It has been a busy year for family law and, as it draws to a close, I note that the number of visitors to this blog in 2011 is into six figures. It’s a record number and once again I would like to thank all those readers, new and old, who have contributed their time, interest and comments.
Some of the year’s most popular posts are listed below, and I was also interested to note how different the list is to this time last year. Some of the older posts continue to draw lots of readers, but in the current climate perhaps it isn’t surprising that maintenance payments and property-related issues are hot topics. There are, however, several new entrants. The new Family Procedure Rules, which came into force in April, are a must-read for clients as well as lawyers. The case of Kernott v Jones, a cohabitees’ property dispute heard in the Supreme Court earlier this year, seems to have made a lot of people sit up straight. In fact, almost half the posts below concern cohabitation: to me, this serves to show how the calls to reform cohabiting couples’ rights (or lack of rights) have continued to gather volume over the past 12 months.
Finally, I am pleased to see that three guest bloggers from Stowe Family Law’s talented team have made the cut this year! Rachel Baul specialises in all areas of family law and wins rave reviews from the firm’s clients. Paul Read is a solicitor and former barrister, who will be transferring to our London office in the New Year. Laura Guillon is a trainee solicitor whose detailed and informative posts about parents, children and moving away were, I think, brought to life by her personal experiences.
“The Court of Appeal has issued a judgment that should help to resolve this grey area, even though it will mean wives who choose to cohabit could stand to lose their maintenance. Put starkly, in line with changing social attitudes the pendulum has swung away from dependent wives. They may now be faced with very tough choices post-divorce: do they live with someone, or keep their maintenance?”
“A Mesher order is one that I would advise a client to avoid if possible. Such a proposal is commonly made during negotiations by the spouse who continues to pay maintenance. If the other spouse has hopes for an amicable settlement and wishes to remain in the marital home, a Mesher order can appear to be an attractive option. Unfortunately, it can result in far more long-term problems than it solves in the short-term.”
“If one party wants the divorce to be finalised but the other does not, and the parties’ finances have not been resolved, may the decree absolute be delayed?”
“The appeal in Kernott v Jones was heard today by the Supreme Court. It was heard by five heavyweight judges including Baroness Hale and Sir Nicholas Wilson, in his first case as a new appointee to the Court.
“The question at hand is this: to what extent (if at all) will the Supreme Court push the boundaries of joint property law ownership, where one party has contributed far more than the other?”
“Your ex-wife has moved on and is now happily living with a new partner. They are in a stable, supportive relationship and he doesn’t seem short of cash. So why are you still paying her regular maintenance?”
The CSA: Rachel Baul Answers More of Your Questions
“Question: I have been charged arrears and the CSA cannot provide a breakdown of these arrears. What can I do? I’m still having to pay, although I know for a fact I do not owe them. This is on top of what I already pay – in total, £320 out of £1000 a month”
This post is part of a series about the Family Procedure Rules 2010, which focuses upon some of the most important changes for practitioners and clients. Today we are going to look at Part 9 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010: Applications for a Financial Remedy. It is time to say goodbye to the archaic term ancillary relief, and hello to the financial order.
The Family Procedure Rules 2010, which are effective from 6 April 2011, are an essential read for solicitors and clients throughout England and Wales because they herald major changes in family law’s procedures and practice. When they come into force there will be just one code, which is intended to modernise and standardise family court practice across the High Court, County Court and Magistrates’ Court.
“In short, the law for cohabiting couples in dispute over property is something of a mess and in urgent need of clarification. But as it stands, and to gain a full picture of the situation, there are several issues that need to be explored.”
“If a relationship breaks down and there are children involved, what rules are applied to cases when one parent wishes to move with the children to another country? In this post, we will be looking at the rules – and how they could change in the future.”