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.