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RECENT DIVORCE CASE IN THE MEDIA - EX-WIFE SEEKS FINANCIAL CLAIM AGAINST EX-HUSBAND AFTER BEING DIVORCED FOR 20 YEARS

It has recently been reported across the media a case which most people may find astonishing to read and accept: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-31832392

This is a case where an ex-wife could look to receive a financial pay out after she has been divorced from her ex-husband for 20 years.  Her ex-husband is currently worth £107 million due to setting up a company called Ecotricity. A lot of people may be shocked to learn that the ex-wife can have the opportunity to claim against her ex-husband’s wealth when they have been divorced for 20 years. This will be down to the fact that they would not have entered in to a legally binding order preventing either of them from seeking any financial claims from the other in the future at the time they filed for the divorce. This order is known in legal terms as a “consent order” which deals with the terms of any financial settlement including, property, pensions, income and any other capital assets. The most important clause in such an order however is the “clean break” clause. These clauses ensure that neither party can make any future claims both in life and on death against the other’s finances.

 

If you require further advice in relation to divorce, finances and consent orders then please contact the office and ask to book an appointment with our family law team.

 

NOT TO BE MISSED

DECEMBER 2014 & JANUARY 2015  OFFER ON LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY

If you haven’t made your Lasting Power of Attorney yet, now is the ideal time to do so.  We can help you prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney, both in relation to Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare. 

By putting these in place, you are taking control of your future, and ensuring that if the time comes that you need help managing your money, or making decisions in relation to your home, the people who you trust the most, and have your best interests at heart, will be able to make those decisions with and for you. 

If in the future you can no longer decide how you should be cared for, and where you might live, your loved ones can also take over this responsibility for you. 

Lasting Powers of Attorney are particularly useful for those in the following situations:-

  • People with business interests

  • The elderly or infirm

  • Those suffering from illness

  • Parents of young children

Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney is as important as putting a pension plan in place, and neglecting to do so can have upsetting consequences.  If someone does not have a Lasting Power of Attorney and later they lose mental capacity to deal with their affairs, very often close relatives will need to make an application to the Court of Protection to be able to manage things for them.  Not only is this considerably more expensive and time consuming, it can be also be a painful process, with family thinking “What would Mum or Dad have wanted?” 

Why don’t you avoid this, and start the new year confident that your future plans are taken care of.  Take advantage of our offer which lasts until the end of January 2015, of one Lasting Power of Attorney for £350.00 plus VAT, instead of £400.00, plus VAT, saving £50.00 plus VAT, or two for £500.00 plus VAT, rather than £600.00 plus VAT, saving you £100.00 plus VAT if you have both.  Please note that there is an additional fee for making the application, which is charged by the Office of the Public Guardian.  This is £110.00 per Lasting Power of Attorney. 

You can be assured of receiving a professional, friendly and experienced service with us.  Call Rachael Lainton on 01606 48777, and book your appointment.  We look forward to seeing you.


FORCED MARRIAGES – THE SHAME OF IT

What is a Forced Marriage?

A forced marriage is “a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of both parties”.

It is not the same as an arranged marriage where the families take the lead in selecting a marriage partner but the couple have the free will and choice to accept or refuse to arrangement.

We have all heard and read about the awful cases of honour violence and killings which have taken place over recent years, and sadly which continue to make headlines, cases such as Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed a  17-year-old British Pakistani  from Great Sankey, Warrington, Cheshire, who was murdered by her parents.  Shortly before her disappearance Shafilea had travelled to Pakistan where she rejected an arranged marriage partner and had swallowed bleach.   Shafilea disappeared on 11 September 2003 and her body was found in February 2004.  On the 3 August 2012 Shafilea’s parents were both found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years.  It is believed that they murdered her because of the shame she had brought to the family rejecting the marriage.

It is clearly unacceptable for any person to be forced into marriage, whatever their culture or religious beliefs.

What Protection does the Law offer victims of Forced Marriages?

Civil Protection.

The Family Law has been extended to enable victims of forced marriages to apply to the Court for a “Forced Marriage Protection Order “(pursuant to the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007),  to protect a victim who is facing being forced into a marriage (or who is in a forced marriage).  The Court can also impose various restrictions and prohibitions on the Order (ie to prevent the victim being taken abroad).  Breaching a FMPO is a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years.

The Government has also set out a special Police Unit (“the Forced Marriage Unit (Tel;  020 7008 0151) which has specialist trained Police Officers in honour based violence and forced marriages, this unit operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriages/honour based violence.

Often victims of honour based violence / forced marriages will need emergency housing (as it is unsafe to return home).   There is, across the Country, a network of safe houses “Refuges” which provides emergency accommodation for women and children.   For men, the charitable organisation Shelter can assist.

Further, Public Funding (legal aid) is still usually available for Forced Marriage Protection Orders.

Women's Aid (a 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Help Line) also can offer invaluable for support for victims (Tel: 0808 2000 247)

The “Forced Marriages a Survivors Handbook” also contains invaluable help for victims (this can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/survivors-handbook.

Criminal Protection.

From the 16th June 2014 section 121 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes it is a criminal offence to force somebody to marry.

 A person commits an offence if he or she:

(a) Uses violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage, and

(b) believes, or ought reasonably to believe, that the conduct may cause the other person to enter into the marriage without the free and full consent.

 There are of course various different methods which somebody can use to force someone into marriage, ie, threatening violence against the victim or their siblings, using financial, psychological and/or physical abuse.

 In addition, a person commits an offence if he or she:

(a) practises any form of deception with the intention of causing another person to leave the United Kingdom, and

(b) intends the other person to be subjected to conduct outside the United Kingdom that is an offence under subsection or would be an offence under that subsection if the victim were in England or Wales.

Therefore if a victim is deceived  by their parents / family into leaving the country (ie by saying they are going on holiday) with the intention that once out of the court’s jurisdiction  family members can do “whatever they want” to the victim and force them into marriage. That is a criminal offence.

Both offences above carry a maximum penalty of twelve months imprisonment on summary conviction or seven years on indictment

In addition, there are other offences for which parents/family can be prosecuted, to include fear or provocation of violence, threats to kill, common assault, actual or grievous bodily harm, harassment, kidnap, abduction, theft (of passport), false imprisonment and of course murder.


THREAT TO CREDIT RATING FOR PARENTS WHO REFUSE TO PAY CHILD MAINTENANCE

There has always been an issue about non-resident parent's who seem to get away with not fulfilling their obligation to pay child maintenance. It has recently been reported that such parents may now face a negative impact on their credit rating if they refuse to pay. This could affect their ability to raise a mortgage or apply for a loan or credit card. The Government plans to share these details with credit reference agencies if parent's refuse to pay child maintenance or stop paying. These changes still need to be approved by Parliament but if passed, could help parents who have previously struggled to financially support their children as a result of an absent parent or parent who has refused to pay child maintenance. The Government hopes that this will act as a deterrent if people believe it will damage their credit rating, however it may not be the answer in all cases if a parent's credit rating is already damaged.


RECENT CHANGES TO CHILD MAINTENANCE

The schemes set up to deal with child maintenance for separated parents have been previously referred to as the Child Support Agency (CSA) and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) with the Child Maintenance Options (CMO) scheme that was set up to give free and impartial advice ( see www.cmoptions.org). You may now hear it being referred to as the Child Maintenance Service but for all intents and purposes, people often still refer to it as the CSA.

There have been changes over the years as to how child maintenance has been calculated with different percentages per child and also the income figure that is used to base the calculations on. Now the gross income of the paying (non-resident) parent is used and only pension contributions will be deducted. Then on the first £800 earned per week, the following percentages are applied:

12% for one child, 16% for two children and 19% for three or more children

On anything earned over £800 per week, an additional percentage is applied:

9% for one child, 12% for two children and 15% for three or more children

If the paying parent however is living with a new partner and they have a child, then a reduction for the paying parent will apply to the child maintenance calculation as follows:

12% for one child, 16% for two children and 19% for three or more children

There will be an annual review of the child maintenance and now charges have been applied for parents using the CSA to collect and enforce. There will be a one off application fee at the beginning of the case of £20 but in some cases this fee will be exempt. Then the paying parent will have to pay an extra 20% collection charge and the parent receiving the money will have 4% deducted from their child maintenance payments for collecting the money.


THE "QUICKIE DIVORCE" MYTH

There has been numerous celebrity divorces that have been mentioned in the media recently, which always refer to “quickie divorces” that take just a few seconds to grant and then the marriage is over. Examples of recent articles we have come across include Nicole Appleton and Liam Gallagher’s divorce: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2599530/Where-Did-It-All-Go-Wrong-Liam-Gallagher-Nicole-Appleton-set-end-six-year-marriage-quickie-divorce.html

We often have client’s asking for a “quickie divorce” or what fact should they issue a divorce petition on to get the quickest divorce. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a “quickie divorce” as every case whether you are a celebrity or not has to follow the same set court procedure, which we advise clients can take about 4 – 6 months unless there is a delay caused due to resolving the financial matters.

Indeed the Decree Nisi (which is just over half way in the proceedings) takes a matter of minutes to be granted by the Court, however the Nisi does not mean that you are officially divorced. You then have to wait for a period of 6 weeks and 1 day before you can apply for the Decree Absolute, which is what dissolves the marriage.

 

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