Family Law Blog

No fault Divorce Bill

05 April 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Private Members’ No Fault Divorce Bill will be presented again in the next session of Parliament which commences on 18th May 2016. It was expected to have its second reading debate in March however, the motion was not moved and there are no available days left before the end of the current parliamentary session in which it can have its second reading.

The Bill makes provision for the dissolution of marriage or civil partnership when both spouses separately make a declaration that their marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. There is no requirement to prove any other facts unlike the current divorce procedure which requires proof of either adultery (not available for same sex marriage or civil partnerships), unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation for two or five years.

Increase in Applications to the Courts

30 March 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) received 3,237 new private Children Act cases in February 2016 which is an increase of 10% on February 2015.

There have been a total of 18,753 in the last six months which represents a 6% increase on the same period last year.

The increase in care applications received by Cafcass has increased even more. In February 2016 Cafcass received 1,225 care applications which is a 27% increase on February 2015. It is also the highest number of applications received in a single month. The number of applications in the last six months is up 15% on those in the corresponding months last year.

Parent Plan

19 March 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Parent Plan, a secure website that helps separated and divorced parents to communicate with one another in order to make arrangements for their children, has recently been launched. It aims to enable parents to communicate effectively and keep up to date with their children’s lives even if they do not see them every day.

Members have access to a calendar on which they can upload diary events and activities. They can also store contact details, and upload pictures and documents such as school reports or drawings. This information can be shared with the other parent and other selected adults involved in the child’s life such as grandparents or carers.

Parent Plan is free for everyone until 1st June 2016.

To access the site click here [https://www.parentplan.com/].

Divorce Fee Increase

11 March 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

We reported in July that the Ministry of Justice had plans to increase the court fee for issuing divorce petitions. It was announced on 17th March that as from 21st March 2016 the court fee for issuing divorce, dissolution and nullity petitions will increase by more than a third from £410 to £550. It is normal for fee increases to be announced only a couple of days before implementation to avoid any last minute rush to issue proceedings to utilise the lower fee.

At the moment this has been the only court fee relevant to family law proceedings to have been increased and full or partial fee remissions are still available for those on a low income or benefits.

Muslim Marriage and Divorce in Britain

25 February 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Muslim Woman’s Network (MWNUK) has published guidance on Muslim marriage and divorce in the UK.

The report is aimed at Muslim woman so that they are better informed about their rights and practices relating to marriage and divorce. MWNUK promotes the registration of Muslim marriages, i.e. having an additional civil marriage, so that a union is valid under English law.

The guidance includes real case studies and covers commonly asked questions such as seeking permission of parents, marrying outside of their faith, valid and invalid marriage and barriers that Muslim woman face when there are trying to get divorced.

The report can be found here [http://www.mwnuk.co.uk//go_files/resources/MWNU%20Marriage_Divorce%20Report_WEB2.pdf].

Court Closures

11 February 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Thirteen courts across Greater Manchester are set to close in the near future including those in Bury, Oldham, Altrincham, Trafford, Bolton, Tameside, Accrington, Macclesfield and Warrington. Stockport was on the list of closures but after local campaigns the Ministry of Justice has decided to keep it open.

Manchester Civil Justice Centre will take on cases from Bury, Oldham and Trafford magistrates’ courts and Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Tameside and Macclesfield county courts. It will also share cases with Liverpool Civil and Family Court from Warrington county court.

Cases from Oldham magistrates will move to Tameside; cases from Macclesfield magistrates will move to Crewe and cases from Accrington magistrates will move to Blackburn whilst cases from Accrington county court cases will transfer to Burnley.

The large volume of cases being transferred to Manchester Civil Justice centre is likely to strain an already busy court and will mean that the waiting times for listings are no doubt going to increase.

When a Petitioner Will Not Apply for the Decree Absolute

11 January 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

For whatever reason, a respondent in divorce may be faced with a spouse who will not apply for the decree nisi to be made absolute and therefore bring their marriage to an end.

In those circumstances there are options available to the respondent: Read more →

An error in the Form E

16 December 2015, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

A fault in the Form E, the form used to collate parties’ financial information, has been spotted earlier this month by a family law specialist in Ascot, Berkshire. The error was in the calculation of assets on the summary page and has the software has been miscalculating assets since April 2014. The totals on that page failed to deduct any liabilities from the total therefore potentially overinflating the value of a spouse’s assets.
Approximately 20,000 forms were downloaded in the 20 month period the software was producing inaccurate calculations; however, not all of them will have been used to work out the division of assets.
Not all divorcing couples use the automatic calculator on the form, preferring instead to print out the form and fill it in by hand. At Taylor King, we use software that generates the form rather than downloading the one available of the Ministry of Justice website.
Judgments may have been handed down by the family courts founded on erroneous information.

An HMCTS spokesperson said: “We are urgently investigating this issue. Officials are taking steps to identify rapidly cases where this regrettable error may have had an impact, and we will be writing to anyone affected as soon as possible. Anyone concerned about their own court proceedings should contactformE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.”

Guide to sorting your finances on divorce

05 November 2015, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Ministry of Justice has published a guide, entitled Sorting out your finances when you get divorce.
It is aimed not only at the couple divorcing but also their family and friends. It is hoped the guide will assist couples understand the approach taken by the Family Courts, resolve their finances and reach agreement as quickly as possible.

It will be especially useful to litigants in persons who cannot afford legal representation.

The guide can be found here: http://www.advicenow.org.uk/guides/sorting-out-your-finances-when-you-get-divorced.

Sharland v Gohil

06 October 2015, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

In the case of Sharland, Mrs Sharland’s appeal centred on the impact of fraudulent non-disclosure. The valuation of Mr Sharland’s shareholding in his software business and its distribution between the parties was the main area of dispute. After a valuation on the basis that the company was not going to be floated on the stock market Mrs Sharland was to receive 30% of the net sale proceeds, whenever it was sold, together with other assets.
After the consent order was drawn up Mrs Sharland became aware, through the press, that Mr Sharland’s company was being prepared for an initial public offering and a substantially higher figure that it had been valued within the financial remedy proceedings.

The Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s refusal to set aside the consent order as he would not have made a substantially different order. The Supreme Court have now allowed the appeal and returned the case to the High Court.

In the case of Gohil, the consent order was agreed despite Mrs Gohil’s belief that there had not been full disclosure. She applied to set aside the order on the basis that Mr Gohil had failed to disclose all his assets. The court found that there had been material non-disclosure by Mr Gohil and that if there had been full disclosure a different order would have been made.

There is a now, therefore, a much stronger emphasis on the requirement to provide full and drank disclosure throughout the proceedings.

The two judgments addressed how a case should be reopened if material non-disclosure is identified:

1. A fresh action to set aside the order;

2. An appeal against the order; or

3. An application to a first instance judge in the matrimonial proceedings.

Permission is required for an appeal but not the other two and an appeal may not be the most appropriate venue for hearing new evidence and resolving factual issues that may often arise.

A Family Procedure Rules committee working party is currently considering whether the Family Procedure Rules or a Practice Direction should specify criteria for choosing between the different applications.