A Collaborative Divorce Interview: Clients and their Attorneys

In November 2013, Tyler Nelson and Pamela Nelson of Tampa, Florida, sat down for an interview with The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine.  The Nelsons had decided to Divorce using the Collaborative Process, as they did not want to fight in Court and they wanted to focus on the best interests of their daughter.  Tyler was joined by his collaborative attorney, Adam B. Cordover, and Pamela was joined by her attorney, Joryn Jenkins.  The interview was conducted by carl Michael rossi.

You can find the full interview at The World of Collaborative Magazine, and you can find excerpts below.

Tyler: A child needs her mother and father, even if they’re not together…Pamela was the one who found out about the collaborative process and told me about it. You know, you’re always going to have some kind of fear. Is this going to work out like it should? What is everyone going to have to do to make this work out? But as soon as I spoke with Adam about everything, all of my fears were gone. He explained everything and the way it was going to work, how it was going to work. I’m pretty sure Pam felt the same way, as soon as she spoke to her lawyer, she probably went through everything. That’s the one good thing about our lawyers, that they explained everything that was going to happen before it happened.

Pamela: Not everybody knows about collaborative divorce, yet. We really didn’t know until it was explained to us. It was a better process for us, rather than go to court and fight.

Tyler: Everything that needed to be addressed, has been addressed…Everything that we wanted to agree on, we did, and everything that we wanted put down on paper, it was.

Pamela: We also have different visitation rights with our daughter. More than, likely, other people have. We already had that situated, and we just needed to put it on paper. It was kind of different than normal people, where they only see their kids every weekend. We do our schedule every week, and we split the holidays. We had to work that out, and put that on paper.

Pamela: The judge actually said that she agreed that we were doing it the best way and that we were dealing with the divorce in a good way. Instead of people fighting and it being a bad thing, it was actually a good situation.

Adam: It was interesting that, at the end of that final hearing, Tyler and Pamela had their pictures taken with the judge. It was described afterwards as being not so much like a divorce setting, but strangely enough kind of like a wedding setting. They had their picture taken with the officiating person. Judge Lee was fantastic and was praising Tyler and Pamela for dissolving their marriage in a way where they keep their focus on their children and not on fighting. To divorce in a way that
was in the best interest of their daughter.

Joryn: I can’t remember doing another divorce where the judge congratulated the parties afterwards, and I’ve been doing this for thirty years.

Tyler: (regarding an interdisciplinary team) They told me about the financial manager [Monicas Ospina, CPA], and she was great. So was the psychologist [Jennifer Mockler, Ph.D.], she was great. They were all great.

Pamela: [The financial professional and mental health professional] were very helpful. They helped us with our tax returns, to see who should file for dependency exemptions to get the most out of it. And the mental health professional helped us stay on the same page with our daughter to make sure that we were doing the right thing. The psychologist made sure we were on the same page in how we were raising our daughter and determine what’s best for her.

Pamela:  (regarding the collaborative process) There’s no arguing, you know, there’s not really fighting or going back and forth or going to court or having the records be there out in public. There’s more privacy. I would definitely recommend it to anybody considering divorce.

Tyler: I have to agree with her…If you go and do the collaborative divorce, you have a lawyer there…They are not trying to make us fight. They are just there to write down what we want, and that’s the best thing about collaborative.

Tyler: We all sat down and talked. There was no arguing.

Pamela: The professionals worked around our schedules instead of us being court ordered to go to court on certain times and dates.

Pamela: (regarding going to the state-mandated parenting class) Everyone else was crying and hated their ex and wanted to kill them and I was like “well,
we’re friends, and everything is good.”

Tyler: “If anybody is thinking about doing a divorce, they should look into a collaborative divorce instead of jumping into it and going to court and fighting.”

Adam: “What I found excellent about this process and this couple, as opposed to the court-based divorces that I generally go through, is that when we were sitting around the table together with the mental health professional and financial professional, and we were talking, we weren’t just talking “civilly.”  We were talking in earnest.  We were actually just joking around at a few times and able to communicate in ways that you just couldn’t imagine doing in other divorce processes, even at a mediation table when there is the threat of litigation.

Joryn: “It is a much more protected environment, I think. It freed me up, and I’d like to think Adam, as well, to feel like we were teammates. We didn’t have to be adversaries, even though we were both representing different interests.”

Adam B. Cordover, Joryn Jenkins, Monica Ospina, and Jennifer Mockler are all members of Next Generation Divorce, formerly known as the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay.  Next Generation Divorce is made up of professionals dedicated to respectfully resolving family disputes.

Theres no such thing as a ‘good divorce’

divorce lawSix out of ten parents do not believe that a “good” divorce exists, new survey findings suggest. The findings, from a poll by the counselling charity Relate, found that the majority of parents who have been through a separation do not agree that there is such a thing as a good split.

A similar number of those asked also said that although they had tried to minimise the suffering of children involved, the separation had a negative effect. The survey also highlighted the lengthy process involved in a marital or relationship split, with only four in ten saying that their separation had been complete within a year. 10% of those asked revealed that a separation had taken more than five years to complete.

The chief executive of Relate, Ruth Sunderland, highlighted the potential negative impacts of parental separation on children, suggesting that it can cause school problems, mental and physical health issues, and alcohol misuse. She added that “having strong relationships that go the distance in good times and bad and knowing how to manage the separation process can improve outcomes for everyone.”

The study also found that the Christmas spirit appeared to have had little effect in holding relationships together, with the first Monday of January seeing more than 19,000 calls to Relate. This was a rise of 53% compared with the first working day in December. This day has become known as “Divorce Day”, with many law firms regularly suggesting that they are inundated with such inquiries early in the New Year. This year’s Divorce Day figures were up by half on last year’s total, indicating that the nickname is becoming more and more applicable.

Relate’s findings support a previous study by Netmums, the parenting website, which suggested that divorce and separation has a much more serious effect on children than parents acknowledge or recognise.

Further down the relationship separation spectrum, government plans to remove legal aid in family law cases means that firms are beginning to offer reduced price services.

The mediator Marc Lopatin is one such law professional, having set up a service which he believes can cap legal fees at £1,600 per party. The package can be found online at http://www.lawyersupportedmediaton.com.

 

This article was written by K J Smith Solicitors, specialist family solicitors in Reading, London, Windsor and Henley-on-Thames.

Lawsuits for Injuries to Children: What You Should Know

child injuryOne of the most frightening moments for any parent is to learn that his or her child has been injured in an accident.  The overwhelming hope is that the injury is minor and that the child is not in pain.  Unfortunately, there are occasions where the injury to the child is serious, requiring medical attention, surgery, and in some cases, long-term care.  The medical expenses can become significant, causing financial stress on the entire family.  However, in cases where the child’s injury was the result of another person’s negligence such as in a car accident or where there was a medical mistake, the child may be able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  However, when a child is the victim, there are special rules that must be considered.

Statute of Limitations

While the statute of limitations varies from state to state, in general a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within 1-3 years of the date of the injury or the date that the victim should have known about the injury.  For example, in Georgia a negligence lawsuit must be brought within 2 years from the date of the injury or death.  Georgia actions for medical malpractice also have a statute of limitations of 2 years.  The rule, however, is usually different when a child is the victim.  Children are considered incapacitated.  Thus, the limitations period is tolled, or put on hold.  In some cases it is tolled until the victim is no longer under an incapacity.  This usually means that the statute does not begin to run until the child turns 18.

The Plaintiff in the Lawsuit

Even though the statute of limitations for a child victim is tolled until the child reaches majority, the child does not have to wait  to file a personal injury lawsuit.  However, until the child reaches majority, he or she would not be permitted to file the lawsuit in his or her own name.  Instead, someone else, such as a parent, would have to file the lawsuit on the child’s behalf.  The person filing the lawsuit is referred to as the child’s “next friend.”  Any damages won in such a lawsuit would belong to the child, not the next friend.

Claims for Economic Damages and Non-Economic Damages

A child typically does not pay his or her own medical bills and is not responsible for them.  Parents are responsible for their children’s medical expenses.  Thus, if a child is injured and incurs medical bills, the child cannot sue to recover them.  The parents must.   Because of this, legal action concerning an injured child can be divided into two different claims.  The child’s claim would relate to pain and suffering and any other non-economic losses.  The parents’ claim would be for the medical expenses and other economic losses. The child’s claims and the parent’s claims can be joined together in a single lawsuit, or could be heard separately.  In either case there will be two verdicts, and if the plaintiffs prevail, two monetary awards.  In addition, there would also be two different statutes of limitations in the cases, as one claim belongs to the child and the other to the parents.

Access to Settlement Funds

Judgments awarded to a child are typically held by the court on behalf of the child until the child reaches majority.  Or the funds are placed in a trust for the benefit of the child.  Parents rarely have access to such funds.  However, parents do have ownership of financial awards for claims for economic damages, such as medical expenses.

Do  you think a child’s recovery for pain and suffering in a personal injury case should always be higher than a similarly injured adult, since a child is likely to suffer more pain than an adult and have more difficulty coping with it?

How To Be A Good Parent Even After The Divorce

Being a good parent is hard enough on a good day. However, when you’ve just gone through a divorce, making sure that your kids are doing fine is always much harder. You can be a good parent after a divorce though so doesn’t think that this is an unattainable goal.

When you use your parenting skills in a divorce, you help teach your kids to deal with various challenges, helping them to grow into well-adjusted individuals. If you’re going or have gone through a divorce and are trying to figure out how to be a good parent through it all, use these tips.

Put The Child First:

Many times a divorce is going to be messy and complicated. You and your former spouse may hate each other and have trouble even being in the same room. However, this attitude isn’t going to do any favors for your child. You need to make sure that you’re not focusing on yourself throughout the divorce.

Since it can be a fairly lengthy process, talk to your children openly throughout the entire ordeal and ask how they’re doing. They may not be coping so well. Also, when you begin to figure out custody agreements and other important details that are about the kids, get their input. They may not be very happy about the entire situation, but involving them in the process and showing them that you care, is going to help with the transition.

Remember It’s Not About You:

Well, at least not entirely. Obviously, your divorce is going to be a huge part of your life, but you are an adult. You have increased coping mechanisms as well as a mature perspective that your children lack. If you’re starting to fall into the victim mentality, then make the decision to turn this attitude around.

Accept the fact that even in the worst of marriages, you probably made some mistakes as well. When you get to this point, you’re not only helping yourself, you’re also showing your kids that it’s OK to be wrong sometimes and you should always acknowledge your mistakes.

Look At The Positives:

It’s always hard to see anything positive coming from a divorce, but there are many life lessons that you can gain from going through this process. Similarly, your kids can also gain more experience from you. However, you can’t do this if you simply refuse to deal with the problem at hand. As you go throughout the divorce, take each experience as a life lesson.

Many of them are not going to be easy, but if you pay attention, you will come through this experience and be a wiser and stronger person throughout the rest of your life. Make sure that you talk to your kids throughout the process and mention some of the lessons you’ve learned. They can similarly take your lessons and apply them to their lives and future relationships.

Always Be Respectful:

When a divorce with children happens, it’s likely that both parents will have custody or visitation rights. This is going to be hard to deal with, but you can’t let your own feelings get in the way of your children’s happiness. Working through the challenges of successfully communicating with an ex is a goal, which you’re probably not going to get right the first time.

Try to maintain a respectful relationship with your former spouse. This not only sets a good example for your kids, it also helps to make the entire ordeal so much easier

These are a few of the basic ways to make sure that you continue to be a good parent both through and after a divorce. Divorce is difficult for both parents and their children, so make sure that you pay attention to your kids and continue to make them a priority throughout the entire process. Divorce can be a positive or negative factor in a child’s life depending on how you react to it. If you treat it as a learning experience, it can help to grow the relationship that you have with your children.

However, it does take time and effort, so make sure that you’re being a mindful parent throughout the entire process to make the transition easy for your children.

Family Law Property Issues in Australia

(Victorian & Australian Law)

In recent times, the jurisdiction of property disputes in Family Law has broadened. Traditionally, property was only divisible between married or divorced couples. De-facto and same sex partners are now able to apply for a property settlement, though under different law. In the absence of agreement between the parties, an application for the settlement of a property dispute is made to the court, to be decided on the basis of need.

The settlement reached becomes legally binding and enforceable by the courts. Here’s a rough guide to what usually happens in these situations…

Applications

Parties can make a property settlement by agreement or, if agreement cannot be reached, make an application to the court for a property settlement. Applications for the division of property after divorce can be made to the Family Court or to the Federal Magistrates Court where a property dispute is worth less than $700,000.

Only parties who are or were married can make an application for a property settlement under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). In the case of divorce, an application must be made within 12 months of receiving the decree absolute. De-facto and same sex partners can make an application under the Property Law Act 1958 (Vic) in the Supreme Court, County Court or Magistrates’ Court.

Once an application is made, the parties will be asked to attend a case conference, with the aim of settling the property dispute by agreement before it goes to court. Present at this conference will be the parties, any family lawyer involved and a court registrar. If this conference is unsuccessful, the parties will go to court.

Property disputes in de-facto and same sex relationships (domestic relationships) are dealt with under the Property Law Act 1958 (Vic). A domestic relationship is a relationship between two people (regardless of gender) who live together as a couple on a domestic basis but are not married. The domestic relationship must have existed for at least two years for an application for a property dispute to be made under Part 9 of the Property Law Act . If there are exceptional circumstances, for example children being born out of the relationship, this two-year period can be waived. The relationship must have ended after 8 November 2001 for Part 9 to apply.

Property

The type of property divisible in a property settlement includes assets, cash, real estate, investments, insurance policies and superannuation. Debts are also taken into account. In a domestic relationship, as governed by the Property Law Act , superannuation and retirement benefits are not included in a property settlement. In making an order for property settlement, the court calculates the total pool of assets of the parties.

The division of these assets is based on both contributions made by each of the parties to the asset pool and future needs. The contributions of the parties include non-financial contributions, which means a homemaker will not be disadvantaged in this assessment. Future needs takes into account who is responsible for the daily care of the children, earning capacity, age, health and the financial circumstances of any new relationship. The aim is to distribute the property fairly between the two parties.

If you believe your partner is going to dispose of assets before the total pool of assets is calculated you can obtain an injunction to stop the sale taking place. Bank accounts and proceeds from the sale of any assets that has already taken place can also be frozen.

Spousal Maintenance

A party can apply for ongoing spousal maintenance if they can prove they are unable to support themselves. This application must be made within 12 months of divorce. An application for spousal maintenance is often included with an application for property settlement so that all financial issues are dealt with at once.

Spousal maintenance cannot be applied for where a domestic relationship exists.

Enforcement

If an agreement is reached between the parties, they can apply to the court for consent orders. This will make the agreement enforceable by the courts in case of dispute. Consent orders, once made, are final. A party must prove fraud, impracticality or other exceptional circumstances if they wish the consent orders to be set aside or varied.

If a party is not complying with the orders made, an application can be made to the court for enforcement. In this application, the party applying must set out exactly what the problem is. The court will then decide whether an order is needed to enforce the existing order.

A family law property settlement is an important process to go through after the breakdown of a marriage or domestic relationship. A property dispute can be settled by agreement between the parties or resolved by the court. Each case is unique and will be considered by the court according to its own circumstances. The court will not consider who is at fault in the breakdown of a relationship. Rather, it will be resolved on the basis of fairness and need.

Literature on Divorce for Older Children

divorce lawApproximately half of marriages, in the United States, end in divorce.  While not every married couple has children, it can be assumed that a large number of children are faced with their parents’ divorce each year.  When parents decide to divorce it is their responsibility, for the well-being of their child, to discuss the divorce with their child.  Many parents seek out additional resources, such as books, to make their discussion a bit easier or to answer questions that may be hard to answer on their own.  There is a plethora of books for younger children, specifically between the ages of 4 – 9, that are specifically written about divorce.  Many of the books are picture books with colorful illustrations concentrating on using simple concepts and a discussion of emotions.  Aside from “self-help” type of books, there are fewer books on divorce available for pre-teen and adolescent children.  While the needs of an older child are different from young children, a book addressing divorce can be helpful to an older reader.

Stereotypically, girls are most often classified as “readers”.  Much of the pre-teen and adolescent fiction and non-fiction literature discussing divorce has female protagonists or themes aimed at young women.  Parents of pre-teen and adolescent boys may need to search a bit more, but there are books with adolescent boys as the protagonists dealing with family issues like divorce.

Homesick, a 2012 release by Kate Klise, is a novel with a young male protagonist, appropriate for readers between 9 and 12 years old.  The main character, Benny, lives with his parents who have separated.  His mother has left the family and his father has hoarding issues.  Many readers may connect with Benny and the pressure and need to be responsible in his crumbling home life.  Reflected in a Kirkus Review, “Benny gets a job at the local radio station to scrape together money to pay the phone bill so he can stay in touch with his mother. She’s planning to get settled and return for him at the end of the school year, but Benny’s dad is spiraling downward fast.”

While Benny’s scenario may seem “too big to be true”, children of divorced parents may relate to Benny’s situation and his feelings.  Sometimes a story, bigger than their own, might make a child feel better about their own situation.

Children, of any age, may benefit from tools, such as literature, when dealing with divorce in their family.  Parents and children can connect through literature and gain a better understanding about divorce.  Literature can remind children, of any age, that divorce is not their fault, not their responsibility, and despite the situation, a parent’s love still remains before, during and after the divorce.

For more information about divorce please visit the website of Charles Ullman, a Cary, NC Divorce Lawyer at divorcelawnc.com.

Six common reasons to contest a will

The number of families contesting wills has risen dramatically since the recession. In 2008 some law firms estimated that the amount of wills being contested in court had doubled, or even tripled, in the UK. Studies indicate they have continued to soar since then.

A high proportion of these court cases are caused by incidents which are entirely preventable, meaning thousands of pounds worth of money is being wasted on legal costs every year. Let’s explore some of the main reasons why people decide to contest a will.

Wills are ‘unfair’

The main cause of a will being contested in the UK is that a family member believes that it is unfair on them. When writing their will, some people believe they have the right so spread their money however they like, but that’s not necessarily true. Family members do have a legal right to contest a will if they have not been allotted what they deserve. If the deceased leaves one son out of their will, whilst keeping all their brothers and sisters in, this could legally be deemed unfair.

Lack of mental capacity

Wills can be contested if it is believed that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a sensible will. If it can be proved that the testator lacked the capacity to understand how much property they owned, the identity of their loved ones or the basic logic behind what a will is then a will could be contested. This type of contest would typically occur if the testator had a mental illness when writing their will.

Duress

If it can be proved that the testator was forced or blackmailed into executing their will a certain way, it can be contested.

Fraud

If the testator was deceived into writing their will a certain way, this could be judged as probate fraud. In this case, there are two main types of deception. The first of these is fraud in the execution, such as making the testator believe they are signing something other than a will. The second type is fraud in the inducement, which could involve deliberately mis-leading the testator in order to change their course of action.

Disputed ownership

If the deceased appears to be giving away something that doesn’t actually belong to them, then this represents strong grounds for appeal.

Incorrectly drafted will

A will can be contested if it is believed that an accidental error was made. This contest might come in the form of a lawsuit against the person who drafted the will. It can be hard to prove though. If the wronged person was left out of the will altogether is not a family member and was left out of their will altogether, they have no grounds for appeal.

The common theme linking all six of these scenarios is that the odds of them occurring are significantly reduced when the testator hires a professional will writing service. These services are staffed with experts on probate law and will can offer advice that can prevent wills being appealed against once you die.

The small fee paid to the professional will writer could save a family thousands of pounds in legal costs later on down the line.

Family Member a Victim of Fraud Against the Government? How to Fight Back

Fraud

(US law) Criminal acts commonly result in collateral damage. When the criminal act results in the taking of a human life, the victim’s family may be left with a lost source of income and an emotional toll that can never be overcome. In such cases, members of the immediate family may file a civil action to recover damages. Fraud against the government is no exception, although in such cases, family members have an additional option.

Suing for Wrongful Death

Wrongful death lawsuits entitle certain people, usually immediate family members, executors of an estate, or other appointed parties, to sue on behalf of a person who was killed as the result of another person’s wrongful act. A wrongful act is an illegal or tortious act. In the context of an unnecessary medical procedure, the wrongful act may be fraud; in the context of a procedure that the patient never consented to, the wrongful act may be battery.

The only difference between a person being killed by a drunk driver and by an ongoing Medicare fraud is the chain of events that led to the death and the complexity of the fact pattern. The underlying concept is the same: a wrongful act caused a death and the persons responsible are liable for damages. The law does not require that the wrongful act be directed at the decedent. It is sufficient that a wrongful act occurred and that the decedent died as a result thereof.

Suing Under the False Claims Act

If the death resulted from fraud against the government, victims have another avenue of recourse. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, more commonly known as the False Claims Act of 1863, prohibits a long list of conduct committed in furtherance of defrauding the federal government. It is unlawful, among other things, to present fraudulent claims for payment or make false statements in connection with any claims made to the federal government. Billing for unnecessary procedures or defrauding the government in sales of equipment that is claimed to meet certain specifications but does not meet those specifications is a federal crime.

The False Claims Act of 1963 creates a private right of action; any citizen can sue the offending parties for the unlawful conduct. Parties may initiate a claim under the False Claims Act by filing a qui tam action and serving it upon the U.S. Attorney General as well as the local U.S. Attorney. The government has 60 days to investigate the claim. If the government decides to pursue the claim, the plaintiff’s involvement ends and the government prosecutes the case. If the government declines to pursue the case, the plaintiff may still pursue the case privately on behalf of the government.

This opens up another avenue of recovery for victims and their families. Wrongful death lawsuits normally limit damages to expected future income; proving such damages can be difficult and a large damage award may be reduced upon appeal due to the speculative nature of such awards. In contrast, a successful qui tam action will result in a percentage of the recovery being awarded to the original plaintiff. The False Claims Act allows for recovery of treble damages and disgorgement of profits; as a result, the awards from such claims can be high. If the government takes over the case, the plaintiff may receive 15 percent of the settlement or award; if the plaintiff litigates the matter and obtains a settlement or judgment, the plaintiff may be entitled to as much as 30 percent of the damages.

Deterring future conduct is as important as obtaining compensation for a lost friend or family member. If your family member underwent unnecessary procedures or was victimized by defective products as a result of ongoing fraud against the federal government, it is likely that your family member was not the only victim. If nothing is done, your family member may not be the last. Seek legal counsel as soon as possible; consult a tort lawyer for a wrongful death claim and a whistleblower attorney to discuss the feasibility of pursuing a claim under the False Claims Act.

Valerie Stout Cyrus is a freelance writer who frequently researches claims of fraud against the government. She has found that the attorneys at the whistleblower law firm of Goldberg Kohn Ltd, at www.whistleblowersattorneys.com, are experienced in securing judgments against entities that commit fraud against the government.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20692718@N00/4038317140/

Understanding What Happens to Your Money in Divorce Proceedings

Rupert Murdoch has recently filed for divorce from Wendi Deng, his third wife. Even though it is unknown what caused the marriage of 14 years to end, people have speculated for months about the relationship of the couple. Deng, who is Chinese-born and Yale-educated, is accomplished on her own before ever marrying Murdoch, but that didn’t stop people from dubbing her as a gold digger.

Since the 82-year-old Murdoch runs a powerful conglomerate in terms of media, many people wonder what is going to come of his fortune. When you consider he has 20th Century Fox, Sky News Service, Fox Television, the Wall Street Journal, Harper Collins Publishing and many others, you can easily see just how much he is worth financially. Even though Deng stayed out of the public eye for much of their marriage, everyone wonders what the legal precedent is now that the divorce is underway.Shortly after they wed, Murdoch announced that Deng was going to step down from her role at News Corp. in Hong Kong. She never fully left the media world. She would attend meetings with Murdoch and his son to make sure everything went smoothly. During their marriage, she had two girls with Murdoch. He has four other children from his other two marriages.

According to her Yale profile, she is the co-founder of Big Feet Productions, which is an independent studio based in East London making games and applications for Apple. The divorce would effectively end Deng and Murdoch’s union and set a battle into motion for how much of the fortune she and the children are going to receive. His recent fortune was estimated at more than $11 billion. The showdown comes at a bad time for News Corp. They recently approved plans to split operations between two publicly traded companies.

Since Murdoch is the largest shareholder in the company, he will be the chairman of the two new enterprises. It is not yet known whether there was a prenuptial agreement signed between Deng and Murdoch before they were married. Even if there is, no one knows where it was filed at. Most people assume there was documentation filed to protect Murdoch’s fortune, especially when there was so much to lose.

Depending upon where the paperwork was filed, individual states will choose whether the terms are unfair or unconscionable and proceed with upholding the prenuptial agreement or making their own amendments to the document. Other countries may have their own set of rules and restrictions, but in the United States, things would be handled in the aforementioned manner.

A prenuptial agreement can do a lot for protecting the best interest of the parties involved, but the court and legal system will determine whether they are going to overturn the agreement or uphold it. In the end, lawyers and the legal system are the ones going to make the arguments and final decisions on what is going to happen. A trained lawyer will be able to fight in the best interest of the parties involved.

Adoption Survey shows children over 5 years take a year longer to be adopted

The Department of Education has published a survey which shows that children over 5 take much longer to be adopted than children under the age of 5.

The Adoption Survey (released quarterly by the Department of Education) provides analysis of data which covers the adoption process in general, the characteristics of children during the adoption process and analysis of the progression of children through the adoption system at any given stage.

The statistics showed the following (from Quarter 4 of 2011-12 to Quarter 3 of 2012-13):

  • There was a decrease of 18% in the number of decisions to adopt children but it was found – on the positive side – that there was an increase of 13% in the number of matches and an increase of 15% in the number of placements
  • On average a longer a time is taken to adopt older children, disabled children, children from black and minority ethnic groups and sibling groups.
  • It takes over a year (13 months) longer for a child aged 5 or over to be adopted, as compared to the time that it takes for a child under 5 to be adopted
  • It takes over 2 months longer for a child to be adopted who is disabled, part of a sibling group or from a black and minority ethnic group
  • The time taken for a child to be placed with adoptive parents dropped by 7% to approx 43 days
  • There was a 4% increase in the number of applications to be adopters and the number of approvals for adopters has increased by 25%
  • There has been an overall increase in the number of enquiries to adopt children (a 10% increase)

The survey also showed that there was currently approximately 5,000 children involved in some way in the adoption process from quarter 4 of 2011-12 to quarter 3 of 2012-13. Across the period, 2,050 new “placement orders” (i.e. a decision to adopt) were made, 1,750 children were matched with prospective adopters and 1,700 were placed with an adoptive family.

Information from the quarterly survey also suggested that children aged under 5 years old take approximately 1 year and 8 months to be placed with an adoptive family, whereas children aged 5 or over take on average 2 years and 9 months to be placed with an adoptive family. This survey also found that there had been a 10% decrease over the entire period of the survey in the number of older children being placed with an adoptive family. However, the survey urged caution with this last statistic as there were less than 100 older children being placed each quarter and therefore the numbers could be subject to variance.

Redmans Solicitors are employment solicitors who offer employment law advice to employees and employers