Divorce Law

Divorce: Making The Final Decision And Starting The Legal Process

It can be incredibly difficult to accept when any relationship finally breaks down, but when it is a marriage that has come to an end, it can be almost impossible to get your head around. What are the most common reasons for divorce? How do you know when it’s right to put a stop to your marriage? And when should you start legal proceedings? Here are a few brief tips to help you on your way during this difficult time.

Family Law Mediation

How Family Mediation Can Help You

Life can throw several horrible things at us – sometimes all at once – and when it comes to dealing with the legal aspects of a divorce or family break down, it is often a completely distressing and overwhelming time. You can often feel all alone and like you have no one to turn to for help, or that you’ve been let down by those who you usually turn to. However, there is a way of reopening communication lines and sorting out your legal differences in a calm, relaxed environment: it’s called family mediation, and it can help you during all kinds of circumstances. Here are just a couple of its possible benefits;

If You’re Getting A Divorce Or Separating From Your Partner

If your marriage or civil partnership has come to an end, family mediation can help you to organise things such as division of your property, pension and other assets, financial issues, and arrangements for any children you may have. Mediators understand that things can be uncomfortable and can even get hostile while discussing such important issues, which is why they’re there to make sure that everyone involved remains calm and collected. As the mediator will have a general understanding of family law [and if you make sure that you appoint a jointly accredited family mediator/lawyer, then they will be fully trained and highly experienced in family law], they’ll also be able to provide you with information concerning the legal process of divorce and everything that comes with them. With enough successful mediation sessions, you can avoid lengthy court battles that can drain you of your energy and money, and if you do have children, showing them that problems can be overcome in a friendly, amicable matter can teach them valuable life lessons and help them come to terms with the divorce without worrying about their parents fighting with each other.

If Your Parents Are Getting A Divorce Or Separating

Divorce can be a stressful time for the couple separating, but it can often be much worse for their children. If your parents are currently going through a divorce or separation, it can be difficult to know where you’re going to fit in with their lives, and uncertainties about the future can leave you feeling confused or depressed. This is often made worse by not knowing how to talk to your parents about it, or not being able to communicate with both of them at the same time. This is where family mediation comes in: with these types of sessions, you can sit down with both of your parents and discuss every aspect of their divorce and how it will affect you personally – for instance, where you’ll live and how often you’ll see the parent you don’t live with. This is the perfect opportunity to let your parents know exactly how you feel and what your main concerns are. Just talking about it and getting it off your chest is likely to help you, and knowing the thoughts and feelings of each other will help you all move on with your lives, no matter how hard it may seem at the moment.

Whatever your reasons for needing family mediation, these sessions can help you come to terms with difficult events in your life, and can improve your communication with those people who you may not have been able to speak to before. Take a look online to find your nearest jointly accredited family lawyer/mediator, and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have about how the mediation process works.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – a law firm whose specialist divorce team working in Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset and the Midlands includes two jointly accredited family lawyer/mediators and three collaborative lawyers. For more information about how family mediation or collaborative law can help you, visit their specialist website at or call them on 01722 422300.


Divorce Law

Divorce In The Military – Armed Forces Pensions Explained

With the frequent separations and the stresses of life in the UK armed forces, it is no surprise that divorce rates for soldiers are much higher than those of civilian couples (double, in fact). Long deployments in foreign countries are cited as the main reason for many marriage issues and breakdowns, and even when a couple have decided to call it a day, there is still the stress of going through a lengthy divorce – especially if there are children involved. If you’re in the military and are going through a separation, there are several specialist military lawyers out there who can help you, but here is some brief information on what happens when it comes to a frequent issue with military divorce: that of forces pensions.

How Armed Forces Pensions Get Dealt With During Divorce

A pension – including a UK forces pension – is considered as an income stream, and there are several ways of dealing with them if you’re currently going through a divorce:

• Offsetting. One party will be compensated for the loss of the pension by receiving a bigger share of other available assets, such as their house – depending on the value of the pension and assets. Often this leads to a revaluation of the pension in an attempt to increase its value.

• Pension Sharing Order. In this case, part of the pension is taken and paid into a pension for the other spouse, with the rest of the contributions from the military personnel going solely to their pension.

• Pension Attachment Orders. This is where the spouse receives either a lump sum or a portion of the income directly from the pension administrators (once the pension is in payment).

 Getting Advice On Your Armed Forces Pension

If you need professional advice on what to do in terms of your armed forces pension, you will need to provide some specific information to your chosen solicitor or firm of lawyers (ensure that they have experience in military law and pensions in particular before you do this). First of all, you will need to provide the date you joined the pension scheme (armed forces pensions differ depending on when you started), and if you have changed your pension at any time during your career. You’ll also need to provide extra info if the pension is in payment: your CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) or CEB (Cash Equivalent Benefit). This will need to be requested from the scheme’s administrators, and it could take some time for the information to come through.

Seeking Help While Away From Home

A specialist solicitor with experience with military law will be able to advise you on what is the best option for you and your spouse concerning military pensions as well as any other aspect of divorce. Military divorce lawyers understand that you may be trying to initiate a divorce while in a foreign country, and therefore most will keep in contact with you via phone, email and even webcam if you are unable to meet in person. This can take a lot of the stress away from getting divorced, allowing you to get on with your military duties while the divorce is in progress. You can also get discounted rates from some firms if you are a current serving member of the armed forces.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – specialist armed forces divorce solicitors with extensive experience of divorce  involving military pensions for forces personnel serving in the UK and overseas. For expert legal advice visit their specialist websites at or  or call them on 01722 422300.


UK family law and international child abduction

Marriage and divorce are both becoming increasingly international in nature meaning that children often have family origins in different countries. Combined with the fact that air travel has made travelling overseas far simpler, it is therefore unsurprising that the number of children being abducted to overseas jurisdictions has increased in recent years. The idea of your child being taken to another country without your permission is a horrible one but there are laws which can help.

In England and Wales, the law dictates that anyone who takes a child overseas without obtaining prior permission from those with legal custody of the child has committed a criminal offence. The Child Abduction Act 1984 only makes exceptions to this rule if a court order has been granted to take the child out of the country. Once the child is removed from their normal home country it is recognised internationally as abduction.

The consequences

When a child is abducted it causes enormous distress to the child as well as the parent who is left behind of course. Although the child may not initially appear to have been affected, it is likely that they will suffer emotional damage which may only manifest itself later on. For the child, losing contact with their other parent, language, culture and friends can also be very traumatic and can lead to anger issues, nervousness and depression.

The Hague Convention

As the problem of international child abduction grew throughout the 1900s, it became clear that some kind of international convention would be needed in order to tackle the problem. In 1980 the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was established and dictates that abducted children will be returned to their habitual country of residence if they have been taken without permission.

Every signatory state has an authority dedicated to handling correspondence related to international abduction cases and in the UK this is called the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU). Parents who believe that their child has been abducted overseas can apply to the ICACU to get them back under the Hague Convention. So long as the application fulfils the necessary criteria, the ICACU will connect the applicant with a specialist child abduction solicitor. This solicitor will then be able to sort out the following:

• Applying for legal aid [despite the recent cuts to the legal aid budget, legal aid could be available to fund your lawyer’s costs if there has been a history of, or risk of, child abduction outside the UK ]

• Completing various pieces of paperwork and managing correspondence

• Compiling a convincing body of evidence

• Providing representation at court hearings

• Giving instructions to counsel

International child abduction cases are particularly complex due the fact that different jurisdictions are involved. It should also be noted that there are certain situations in which the abductors lawyers may successfully argue that the child should not be returned. For example, lawyers often use article 13 of the convention which dictates that the child need not be returned if doing so would endanger their physical or mental wellbeing to delay cases. This kind of tactic, combined with the fact that many nations have gender or cultural biases often negates the effectiveness of the Hague Convention.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – family law solicitors with experience of handling international child abduction cases. Click here for more information if your child has been abducted, visit their specialist website at or call them on 01722 422300.