Articles

  • December 2017
    Jackamans' family team has the skills and sensitivity to help you with any family law issues


    Statistics for 2016 show 18.9 million families in the UK: 67% married couples, 17% cohabiting couples, 15% single parent families and less than 1% same sex families, whether civil partnerships or cohabiting couples.  Dependent children live with 43% of married couples, 37% of cohabiting couples and 21% of civil partnerships.  Some of those children are the children of both partners, others of one partner. This shows a complexity of family relationships unknown sixty years ago.

    Arrangements for children on relationship breakdown fall under the Children Act, under which children’s welfare is paramount.  Even if the parents agree where the children should live, disagreements can spring up over foreign holidays, when one parent wants to move away, sharing birthdays and Christmas, or a parent can feel pushed out by the other parent’s new partner.  If possible, we will try to help you resolve these issues without going to court.  We can also help with care proceedings, or forced marriage protection orders – where proceedings are brought by the local authority.

    Financial arrangements on relationship breakdown between married couples and civil partners on the one hand and co-habiting couples on the other hand are very different.   English law does not accept common law marriages:  you have to have had a valid legal ceremony.

    Cohabitees have no continuing financial obligations to the other when the relationship ends.  This does not affect financial responsibilities towards minor children.  However even if property is in one person’s name, the other may be able to prove that they were intended to have a share.  The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to have a cohabitation agreement.

    Spouses and civil partners have rights to maintenance, capital and pension-sharing which vary tremendously depending on circumstances. In some cases, but not always, an inheritance will not be regarded as a matrimonial asset.  Where one party is bringing a lot more financially to a marriage, or there are children from an earlier relationship, we can advise on pre-nuptial agreements.  During the marriage, if one party receives an inheritance, or personal injury damages, a post nuptial settlement may be possible. On marriage or civil partnership breakdown, it is essential to obtain a court order setting out the financial arrangements to determine finally a couple’s financial responsibilities to each other. Usually this is by consent but, if all else fails, the court will impose an order after a contested hearing – which fortunately occurs in less than 5% of cases.

    All of Jackamans Family team are members of Resolution, and can advise on all of the issues covered in this article.  Other than care proceedings, legal aid is only available where there is evidence of domestic abuse, and is subject to a means test.

    For further information please contact Tim Owers at tim.owers@jackamans.co.uk or call  01394 279636.

    This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive.  Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.

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