No Fault Divorce - It's on the Way!
Fifty years after the Divorce Reform Act 1969 introduced irrretrievable breakdown as the only only ground for divorce David Gauke, Justice Secretary has announced that following a consultation the government will introduce legislation in the next session of Parliament (which starts in May this year) to bring further reform to our divorce laws. At the moment it is necessary to prove one of five facts to show the marriage has broken down irretrievably and three of these depend on showing the other paty is at fault, unless you have been living apart for two or five years (See divorce page for more information). This has not helped couples to resolve issues relating to children or finance so the new law will still be the only ground is irrtrievable breakdown but without the need to prove a supporting fact. It will also be possible for parties to file jointly. It looks as though the procedure will become more administrative and it will still take about six months and be a two stage process, to enable parties to pull back from the brink but language will be simpler so instead of decree nisi (decree unless) and decree absolute we will have conditional and final orders.
When the legislation will be passed or become effective remains to be seen.
4 January 2018
Stamp Duty and Divorce
There was an announcement in November's budget that additional stamp duty land tax (SDLT) would not be charged to divorcing couples. However, The Daily Telegraph has highlighted a wrinkle that was not immediately apparent and that is the exemption only applies where there is a Court order - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tax/news/stamp-duty-rules-penalising-divorce-amicably/.
So where a couple part amicably and the former matrimonial home remains in joint names if one of them wishes to buy another property they will have to pay the Stamp Duty Surcharge unless there is a Court order in place within the divorce proceedings.
This is another reason why finance and property should be sorted out at the time of divorce and an order made by consent, if possible, setting matters out so each knows where they stand and cannot go back on the arrangements in years to come.
Divorce Finance Property Stamp Duty.
2 January 2018
Welcome to 2018.
The Times is promoting its campaign to reform divorce laws which have not been changed for over fifty years since the Divorce Reform Act 1967. Whilst this introduced the concept of "no-fault" divorce - two years separation if the other person consents to divorce or five years separation if not - and irretrievable breakdown of marriage we are still left with having to blame the other person where those facts are not available. Having to prove the other person has committed adultery or behaved unreasonably does not help smooth the way to sorting out arrangements for children or financial issues.
The campaign is supported by Sir Paul Coleridge a former High Court Judge and Chairman of the charity Marriage Foundation. The Times articles are behidn a paywall but the Marraige Foundation can be found at www.marriagefoundation.org.uk
It seems unlikely the government will find time to introduce legislation and the best hope would be a Private Members Bill being supported but we shall have to wait and see what 2018 brings. Resolution, meanwhile, maintains its own campaign to improve the lot of cohabitees who part with the reminder there is no such thing as "common law marraige" and cohabitees who spearate, perhaps,after many years together, do not have the same rights as those who married.
Best wishes for the year ahead and if you are looking for some help or legal guidance on any type of relationshiop breakdown please give me a call.
Divorce & Family Solicitor
Resolution Accredited Specialist
21st March 2016
Increase in Court Fee
The Government has increased the fee for filing a petition for divorce to £550 as from today with insufficient notice to enable those considering starting proceedings to get their forms in first. My fixed fee of £300, I believe, represents good value for a fully supported service particularly as it can be paid by instalments. As set out on other pages this is for the process to the legal ending of marriage only and other costs and fees are payable on applications relating to finance and children.
Divorce Solicitor Cornwall Resolution Accredited Specialist
17th March 2016
No Fault Divorce Bill fails to make through in this session. A Private Members Bill to introduce a procedure for no fault divorce didn't make it through this session of Parliament but there are hopes it will be re-presented in the next session which starts on 18th May so any reform is likely to be some way off.
Children & Families Act 2014
This Act came into effect on 22nd April 2014.
It strengthens requirements to attend an Information and Assessment Meeting with a Mediator (MIAM) before applications in respect of children and finance are issued although not before filing a petition for divorce, a provision that was first enacted in the Family Law Act 1996 but never brought into effect by successive governments.
The major change is to do away with the concepts of Residence and Contact which were brought in with the Children Act 1989 and themselves replaced the terms, Custody, Care & Control and Access. Now we have the Child Arrangements Order.
“Child Arrangements Order” means an order regulating arrangements relating to any of the following—
(a) with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact, and
(b) when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person;”.
Another major change is to bring about a single Family Court unifying the County Court where full time District and County Court Judges sit and the Family Proceedings Court where cases are dealt with by Lay Magistrates. In Cornwall it has been the practice for some time, in anticipation of this change, for a Designated Family Judge, to look at new applications and assign them to appropriate level of judiciary.
An important change in practice is on the issue of an application relating to children the Mediator who conducted the MIAM will have to complete and sign a section of the application form.
I continue to offer an initial interview free of charge which is used to find out some factual background and discuss ways forward for you - please call or e-mail - 01726 68926 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Specialist Family Solicitor and Lawyer - Accredited Specialist in Children Issues and Domestic Abuse
Mediation Fixed Fees
If you have been able to resolve matters through mediation you may want to have a legally binding agreement in place, particularly in relation to financial and property issues. We would be happy to discuss implementation of proposals set out in a Memorandum of Understanding or summary letter for a fixed fee. In divorce proceedings this would usually involve preparation of a Consent Order and we would review matters with you, advise and draft the order, complete a supporting Statement of Information the Court requires and correspond with the other party to secure consent. There is a Court fee payable which is now £50. Please telephone 01726 68926 to discuss your situation or e-mail an enquiry.
Family & Divorce Solicitor
So Farewell Legal Aid
Legal Aid is no longer available for the majority of family issues that come before the Court except where there has been Domestic Violence but it is not going to be easy to meet the test that has been put in place.
Legal Aid has never meant not having to pay costs. Successful Applicants often had to pay monthly contributions which could have been as much as £146.85 per month plus had to pay back all the costs that were claimed by solicitors from property recovered or preserved. If people argued over children and finances this could run into many thousands of pounds.
It is important for costs to be kept in proportion to the matters in issue and we can help you do that. There are ways to budget for costs such as monthly payments or buying into advice at key points. Please ring us - 01726 68926 - to discuss matters. No legal aid should not mean no advice - it is important to know your rights and talking matters through with an experienced professional and specialist solicitor gets you off to a good start in any discussions.
Divorce, Children and Financial Remedy Solicitor. Resolution Accredited Specialist & Mediator
PO Box 268
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