Putting children first when you separate.

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Conflict can have  serious long-term effects on children. Studies have shown that it’s not the separation or divorce proper that has an impact, but rather the conflict arising from it that negatively affects their well-being.

So, what do young people think about their parents separating? A ComRes Survey of 14 to 22 year olds in 2015 found:  (2015 ComRes survey)

  • Of those who have experienced family breakups, 82% would prefer their parents to part if they are unhappy.
  • More than 60% felt their parents had not ensured they were part of the decision-making process in their separation or divorce.
  • Half of young people indicated they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live.
  • 88% agreed it was important to make sure children do not feel like they have to choose between parents.
  • About half admitted not understanding what was happening during their parents’ separation or divorce, while 19% agreed that they sometimes felt like it was their fault.

And how does divorce and separation affect young people? (2014 ComRes survey)

  • 19% said they didn’t get the exam results they were hoping for.
  • The majority (65%) say that their GCSE exam results were affected while 44% say A-levels suffered.
  •  Almost a quarter (24%) said that they struggled to complete homework, essays or assignments.
  • More than one in 10 (11%) said they found themselves “getting into more trouble at school, college or university,” with 12% confessing to skipping lessons.
  • 14% of the young people surveyed said they started drinking alcohol, or drinking more alcohol than previously, while almost three in ten (28%) said that they started eating more or less than previously.
  • 13% admitted to experimenting, or thinking about experimenting with drugs as a result of their parents’ break-up.
  • 32% of respondents said one parent tried to turn them against the other.
  • More than 1 in 4 (27%) said their parents tried to involve them in their dispute.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) saying that they completely lost contact with one or more grandparents.

Mediation can be a way of minimising the conflict which can have such serious consequences for children. If mediation isn’t an option then a solicitor who has signed up to the Resolution code of conduct will help you ensure that conflict is kept to a minimum and that your children’s interests are put first.

Rebecca Kershaw is an accredited mediator and a member of Resolution. Get in touch with her by email rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk or phone 01405 813108.

Could you have money in a lost pension?

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The Association of British Insurers (ABI) reported this month that their research had found 800,000 lost pensions worth almost £10 billion. They estimate this could mean a total of over 1.5 million unclaimed pensions worth almost £20 billion. The research only covered defined contribution pensions and there could be more unclaimed in the defined benefit sector.

If you think you could have a lost pension visit: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/trace-lost-pensions-and-request-pension-forecasts#tracking-down-a-personal-or-workplace-pension

If you want to discuss how pensions can be shared on divorce give Rebecca Kershaw a call on 01405 813108.

 

 

Family mediation helped us communicate again

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I recently met mediation clients Alice and Craig, who had been separated for eight months. They hadn’t seen each other since the separation, which had been very bitter. They had managed to communicate by text when they had to make arrangements for their children but even that was difficult. It was clear when I met them in their individual assessment meetings that they didn’t really want to mediate because they didn’t want to see their former partner. But they both knew that they needed to sort out arrangements for their children and their finances and neither of them wanted to go to court.

I explained to them that we could start out on a shuttle basis This means they would each be in a separate room and I would move between them. I assured them that this was quite common and lots of separating parents found it difficult to be in the same room.

The mediation started as a shuttle but quite quickly both clients agreed they would like to try being in the same room. This was very emotional for them both. It was the first time they had seen each other since the day of their separation and it brought back many of the emotions of that day. They both expressed some frustration at the other parent and found it very difficult to focus on the arrangements for their children or their finances. They left the session without a firm agreement but with a second session arranged.

A couple of days later they emailed me separately to say that they had found the joint session difficult but it had made them realised that they needed to be able to talk to one another for the sake of their children. They started to talk and when they returned for their second session they were able to focus on reaching  agreements for both children and financial matters.

Afterwards they both said how helpful mediation had been for them, giving them a supportive place to meet up for the first time and to begin to talk.

If you think mediation may help you and your ex-partner start to talk to each other again please call us on 01405 813108 and ask for Rebecca.

Christmas closing times

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Our offices will close for the Christmas holidays at 5pm on Friday 22nd December and will reopen at 9am on Tuesday 2nd January 2017.

KENYON SON AND CRADDOCK WISH ALL OUR CLIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Cohabiting couples warned of ‘common law marriage’ myth

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Millions of unmarried couples who live together could be unaware of their rights if the relationship breaks down, a family law group has warned.

Resolution carried out a survey which found two-thirds of cohabiting couples wrongly believe “common-law marriage” laws exist when dividing up finances.

The number of unmarried couples living together has more than doubled from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017.

Resolution chairman Nigel Shepherd said under current law, it was possible to live with someone for decades – and have children together – but not take responsibility for the former partner if the relationship breaks down.

Cohabiting vs marriage: Six ways your rights differ

  1. If one cohabiting partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything – unless the couple jointly own property. A married partner would inherit all or some of the estate
  2. An unmarried partner who stays at home to care for children cannot make any claims in their own right for property, maintenance or pension-sharing
  3. Cohabiting partners cannot access their partner’s bank account if they die – whereas married couples may be allowed to withdraw the balance providing the amount is small
  4. An unmarried couple can separate without going to court, but married couples need to go to a court and get divorced to end the marriage formally
  5. Cohabiting couples are not legally obliged to support each other financially, but married partners have a legal duty to support each other
  6. If you are the unmarried partner of a tenant, you have no rights to stay in the accommodation if you are asked to leave – but each married partner has the right to live in the “matrimonial home”

Source: Citizens Advice

The ComRes poll of 2,000 UK adults, by Resolution, found 84% of people thought the government should take steps to make sure unmarried cohabiting couples knew they did not have the same legal protection as married couples.

Of these respondents, 281 people were in a cohabiting relationship – two-thirds of which thought they were common-law married.

A further four in five cohabitants believed that the legal rights surrounding cohabiting people who separate were “unclear”.

If they have children, each cohabiting partner will still have the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent.

Resolution, which represents 6,500 family practitioners, said it had seen an increase in the number of cases involving cohabiting couples.

Some 98% of Resolution members report having worked with a couple who they say they could not help due to the lack of legal protection.

Source: BBC News

Call Rebecca on 01405 813108 to discuss how we can help draw up a Cohabitation or Separation Agreement to protect you.

Impact of cuts to legal aid to come under review

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The Ministry of Justice have announced a consultation to assess whether access to justice has been restricted by the cuts to legal aid. As many will know, Legal Aid is no longer available for such areas as divorce and applications for contact to children. This has meant that many people are struggling through court proceedings without any legal advice or support.

The justice secretary, David Liddington, has committed his department to review the deep cuts imposed in 2012. The long-anticipated consultation will run into next year and views are being sought from a wide range of bodies involved in the legal system, such as family law group, Resolution and the Law Society.

Whilst we hope that the outcome of the review is that legal aid is once again available for those who need it, it is worth remembering that legal aid is still available for mediation; for cases where there has been domestic violence and where children are being taken into care.

Where legal aid is not available we are able to offer payment plans and fixed fee packages to help you budget for your case. To talk about how we can help you call Rebecca on 01405 813108 (Thorne) or Jean on 01405 720850 (Goole).

 

 

 

Mediation Awareness Week 2017

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Family mediation at KSandC will once again be supporting Mediation Awareness Week, which takes place this year between 7th and 14th October.  The week aims to:

  • Explain how mediation can be used to resolve disputes and conflicts of all kinds;
  • Demonstrate how mediation provides a quicker, cheaper and more effective alternative to going to court;
  • Show how the use of mediation benefits individuals, businesses and communities.

More information and details of events around the country can be found on the website: http://www.mediationawarenessweek.uk/

Our mediator at Kenyon Son and Craddock is Rebecca Kershaw and she can help you sort out arrangements for your children and your finances. Legal Aid may be available to help with the costs of your mediation.

To find out more, give Rebecca a call on 01405 813108 or email your enquiry to rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk

 

Splitting the assets after a short marriage

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The Court of Appeal recently considered whether matrimonial assets should always be shared between the parties on an equal basis on divorce, no matter what the length of marriage. In the case of Sharp and Sharp the parties were both in their early 40s and had no children. The marriage, including 18 months of pre-marital cohabitation, lasted for some 6 years. The wife was a City trader while the husband was employed by an IT company. In the early years of cohabitation, the parties’ respective basic salaries were similar, around £100,000. However, the wife received annual bonuses that totalled £10.5m during the marriage while the husband’s bonuses were trivial. In November 2012, the husband took voluntary redundancy. Whilst there was no “deliberate and agreed intention” to maintain strict separation of their finances, there were several significant aspects of their financial arrangements. Some of the factors picked out by the judge were: the splitting of restaurant bills and household utility bills between the parties; the fact that the husband did not know the details of his wife’s bonuses, and the wife’s gift of three cars to the husband.

The court decided that the approach taken in an earlier case, of Miller, was the right one.The “inescapable conclusion” was that in relation to “short, childless marriages, where both spouses have largely been in full-time employment and where only some of their finances have been pooled” fairness may require departure from, rather than a strict application of, the equal sharing principle. This departure may occur via “a reduction from a full 50% share or the exclusion of some property from the 50% calculation”.

The husband’s claim was limited to a 50% share of the jointly owned properties and a ‘modest’ lump sum to reflect three factors: (i) the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage; (ii) the need for a modest capital fund to live in the property the husband was to retain; and (iii) some share in the assets held by the wife.

How the case is applied in the future will have to wait for other cases to be decided but the uncertainty of the court’s approach may mean more couples enter into pre-nuptial agreements.

If you wish to discuss pre-nuptial or other family agreements give Rebecca Kershaw a call on 01405 813108.

Unhappiness not a ground for divorce

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A 66-year-old woman has failed in her ‘extraordinarily unusual’ court appeal to divorce her husband of forty years.

Tini Owens appealed the decision after a family court refused to grant her a divorce petition last year. But the appeal judges, led by Sir James Munby who is the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, upheld the original ruling meaning Owens must remain married to her husband Hugh.

A barrister representing Mrs Owens told the appeal court that the ‘’vast majority’’ of divorces were undefended in 21st century England.Philip Marshall QC said it was “extraordinarily unusual in modern times” for a judge to dismiss a divorce petition.

Mr Marshall said Mrs Owens’ case was that her husband had behaved unreasonably and that the marriage had irretrievably broken down, leaving her feeling “unloved, isolated and alone.”

Hugh Owens contested the case, claiming they still had a “few years” to enjoy

He also claimed he had “moved on” and “forgiven” his wife for having an affair in 2012.

Barrister Nigel Dyer QC, who represented Mr Owens, said Mrs Owens had not established that the marriage was irretrievably broken.

Friday’s ruling means Mrs Owens will have to remain married, though she will be eligible for a divorce after five years of separation, even if her husband objects.

Sir James said: “Parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage, though some people may say it should be.”

Source Huffington Post

To discuss whether you have grounds for a divorce call Rebecca Kershaw on 10405 813108