Child Custody Children Family Law

The Legal Implications of Child Custody During Divorce

(US law and generally) No doubt, the greatest victims of divorce are the children. The impact of a custody decision on a child’s mental and physical health is enormous. Disturbances in the parent / child relationship cause depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior, and may impair the child’s ability to form healthy relationships as an adult. Notable studies (Brook, Zheng, Whiteman, & Brook, 2001) have unequivocally linked angry parenting practices with the expression of anger and aggression in very young children.

There is a persistent and harmful misconception that joint custody predictably provides better long-term outcomes for children of divorce. It is well documented through years of scientific research that actual custodial arrangements are secondary to other issues. Instead, the greatest factors influencing child adjustment are the levels of parental conflict and the quality of parenting that the child receives.

Complex Child Custody Laws Require Effective Legal Assistance

Although child custody laws vary from state to state, most integrate a similar list of statutory factors that assist judges in performing a comparative fitness analysis. While consideration of these factors is mandatory, judges are given great leeway in decision-making. With this in mind, it becomes imperative to realize that bitter parents who litigate child custody often get distracted hurling accusations against each other.

This scenario provides very little useful information to the presiding judge, who needs to know which parent is the best suited for custodial status. While it is certainly necessary to point out negative factors and justifiable reasons for limiting visitation or decision-making authority, it is also crucial to give the judge positive information he or she can use.

Delays in the case are damaging for children and should be avoided. The American Bar Association advises judges and attorneys that, “When litigation proceeds at what attorneys and judges regard as a normal pace, children often perceive the proceedings as extending for vast and infinite periods. The passage of time is magnified for children in both anxiety levels and direct effect.”

Gender Bias

With the abolishment of the Tender Years Doctrine, a new presumption that favors gender neutrality is indicated in most state statues. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that perceived gender bias still exists in our family court system. Sometimes this bias is against the mother, especially if she works full time or becomes labeled an over protective parent. Fathers may experience the same frustration when the child is young and he has had limited involvement in day-to-day care.

Divorce and child custody issues cause a tremendous amount of financial and emotional stress, igniting volatile battles between the sexes outside the courtroom too. Political action groups advocate for the constitutional rights of both mothers and fathers, frequently ignoring the fact that the law requires the child’s best interests to be paramount to that of either parent.

Implications for the Future

Divorce and child custody issues are vulnerable to trends that favor public opinion. The law today is substantially different than it was twenty years ago. The way that law is practiced is also changing. The hardball litigation tactics used by older generations are being gradually replaced with a preference for negotiating child custody cases when possible.

In fact, only a minority of cases proceed to trial. These will typically involve complicated issues such as domestic abuse, child neglect or a personality-disorder parent. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges publishes a bench guide for assessing safety in these situations and offers recommendations for developing a plan that works.

Divorce Law

The Importance of an Attorney in High Net-Worth Divorces

Marriage can be a rewarding experience for many adults. While a marriage may be founded on love, it can often break apart for a variety of reasons. In some cases, a divorce may be based around financial matters. If a high net-worth individual is getting a divorce, it’s essential to have access to a divorce attorney. The following guide provides simple simple tips and tricks on how to navigate the world of divorce as a high net-worth individual.

When an individual decides to get married, he or she takes a sacred vow that is supposed to last a lifetime. Under ideal conditions, both partners in a relationship will be getting married for the same reasons. However, people may not always get married for the same reasons.

For example, there’s a reason that doctors and other professionals have no problem finding a potential spouse. In many cases, these individuals are considered to be excellent providers. If a relationship is founded on money, it is usually destined for failure.

If possible, it’s a good idea to get a prenuptial agreement before marriage. With a prenuptial agreement, a couple decides on how assets will be split in the event of a divorce. However, it can be challenging to maintain love when money is concerned. If a high net-worth individual wants to get a prenuptial agreement, the other spouse may not want to get married. In addition, these agreements can break the bond of love.

If an individual doesn’t a get a prenuptial agreement, half of his or her earnings after marriage may go to a spouse in the event of a divorce. While assets one obtains before a marriage are usually safe, any assets obtained after a marriage are usually up for grabs. However, it’s important to understand how this can impact one’s assets from before a marriage.

For example, imagine that a high net-worth individual owns a very expensive home. This individual then decides to get married. After 10 years, the marriage starts to fall apart. During this time, the value of the house has appreciated in value 20 percent. The low net-worth spouse is entitled to half of the value that the house has appreciated.

This concept also applies to other types of assets. This can include stocks, bonds, options, valuables, artwork, paintings, intellectual property and much more. Intellectual property can be a very tricky issue. For example, imagine that an individual is an upcoming music artist. At the time of one’s marriage, the artist still hasn’t been able to break out. However, he or she is able to experience success after a marriage.

The low net-worth spouse in this example would be entitled to half of all revenue streams that come from intellectual property created after the marriage started. If an artist becomes very famous, his or her spouse will own half that name. In some cases, courts may award that name to a low income spouse.

In addition, children can complicate the divorce process in several different ways. If a low net-worth spouse receives custody of children, he or she will be entitled to child support payments every month. However, there is no fixed price for child support. For example, a shelf stocker at a supermarket may pay only $150 a week in child support payments. However, an investment banker may pay thousands of dollars every week in child support payments. Since child support payments are often based on an individual’s income, it’s essential to have access to a professional lawyer or attorney.


Albert Myburgh has been serving the 5 boroughs in family law matters for 25 years. He strives to solve legal matters in an efficient, amicable, and successful manner.

Family Law Uncategorized

Restraining Order Violations

(US family law and generally) Restraining orders are basically official legal notices that are meant to keep people apart. Most restraining orders are issued to individuals in order to keep them from having contact with other individuals, but in some cases, a restraining order can be issued to a group to keep all of its members from having contact with a specific individual or group.

Types of Restraining Orders

While all restraining orders are meant to separate people from contact with certain others, there are a variety of types of restraining orders. The most common type of restraining order is considered official and time restrained, meaning all parties have been notified of the terms of the order, and neither party can violate such terms within a given period of time. However, a temporary restraining order can be granted even if both parties are not aware of the order. An example of this may be when one party feels threatened and the other party cannot be located. These types of orders are usually granted on an emergency basis when a life is being threatened.

Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order

If you have been issued a restraining order, violating it may come with severe consequences. In most cases, violating a restraining order can result in jail time, fines and other penalties. If you happen to be on probation from another criminal conviction when found in violation of a restraining order, you may also face penalties from your original conviction in conjunction with penalties from violating your restraining order. Typically, the penalties for violating an official restraining order range from jail time to severe fines that can reach into the thousands of dollars.

Violating Your Own Restraining Order

At times, it is possible to violate your own restraining order, and thus, you yourself may be facing charges. Keep in mind that a restraining order is issued through a local, state or federal law enforcement office, and so all parties must abide by the terms. If you have sought out a restraining order against someone, and then you make contact, you run the risk of being found guilty of violating the order yourself. Our Charlotte criminal defense attorney warns that if you have brought forward a restraining order complaint, you cannot make contact with the person to whom the order has been issued against unless you want to face criminal charges yourself.

Defend Yourself

If you are facing charges for violating a restraining order, or if you have inadvertently violated a restraining order that you sought out yourself, you may need to partner with criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can examine the specifics of your particular case and restraining order, and he or she can assist you in not only building the best defense, but also in figuring out the best course of action to keep you protected in the future.

Remember, your health and your happiness is too important to risk. Don’t allow someone else to have control over your safety and security. If you feel that you or your loved ones are in danger, please seek out the protection of law enforcement and a restraining order. If you have already done so and you feel that your rights are not being respected, seek out the services of an attorney at once by searching the Internet or by looking through your local phone book.

Shelby Warden is a legal researcher and regular contributing author for the Law Firm of Powers McCartan in North Carolina. If you have been charged with violating a restraining order in North Carolina, it is important you take that this charge seriously. By contacting an aggressive Charlotte criminal defense attorney from Powers McCartan you can be confident they will fight to protect your rights.

Family Law

Parents Access Rights ‘Enshrined’ in Law

One of the reasons that divorce law is so complex is that very often the rules are a matter of fine interpretation. Deciding what is the best case for a child as young as two or three can come down to a few difficult paragraphs of wording or just a better argued case.

Sometimes, however, the law is perfectly clear cut and in an attempt to simplify divorce legislation, the government has recently put through an amendment which will ‘enshrine’ the rights of both parents to have access to a child. In essence, what was once a complex and subtle issue is to be made explicit and the law will serve the rights of both parents in most circumstances. So do these changes make sense? Has the government made the right move?

Protecting Fathers
Though at all times divorce solicitors will attempt to set out the proper, just way of dealing with an issue, this amendment will undoubtedly benefit fathers seeking access rights. In just under 10% of divorce cases children reside ‘mainly’ with their father and this legislation seeks to correct this bias.

Of course, this should not overrule what is in the child’s immediate interest if, say, a father or mother is violent or unfit for the role, but it does give genuinely willing fathers a leg-up.

Admin over Justice
Plenty of family law solicitors have expressed their discontent with the changes  and they claim that the new legislation is simply not required – in calculating the interests of the child, courts already take into account the benefits of having influence from both parents.

When parents are given rights to access, disputes start arising over whether the right to access should be equal or properly apportioned. Undoubtedly, this will put a good deal of extra strain on courts for what will be more or less the same end result.

The Paramountcy Principle

After all is said and done, what realistically and legally matters is the interest of the child – this is the paramountcy principle. Though there are many cases in which both mothers and fathers fall unfortunately the wrong side of the legislation, family law experts do understand and appreciate the benefit of enabling joint access wherever possible. Though these changes might redress the balance between those living with dad and those living with mum, the statistics really aren’t the point – what matters is the child’s well-being and at the moment, judges do all they can to ensure fair access to children.

Though we’ll have to wait and see what the real effects of these changes will be, it’s likely that they will be pretty unpopular throughout the justice system and, as happened in Australia, we might well see a reversal of the law in the future.

Clough & Willis – Manchester based divorce solicitors . Contact 0800 083 0815 for specialist advice & information about divorce law, divorce settlements & child custody.

Family Law

Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality Bill)

The following is a guest family blawg post regarding the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill.

There is a common misconception amongst people, within the South Asian community, that Islamic marriages conducted in this country, are valid under English law. This is not correct. The marriage will only be valid if there is a person within the establishment where the Islamic ceremony takes place, who is authorised to conduct a civil ceremony at the same time and the establishment is registered with the local Registry Office as being an authorised body that can issue the recognised marriage certificate required under English law. A valid marriage certificate can be easily identified as it is in a prescribed format, on green coloured paper.

If the above requirements are not fulfilled, then unfortunately the Islamic ceremony will not be recognised as being a valid marriage under English law. In those circumstances, the parties to the “marriage” will not have the right to make a claim against the other under matrimonial law, and will have to rely on the limited and less generous provisions, afforded to cohabitees, based on principles of trusts, which generally require evidence of financial contributions to the assets that are being claimed, or provisions under Schedule 1 of the Children Act, if the claim concerns financial provision for children.

In many cases where there is only an Islamic ceremony, and no valid marriage under English law, the parties are often encouraged within their communities to mediate amongst their communities, through the use of community elders or members of their own family. They are in many instances encouraged to make use of Sharia law arbitration tribunals operating according to religious traditions. However, this may not be the best option for them as the rights afforded to women under Sharia Law may not be as generous as their rights under English law. There has been some concern that some arbitration tribunals, including those operating Sharia law principles are applying principles which go beyond their legal limit.

A bill has been proposed by Baroness Cox, the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, which highlights the misuse of equality within the arbitration and mediation services. The main proposal of the bill is to highlight and address the current discrimination which is in force in relation to women who are using arbitration or mediation specifically those within the Asian community. The bill therefore has two main aims:

–          to prevent women from receiving unjust treatment;

–          to prevent any alternative system being established in England and Wales with a potential prison sentence for those claiming to do so.

The bill is not aimed at a specific religious group but at women in general. It is intended to protect women who are and can be discriminated within the legal system.

The main proposal of the bill is that arbitration through a tribunal system that is not recognised under English law, should not deal with family or criminal matters. A concern is that issues such as legally recognised divorce or custody of children are being discussed and often decided at tribunals rather than through the courts.

The bill also makes it clear that any discrimination specifically sex discrimination laws apply directly to arbitration tribunal procedures. The proposed bill is much narrower as it relates directly to three specific areas:

–          treating the testimony of a man as worth more than a woman;

–          preferring a male heir in inheritance rights ;

–          preferring a man over a woman in property rights.

This aspect is specifically designed to address the issue of Sharia law. Traditionally, within Sharia law, the property passes to the sons, not to the daughters, and the daughters’ inheritance is normally half of that of the sons.

Furthermore, the bill seeks to create a new criminal offence. The proposal is that an offence will occur where anyone “falsely purports to be exercising a judicial function or to be able to make legally binding rulings which ought to be decided by criminal or family courts”. The aim of this is to prevent religious or community bodies from operating in lieu of public authorities.

The bill also expands the public sector equality duty. Public bodies will therefore be required to inform women that they will as a result of the marriage not being recognised in English law have far fewer rights. As a result of the lack of legal recognition, there is a risk that it could lead to polygamous marriages being performed.

An amendment is proposed to the Family Law Act 1996, by inserting a clause that a negotiated agreement may be set aside if one of the parties to the agreement did not genuinely consent to it. A “negotiated agreement” means an agreement which has been reached as the result of any form of negotiation, other than mediation. The aim of this is to provide protection for vulnerable parties.

Another area which is addressed by the bill is domestic abuse, which occurs within society quite frequently and is a concern amongst all communities. In most cases, the person suffering from the abuse is very vulnerable and rarely has the courage to stand up the abuse being suffered. Often, it remains unreported and if it is reported to the police, there is pressure by family members to withdraw the allegations. One of the proposals of the bill is aimed at amending the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The emphasis of the amendment is to prevent intimidation of those victims of domestic abuse who are assisting in the investigation of that offence or if they are a witness or potential witness in the proceedings for that offence.

The implementation of the bill will bring England in line with various other countries in the world such as Canada and Australia that have outlawed religious arbitration in the legal jurisdiction. Overall, it is aimed at promoting equality between men and women within the arbitration process but also to ensure that there is one legal system in place for issues regarding family and criminal matters.

This guest post comes from Claim Today Solicitors

Divorce Law

Five Tips For Finding A Good Divorce Lawyer (US Tips)

When you were married, you probably never imagined that it would end in divorce. Now you are right at the beginning of a divorce and might not be sure of what to do next. Perhaps you realize that you need to get a good divorce lawyer, but you are unsure of where to go and who to talk to. If you need some help finding a good lawyer, there are five tips that might guide you in the right direction.

The first tip for finding a good divorce lawyer is to find someone who specializes in family law or in divorce. There are many different types of lawyers that are probably good at what they do, but do not deal with divorce every day. Someone that deals with divorce cases on a regular basis and has taken special care to learn all that they can about divorce might be a better choice of someone that would be able to help you the very best.

The second tip to find a good lawyer when you are getting a divorce is to talk to multiple lawyers as sort of an interview for the job. You might know a lawyer or two that have a good reputation, but when you meet them, it just doesn’t click for you. Perhaps there is someone that you meet with that will make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. Use your common sense, and if you are uncomfortable for any reason with the lawyer, you might want to choose someone else.

The third tip is to tell the lawyer everything! You might be embarrassed about some things that happened during your marriage, or perhaps you think something is irrelevant. Letting the lawyer be the judge of that is probably a good idea because they know things about divorce cases that you don’t. They can take the information and decide what to use to build your case. Lawyers take confidentiality very seriously and will not tell anything that you don’t want told.

The fourth tip in finding a good divorce lawyer is to let the lawyer know what your financial situation is. They can help you the best with your marital financial situation if they know all of the details. You may want to include copies of pay stubs, bank statements, and bills.

The fifth and last tip that might help you to find a good divorce lawyer is to follow up after your initial visit to make sure they really are who they say they are. After a day or two, you might want to call them to see if they followed through on what they said they would do and if they still have the notes and information they will need for your case.

Finding a good divorce lawyer is absolutely important so that you are not left holding all the baggage from the marriage. While you will still have some responsibility, you should have a good lawyer to make sure everything is fair.

Guest post provided by the Phoenix Divorce Lawyers from the Cantor Law Group. Based in Phoenix, AZ The Cantor Law Group handles all aspects of divorce, including adoption, child custody, child support, alimony and other family law matters.

Family Law

Top 5 most viewed family law blogs on FamilyBlawg: May-June 2012

Below are the top 5 most viewed law blog posts published on FamilyBlawg over May and June this year (out of a total of over 15 blawg posts published during that period). These have been ranked by the number of pageviews according to Google Analytics, which is often a useful indicator of quality of the blog posts. We try to share every article equally through our social networks and encourage the authors to do the same with their networks.

If you have any comments to make on these family law blog articles it would be great to hear from you. And similarly if you would like to sign up as a contributor for free please read our guidelines then click here to get started.

  1. The Place of Children in Family Law by Clough & Willis Solicitors
  2. Family Law Update Puts Emphasis on Children’s Best Interests by Jim Loxley
  3. International Marriages by Evolved Legal
  4. How to File for Divorce Yourself by Divorce Statistics
  5. The Cost of Divorce in the UK by Ian Nuttall
Family Law

Family Law In General And In Italy

Familial issues are faced by everyone in today’s world. Luckily we’re in that phase, when all matters are governed by the law, even the personal matters. All personal concerns do become legal issues if they reach a particular level of seriousness. Here, we will explore exactly what is included in the context of family law, with a particular focus on Italy.

Child Custody Children Divorce Law Family Law

Parents Access Rights ‘Enshrined’ in Law

One of the reasons that divorce law is so complex is that very often the rules are a matter of fine interpretation. Deciding what is the best case for a child as young as two or three can come down to a few difficult paragraphs of wording or just a better argued case.

Sometimes, however, the law is perfectly clear cut and in an attempt to simplify divorce legislation, the government has recently put through an amendment which will ‘enshrine’ the rights of both parents to have access to a child. In essence, what was once a complex and subtle issue is to be made explicit and the law will serve the rights of both parents in most circumstances. So do these changes make sense? Has the government made the right move?

Protecting Fathers
Though at all times family law experts attempts to set out the proper, just way of dealing with an issue, this amendment will undoubtedly benefit fathers seeking access rights. In just under 10% of divorce cases children reside ‘mainly’ with their father and this legislation seeks to correct this bias.

Of course, this should not overrule what is in the child’s immediate interest if, say, a father or mother is violent or unfit for the role, but it does give genuinely willing fathers a leg-up.

Admin over Justice
Plenty of family law solicitors have expressed their discontent with the changes and they claim that the new legislation is simply not required – in calculating the interests of the child, courts already take into account the benefits of having influence from both parents.

When parents are given rights to access, disputes start arising over whether the right to access should be equal or properly apportioned. Undoubtedly, this will put a good deal of extra strain on courts for what will be more or less the same end result.

The Paramountcy Principle

After all is said and done, what realistically and legally matters is the interest of the child – this is the paramountcy principle. Though there are many cases in which both mothers and fathers fall unfortunately the wrong side of the legislation, family law experts do understand and appreciate the benefit of enabling joint access wherever possible. Though these changes might redress the balance between those living with dad and those living with mum, the statistics really aren’t the point – what matters is the child’s well-being and at the moment, judges do all they can to ensure fair access to children.

Though we’ll have to wait and see what the real effects of these changes will be, it’s likely that they will be pretty unpopular throughout the justice system and, as happened in Australia, we might well see a reversal of the law in the future.

Clough and Willis Solicitors have a dedicated team of family law specialists who are headed by a Resolution accredited specialist who can advise on divorce settlements and agreements. We can also advise on the appropriateness of referring the dispute to a mediator and deal with negotiation of child arrangements on your behalf. If required, we represent both parents and grandparents within Court proceedings.

Civil partnerships

Understanding civil partnership laws in the UK

As a gay or lesbian couple, you desire the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to building a family and creating a home where you feel safe and comfortable. Fortunately, the Civil Partnership Act that formally took effect in 2005 enables you to do so, and changes to that law in 2011 broadens your spectrum of rights.

In order to exercise your rights, however, you must first know what they are and stay informed on the evolving issue of civil partnerships. Here are the basics.

Civil Partnerships: What benefits do they include?

Civil partnerships in the UK have been designed to extend nearly the same rights as marriage does to heterosexual couples. These rights include domestic violence protections, inheritance tax exemptions, benefits for social security and pension, inclusion of both partners in tenancy contracts, next of kin rights, and the right to apply for responsibility for a partner’s children.
What’s the difference between a civil partnership and a marriage?

There are a few differences that can be highlighted when comparing the two legally-recognized relationships. Civil partnerships are created when the two parties involved sign official documents, rather than when they recite marriage vows. Also, during the dissolution of a civil partnership, adultery is not officially recognized as a reason to end the relationship. Though civil partners have pension rights in most cases, some private plans may not choose to recognize the relationship.

What are the latest changes regarding the legality of civil partnerships?

Civil partnerships were first legalized in November 2004 (taking effect officially a year later in December 2005). However, recent legislation, passed at the end of 2011, has broadened the recognitions for same-sex couples under the law.
When the Civil Partnership Act was passed, it stipulated that same-sex couples could not incorporate a religious ceremony (which included the use of symbols or music) into their formation of a civil partnership, nor could the ceremony take place at a religious venue. The new legislation relaxes these restrictions, allowing civil partnership ceremonies to be performed in religious dwellings. However, religious symbols and music are still forbidden.

Where in the world are civil partnerships recognized?

If you are making plans to spend time outside of the UK on holiday or move to a different country, the best way to find out if your travel plans will be affected by the recognition of your civil partnership (or lack of recognition) is to call or email the UK embassy in your travel destination to ask questions. In general, other countries that recognize civil unions are apt to honour your partnership.
The legal landscape of rights for same-sex couples continues to change. In March 2012, the UK government began a consultation concerning how to open the path for both gay and straight couples to have identical rights for civil partnerships and marriage. If you need legal advice concerning family issues surrounding a civil partnership, contacting a family law firm like Irwin Mitchell might be a good idea.

To find out more about the legal rights granted to civil partnerships, visit

Divorce Law

The Cost of Divorce in the UK

Below is a guest divorce law blog post regarding the cost of divorce in the UK, written by Ian Nuttall, a financial writer who covers a number of personal finance topics on his blog. He recently launched a free debt consolidation calculator that you might be interested in. For more information, or to connect with Ian, you can add him to your G+ Circles.

The Cost of Divorce in the UK

The number of divorces in the UK has risen by almost 5% in the last two years with 120,000+ divorces every year. Combining expensive lawyers fees and court fees, the cost of a divorce can be very expensive – even if the divorce is mutual and uncontested.

There are usually two types of divorce, and each will dictate which process you take and how much it will cost.

A mutual and uncontested divorce

If you and your partner have both agreed that the marriage has ended and can be amicable with splitting of assets, parenting duties and all that comes with a separation, then the costs of a divorce in the UK can be significantly lower.

If you use a lawyer to facilitate the divorce, it could cost you £1,000+ in lawyers fees plus £347 for court fees, a document swearing fee and a decree absolute.

An alternative to this in the UK would be to choose an online divorce company. Many of these companies now charge you only a very small fee of £20-100 for their service. You may still have to pay the court fees but it is 90% cheaper than using a solicitor.

One of the main negatives to these “quickie” divorces is that you have to declare a set reason for the divorce. This means one party may have to admit fault in the relationship, even if there was no fault or blame.

A contested divorce

Contested divorces are where one party pushes for the divorce against the others wishes. These can be very tricky and often it is difficult to divide assets or parenting duties without negotiations and a mediator.

The lawyer fees for this type of divorce can range from £3,000-£20,000+ depending on the complexity of the disputes. Essentially, lawyers charge £150-200 an hour so it depends entirely on how long it takes to resolve the issues of the divorce.

With a contested divorce, it may be beneficial to use a intermediary or family friend to try and resolve as many decisions as possible before the lawyers are used.

You could also contact a lawyer who offers a free initial consultation to get an idea for how long it might take and what the potential costs would be.

Additional costs of a divorce

There are other costs beyond the actual divorce process itself that need to be considered as well and these can often be even more expensive than the actual divorce. Here are few areas you’d need to consider:

  • Maintenance payments
  • Setting up a new home
  • Child care costs
  • Buying a second car

There might even be more expenses depending on your personal situation. Whatever stage of the divorce process you are in, the cost could be anywhere from £20-£20,000+ and ultimately, the process you take is down to your relationship with your partner and how amicable you can both be.

Family Law

The Place of Children in Family Law

When dealing with divorce or the breakdown of a family, everything becomes a balancing act for a solicitor. Unlike in more straightforward property cases or employment disputes, there are often three parties involved in divorce and family law solicitors see a huge number of cases which involve one or more children.

The difficulty for family law experts is finding where the right balance. The law in the UK says very little about the rights of children and because of this most cases involving children are settled out of court with the help of a family law solicitor. Compare this to family law in somewhere like Australia, though, where a new reform bill means that the safety and rights of children will be paramount in disputes between couples and the outcomes of complicated cases will be decided by a court of law.

Of course, it’s a very complicated matter, but does the law do enough for children in the UK? What does the law say and how are children protected? Should we move towards a system where children are given explicit legal rights or does our system do the job?

Well, the first concern for the family law expert in any relationship breakdown is violence. The UK law states that the courts will only make an order against a particular parent having access to their child if not making that order would be more detrimental. Where one parent has demonstrated the willingness to commit violent acts against children the courts in the UK can still be firm and clear and it will become very hard for a violent parent to gain any access to their child at all.

It’s an equally common view amongst family law solicitors that children are happier if both parents have an influence in parenting. This is, of course, the ideal, but often negligent parents impose a negative influence on children and this is where out of court agreement really do work. A system where the child’s right or desire to its own joint care results in a parent who is disinterested being forced by a court to take charge could be potentially very dangerous.

Of course the Australian system is fraught with problems and the administrative costs of allowing courts to have such power in deciding what is right or wrong for a child can come at a massive time cost. It’s well known that divorces can take up to two years to resolve and dragging out what is potentially a very difficult time for all is not desirable for anyone.

The way that children are protected in the UK relies on both parents putting their own personal views of each other behind them and agreeing to come to a sensible arrangement. The law provides for the occasions when the parents are unable to do this and courts will step in if they need to. Really this way provides an adequate solution in difficult circumstances and when children’s well-being is at stake, a more powerful but administratively costly court just doesn’t seem to be the right solution.

Clough & Willis Solicitors are based in Bury, Manchester and the specialist Family Law team at Clough & Willis have extensive experience in divorce law, maintenance payments, financial settlements and child custody and can advise on all aspects of your situation. All Clough & Willis divorce solicitors are members of The Law Society Family Panel and Resolution.

Child Custody Family Law

What factors do the court take into account if there is a court dispute over child residence or contact?

If negotiations over child residence or contact via family solicitors or direct fail, then the may be no other option than to proceed via the court system. For example, where a non resident parent considers that the resident parent has become unfit to care for the children or where they wish to have the children reside with them, they may consider applying for a residence order themselves, but the court will take in to account the following factors to ensure that the child’s best interests are at the forefront of any decision:

(a)the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);

(b)his physical, emotional and educational needs;

(c)the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;

(d)his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;

(e)any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;

(f)how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;

(g)the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

This is called the welfare checklist and is governed by section 1 of the children act 1989. A court will have regard to this when a party applies for any order involving a child of the family. Such order could include a residence or contact order, as detailed above, a prohibited steps order, where one party wishes to prevent the other from taking certain actions in relation to the child, or a specific issues order. This type of order is usually made when the parties cannot agree on the course of action to be taken as to a certain issue, such as the schooling of the child or the medical needs of the child.

Another order that may be made is a parental responsibility order, which is an order to give parental responsibility to a person, who has not acquired this automatically. If a resident parent is worried about the threat of violence or harassment from the other party, they may wish to apply for a non molestation order, this would cover the resident parent as well as the children of the family.

For any other family law enquiries, Darlingtons Solicitors can help.

Child Custody

Child Support – How is it Calculated? (A Helpful U.S. Perspective)

The dissolution of a marriage, also called a divorce, is never an easy thing to deal with. It becomes increasingly more difficult and heart breaking when there are kids involved. Once you’ve decided that divorce is the only option, you’ll need to start the process if legally ending the marriage. As a part of this process, one of the parents will likely get custody of any minor children. It’s also safe to assume that the other partner will probably be on the hook for child support until a certain agreed upon time in the future, most likely when the kids turn 18 years old. There are many good child support calculators available online, find one geared towards the state that you’ll be filing for divorce in.

According to a top Arizona divorce attorney there are a few key factors in determining how Child Support is calculated, they are:

  • Family Income – Most child support guidelines take into account, the income from both parents. Some states base their formula on gross income, while others chose to use net income as a guide.
  • Child Support Deductions – In a situation where one parent is already paying child support from a previous marriage or situation, that may qualify to be deducted from their income. In most cases, there are 2 qualifiers for this deduction, they are: 1) the previous child support must be court ordered, and 2) the parent must be making the payments.
  • Child Care & Healthcare Expenses – Most states will consider child care expenses that are incurred while the parents are working. The federal government and the states have set-up child care deductions and other benefits. Healthcare can be a major sticking point in child support because it is of utmost importance to determine who will pay for the child’s health insurance. Typically, the amount spent on insurance is added to the child support order and then credited to the parent who pays for it.
  • Custody and Visitation – Many child support guidelines attempt to account for the time each parent has the child or children. The more time that the children spend with the non-custodial parent, the higher the expenses that parent incurs to support the kids. In many situations where there is shared custody, the award amount to the custodial parent will be less than if there was sole custody.

These are just a few of the things that go into calculating child support. You should always consult with a Family Law Specialist when you have decided that divorce is the only option. As a parent, you have rights and those need to be accounted for when the division or property and custody occurs. You should also research the laws or guidelines in your state as they relate to child support matters.

This post is from The Cantor Law Group a Family Law firm based in Phoenix, AZ.

Child Custody Civil partnerships Cohabitation Law Divorce Law Domestic Violence Family Law Pre-nuptial Agreements Separation Law

What To Look For When Seeking a Family Lawyer

What To Look For When Seeking a Family Lawyer

If you’ve never been through the legal process before, realizing the amount of time, effort, and stress that go into it can be more than daunting.  Hiring a lawyer alone is intimidating; how can you determine a good lawyer from a bad one if you’ve never had to hire one before?  Below you’ll find the qualities you should look for when seeking the right lawyer for your family law case.

Background Information on the Practice of Law
There’s a misconception that a lawyer is a lawyer, in the sense that they all have the same knowledge and practice law.  However, this is simply not the case.  There are three types of lawyers you’ll come across on your lawyer search.  Specialized lawyers are those whose practice is specialized in a specific type of law, such as personal injury law.   General lawyers, i.e. lawyers that practice a broader area of law, might practice personal injury law and business law simultaneously.  Then there are Referral lawyers.  These lawyers may be either specialized or general lawyers, but they advertise as if they practice various types of law.  When clients come to them in a specialty outside of their practice area, which is typical due to referral lawyers affinity to advertise a broad range of specialties, referral lawyers then refer the client to another attorney.  The reason they do this is because referral lawyers get a percentage of the lawyer fees for all cases they refer out.  For instance, Lawyer A refers a client to Lawyer B.  When Lawyer B wins the case, Lawyer B must forfeit a percentage of his/her fees from the case.  So, put bluntly, referral lawyers get paid for doing absolutely nothing in a case they’ve referred to another lawyer.

Qualities You Want in a Family Lawyer
You should look for three factors when determining if a lawyer is right for your divorce, separation, will, children’s rights or divorce settlement legal needs.

First, you should look for a lawyer who has experience handling family law cases.  You will want to avoid “referral lawyers” as the fees they take can deter the lawyers they refer your case to from actually taking it; lawyers, like any professional, are in it for the money and if they have to forfeit percentage of their winnings on a case that already isn’t worth that much, they aren’t going to take it.  You should seek out lawyers who have a long history of experience with family law cases and who have been successful with such cases.  While a general attorney might have a lot of experience with family law cases, you should generally look for a lawyer who specializes in family law as he/she is the more likely to be adept to the legal procedures of such a case.

And do not rely on lawyer rating sites, like Super Lawyers, AVVO, and Best Lawyers to give you reliable information on a lawyer’s success rate and the like.  These sites’ “rankings” are determined by how much a lawyer is willing to pay and the information on the lawyers is not generally verified by the lawyers themselves.  For example, attorney John Smith might be stated as a family lawyer on a lawyer ranking site when in fact he is a slip and fall lawyer.  You don’t want a personal injury lawyer handling your family law case, do you?  It would be like having an accountant acting as your stock market investment advisor; it’s simply the wrong specialist handling the wrong specialty.

Second, you need a lawyer who is capable of giving your case the time and attention it deserves.  And third, you need a lawyer with knowledge about your case type.  General lawyers handle many different types of cases, which means they must have a vast working knowledge of different laws and law procedures.  For instance, a general lawyer handling a business law case, a personal injury case, and a criminal case will need to know the necessary laws for each of those law specialties as well as the procedures required by each.  That’s a lot of work and knowledge that a single person must endure and retain.  A general lawyer may be less knowledgeable about your case type and less able to spend time on your case because he/she is handling so many different types of cases.

Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us what qualities one should look for when seeking a family lawyer.  Outraged by the prevalence of elder neglect in the U.S., Amber spends much of her professional life writing education articles to help those affected another’s negligible care find good nursing home abuse attorneys.

Domestic Violence Family Law

‘Clare’s Law’- A change for the better for victims of domestic violence?

In October 2008, Clare Wood ended her relationship with George Appleton. Her rejection sparked a campaign of abuse, resulting in her horrific murder four months later. Appleton had a history of violence against women, including harassment, threats and kidnapping a former girlfriend at knifepoint.

Despite a number of complaints to the police, resulting in a panic button being fitted in her home, this was not enough to save Clare. Her murder made clear that the treatment of domestic crime requires improvement. This led to a government proposal, named ‘Clare’s Law’, enabling the police to disclose information to partners of those with histories of domestic violence.

The pilot scheme, announced on 5th March 2012, will begin this summer. It follows a government consultation published in October 2011 which investigated whether a national disclosure scheme could improve the safety of people in relationships with previous offenders. The initial consultation raised important issues, such as how much information should be released and in which circumstances, and how malicious requests will be avoided. The government seeks to address these matters during the scheme’s trial.

The pilot is testing two processes for disclosing information about a partner’s violent history; the first is triggered by a query from a member of the public (‘The Right To Ask’); the second is where police disclose information in order to protect a potential victim (‘The Right To Know’). Taking into account the amount of government and police time, and taxpayers’ money spent on this issue, it is important to consider the implications of this scheme.

Two people are killed by their partner each week in England and Wales; domestic violence is the cause of nearly 40 per cent of all female[1] UK homicides[2]. Evidently, government attention in this area is required, but is Clare’s Law the answer to reducing these figures? Refuge, one of the UK’s longest running domestic violence charities does not think so. The charity has criticised the proposed disclosure laws as ‘reactive rather than proactive’.

The theory behind the Government’s scheme is that if someone told that their partner has a history of domestic violence, they can then make an informed decision whether to continue with the relationship. This, however, raises many problems; if, like Clare Wood, a woman had no previous indication of her partner’s violent behaviour, then she would be unlikely to make an enquiry. Also, it is extremely doubtful that the scheme anticipates all those embarking on a new romance to carry out a police background check – it is simply unrealistic and doesn’t reflect reality.

Further, it is often on ending the relationship that people turn violent, as was the case with Wood and Appleton. Considering this, what is a woman to do when burdened with the information of her partner’s history? Many in such relationships stay with their partners out of fear for what would happen should they leave. Others might not leave because of love and belief that their partner can change. Would a woman be blamed for not leaving her partner when informed of his violent past?

The proposed ‘Right To Know’ process means police will inform potential victims of domestic violence. Statistics show that 44 per cent of victims are involved in more than one incident[3], so certainly many victims are already aware of what their partners are capable of, without being informed by the police. Knowing that their partners terrorised others before them would provide little solace.

Additionally, how would the police determine who they should inform? Appleton trawled social networking sites looking for his women. Are the police to follow these men from relationship to relationship, or message all their Facebook friends issuing warnings; for surely any one of them could be his potential victim. If a woman was able to escape an abusive relationship as a result of police disclosure, the perpetrator would simply be able to move onto his next victim. The problem is thereby displaced rather than prevented.

The police can only inform on the basis of information they have available: the details of those previously convicted. Considering that less than 40 per cent of domestic violence cases are reported to the police, a minor proportion of offenders will have police records, making it extremely unlikely for those making enquiries under ‘The Right To Know’ to obtain accurate information.

Having considered the implications of the proposed scheme, I think the most important thing is the way in which the police handle the disclosures. Potentially life-changing and life-threatening information is dangerous if unaccompanied by police support and intervention. Because the majority of cases go unreported, police time would be better spent conducting thorough investigations into allegations of abuse and monitoring those with troublesome histories. In a less than ideal world where prevention is impossible, protection should be key.

By Judy Benmayer of

HighStreetLawyer offers advice in all areas of law, including Family Law problems.

[1] Although it is recognised that men also suffer from domestic violence, it is primarily an issue affecting women, (a third of domestic violence victims are men according to the National Centre for Domestic Violence). It is currently unclear whether Clare’s Law would apply to male and female victims, as so this article has been written from a female-centric perspective.

[2]  (Povey, (ed.), 2005; Home Office, 1999; Department of Health, 2005.)

[3] Dodd et al

Divorce Law Family Law Separation Law

How to Divorce: The Divorce Process Explained

Below is a guest blawg post on how to divorce, explaining the divorce process. Please note that the terms are relevant to the laws of England and Wales. If you’d like to submit a guest family law blog post, please get in touch through the contact form.

Deciding to pursue a divorce can be a daunting challenge, fraught with a range of perils. There are a lot of things to consider, such how the divorce process works, what you’re entitled to and who gets the rights to any children you may have.

In order to get a divorce, you will have to undertake a range of steps in order to come to an agreement with your partner. These include your reasons for divorce, which of you will take care of the children and how you’ll split up your money, property and possessions.

One of the first ports when considering a divorce is hiring legal help. You may consider hiring divorce solicitors in Kent, or wherever you are based, who will act on your behalf in divorce proceedings.

The good news is that if you and your spouse agree on these points then the divorce process can be completed in as quickly as 4 months. If not, then divorce proceedings can drag on for much longer.

There are four formal stages to divorce in the UK:

  1. Establishing the grounds for divorce
  2. Filing a divorce petition
  3. Applying for ‘decree nisi’
  4. Getting a decree absolute

You can only divorce under UK law if your marriage has ‘irretrievably’ broken down and you have been married for a least a year. You will be required to prove this to the court by relaying the ‘facts’ of why your marriage has ended. These facts can include reasons such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion.

To start divorce proceedings you will need to fill out three copies of a D8 form, also known as a ‘divorce petition’. You will also have to pay a fee of £340, but you could be entitled to a discount if you have a low income or are on benefits. Once the forms are completed, you will need to send them to the court.

A notice of divorce will then eventually be served to your husband/wife. Your partner can then choose to either accept or argue against the divorce. If your spouse chooses to fight against the divorce then proceedings can be delayed significantly. If no agreement can be made then this is where divorce solicitors will step in to negotiate with your partner to try to reach an agreement.

Once you both agree on the divorce you can then apply for a ‘decree nisi’ – a document from the court which says that it can’t see any reason why you can’t divorce. A judge will consider whether there is enough evidence to allow the divorce to proceed and review all your paperwork, such as any arrangements you’re proposing for your children.

If the judge gives permission for the divorce to continue then you are able to apply for a ‘decree absolute’ 6 weeks after you have been issued with your decree nisi. Once you have the decree absolute, you are officially divorced.