Wednesday, 1 May 2013

International family law cases on the up

The BBC have today reported upon the rise in global family disputes including child abduction, relocation, inter-country adoption and forced marriages. The increase in cases which have an international element seems to have been caused by the ever increasing number of families who have connections outside the UK.

Cases whereby one parent wishes to leave the UK and settle in a foreign country with children following a divorce/failed relationship are not uncommon. Often, the situation arises because one parent wishes to return to their home country to be with family. However, the Child Abduction Act 1984 makes it a criminal offence for a parent to take a child out of the UK without the appropriate consent. It is therefore always important to obtain specialist legal advice before taking such steps. In certain cases, it may be necessary to seek the leave of the UK court before relocating.

At Pannone we have a team of solicitors who specialise in ­child abduction­ cases and those involving international family law issues. If you have any concerns with regard to these issues you should not hesitate to contact them to discuss matters further.
Where a child has already been taken outside of the UK an urgent application to the courts in the country to which the child has been taken will be required. The way in which this is done, and the law which applies, varies between countries. This is a complex area of law and specialist advice will needed.

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

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Eco millionaire faces claim for maintenance 20 years after his divorce

The unfortunate plight of multi-millionaire Dale Vince has recently demonstrated the importance of entering into a Consent Order to deal with financial aspects of a divorce.

Mr Vince and his wife divorced in 1992. They did not enter into a Consent Order in relation to their financial settlement because at the time the assets between them did not seemingly have much value. Mrs Vinci did not claim maintenance from Mr Vinci because he simply did not have the money to pay.

After the divorce Mr Vinci started his own business from the back of his trailer. This company grew significantly during the decades after his divorce and became the green energy giant Ecotricity Limited. During the period 2011/2012, the company had a turnover of £44 million and Mr Vinci enjoys a commensurate lifestyle in a house worth £3million.

Now, over 20 years after obtaining his divorce, Mr Vince has found himself in an expensive High Court battle fighting his ex-wife after she made a claim against him for financial support. Despite the fact that parties obtained their divorce in 1992, the Court refused to strike out Mrs Vince’s financial claim and Mr Vince has even been ordered by the Court to pay his ex-wife’s legal fees of £125,000. The case continues.

This recent Court battle has highlighted the importance of entering into a clean break Consent Order to extinguish all future financial claims one spouse may have against the other. Such an order allows there to be full finality to a divorce and without it, as this particular case demonstrates, the door is always left open for a financial claim to be made even after decree absolute for divorce has been obtained.

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_expert

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Defamation and Divorce - Two Unhappy Bedfellows

The sad tale of proceedings for defamation at the High Court between Lady Nora Colthurst and her ex-husband’s girlfriend’s daughter is worth commenting on from a divorce perspective. Lady Colthurst and her ex-husband had been married for 22 years but the marriage ended after he started an affair with his current girlfriend.

The comments that were the subject of the recent proceedings were posted in a blog back in 2005. They only came to Lady Colthurst’s attention in 2011. The blog was eventually removed in March 2012. It is reported that Lady Colthurst has accepted undisclosed libel damages and a public apology for the 'distressing' allegations posted online.

It is so tempting for parents when they are divorcing to involve their new partners and sometimes their new partner’s children in their upset. As this case demonstrates, where children or young adults who are used to using social media get involved, it can go too far. No doubt the young lady in this case thought she was helping her mother and her mother’s boyfriend by posting defamatory comments on line, but, as this young lady has discovered, doing so has consequences.

The breakdown of a marriage is a stressful and emotional time and it is important to ask for help if you need it. However, it is important for all divorcing couples to counsel friends and family not to get involved in a way that could aggravate a tense situation.

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

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hidden Assets in Young divorce may now be revealed...

It now seems that jailed British property developer Scot Young and an associate Russian businessman constructed a secret network of offshore companies to hide his fortune during his multi-million pound divorce battle with his now ex-wife Michelle Young.

Mrs Young is claiming a share of her husband’s £400 million fortune which Mr Young claims disappeared within 3 months and turned into debts of £28 million. Mr Young however was jailed in January 2013 for contempt of court as he failed to verify his alleged financial loses during the financial settlement proceedings.

According to reports Mr Young found varies ways of deceiving his wife and the divorce solicitors as to what his fortunes actually were. One such plan reportedly commenced as Mr Young’s marriage started to deteriorate in 2005 by Mr Young joining forces with a Russian associate to invest in a deal to redevelop a former paint-factory site worth approximately £65million based in Moscow into shops and offices. Mr Young then received half the shares in an offshore Cyprus company from his associate, which controlled the planned property speculation. The deal between the two men involved 12 companies and trusts in Cyprus, Russia, the British Virgin Islands and Lichtenstein. Mr Young then claimed that the Moscow development fell through and that he received no shares.

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

Thursday, 21 March 2013

False claims of domestic violence rare according to study

For the first time, the Crown Prosecution Service has looked into so called false allegations of domestic violence and rape which have been published by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The report which looks at a 17 month period, shows that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are perhaps more rare than previously thought although reported cases remain serious.

The Family Law Act 1996 provides protection for victims of domestic violence. In certain circumstances it is possible to apply to the court for an injunction such as a non-molestation orders which if successful forbids the use of violence. Breach of a non-molestation order is also a criminal offence. It may also be possible to obtain what is known as an occupation order in certain circumstances which if successful would allow the applicant to occupy the home to the exclusion of the other party. It is however always important to obtain specialist legal advice before embarking upon such a course of action.

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, 13 March 2013

The Pitfalls of Unmarried Couples

Cohabitation has become increasingly more common in the UK over recent years. Many people who have lived with their partners for a period of years are mistaken into thinking that if their relationship does come to an end that the same principles used by couples obtaining a divorce  will apply to them. This however is not the case and many unmarried couples, especially women, find themselves in dire financial circumstances following the breakdown of their relationship after learning there is no such thing as a common-law marriage.

Over the weekend the Daily Mail on Sunday alerted unmarried couples to the financial pitfalls following the breakdown of their relationship and we as leading family law solicitors  shared our experiences having seen an influx of work from separating unmarried couples.

The gap in the treatment of unmarried couples compared to their married counterparts is a key reform issue facing the UK over the next few years, but until a change is made by the Law Commission, make sure you do not fall into the common pitfalls of unmarried couples and seek legal advice.

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, 5 March 2013

Injunction against Charlie Booker lifted following calls for greater transparency in the Family Court

Injunction against Charlie Booker lifted following calls for greater transparency in the Family Court

The Sunday Telegraph has reported that an injunction imposed on journalist Charlie Booker prohibiting him from reporting a Family case concerning the future care of children, has been lifted. It is understood that the injunction barred Mr Booker from making any mention the dispute.

Charlie Booker claimed that the case was clearly in the public interests and the High Court agreed. We can only assume therefore that the separated parents in question were well known.

The Telegraph reports that in his ruling, Mr Justice Mostyn said he was lifting the injunction “because the emphasis should be on transparency” in the courts. He added: “Mr Booker is perfectly entitled to be as rude as he wants about anybody he wants. That is what freedom of speech is about.”

In April 2009, the Government made changes to allow the media to attend Family court cases. However, the court can exclude the media where it is thought necessary in the interests of any child concerned in the proceedings. As a consequence, judges often exclude the press from cases involving custody or residence disputes.

The power to exclude the press from the Family court has been heavily criticised by the press and viewed as an attack on freedom speech. Senior judges are sensitive to this criticism and agree that there should be more transparency. However, the crux of the issue will be whether cases involving decisions about the future of which parent a child should live with can ever be in the “public interest”.

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

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Birmingham – Divorce hot spot

Birmingham, famously the subject of disparaging comments by Jane Austen’s character in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, now has a further claim to fame.

Recently published Ministry of Justice figures show Birmingham as top of the list of courts where the most petitions for divorce were applied for in the twelve months up to September 2012.

The Ministry of Justice’s intention in publishing the figures on their website is to highlight the government’s plans to change the law so that any couple seeking a court order regarding contact with a child or finances must first attend a mediation assessment meeting. This would explain how mediation works and explore whether is it suitable for them.

The Family Justice Minister is also quoted, emphasising the government’s intention to promote mediation as quicker and cheaper than the court process.

All good family lawyers will encourage clients to try to resolve their disputes by agreement by means of mediation, negotiation ,or the collaborative process. Unfortunately, it ‘takes two to tango’ as they say and this approach will not therefore not work for everyone.

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, 12 February 2013

Marital bond unravels

It has been reported this week that Bond girl Gemma Atherton's marriage has sadly broken down. It is understood that her marriage lasted just three years.

Short marriages are not uncommon. Here at Pannone we often meet unhappy spouses who realise that their relationship is not what they hoped it would be when they walked down the aisle a year or two before.
The division of assets and sharing of income following a short marriage can involve considerations that would not ordinarily come into play after a long marriage. After a long marriage, the starting point of the court is an equal division of the assets and the contributions that each spouse made throughout the marriage, for example, as homemaker or breadwinner are largely ignored. However, following short marriages respective contributions are likely to receive more scrutiny from a judge when determining what a fair division of the assets would be.

The court’s approach to the division of assets on divorce is discretionary and there is no fixed formula setting 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, 8 February 2013

Domestic abuse - you are not alone

Domestic abuse is something that unfortunately continues to rear its ugly head in our society.

Research carried out by the Office for National Statistics calculates that two million people suffered domestic abuse at the hands of either partners or relatives in 2012. This equates to approximately 1.2 million women and 800,000 men being the victims of physical, emotional and sexual attacks, usually within the supposed safety of their own home. Whilst these statistics have not risen significantly from previous years, the scale of the recently published figures is alarming nonetheless.

Organisations such as Refuge, commenting on the recent figures, recognise that such abuse can include psychological, sexual or emotional abuse. It also includes threats to carry out such abuse.

Should an immediate issue arise causing a threat to health, safety or well-being, it is important to remember that the police are there to assist, often with a specialist domestic incidents unit, who can offer practical advice and support. However, police intervention may not offer an appropriate, longer term solution and assistance from the court may be required. Here at Pannone we understand the sensitivity of dealing with such issues and as leaders in the field we are well placed to provide expert legal advice.

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

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Keeping it Under Wraps

A report in the Times newspaper earlier this week predicted the possible rise in private Arbitration to deal with financial settlements  in divorce cases involving wealthy couples. This is a process whereby couples opt to employ a private Arbitrator to hear their case and agree to be bound by the Arbitrator’s decision rather than go to court

The process, which has been described as ‘effectively privatising divorce’, is becoming more attractive to wealthy couples who want to avoid the possible scrutiny of their financial affairs by the media in court. As the court cracks down on husbands who are unwilling to give financial disclosure, such as the recently imprisoned Scot Young, it is predicted that arbitration may also become more attractive to those who are reluctant to reveal their substantial assets in detail.

Regardless of whether some may have questionable motives for choosing Arbitration, it has much to recommend it as do other forms of resolving financial disputes outside the court   such as mediation. If, as seems likely, the courts become increasingly congested as a result of the cuts in legal aid and the rise in the numbers representing themselves, both Arbitration and mediation may well also become more appealing to couples of more modest means.

We are a team of specialist family law solicitors in Manchester []. Our team includes Liz Cowell who is a qualified Arbitrator. For more divorce advice [] please read our family law blog [] or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Common Law Wife Gets Nothing After 30 Year Relationship

The plight of Pamela Curran has been widely reported in the press today. She and her former partner, Brian Collins, were childhood sweethearts and lived together for more than thirty years. The never married.  During their relationship a house and a business were bought in Mr Collins' sole name. When the relationship ended in 2010, Ms Curran tried to make a claim against what had been her home and her livelihood, but her claim was refused. She was left with nothing.

Ms Curran has now been granted leave to appeal this decision. Lord Justice Toulson said that Ms Curran was a victim of the unfair and old fashioned property laws that are biased against women of her age and position. Her situation also highlights the significant difference between those who are married and those who are not in terms of the financial claims they can make if their relationship ends. If she had been married she would probably have received  half the assets, even if they were in her husband's sole name, by way of a financial settlement when they divorced.

The Law Commission Report in 2007 recommended that property law be reformed as it is unfair to those in Ms Curran's position. However, in 2011 the Government said that it had no plans to change the law. Given that more people are choosing to cohabit and less people are choosing to marry there is a strong argument that the law should be brought up to date to reflect our changing society and to protect cohabitees.

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

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Japan to get tough on Child Abduction?

It may soon become easier for a parent whose child is abducted to Japan to secure their return.

Currently, if a child is taken to Japan by one parent, without the agreement of the other parent, the Japanese courts will not automatically order the child's return to the country which is their home. The Japanese parliament (the Diet), it is reported, will be considering a law which would dramatically change the country's position on child abduction.

A bill is to go before the Diet under which Japan would ratify The Hague Convention. This would mean that the Japanese courts must (subject to certain exceptions) order the return of a child, abducted to Japan , to the country of their habitual residence. The court of that country can then determine arrangements for that child, including where they should live.

Japan is currently the only G7 country not to have signed up to the Hague Convention on child abduction. This has made it very difficult for parents left behind to even have contact with their child if they have been taken to Japan.

As the world becomes smaller the numbers of international relationships is growing. As a result child abduction is becoming an increasing problem. We have experienced a significant increase in the number of cases which we are handling in this area.

It is important to take expert family law advice very quickly if you believe your child may be abducted from the UK or has been abducted to the UK. Similarly if you planning to travel or move with your child here or away from the UK you should take urgent advice as their are potential criminal sanctions.

The Pannone family department have a specialist team of child abduction lawyers who can provided advice on all these areas. Contact details can be found by clicking here.

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

Vicki McLynn, Partner

Monday, 7 January 2013

‘How to Divorce’

Google trends over the past 10 years show that increasingly individuals who are thinking of divorce or separation want to find out more about the process before taking action. The trend has continued to accelerate despite the divorce rate starting to drop. Individuals want to know more about the steps to divorce and achieving divorce settlements/financial settlements on divorce and greater certainty over the cost.

Pannone can offer a range of fixed priced divorce services tailored to your circumstances and budget and give you price certainty. Click to start our divorce calculator to find the right service for your needs or click “Build your own” divorce if you know what service you need.

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

Contact: Beverley Darwent, Partner

Thursday, 3 January 2013

42% of Marriages End in Divorce

The Office for National Statistics has released annual statistics on divorces that took place in England and Wales in 2011.
Based on marriage, divorce and mortality statistics for 2010, it is estimated that the percentage of marriages ending in divorce is now 42%, compared with 45% in 2005. It is reported that the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2011 was 117,558, a decrease of 1.7% since 2010.

Despite rises in previous years, the report shows that there is a general decline in the number of people getting divorced. However, it has also been reported that the number of men and women who choose to cohabit has risen in all age groups. The fall in divorce rates could therefore linked to the decline in marriage.

My colleague, Vicki McLynn discusses these statistics in a recent article in The Guardian newspaper.

If you are considering divorce or separation from your partner, it is important to seek some objective, expert support from specialist family solicitors who can help you and your family.

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.