Family Law Archives - MLP Law

Race to the Altar!

Welcome to our series of blogs, addressing post-lockdown issues from a legal perspective. This week sees the latest blog, from our MLP Family law team, looking at prenuptial agreements.

With restrictions hopefully being fully removed on 21st June 2021, couples who have either postponed their weddings from last year or have a wedding planned for this summer, with hectic schedules of wedding preparations as a result, couples are reminded that they may wish to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement to protect their premarital assets. Prenuptial agreements are still not wholly binding in the UK but the court will seek to apply the agreement unless it a deemed unfair.

To be binding:

  1. Each party must offer full financial disclosure of assets, liabilities in the agreement.
  2. The agreement must be voluntarily entered into without duress.
  3. The agreement must be entered into at least 21 days ahead of the wedding date.

If you are getting married this summer or planning to get married and wish to receive more information about Prenuptial agreements please contact Rachael Wood who is the head of our Family team on 0161 928 1581 or email rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk.

Residence battle myth… “All children are resilient”

It is surprising how many people comment on how resilient children are when faced with the breakdown of their family unit. Studies show that by nature some children are very resilient  some are not, like any adult a lot depends on individual personalities.

For parents its wrong to assume that all children will take a  residence  battle in their stride but its often an assumption family solicitors hear, when parents will often forget that the courts paramount concern is the welfare of a child and what is in the child’s best interest not what arrangements suit one or both parents.

For advice and assistance on child related issues please contact Rachael Wood who is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Children Law on 0161 916 1581 or rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk

Marriage under 18 to be Outlawed

It has been reported that the government have pledged to raise the minimum legal age to marry to 18 years old. Currently in England and Wales 16 and 17 year olds can marry if they have parental consent.

It is said that the government does support raising the age in order to protect vulnerable children and enable children to grow in order to maximise their potential life chances. It is thought by some that this legal loophole has been exploited to coerce young people into marriage. Forced child marriage has for sometime been a hidden and harmful practice

It is reported that the will be a private members bills introduced to make it illegal for anyone under 18 to marry.

If you have any questions or queries related to the above please contact Rachael Wood who is the head of our Family team on 0161 928 1581 or email rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk.

19th Century Marriage Law finally updated!

For the first time marriage certificates are now going to include both the names of the Father and Mother of the couple getting married following a change this month the Marriage Act.

The Home office said the move would “correct a historic anomaly”.

Marriages will also be recorded electronically rather than in a registry book as part of the biggest change to the system since 1837. This is to speed up the process and remove the need for any details to be extracted from hard copies.

Marriages were previously recorded by the couple signing a register book, there are around 84,000 held at register offices and churches.

The Church of England have said “that the change to the system will not change a couples experience of their church wedding”.

If you have any questions or queries related to the above please contact Rachael Wood who is the head of our Family team on 0161 928 1581 or email rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk.

Child Maintenance – The impact on Corona Virus you should not ignore

For those who receive child maintenance, this money is important now more than ever with the current pandemic, however for those paying child maintenance, this can lead to stress of having to find money to pay this support.

The Child Maintenance Service are part of the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) and are responsible for most welfare benefits. It has been reported that there has been an increase in benefit claims, including child maintenance, which inevitably puts strain on the resources within the Welfare Benefits system. This also given that a lot of agencies are working on reduced staffing levels.

There has to been a formal assessment by the Child Maintenance Service not just parties using their online calculator for the assessment to be enforceable. This involves a payment of a £20 fee. Child Maintenance will be calculated from the date the Child Maintenance Service writes to the non-resident parent.

If the resident parent has an open file with the Child Maintenance Service and child maintenance stops, then the Child Maintenance Service can be instructed to pursue arrears, if the arrangement with the service is “Collect and Pay.” This means that money is collected at source from the non-residents employer. It should be noted there is a 4% fee for this service.

As a non-resident party it is important that if you do have a change in financial circumstances i.e: you lose your job or have reduced income, you must inform the Child Maintenance Service if there is an open case with them to stop arrears accruing.

It is more difficult for those who are self-employed as the Child Maintenance Service look at current income, most recent tax returns often won’t show a downturn in income. There is of course the option to have 2020 accounts up to April drawn up and send these to the Child Maintenance Service for re calculation.  

Should you require and further advice or assistance with regards to the above, please contact Rachael Wood, head of our MLP Law family department on 0161 926 9969.

Divorces see the biggest rise in 50 years

Recently, The Office of National Statistics has released the statistics for relationships that dissolved in 2019.

The key 2019 statistics for heterosexual divorces:

• There were 108,421 divorces, from 2018’s total of 91,299. This is the largest annual percentage increase in the number of divorces since 1972 when The Divorce Reform Act 1969 was introduced to make it easier for couples to divorce.

• 42,274 divorces were during the first marriage.

• Divorces were on a petition by or granted to more women than men.

• Divorce was most common in men and women aged 45-49.

• The highest number of divorces granted for fact proven was for ‘unreasonable behavior’ granted in the favor of women.

• The divorce rate among couples was 8.9 divorces per 1,000 married men and women, an increase from 7.5 in 2018.

• The average (median) duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12.3 years, a small decrease from 12.5 years in 2018.

There is less statistical data for same-sex divorces, due to same-sex marriages only being allowed since March 2014 and the first divorces taking place in 2015. However, the statistics do show that there has been a yearly increase of divorces and in 2019 there were 822 divorces, nearly double the number in 2018 of 428 (and they haven’t reached the 7-year itch!).

A similarity between heterosexual and same-sex divorces was that ‘unreasonable behavior’ was the most popular reason for divorce.

The increase in divorces has been attributed to the backlog of divorce petitions from 2017, processed by the Ministry of Justice in 2018, and some of which would have become decree absolutes (completed divorces) in 2019.

It will be very interesting to see the statistics for divorce in 2020/2021, as we will be able to see the impact the nationwide lockdown has had on relationships, which experts suspect will have caused an influx of divorce proceedings.

Should you require and further advice or assistance with regards to the above, please contact Rachael Wood, head of our MLP Law family department on 0161 926 9969.

Divorce or Legally Separate?

Ending  a marriage is a huge decision to make and is often filled with fears and worries about the future. Some couples may not be ready to legally end their marriage and may want time to reflect but still wish to deal with the finances connected to the relationship. If this is the case Legal Separation is an option.

What is a Separation Agreement?

It is an agreement between a couple dealing with how the assets should be divided. Couples often stipulate in the agreement that they will issue divorce proceedings after they have been separated for a period of 2 years.

Is a Separation Agreement Legally binding?

No but if the agreement is drawn up properly with both parties providing full financial disclosure the court could be persuaded to uphold the agreement.

What are the advantages?

The agreement could lay the foundation for a Consent Order when divorce proceedings are issued.

What are the disadvantages?

A Separation Agreement is not automatically legally enforceable if breached unlike a Consent Order.

We are here to help…

We are to help you navigate a relationship breakdown and provide you with the advice and support  you need.

Please contact Rachael Wood, head of our family department  on 0161 928 1581 or rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk

Kim and Kayne – Will it be amicable?

There is  always fascination with celebrity breakups, with Kim Kardashian now announcing her divorce to Kanye West there will be speculation as to how this play will play out?

Kim and Kanye are known to have a pre nup agreement which are  unlike the UK   automatically enforceable in the  US, therefore finances should hopefully be dealt with amicably and avoid any lengthy hostile litigation. What the pre nup can’t dictate is child arrangements, this will have to be agreed separately between them. It is always hoped that separating couples can construct a joint parenting plan that suits the children’s needs.

You do not have to have a celebrity status or money to consider a pre nup, with an increasing amount of people in the UK looking to entering into either a Pre Nup or a cohabitation agreement which can assist immensely should the relationship breakdown in the future.

If you would like to learn more about how a Pre Nup or a cohabitation agreement could be useful to you please do not hesitate to contact Rachael Wood who is Partner in our family department on 0161 926 1581 or rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk

Domestic Abuse Increase

It has been reported that there is an increase of approximately 38% in domestic abuse incidents when England lose a football match. 

If you feel you need advice please click the link below for the details of various agencies you can speak to.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help#get-help-and-support

We can also help to provide you with the legal protection you may need in exiting an abusive relationship. If you wish to have a confidential conversation please contact Rachael Wood on 0161 926 2581 or email rachaelw@mlplaw.co.uk.

Pre-nuptial agreements – what if my wedding had been cancelled due to Covid 19?

The government gave the go ahead for small Weddings of no more than 30, from 4th July 2020. For some people they will be celebrating while others have not been so enthusiastic and have taken the precautions deciding to postpone until restrictions ease.

Some couples have taken that decision later than others. This then ponders the question that if a Pre-Nuptial Agreement was entered into, what is the effect of postponing the wedding on the validity of the agreement?

Most Pre-Nuptial Agreements give provision for delay of a few months, therefore if the postponed wedding date takes place within this time scale, then the original agreement will stand. Failing which a new agreement would have to be prepared and signed.

What if one party’s finances have changed due to the pandemic? The change would have to be a significant change such as a decrease in assets. Then it might be advisable to try and renegotiate the agreement.

Some people may have used lockdown to reconsider their options and now wish to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, but concerned it may be perceived as a pessimistic approach and are not legally binding in any event.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements, if entered into following the correct procedure are deemed to be persuasive by the courts, and can avoid the cost and stress on prolonged litigation if marriage does not work out which can only be for the benefit of both parties.

Should you require and further advice or assistance with a Pre-Nuptial Agreements, contact Rachael Wood, our head of MLP Law family department who has extensive experience in preparing Pre-Nuptial Agreements on 0161 926 9969.