessary, an officer from CAFCASS (the Children And Family Court Advisory and Support Service) will be asked to compile a report for the court with recommendations as to what type of contact or residence order should be made in a particular case. CAFCASS officers are professionally qualified social workers. Recent research by CAFCASS has shown that in 75% of cases in which they have submitted reports, the court has made an order which follows the recommendations made.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Katy Stirling, Solicitor

Monday, 17 December 2012

Is Divorce really 'too easy'?

As anyone who has ever been through a break-up knows, they can be upsetting and emotional experiences, even if they are free from the sort of rancour sometimes seen in the celebrity divorces played out across the pages of our national newspapers.

Yet it seems that a majority of people still believe that divorce is "too easy".

A survey conducted by ICM Research on behalf of Pannone's Family department found that 57 per cent of people questioned felt that way.

The findings made the pages of both the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail.
Both 'papers featured the comments of my colleague Fiona Wood, who remarked that the survey results did not tally with her experience or that of the department as a whole.

She also suggested that they might well have been more influenced by the shortlived marriages of the stars than the sort of married life familiar to the rest of us.

One thing which is common to all divorces whether they involve stars or not is the need to have the support of expert family lawyers capable of supporting you and your family during the divorce process. You will need family law advice on not only ending the marriage but agreeing a financial settlement and arrangements for children.

To arrange a discussion with one of the Pannone family lawyers, click here or call us on 0800 840 4929.

For more divorce advice and insight, you can also read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Vicki McLynn, Partner

Friday, 14 December 2012

Shared care presumption under review

Further to Eleanor Aguirre’s blog of 6th November 2012, it is reported today that a parliamentary committee has voiced “significant concerns” over the government’s plans to introduce a presumption of shared parenting in children cases.

The concerns outlined included that a shared care presumption “could lead to unrealistic expectations from parents about shared time” and ultimately it could take away the focus when dealing with the arrangements for children from determining what is in the child’s best interests.

There has much debate on this issue and as detailed in our previous blogs, prior to this recent report, the proposed change to the law has been met with much criticism from members of the legal profession.

When parents’ divorce or separate, the welfare of their children is no doubt the most important issue for them. Many separating parents agree the arrangements without having to seek the assistance of the court and in many cases those arrangements will undoubtedly involve mother and father co-parenting and adopting equal roles.

However, such an arrangement may not work in all situations and in those cases where it is necessary for the court to be called upon, the current law’s overriding objective when determining the day to day arrangements for a child is that the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. To introduce a presumption from the parents’ perspective could undermine this – the main focus should be the child not the parent.

The Government will be publishing a full response to the Justice Committee’s report early in the New Year. Whether there will be a change in the law to introduce the presumption is still yet to be seen.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts .

Patricia Robinson, Senior Associate

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The dawning of the cookie monster?

The possibility of using a formula to divide assets on divorce is one option being considered by the Law Commission ahead of today's closure of their two-month divorce law consultation.
The sums which separating spouses receive would be based on a mathematical formula considering factors such as the length of the marriage and number of children.
Critics of the system, which was introduced in Canada in 2008, claim that it leads to “cookie cutter” justice in which the size of divorce settlements becomes too fixed, rather than decided on the individual factors which arise on the breakdown of a marriage.
The aim would be to ensure greater consistency and certainty. The Law Commission also believes the reform could reduce unrealistic expectations and claims, therefore minimising conflict and the costs of divorce.
The idea of applying formulae to Family law is not necessarily new. The Child Support Agency introduced a formula which has been seen to work and has even reduced one possible source of tension in divorce proceedings. The ruling in White v White in 2000 was also notable because lawyers assumed it provided a straightforward formula for the division of a married couple's joint assets, however the judgement has been debated over the intervening dozen years so that the situation has ended up more complicated.

Removing family lawyers' discretion would amount to a significant shift in the resolution of financial matters on divorce. Family courts have been used to very broad discretionary powers, much more than in other countries' legal systems. For parliament to remove that and insist on a more rigid formula being used for the division of assets would constitute something of a u-turn. Such a system would maybe stand a greater chance of working by promoting certainty, but would judges still attempt to find some discretionary space within it?
For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Claire Reid, Senior Associate

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Divorcing couple accused of 'profligacy'

The Telegraph today contains a salutory reminder of why you should always ensure that the legal costs of pursuing a financial divorce settlement remain proportionate to the award you are seeking.

The combined legal costs of Mr Alyami and Mrs Mussallan incurred in connection with their divorce were £1.3 million. Mr Alyami had been left with nothing but debt despite an award of around £500,000. The Court of Appeal, dealing with this most recent application by Mr Alyami described the costs as 'profligacy'.

The costs in this case had been incurred in not only resolving the financial settlement but also in connection with arrangements for the children.

The English courts have a huge discretion when deciding financial outcomes on divorce - there is no set formula - so that some people do choose to continue to contest matters. Our team of family law experts would always advise you to ensure the outcome will justify your costs.

 For more divorce advice  please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts
Vicki McLynn, Partner

Monday, 3 December 2012

Will it really be a quickie divorce for former Oil chief?

The press have today reported that Maureen Fulton, the wife of BP chief Tony Hayward has been granted a “quickie” divorce following their 27 year marriage.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is said to have forced Mr Hayward out of his £4 million a year job as BP’s chief executive. No doubt the division of the parties assets will be subject to future press speculation in particular his pension pot which is believed to be valued at £10.8 million and in which his former wife is likely to be entitled to share as part of the financial settlement.

The suggestion that it is possible to have a “quickie” divorce is misleading In England and Wales married couples who wish to divorce have to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by relying upon different grounds which could be behaviour, adultery or a period of separation. The divorce process is the same in each case and there is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce.
When a couple divorce it is also important to try and reach a financial settlement which can often be the most time consuming element to resolve. They may also need to discuss and agree the arrangements for any children. It is always important to seek expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Nowhere to Hide in Divorce

A recent article in The Telegraph reported on a divorce case in which the perceived dishonesty of the Husband during the court proceedings has resulted in the divorce settlement being re-opened by the courts.
During the divorce process both spouses are required by the court to provide full and frank financial disclosure to each other – this is the first stage of the process. If provided it means that the court, and both spouses, should clearly be able to see what assets there are available to be distributed. This is essential as without this knowledge it is impossible to reach a decision as to what would be a fair settlement.

As in the case reported, a discovery after a financial settlement has been made that all was not as it was portrayed can mean that the court will allow further investigation into those finances. If assets have been “hidden” this can mean that the original settlement will be overruled.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Katy Stirling, Solicitor

Friday, 23 November 2012

Divorce Location, Location, Location

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson made a plea for billionaires' wives to sue for divorce in London.

It is reported that the Mayor said "I have no shame in saying to the injured spouses of the world's billionaires if you want to take him to the cleaners... take him to the cleaners in London."

Mr Johnson’s comments seem to flow from a desire to generate business for the city but they do reinforce the widely held belief that England is one of the most generous jurisdictions in the world for a financially weaker spouse. In particular, some judges in London are thought to grant more generous maintenance awards to spouses than judges in the North of England. This is a topic which my colleague, Fiona Wood explores in more detail in her recent blog in the Huffington Post.

The resolution of financial matters on divorce in this jurisdiction is a matter of discretion and fairness. Unlike other jurisdictions around the world, the court does not apply a mathematical formula but instead must consider a checklist of factors which is applied to each case individually. The ultimate aim of the court is to achieve “fairness” and it may therefore take some circumstances into account that other jurisdictions would ignore.

When considering divorce, the choice of jurisdiction and the choice of court within that jurisdiction can have a fundamental effect on the overall settlement achieved. This is one of the reasons why seeking early advice from a specialist Family solicitor is so important.

We are a team of specialist Family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Naomi McGloin

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


It seems that London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is never far from the headlines.

He has even been quoted inviting the unhappy spouses of foreign billionaires to have the cases concerning their divorce settlements heard in London.

Even though it may have been tongue-in-cheek, his remarks underlined that city’s status as the world’s divorce capital as well as the increasingly international and sometimes complex nature of modern relationships.

It’s a topic which my colleague Fiona Wood has written about in an article for the Huffington Post
Regardless of wealth or nationality, divorce is a delicate process for everyone and it is reassuring to be able to count on divorce advice from specialist solicitors who can help you and your family.

To arrange a discussion with one of the Pannone family lawyers, click here .
For more advice and insight, you can also read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Cohabitation versus marriage

The Telegraph has recently reported that a quarter of young people regard buying a property as a bigger commitment than getting married.

Perhaps high house prices and a much tighter lending criteria are factors which make buying your first home together more important than tying the knot.

However, a common misconception is that when you live with someone you become their “common law” husband or wife which is a myth. Upon relationship breakdown unmarried cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples upon divorce and in fact many cohabitees are left in a very vulnerable financial position after a relationship ends. For example, a cohabitee who does not co-own the property may have no legal rights at all. If there are children of the relationship then there are some remedies available if after relationship breakdown the party is unable to rehouse with the children.

Moving in with someone or buying a property with someone can have serious legal implications and it is always important to obtain legal advice. For example, it is possible to have a cohabitation agreement drawn up.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


You may recall that, last week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) provided fresh ammunition for those calling for a clarification of the legal status of unmarried couples who live together, particularly those with children.

The ONS published data revealing that the number of men and women in the UK choosing to cohabit rather than marry had almost doubled in the last 16 years while the number of married couples was down nearly half a million in the same period.

My colleague, Beverley Darwent, provided comment on the matter for both the Daily Telegraph  and the Daily Mail.
It is a topic which another colleague, Claire Reid, has remarked upon in an article for the Huffington Post.
Whether cohabitating or married, it is important to be able to rely on family lawyers who can provide the right advice for you and those closest to you.

To arrange a discussion with one of the Pannone family lawyers, click here or call us on 0800 840 4929. .

For more advice and insight, you can also read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Vicki McLynn, Partner

Monday, 5 November 2012


Increased ownership of foreign property by Britons in the last few decades has brought with it the benefits of different cultures for families, provided investment opportunities and not a little bit of welcome sunshine.

However, the turbulence caused by marriage break-ups and the global recession has given a stark reminder of the potential downsides too.

As my colleagues Fiona Wood and Louise Halford have remarked in an article in today's Daily Telegraph  many former spouses who took homes in Continental Europe as part of their divorce financial settlements have seen their properties experience a dramatic drop in value.

Some are now trying to revise the terms of those settlements in an effort to undo the damage caused by the economic downturn and improve their future prospects. The circumstances in which those financial settlements can be varied are extremely limited.

As they have sadly discovered, divorce is not only a difficult process but can be a complicated one too.

In such circumstances, it can be greatly reassuring to count on straightforward advice from specialist family lawyers able to guide you through the potential pitfalls in order to achieve a resolution which is right for you and your family.

One of our expert family solicitors at Pannone would be glad to discuss matters with you further.

For more advice and insight, you can also read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Vicki McLynn, Partner

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The great cohabitation conundrum

The changing nature of the modern family has been thrown into sharp focus thanks to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It has revealed that the number of men and women in the UK choosing to cohabit rather than marry has almost doubled in the last 16 years, from 1.5 million in 1996 to 2.9 million in 2012.

The ONS added that the number of children living in these cohabiting households has doubled – from 900,000 to 1.8 million – over the same period.

When you add to that a drop in the number of married couples (down nearly half a million in the period covered by the ONS research) and the fact that single parents now account for some 26 per cent of all families with dependent children in the UK, it’s clear to see that the picture is very much different from that which might have been familiar, if you pardon the pun, to previous generations.

The ONS data accurately reflects my own experiences and those of my colleagues in Pannone’s Family department.

We find ourselves handling an increasing number of cohabitation disputes including those involving the children of unmarried couples.

Together with decreasing marriage numbers and the frequency with which we are dealing with couples divorcing in their late twenties and early thirties, it’s possible to conclude that fewer couples seem committed to the idea of marrying. Choosing to legally separate rather than work through marital difficulties is also no longer seen as the social stigma with which it had been regarded in years past.

The newly-documented increase in popularity of cohabitation does appear to add weight to calls for Government to introduce legislation to clarify the status of couples who choose not to marry and their rights should they break up.

As Pannone has remarked in the past, both on this blog and in the national print and broadcast media, the breakdown of cohabitating couples can be complex.

Whatever the nature of your own relationship – whether it is a cohabitation or marriage – it is important to be able to rely on straightforward advice from lawyers who can guide you through the potential complications to achieve a resolution which is right for you and your family.

To arrange a discussion with one of the Pannone family lawyers, 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.

For more advice and insight, you can also read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Claire Reid, Senior Associate


Today marks another important date for parents and lawyers who have ever found themselves embroiled in a case involving children and spanning the borders of different countries.

That is because today sees provisions included in a new and wide-ranging Hague Convention come into force in the UK.

Discussions about ‘The Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children’ (or ‘The 1996 Hague Convention’, to give the document its more familiar shorthand title) came to an end 16 years ago.

However, the Government in Westminster only finally ratified the document this year, hence an apparently belated adoption.

As its title suggests, the focus is on protecting children. Even though it may not apply to every single case, the new Convention’s various key strands mean it is likely to have impact on more matters than before.

The fundamental emphasis is on protecting children and clarifying the responsibilities of and relationships between parents and courts in an effort to make the legal resolution of any difficulties which arise “simple and rapid”.

For instance, one provision allows for an order made in one country which has signed up to the Convention and granted contact to a parent to be recognised in another signatory state, so overcoming the previous need to take out so-called ‘mirror orders’, replicating one domestic court’s ruling in another foreign jurisdiction.

The reason for the Convention’s significance is regularly brought home to myself and my colleagues. The breakdown of relationships involving children is common and can lead to disputes about which country those children are to live once their parents separate. The convention will simplify the procedure of maintaining contact with a child who is moving to another country on the separation of its parents.

Given the growing number of couples made up of individuals hailing from different countries, such disagreements can and have become even more complicated.

Whatever the circumstances, one thing is clear: removing a child from the country where it lives without express permission is a criminal offence.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to know that there are experts who understand the issues and anxieties involved, and who will make every effort to reunite you and your child.

Our child abduction solicitors have worked successfully on cases around the world, including Europe, Middle East, USA, Australasia and the Far East which have led to children being reunited with their parents.

Pannone is among those law firms recommended by Reunite, the leading UK charity specialising in international parental child abduction, and the association of family lawyers, Resolution.
If your child has been taken out of the UK to a country that has signed up to the Hague Convention or another international agreement, we will take legal steps to return them to you as quickly as possible.

Where no agreement is in place, through our international networks of contacts we will instruct specialist child abduction lawyers in that jurisdiction to fight your case.

We can also help locate a child that has been brought to the UK without your consent through the courts to ensure their safe return.

Swift action is paramount in child abduction cases and if you suspect your child is about to be taken out of the country - please call us immediately on 0800 840 4929 during office hours and 07947 022 312 outside office hours. Alternatively please contact Louise Halford, Child Abduction Solicitor, immediately and we will take action to prevent their removal.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Honeymoon over for Pop Idol Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates has revealed that he has split from his wife, ending their three year marriage. The singer and his wife, Suzanne, have been together for 10 years, with a young daughter, Missy.

Gareth, aged 28, has recently been accused of having an affair with his Legally Blonde co-star, Faye Brooks. However, Gates insists that the reason for the breakdown of their marriage is that he and Suzanne have “grown apart”.

At the end of September, I was quoted in The Daily Telegraph and The Huffington Post, reporting the increased number of cases which I have seen recently, involving couples in their twenties and thirties who had been involved in long-standing relationships, often since school, only for their marriages to come to an end.
There appear to be a number of reasons for an increase in the rate of divorce amongst such couples. Many suggest that like Gareth, they have grown apart. For others, they no longer feel the same way about their long-term partners once they have children. Another frequent cause of break-ups is infidelity on the part of husbands who have never had relationships with anyone other than their wives.

The frequency of divorce involving young celebrities means many other couples no longer feel stigmatised by the prospect of marriage break-up.
Getting divorced at any age can be a stressful experience. However, younger couples often find it easier to reach agreement with their spouse about finances or children  than couples in their forties and fifties.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts
Claire Reid, Senior Associate

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Marriage, Mansions and Mayhem

Today’s Telegraph  features a story about Maha Shagroon, an extremely wealthy divorcee’s claims that her former husband has failed to maintain her to the standard to which she had become accustomed. Her complaints appear to centre on his failure to pay the salaries of the household staff based at their £5m Regents Park home, and his failure to maintain their fleet of cars.

Whilst such tales of the super wealthy bear little resemblance to the lives of most of us mere mortals, an important part of the couple’s dispute could impact on many. In happier times the couple went through an Islamic marriage ceremony presided over by an imam in London. According to the article they were divorced in 2002 by the husband pronouncing Talaq (the Islamic divorce). The Husband is now arguing that their marriage is invalid as he had already had an Islamic marriage abroad, and as a result their divorce is invalid, and therefore the court has no authority to make a decision about their finances.

This is a fairly technical area of law, but it is becoming more common for couples to marry abroad, and also to go through different types of marriage ceremony. If such ceremonies do not comply with the necessary legal formalities that marriage may well be void or invalid. As a result there can be no divorce, and no divorce means no divorce settlement!

An overseas divorce can be a complicating factor, although it is still possible to make a claim for financial relief from your ex-spouse in England even if you already have a divorce and/or a financial order from another country.

If any of the issues above affect you or you are concerned about the effects of an international marriage or divorce it is recommended that you obtain advice from a specialist solicitor. We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Katy Stirling, Solicitor

Friday, 19 October 2012

True value in Divorce

Recent press reports from home and abroad have highlighted the importance of having the right figures in the ‘pot’ to be divided when a couple divorce .
Recently the press reported that a Morecombe man was jailed for perjury after deliberately faking evidence in his divorce case. He had told the court that he had spent very large sums on building work when in fact it had been used to buy a property abroad. His intention being to reduce his wife’s financial settlement .
In the USA this week millionaire businessman Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is reported to have just sold the Dodgers for $2.15 billion. His divorce settlement in 2010 was negotiated on the basis that the team was worth $300 million. Not surprisingly his former wife has made an application to reopen the settlement.

The divorce court in England puts both parties under a clear duty to provide a full and honest picture of their finances before deciding on a financial settlement.
Deliberate dishonesty of the kind proven in the first case would, as you would expect, allow the court to revisit the settlement . If a similar case to the Dodgers sale were to arise in England however, the outcome might not be as obvious.

Dramatic rises and falls in the value of assets soon after divorce settlements do not necessarily lead to the case being reopened. The court may decide this was due to ‘the natural process of price fluctuation’, in other words to market forces. Whatever the approach of the courts in the USA Mrs McCourt clearly thinks that the application is worth the risk!

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Monday, 8 October 2012

Do Breadwinning Wives Lose Out on Divorce?

Increasing numbers of women are earning more than their spouses. Some of these women also deal with the majority of the domestic chores and childcare arrangements, despite the fact that their jobs can be more demanding that their husbands'.

Fiona Wood comments upon what impact the contributions made by these women have on their financial settlements, if they divorce, in an article in the Telegraph today.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Art of Relationships

Real-life relationships can often be uplifting, intense and sometimes traumatic but, it seems, seldom as dramatic as those portrayed in films, books and even music.

However, in a thought-provoking article for the Huffington Post Phillip Rhodes, a Senior Associate from our team of specialist family solicitors, muses on whether art merely imitates life or, in fact, there might be grounds for believing that it is the other way around.

In the event of encountering the sort of unfortunate relationship drama, such as divorce, which provide inspiration for screenwriters, novelists and singers alike, it's important to know that you can rely on divorce advice from a specialist divorce solicitor.

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

The cost of becoming a parent

The Mail Online has today reported that Dominique Desseigne, chief of the Lucien Barriere casino and hotel group has been named the father of the child born in 2009 to former French justice minister, Rachida Dati. The disclosure appears to be gaining international interest because the identity of the father has not previously been in the public domain.

The parties in this case are resident in France but what would happen if a similar situation arose in England and Wales? Do unmarried couples with children who later separate have any financial obligations to one another or their children?

Child maintenance is almost always payable to the parent with whom the children live. In England and Wales that parent may also be able to apply to the court for additional financial provision for example the provision of a home. In some cases the court may also order a lump sum to be paid to meet capital requirements of the child. Whether or not such an application would succeed will very much depend upon the facts of the case and it is always important to obtain specialist family law advice.

We are a team of family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice click and please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Friday, 28 September 2012


Stories of young love have cast their spell on many different cultures for millennia, through ancient legends, popular music and movies.

However, it seems that pressures exerted on real life couples can be rather more telling than for their fictional counterparts.

The experience of my colleague, Claire Reid, in dealing with such cases has this week not only featured on the pages of the Daily Telegraph but the Huffington Post too.
It's important to know that, if you find yourself in the sort of circumstances which Claire has commented on, you know that you can rely on divorce advice from a specialist divorce solicitor in order to ensure the right outcome for you and your family, in particular as to the financial settlement and arrangements for children.

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

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Are ‘Play-Fairs’ fair game?

A spate of recent books and films suggests a trend towards acceptance of ‘play-fairs’: extra-marital liaisons which are viewed by all involved as nothing more than a bit of fun. What’s more, some suggest that these affairs are not only accepted but may help keep a marriage fresh and interesting rather than driving a wedge between the couple.

Play-fairs work on the basis that more than ever before, we now expect too much from marriage: love, children, financial and emotional stability, support, friendship and much much more. Some question whether one relationship can provide everything and suggest play-fairs may help take some of the pressure off a couple that could otherwise crumble under the weight of expectation.

As divorce lawyers  we know from experience that every couple is different and that what works for one won’t always work for another. What it’s important to understand though is that this type of ‘infidelity-lite’ could provide grounds for divorce if you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on what’s acceptable within your marriage. If discovered, your spouse could seek a divorce on grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and rely on adultery as evidence. In those circumstances it’s important to seek divorce advice at an early stage to understand your rights.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Verbal abuse and controlling behaviour labelled “domestic violence”

Nick Clegg has just announced plans for the government to widen the Home Office definition of “domestic violence” to include verbal abuse and controlling behaviour, as well as teenage victims. The change will be put in place by March 2013. It means that acts such as preventing partners from leaving the house or having access to a telephone could lead to a prosecution.

It is the practical effect of the change which is being emphasised by the government. However, charities and campaigners are concerned there is little point in changing the definition of domestic violence without the funding to support it. The government’s response is that monies have been ring-fenced for this purpose.

Provided there is funding in place, this change should see the development and implementation of new procedures, together with training for police officers in dealing with such cases, which sadly are becoming increasingly common. It should also help to raise awareness of the extent of domestic violence and enable effective prevention.

One point at which there is already known to be a greater risk of domestic violence is when a relationship breaks down. Under our current law, as well as the powers available to the police, there is a legal framework in place for you to obtain an order from the court preventing further abuse and excluding the perpetrator from your home. It can also provide a breathing space for you to recover and make decisions about your future.
We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Friday, 14 September 2012

More Scots Tying the Knot

The Scotsman has reported a 19 year increase in the number of marriages in Scotland which it claims is as a result of weddings becoming more affordable, and the increase in the number of non-religious ceremony venues that are available.

The most recent figures for England and Wales echo this trend. However a closer look at the statistics reveals an overriding decrease in the number of marriages since 1970. The simultaneous increase in the number of divorces over this period begs the question; are couples discouraged from marriage by the prospect of a costly and complicated divorce? It would be interesting to know whether the recent increase in the number of marriages is linked to the possibility of greater financial certainty upon divorce, given the current legal status of pre-nups.

Even in the absence of a pre-nup, costly and complicated divorces need not be the norm. Family mediation, collaborative law and arbitration are all alternatives to the traditional court route that can often be less costly, and more efficient.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Monday, 3 September 2012

Strike it (Un)lucky

It has been reported today that a husband spent his game show winnings so that his estranged wife would not receive a penny. According to the Daily Mail, Mr Brown used the winnings to pay debts, fund his divorce and provide for his children.

Within the financial proceedings, Mrs Brown has allegedly applied for an injunction to freeze Mr Brown’s assets to prevent him spending the remainder of the money. The court has ordered Mr Brown to provide a complete breakdown as to how the money has been spent. Whilst some may have sympathy with Mr Brown’s actions, couples do sometimes come unstuck with such an approach.

The court in deciding financial matters on divorce will have regard to the resources of the husband and wife. Game show winnings would therefore fall into this category. Most cases are decided by the couple’s needs. If the game show winnings would have enabled the couple to meet their future financial requirements, the spouse spending the money could be criticised for doing so and the other spouse may receive more of the remaining assets as a result.

In such circumstances it is important to seek specialist advice to avoid running into difficulties. At Pannone we have a team of specialist family lawyers who are very experienced at dealing with such matters.

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

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Communication is key!

A recent study undertaken by a family studies expert at the University of Missouri-Columbia considers the use of communication technology by divorced parents.  Within the study it recognises how effective text messages and emails can be in firming up the arrangements for children.  However it also flags up that where there is hostility between parents such communication can be used to prolong the hostility and in some cases manipulate the other parent.

The professor who undertook the study, Lawrence Ganong, states that separated parents “need to set their feelings aside and understand that they need to communicate effectively in order to protect the emotional well-being of their children”.

As specialist family solicitors we know how important it is for parents who are separating or going through a divorce to be able to communicate with each other in the best interests of their children.  Witnessing hostility between parents can have a detrimental impact upon children.

Effective and positive communication is not always easy and as detailed in my previous blog, there are family support services available which can specifically assist with communication issues for the benefit of the family when experiencing parenting or matrimonial issues.

Also see our recent blog in relation to parenting after parting.

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

Monday, 20 August 2012

Permissive Promiscuity could Lower Divorce Rates

That is the argument of Catherine Hakim, a sociologist and author of “The New Rules: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power”.

In an article for The Telegraph she claims that we Brits retain an Anglo-Saxon attitude to adultery which has resulted in our divorce rates being amongst the highest in the world. A more philosophical attitude towards affairs, she states, can ensure that marriages last longer.

Whether or not you agree with Ms Hakim, the fact remains that the divorce process in the UK is fault based: unless you have been separated for over two years, your spouse’s adultery or “unreasonable behaviour” must be cited as the reason for your divorce. As a result, we as family law solicitors have to know the reasons for our clients’ marriage breakdowns. Divorce statistics will not provide the full story: for example, someone who continues to live with their adulterous spouse for 6 months after their affair cannot use that adultery as the reason for their divorce. However, our experience tells us that adultery is as often a symptom of an unhappy relationship as it is the cause, and although adultery can be forgiven it is less easily forgotten.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester. For more divorce advice please read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Married Men earn more than those who divorce

It has been reported that men who remain married make more money than those who have been divorced and those who do not marry.

There are a number of reasons put forward as to why this could be. One of the main reasons is that couples define their roles so that the wife will look after the home and the children leaving the husband to focus on his work. They pool their resources.

Looking purely at the economic reasons, in a divorce financial settlement, the couple’s assets are divided to meet their needs. The wife and children may remain living in the family home and the husband may be required to pay maintenance. The income he was previously earning is therefore significantly reduced. The capital that has been built up is reduced. There may be a pension sharing order.

There are also emotional factors. There are cases where the divorce process has such an impact on the husband that he is unable to function at work. Absence through stress is common. Previously achieved performance related bonuses may not be attainable.

There has been some research carried out in the USA which suggests that divorce has a direct impact upon the economy. Henry Potrykus, a senior fellow with the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a subsidiary of the Family Research Council, and Patrick Fagan, MARRI director believe that marriage is one of the core economic growth factors. When a marriage ends with divorce, the economic growth disappears.

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

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Problems Faced By International Families When They Separate

The press have reported a recent Court of Appeal case concerning "Baby L". Baby L was born in England to an English mother and a Portuguese father. The family then moved to Portugal where they separated. The parents agreed that their baby would spend alternating two month periods with each parent until he is three. This agreement was made a court order by a Portuguese Court. The mother then returned to England with Baby L saying that she had been coerced into the agreement and asked the English Court to change the arrangements, which she felt were no longer appropriate as the parents are now living in different countries. The Court of Appeal held that they cannot deal with this issue. They said that it should be dealt with by the Portuguese Court.

Many families now have an international element. If such a relationship ends the international element can significantly complicate arrangements for children. It is therefore very important that expert advice is obtained from a family law solicitor who is an expert in international family law. This advice should be taken immediately upon the relationship ending, as removing a child from a country without the other parent's agreement is parental child abduction.

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

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Civil partnerships and dissolutions on the rise

The office for National Statistics has revealed this week that the number of civil partnership in the UK in 2011 has increased by 6.4 per cent since 2010. Interestingly, the number of civil partnership dissolutions granted in the UK in 2011 has also increased by 28.7% since 2010. These statistics have been released at the same time ‘gay marriage’ is being heavily debated.

Upon civil partnership breakdown financial settlement issues will need to be resolved and possibly arrangements in relation to children.

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

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Ashton Kutcher snapped with Mila Kunis - does this complicate his divorce from Demi?

Despite Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore having separated over a year ago after a six year marriage, his alleged new relationship with former co-star Mila Kunis has apparently left Demi heartbroken. The couple split in November last year after reports of the Two and a Half Men star’s cheating. Ashton and Mila’s new relationship is apparently so strong they are more or less living with each other – what effect could this have on Ashton’s as yet un-finalised divorce and financial settlement?

Living with a new partner before a divorce settlement is agreed can complicate matters in England and Wales. The fact that one spouse has moved on so quickly can cause upset and anger but what about the legal consequences?

Any actual or intended cohabitation has to be disclosed; if you keep this secret it could undermine any settlement reached. Living with someone can also have an impact on your finances. For example your outgoings are likely to be lower as you will be sharing bills and living costs with your new partner. Cohabitation is however not a black and white issue. If you need to know where you stand you should take divorce advice from an expert family lawyer.

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

Monday, 23 July 2012

Domestic Violence is still an issue

Recently, we posted a blog detailing the extra powers given to the police in Greater Manchester in situations where there is domestic violence. In light of this we note that today the Director of Public Prosecutions has announced improved conviction rates but confirms that more needs to be done to protect victims and prosecute offenders.

At Pannone, we have experience of divorces and disputes concerning children where there are allegations of domestic violence but the victim of the abuse does not report the incident to the police. According to the latest statistics only 25% of victims who suffer abuse actually report it. Explanations put forward by the victims we meet are that they are fearful of repercussions or they are concerned about what their children may think. Sometimes, the police have been contacted and have failed to act and the victim then denies the abuse.

A Domestic Violence Protection Order means that the Police can keep a violent partner away from their home and prevent them from contacting the victim for up to 28 days without the need to bring criminal charges. The intention is to give the victim some respite.

At Pannone, we have a team of family lawyers who frequently advise clients in relation to domestic abuse.

Read more divorce advice on our family law blog or follow us on twitter @Divorce_experts.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Cracking the Pension Pot

It has been reported today that hundreds of thousands of people often overlook their entitlement to a share of their spouse’s pension on divorce.

Since 2000, the court has had the power to order pension trustees to debit the pension pot of one spouse and credit the amount to a new fund in the other spouse’s name. These orders are usually made with the aim of sharing a couple’s total pension fund between them equally.

Problems can arise a when spouse ignores the other’s pension or fails to obtain a proper valuation of the pension fund. Overlooking pensions is common among younger couples who tend to feel that pensions are of little immediate relevance to them.

Pensions can have significant values and can act as a good source of income for the future. They should not be ignored under any circumstances and here at Pannone we always recommend that specialist pension advice is sought.

At Pannone we have a large team of family solicitors who can offer you specialist advice regarding the divorce process and the powers of the court when considering financial settlements.

Read more divorce advice on our family law blog or follow us on twitter @Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Expelling the Myth of the Quicky Divorce

Talking of the proposals for banking reform on the Andrew Marr show on 8 July 2012, Ed Balls commented that due to the difficulties in changing banks people in Britain stay with the same bank for longer than they stay with their spouses – appearing to suggest that divorce is a much faster and easier process. Ed Balls’ analogy may have been simply to prove a political point, but to take his words seriously, just how quickly can you obtain a divorce?

The divorce process can take as little as 4-6 months where there is some agreement between the parties, but can take up to a year. If a complex financial settlement needs to be sorted out by the courts, the divorce process can be put on hold for a number of years until that happens. By comparison, changing your bank account takes a matter of weeks. Despite the media’s oft alluded to celebrity “quicky” divorce, the process is unlikely to be quicker than changing banks.

But is the process easier? As family lawyers we have met with many different people who require a divorce under vastly different circumstances for very different reasons. It is unlikely that any of them would say that obtaining their divorce was easy in terms of reaching the decision and accepting it emotionally, and it is the emotional aspect of divorce which often makes the procedure so difficult to deal with. The associated concerns that people have in terms of their children and finances compound this and can complicate the legal process.

Whilst the divorce process is simpler today than it ever has been (due to recent reforms) it can seem daunting to those outside of the legal profession.

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Cruise & Holmes do a deal

The press have today reported that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have concluded a divorce financial settlement  and also settled the arrangements for their daughter, Suri. Press reports suggest that a pre-nuptial agreement will have limited the amount that Cruise has paid but that Cruise has probably made a goodwill payment to bring negotiations to a swift conclusion. Of course, the exact details of the settlement are likely to be kept secret.

Reports also suggest that Holmes will have sole "custody" of Suri but that Cruise will get "significant custodial time". In the UK if parents cannot agree upon the arrangements for a child post separation then an application to the court can be made for a residence order which decides with whom the child should live  and also a contact order which will set out what the day to day arrangements are for the child such as how much time the child spends with each parent. It is however important to obtain specialist advice before applying to court because there are alternatives to court.

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

Friday, 6 July 2012

Katie Holmes cruises to a big financial settlement?

Almost a week on from the shock announcement of Tom-Kat’s split the media furore surrounding the couple shows no signs of dying down. Speculation as to the likely financial settlement has only increased after Tom Cruise was named Hollywood’s highest paid actor in the Forbes Magazine rundown.

It’s estimated that Cruise earned a cool $75 million in the last year - more than twice as much as nearest rivals Leonardo Dicaprio and Adam Sandler. So does this mean that Katie Holmes is on track for a big divorce settlement? The answer is going to hinge on whether or not Tom-Kat entered into a pre-nup before their marriage and the terms of any agreement. Some reports suggest Katie may leave with what she brought to the marriage. Others say Katie is to receive $3 million for every year the couple were married. In addition Tom will have to pay child maintenance for their daughter Suri.

Pre-nuptial agreements have been big news over the last couple of years but in England they are not legally binding. Following a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2010 the English courts will take into account any pre-nup but the weight that will be given to the agreement will depend on a number of factors. The courts can choose to uphold all, some or none of the terms of a pre-nup. It’s a complicated area of the law and if you find yourself facing a split, or are thinking of entering into a pre-nup before your marriage, you should take divorce advice at an early stage from an expert family lawyer.

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

Monday, 2 July 2012

Claws being sharpened in TomKat Divorce

According to media reports battlelines are already being drawn by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes just days after she began divorce proceedings to bring an end to their five year marriage.

Katie has filed her papers in New York but Tom's lawyers it is alleged are going to argue that the divorce should take place in the Californian courts which is where the couple have had their main family base.

The Mission Impossible star's divorce solicitors it seems believe that the Californian family law courts are more likely to agree that he should have joint custody of Suri, the parties daughter, than those in New York. It is reported that Katie is seeking sole custody as she does not want Suri to be raised as a Scientologist, the religion to which Tom is devoted.

The place where divorce proceedings begin can have a huge impact on the outcome not only of arrangements for children but also on the financial divorce settlement.

Under English law both parents, if they have parental responsibility, are entitled to have a say in how a child is brought up, which includes their religious upbringing. This can lead to conflict and ultimately the family law courts can be asked to decide.

Hopefully for Suri's sake TomKat will be able to agree arrangements amicably. There are many alternatives to court to reach a divorce settlement. The signs, however, don't currently look good.

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

Monday, 25 June 2012

Government Hopes That Technology Will Help Those Divorcing

It has been reported in the press that the Government is planning to create a "divorce app" to help people who are going through the separation process. It is stated that the app will provide information about how to divorce amicably, how to sort out child support payments with your ex and how not to argue in front of the children. There will also be help for those who are having second thoughts about separating.

Anything that will help those going through the divorce process, which many find painful and stressful, should be welcomed. Those that have young children often find it easier to sort out arrangements for their children if their relationship with their ex is reasonably civilised. Although an app cannot solve relationship problems, highlighting the common issues that separated couples encounter, offering practical advice and alternatives to the court process could help some of the thousands of people who divorce each year.

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

Monday, 18 June 2012

Lack of Pre-nup Could Cost Klass Dear

The Daily Mail have reported that Myleene Klass is ready to fight her husband, Graham Quinn, in order to keep her £12million fortune now that they are facing divorce. Their relationship reads like a Hollywood movie: they met twelve years ago whilst she toured as a member of Hear'Say, and he was her bodyguard. Sadly their tale lacks the "happily ever after" ending. The Daily Mail claims that 6 months after their wedding, Mr Quinn left the family home and moved into his recently purchased flat, leaving Myleene and their two daughters.

As one of a new breed of breadwinning wives, it may be expected that Myleene's divorce settlement would include maintenance for her former husband, as well as a large proportion of the capital.  However, their relationship is not a true reversal of the traditional husband and wife roles. Myleene has also been left to look after their children on a daily basis: an argument often used by housewives for needing more of the marital assets than their breadwinning husbands.

Myleene may have benefitted from taking divorce advice before getting married as it may have been in her interest to have entered into a pre-nuptial agreement with Quinn. The family courts now must uphold such agreements unless there is very good reason not to and they provide clear evidence as to what the couple had intended to occur on divorce.

Pre-nuptial agreements can mean that on divorce there is no need to compound the existing hearbreak with the financial and emotional cost of fighting a court battle to sort out the family finances.  Consulting a divorce solicitor before you get married is at the least pragmatic, if not very romantic!

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

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The continuing uncertainty for cohabitees

It has been reported today that multi millionaire artist Damien Hirst has, sadly, separated from his long term partner and mother of his three children Maia Norman.
Whether the couple have ever entered into any form of cohabitation agreement to provide for such a situation is unknown.
There is no doubt that the law already ensures that a rich father must pay child maintenance which is sufficiently generous to allow the children and their mother to enjoy the same sort of standard of living as they have been used to and to provide them with a suitable home whilst the children are in education.
However Ms Norman's situation shines a spotlight on the uncertain state of the law for cohabitees when it comes to sharing property and assets and the sharp contrast with that of a divorcee looking for a financial settlement at the end of a long marriage.
There has been much discussion about a change in the law to provide clear rights for cohabitees but as yet little progress has been made. In the meantime cohabiting couples are left to protect themselves as best they can by taking advice from a Family Lawyer and entering into agreements about their property should the worst happen.

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

Monday, 11 June 2012

Does cohabitation before marriage make you more likely to divorce?

In all divorce cases, an issue to establish at the outset is the length of the relationship. This can impact upon the amount of the financial settlement. If a couple initially cohabit and then move seamlessly into marriage, the total length of the relationship is considered by the court.

Cohabitation has become the norm. According to the Daily Mail, since 2001, the number of cohabiting couples in Britain has risen dramatically from 2.1 million to 2.9million — and around 80 per cent of us cohabit before marriage.

There are many reasons why couples are more likely to live together first and the majority are not romantic. Many cannot afford to purchase a property on their own and therefore look to join funds. Others wish to test their relationship by living together first. It is suggested that women are more likely to want to cohabit to feel more secure whereas men are more likely to cohabit to put off commitment. Ultimately, many couples then decide to marry.

There may therefore already be cracks in the relationship and the couple mistakenly believes that marriage will resolve those issues. In reality, the relationship has failed and the couple has simply papered over the cracks.

Read more advice on our family law blog or follow us on twitter @Divorce_experts

Friday, 8 June 2012

Criminalisation of Forced Marriage

The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have just announced that forcing someone to marry is to become a criminal offence in England and Wales.
At present, the civil courts can make forced marriage orders to protect individuals from being forced into marriage or from any attempt to force them into marriage and provide protection to a victim of a forced marriage. This is usually done with the assistance of a specialist family law solicitor as detailed in our blog of 6/7/10. However, by criminalising forced marriage, it formally recognises that to force someone to marry without their consent is against the law and the perpetrator of such will be punished. It is hoped that this will also provide further support and protection to the victim and ultimately prevent forced marriages from happening in the future.
There has been much press coverage over recent months about "honour killings" which brings this issue to the forefront. There is a clear need for recognition that a forced marriage is an abuse of human rights which cannot be justified on cultural grounds. In our multi cultural society it is imperative that we do not shy away from what is clearly wrong and a greater understanding is needed.
Until such time as the as the offence is introduced, specialist family solicitors can advise on the current protective provisions that can be obtained from designated courts across the country, including Manchester.
For more advice on family matters follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The problems with technology

The difficulties posed by technology for families dealing with separation have been a topic of some interest to media both at home and abroad over the last few days.

It followed an interview with Family department partner Louise Halford by the Sunday Times.

The story was picked up by print and online media elsewhere in Europe and also in Australia.

Louise herself penned a 'blog exploring the theme further for the Huffington Post.
If you find yourself in a similar position or want expert confidential advice on separation or divorce and what it means for you or your children, get in touch.

To arrange a discussion with a family law solicitor click here or call us on 0800 840 4929. We are available to take your call.

You can also get more general advice via the Pannone family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

The Farmer wants a pre-nup

Buoyed by the continuing rise in the price of land, the Financial Times has recently reported a rise in pre- and post-nuptial agreements entered into by farmers.

As much of a farmer’s wealth is usually tied up in the land they work, many are trying to protect this asset, as well as the income which they generate from it, by asking their future spouse to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement, or a similar agreement once they have married (a post-nuptial agreement).

Whilst such agreements entered into between a couple are not legally binding in England and Wales, recent case law has increased their prominence and the weight which a judge will attach to them should a couple divorce. The court will hold the parties to the terms agreed unless: the agreement was not entered into freely by each party; they did not have a full appreciation of the implications of the agreement at the time of signing it; or it would be unfair to hold either of them to the agreement.

While courts are keen to avoid selling family farming businesses to make divorce payouts, there are no guarantees that even inherited land will be treated differently from other property and excluded from the total value of assets to be divided when the courts come to a financial settlement. The significant rise in the price of commercial farmland in some parts of the UK has prompted fears amongst farmers that it could form a greater percentage of the money being fought over on divorce. Farmers are therefore keen to do what they can to try and protect this land should their marriage break down.

Farming divorces can be more complicated to resolve than urban separations because most of a couple’s assets may not be in cash but tied up in a working farming business. As a result, a well thought out and carefully structured pre-nuptial agreement can got a considerable way towards protecting a farmer and removing the uncertainty which might otherwise exist.

Our family solicitors have considerable experience in drafting pre-nuptial agreements and advising on the terms of such documents.

For more advice on pre-nuptial agreements or any other family law issue, follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Pussy Galore!

Earlier this week the Daily Mail reported the story of an Israeli man who divorced his wife for refusing to part with her 550 cats. When push came to shove, she chose her feline companions over her husband.

Perhaps the final straw for the husband was not being able to sleep in his own bed due to the number of cats in the house. They also prevented him from accessing the bathroom and eating meals in the kitchen.
It is hardly surprising that the court's calls for a reconciliation fell on deaf ears.
We, as family lawyers, are often faced with arguments between divorcing couples regarding their pets, but it is more usual for disputes to centre around who gets the dog, rather than whether you choose your spouse or the dog!

This is a classic example of a spouse citing the other spouse's "unreasonable behaviour" - one of the facts upon which couples can obtain an immediate divorce. Apart from this and adultery, couples must otherwise wait two years to divorce by consent and, whilst there are proposals for this to change, there are no immediate plans for law reform.

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

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Is marriage the "gold standard" ?

The Telegraph has today reported that a new survey which has been carried out by care home charity Friends of the Elderly shows that young people regard marriage and the raising of a family to be more worthwhile than a career or the acquisition of material wealth. The 'Marriage Foundation' which is an independent charity has been dedicated to championing marriage as the "gold standard for relationships".
However, the divorce rates still seem to be on the increase and therefore whilst young people may aspire to a happy and long marriage the Office of National Statistics suggest that the average length of a marriage in Britain is now 11.3 years. So divorce and trying to agree the care arrangements for children following marriage breakdown remains a fact a life for many. For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

To pre-nup or not to pre-nup

There has been speculation in the press this week as to whether the now fabulously wealthy  Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg  and his new bride have entered into a pre-nuptial agreement before their marriage.  His press spokesman declined to comment.
In America this type of agreement, which sets out the terms of the financial settlement that will apply if the couple later divorce, is commonplace and is binding.
The position here is, for better or worse, rather different. A pre-nuptial agreement is not binding. The Courts still have the last word on money matters and in deciding what is fair following the end of a marriage or civil partnership . But things are changing as the Court will now accept that such agreements are strong evidence of what a couple intended should happen if they split up and they are likely to be upheld unless these is a good reason no to do so.
More couples who are already wealthy in their own right before marrying, perhaps for the second time, want to know where they will stand and how they can avoid arguments if they break up. It makes  sense for them to consult a specialist Family Lawyer for advice in good time before the wedding and it doesn't mean that romance is dead!
For more advice on divorce follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter@Divorce_experts

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

‘Greyday loans’ on the Rise

A large number of grandparents are financially supporting their adult grandchildren according to a recent survey by According to the results of the survey almost a quarter of grandparents and nearly one third of parents are still being relied upon by adult grandchildren and children to help ease the pressure of rising living costs, high unemployment, spiralling educational costs and debt.

Although families have always supported one another financially it appears that the current economic downturn and increased financial pressures mean that the younger generation is increasingly relying on that support to meet not only the day-to-day costs of living but also to help fund bigger-ticket items such as cars and first homes. Whilst that support can be incredibly helpful, or in some cases absolutely necessary, how should so called ‘greyday loans’ from parents and grandparents be treated on divorce?

When the court looks at a potential financial settlement the starting point is to consider all the assets. This will include any items purchased using loans from family members. If however the parties ‘needs’ can be met without resorting to those assets it may be possible to exclude them from the division. This is though a potentially complex area of law and you should seek legal advice from an expert family lawyer.

Loans to assist with day-to-day expenses can be treated as a debt to be repaid in the same way that a bank loan or credit card liability would have to be taken into account. There is however no guarantee of this and much will depend on individual circumstances, including whether or not there was a formal loan agreement. In the absence of such evidence your ex-spouse may argue that the money is a ‘soft loan’ which does not need to be repaid in the same way as say a bank loan, or may even argue that the money is in fact an outright gift and will never be repaid. Again, divorce advice from a family lawyer should be sought.

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

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Marriage has never been so popular!

A recent survey by an on line casino revealed results that showed marriage is certainly not outdated and still remained a tradition that most wish to sign up to.

The survey revealed that 85% of their single male members intended to marry during their lives and 61% were prepared to describe themselves as "keen" to marry.

The results of the survey also indicated that the ideal age to commit to marriage is between 30 and 34 years old. Furthermore, 92% of the men undertaking the survey confirmed that marriage is a life long commitment.

It is certainly an interesting survey as it's results suggest that marriage is a common aim for most men in society (well, those men who undertook the on line casino survey).  As a divorce lawyer, it is very refreshing to hear about results that ultimately promote the concept of marriage in how it is viewed in society. However, as marriage is hopefully a life long commitment it should not be entered into lightly and it may be wise to take advice from a specialist family law solicitor with particular regard to pre nuptial agreements before tying the knot.

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

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Battle of the Sexes Now Won By Women On Divorce - But Is It What They Want?

It is reported in the press today that the actress, Mena Suvari is divorcing her husband of less than two years and he is seeking monthly spousal maintenance payments of $17,000. Mena is reported to earn in the region of $750,000 each year.

Divorce law is not sexist. If the wife earns significantly more than the husband, the husband may be entitled to spousal maintenance from her as part of his divorce settlement. Given the significant increase in the number of "bread winning" wives, those that have high power jobs which pay significantly more than their husband's jobs, this scenario is becoming increasingly common. Women have been fighting for equality for years, but many are not happy when this equality makes them the paying party when they divorce.

These "bread winning" wives need to consider taking the advice of a family law solicitor before they marry and entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, if they want to try to protect their wealth if their marriage fails.

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

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Naked Truth About Divorce

The Telegraph today reports of Michelle Mone's heartbreak following the collapse of her marriage to husband, Michael.

Mr Mone - the father of the couple's three children - reportedly left his wife for one of her employees, although he has said that it was Ms Mone's decision to feature in an underwear shoot which led to the breakdown of the marriage.

There are, of course, only two people who know the real reasons for the marriage breakdown. How does this relate to divorce? Aside from adultery and waiting for a minimum of two years to divorce by consent, the only basis which could be used in support of a divorce petition is the other person's "unreasonable behaviour." This is entirely subjective and can range from, for example, a husband's dissatisfaction with his wife's career choices, to serious incidents of domestic violence.

It is important for separating couples to realise that in the majority of cases the basis of a divorce has no bearing on any other proceedings - whether that be arrangements for children or the financial settlement. It is purely a means to an end.

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

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Financial ties hard to break

Today's Metro features an article on an increasingly common theme - the influence of financial matters on people's decisions about relationships.

According to the article, Shelter has found that 235,000 people in London alone moved in with a partner for "mainly" financial reasons in the last 3 years, and that a further 128,000 had to remain living together after they split up because they couldn't afford to live apart.

The survey confirms our experience. Dealing with the practicalities of separating into 2 households after splitting up is often the most difficult issue a couple have to address.

Few people know their legal rights or obligations before they move in together . There are a lot of myths about what protection the law does and does not offer to people, whether married or living together, and whether or not they have children . Many people do not think of the potential implications before they start living together.

Whilst no-one likes to contemplate a relationship coming to end, it is advisable to know from the start where you stand . If the worst then happens unnecessary complications and disagreements could be avoided . A good Family Lawyer will be able to advise as to the legal and practical consequences of a separation in any given set of circumstances, which can help a couple decide how to plan and manage their financial affairs once they are living together.

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

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Trouble in the sun

Life in the sunny climes of Dubai might sound like the recipe for marital bliss but reports today suggest this might not be the case.

445 expats in Dubai ended their marriage in divorce last year - an increase of more than 28% since 2009.

Dubai has not escaped the effects of these tough economic times which can compound the challenges of relocating so far from home, family and friends and put increased stress on a marriage. Frequent visits back home by one party can also provide the opportunity for adultery which is a ground for divorce.

It is particularly important to take divorce advice early when one or both of a couple live abroad. Divorce law varies dramatically between countries and where you divorce can have a significant impact on the financial divorce settlement you receive. It may be necessary to speak to divorce solicitors in different countries to ensure you get the best outcome.

For more advice on family law visit our website, read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Monday, 30 April 2012

Government Cracks Down on Non-Paying Parents

Intensive action against parents who fail to financially support their children has been pledged by the government. According to figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, more than 5,000 past and current child maintenance cases have arrears of £50,000 or more. The government has however sought to reassure those parents who are owed arrears that the CSA (Child Support Agency) will take “all reasonable steps to recover this money for them”.

The crack down by the Department of Work and Pensions has been announced just as new figures show that the CSA’s enforcement powers are being exercised more than ever. For example, there has been a threefold increase in the use of ‘deduction orders’, where money is taken directly from the debtor’s bank account. The CSA’s broad range of enforcement powers also include taking deductions directly from wages, taking possession of and selling property, freezing money owed to the non-paying parent and confiscating driving licences.

There can be little doubt that the CSA’s enforcement powers can help reduce existing arrears, or even prevent them from building up in the first place. If however you are able to agree with the other parent how much child maintenance should be paid, there may be no need to go to the CSA. Child maintenance can be a complex and complicated area and you should seek expert family law advice if in doubt as to your rights and responsibilities.

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

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Work Life Balance and How It Can Impact Your Marriage

The national press has recently reported on the Bergen Work Addiction Scale which is a test that has been devised by psychologists to measure people's addiction to work.  As a family lawyer, I often hear the term "workaholic" being used in a derogatory manner and it is regularly cited as a reason for the breakdown of a marriage and ultimately the grounds for divorce.

The researchers of the test claim that the increase in work addiction is as a result of "new technology and blurred boundaries between work and private life".  Certainly in this digital age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to leave work at the office which no doubt impacts upon the work life balance causing tension in the home.  Family holidays may be constantly interrupted with the vibration or beeping of the work smart phone much to the frustration of the rest of the family and adding to the stresses and strains of day to day life.

There are many specialist family consultants, such as counsellors, who can assist if you are experiencing matrimonial difficulties. My fellow family solicitors and I regularly come across specialists who are providing support to individuals or families as a whole which can often be invaluable and help them avoid divorce.

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

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

DIY Divorces

In these increasingly cost conscious times, it is no surprise that more and more couples are choosing to tackle their divorce themselves rather than consult solicitors. However, seeking some specialist Family Law advice early on can help to avoid some of the common pit falls in divorce and financial proceedings.

For example, did you know that even if you reach an agreement with your spouse regarding the division of your assets it will not be final and binding until it is embodied in an order of the court? Or that if you obtain a divorce and then re-marry without first having made an application for a financial order against you former spouse, you may lose your right to do so for all time?

Contrary to popular belief, not all divorces are expensive. In fact, in the majority of the cases we handle, agreements are reached without the need for costly and stressful court battles.

The court’s approach to the division of assets on divorce is discretionary and there is no fixed formula which sets out what each party should receive. It is important therefore to seek divorce advice from a specialist Family Law solicitor as the earliest opportunity, regardless of the value of your assets.

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

Friday, 20 April 2012

How to avoid debt on divorce

The stress of managing debt can often contribute to marriage breakdown. Figures now show increasing numbers of people running up significant debt while going through the divorce process.
Our Vicki McLynn was interviewed on BBC Breakast TV this morning on this issue.
Legal costs charged by divorce solicitors are reported to be one of the main causes of this debt. In order to prevent legal fees escalating during your divorce ensure your solicitor is a family law specialist and listen to their advice while you are negotiating your divorce settlement. 
Think carefully about those issues on which you want to fight and whether the cost involved is proportionate to the potential benefit. Try not to let emotion cloud your judgement.
There are alternative processes to reach a divorce settlement which can also help keep costs to a minimum.
Similarly although retail-therapy or a luxury holiday may seem like the answer to the stress of divorce proceedings it is likely to leave you paying off debt long after your divorce has finished.
For more divorce advice read our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

We're All Going On a Summer Holiday

It is reported that under new government rules, headteachers will be able to fine parents who take their children out of school for holidays during term-time.  The fine can then be deducted from the family's child benefit, and or doubled if not paid on time.
The issue of term-time holidays is often a cause of dispute between separated parents.  It is not uncommon for parents to disagree on whether it is appropriate for a child to be taken out of school in term time in order to go on holiday with the other parent and in some cases, last minute applications to the court are required.  As the summer holidays approach, whether the children go away with each parent, and if so, where and when will become an increasingly live issue for many separated families.
As has been discussed in this blog previously, in most cases, both parents must consent to a child being removed from the country, even if this is only to go on holiday.  The court can adjudicate and make Specific Issue Orders granting permission for a holiday, or Prohibited Steps Orders, stopping them.  The courts usually take the view that it is a child's best interests to be able to enjoy a holiday with either parent, but will rarely consider it is appropriate for a child to be removed from school for this, unless there is a very good reason, especially in important academic years, or in the run up to tests and assessments.
If permission is not granted, the cost of the holiday can be lost and so it is always worth making sure that a holiday is lawful and unlikely to be successfully challenged, before it is booked.  Anyone who is unsure whether or not they have the necessary permission to take a child of a specific holiday, be it in term-time or during holidays is well-advised to seek advice from a family solicitor, in order to avoid costly mistakes and disappointment all round.
For more advice on divorce and children matters follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.