The length of the marriage matters. That is the message from the Court of Appeal in Sharp. Prior to this decision, the general approach was that assets accumulated during the marriage should be shared equally between the parties, unless there is a good reason not to. The length of the marriage was not considered to be a good reason, due to Lord Nicholls remarks in the House of Lords’ decision in Miller/McFarlane: ‘A short marriage is no less a partnership of equals than a long marriage.’ Continue reading
Mr and Mrs Owens have been married for 37 years but sadly Mrs Owens feels that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and petitioned for divorce in 2015.
However, as Mr Owens had not committed adultery, and the parties had not been separated for two years, the only available route was to allege unreasonable behaviour.
This is a fairly standard approach, so far. Continue reading
2016 has been a year of change. With 2017 fast approaching – what can we take from this year? Continue reading
Being a family lawyer can be a disadvantage when trying to enjoy a television or radio drama. Family law is easily misunderstood and its realities can get in the way of a good storyline; nobody really wants to watch reasonable and calm lawyers helping parties negotiate sensible solutions in an amicable way. Continue reading
Trustees have a somewhat strange and difficult job – they own the assets held on trust but they hold them for the benefit of beneficiaries, and so have a duty to act in those beneficiaries’ best interests. The trustees can control and manage the assets but only within the parameters of the trust.
On divorce, the court’s powers in respect of asset division are as far reaching as they are discretionary. The judge will look at all the relevant facts in the particular case in order to find a solution that is fair. This must be the right approach. Continue reading
The freedom to choose where you want to live is something that most people take for granted. When deciding where to live there are various considerations to take into account, and when children are involved it is even more complicated: will they cope well with a move, will they miss friends and family, what schools and opportunities will be available to them?
Arrangements made and implemented abroad
Commercial surrogacy arrangements are not permissible in law in England and Wales. However, there are various other jurisdictions where such arrangements are legal, and it is not therefore uncommon for those seeking such arrangements to travel to those jurisdictions and enter into surrogacy arrangements there. Before making those decisions, the commissioning parents will undoubtedly obtain legal advice in that jurisdiction as to the steps that they need to take and the legal implications. Once the baby is born, the agreement has been complied with, and the birth has been registered with the names of the commissioning parents as the parents (rather than the surrogates), the new family will return to the UK. However, they may go through this entire process without investigating the legal implications in this country, and therein lies the danger.
When it comes to dividing matrimonial assets on divorce, one of the fundamental principles is that the court should not discriminate between the roles of homemaker and breadwinner – both are equally valid contributions to family life. As Lord Nicholls famously said: ‘Each in their different spheres contributed equally to the family’. Continue reading
There are certain principles that you cannot, and should not avoid, as a family lawyer. One of the most important is fairness – at the very heart of family law in this country is the idea that the court should be able to look at all the circumstances of a particular case and make a decision that is fair. Continue reading