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What family lawyers were talking about this week… by John Bolch

As might be expected, the Law Commission’s report recommending, amongst other things, that qualifying pre-nuptial agreements be enforceable has continued to be the subject of considerable debate. Resolution, the association of family lawyers, welcomed the report, saying it would provide greater clarity for married couples on separation. On the other hand, it has been suggested that legally enforceable pre-nuptial agreements could “diminish London’s allure” for wealthy foreign divorcing couples.

Could the days of London being the “divorce capital of the world” be numbered?

A divorce case involving the daughter of Mike Luckwell, the director of the media company that created children’s programme Bob the Builder, hit the headlines at the end of last week. Mr Luckwell was upset that that his son-in-law Frankie Limata was awarded £1.2 million, despite signing agreements that he would not make any claim either during or after the marriage in relation to his wife’s separate property, or to gifts made or to be made to her by her “wealthy family”. Despite the agreements, Mr Justice Holman ordered that Limata was entitled to the lump sum from his wife Victoria Luckwell to give him a home and pay off his debts following their separation, and warned that his decision could mean Luckwell having to sell her home in Connaught Square, London, that had been given to her by her father.

Senior judges have warned that government proposals for reforming court fees are based on ‘inadequate’ and compromised research, and basic misconceptions about the way the courts operate. In their response to a Ministry of Justice consultation paper they stated that they were “unable to share the Ministry of Justice’s confidence that the proposals will not affect access to justice”. They also did not agree with the proposal that the fee for a divorce petition should be set at £750, saying that it “would act as a significant impediment to access to justice for many individuals”.

According to a survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (‘FRA’) about a third of all women in the European Union, corresponding to 62 million women, have experienced either physical or sexual violence since the age of fifteen. FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said: “The enormity of the problem is proof that violence against women does not just impact a few women only – it impacts on society every day. Therefore, policy makers, civil society and frontline workers need to review measures to tackle all forms of violence against women no matter where it takes place.”

I shall end with a good-news story, at least in respect of its latest development. Beth Warren has won her High Court battle to stop her dead husband’s frozen sperm from being destroyed (see my post about this in December). To recap, her husband had his sperm frozen before having radiotherapy treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, he died from a brain tumour two years ago and Mrs Warren had been told by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that his sperm could not be stored beyond April 2015. Mrs Warren wanted that time limit to be extended, saying that she was not yet ready to have his child, and may never decide to.

Have a good weekend.

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

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