MIAM – What you need to know about family mediation

Family breakups are, without doubt, one of the most stressful and upsetting processes anyone can go through. This is particularly true if there are children involved, and/or the separation is not amicable. Divorce can be a long, drawn-out process that can also hit your finances hard, especially if every communication is done through a solicitor. ‘Quickie’ divorces are not as easy to arrange as you may think and if you’re heading for the family law courts, you have to go through a period of mediation beforehand. MIAM was introduced in…

Change in divorce law looks set to stop the blame game

The news that no-fault divorce is likely to become law has been welcomed, but while the legislation waits for its place in the parliamentary calendar, families must continue to deal with one party being ‘blamed’ for the breakup or wait for the change in the law. And with the parliamentary calendar full of another divorce - the UK’s departure from the EU – no date has been given for debating the proposed changes. Official statistics show that almost half of divorce petitions between 2016 and 2018 cited behaviour as the…

What rights do absent parents have if they come back into a child’s life after several years’ away?

The concept of a traditional family unit has changed, and, in some situations, this can give rise to problems. Figures from 2016 suggest that not only does it have a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of the family unit, but it has a financial impact too. According to the Relationships Foundation’s report ‘The Cost of Family Failure Index’, the economic impact of family breakdown in 2016 was higher than the UK defence budget, at an astonishing £48billion. That breaks down to an individual cost for each and every taxpayer…

Who chooses whether your kids gets vaccinated?

For decades, vaccinations have been regarded as the most important form of defence against childhood illnesses like measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). And for decades, parents happily vaccinated their kids to protect them (and others) without question. Then, around 10 years ago, serious doubts began to be raised as to the safety of vaccines by the now-discredited Andrew Wakefield, who called into question the safety and validity of combination vaccines like MMR. Despite the research eventually being proven to be full of errors and, in fact, flat-out wrong, some parents…

Surrogacy – what’s the legal standpoint in the UK?

The news that you’re unable to have children of your own can be devastating for parents, especially if it’s all you can think about. Same-sex couples may also face challenges when it comes to starting a family. Other than adoption, one of the most logical answers is surrogacy. But what is the legal position on surrogacy in the UK, and does existing law protect all parties involved, including the surrogates? Paying a surrogatee Recently, one of the country’s most senior family law judges, James Munby, called for the question of…

Civil partnerships for heterosexual couples – an update

Big news for heterosexual couples who don’t want to get married – the law is about to change to allow you to apply for a civil partnership. It’s been a while coming, but one of the last areas of inequality in the world of formally recognised partnerships is about to be rectified. The choice to opt for a civil partnership rather than marriage has been closed to heterosexual couples ever since civil partnerships were introduced in 2004, when the Civil Partnership Act stated that only same-sex couples were entitled to…

When the end of summer spells the end of marriage

September is traditionally a time of new beginnings, with children off to school or university and parents back to work, but for many couples, the end of summer can spell the end of marriage. Lawyers often talk about ‘divorce day’ in January and report a similar surge when summer holidays are over, and research1 looking at the timing of divorce petitions bears this out, with peaks after the summer and winter holidays.  The researchers suggest that while troubled couples may view holidays as a time to stand together for children…

Civil partnership or cohabit – which is better?

Not everyone wants to get married in a church or registry office. For many cohabiting couples, a civil partnership is far more attractive – it moves away from the idea of women being the ‘property’ of their husbands and is infinitely more acceptable to those who do not follow any particular faith. Civil partnerships have been available for same-sex couples since 2004, yet they are still not available for heterosexual couples who cohabit. In June the legality of denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership was challenged…

Flying the nest: do parents and children have rights over who lives under their roof?

For Generation X'ers and Baby Boomers, it was unthinkable to stay at home beyond a certain age, usually your late teens to early 20s. With reasonably affordable property prices and rents, most of those born from 1960 onwards had probably flown the nest by the time they were 18. However, today’s ‘Millennials’ face a huge housing problem, with astronomical property prices well beyond the reach of anyone even on a good salary, and high rents. That means more 20-somethings (and even those in their 30s) are still living at home…

Your rights as a step-parent after a divorce

If you’re a recently divorced step-parent and are wondering what rights you have in regard to seeing your step-children, there’s a number of things you need to know. Here, we take a look at what happens after a divorce, what measures a step-parent can take in order to gain access to a step-child, and whether there any financial obligations that needs to be met. A legal definition of a 'step-parent' In order to work out what legal rights and responsibilities are shouldered by step-parents after a divorce, we first need…

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