Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘financial’

snake

the aptly named rat snake (thanks to Cotinis on flickr)

Andrew Commins, a colleague in chambers, has written an interesting article for Family Law Week on the impact of remarriage on variation applications by the ex spouse. I particularly like the mental image described in the extract from Delaney v Delaney [1991] 2 FLR 457, CA, that the court will deprecate “any notion that a former husband and extant father may slough off the tight skin of familial responsibility and…slither into and lose himself in the greener grass on the other side...” (Delaney, at page 461E).

.

Fork tongued husbands be warned…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I have not had time to read the full report of this case reported last week in The Times: Lewis and Another v Metropolitan Property Realisations Ltd (Court of Appeal, July 15 2009), but it is certainly going to be worth a look both for families concerned about losing their home and ex-(or soon to be ex-)spouses wondering whether the bankruptcy bears upon the ancillary relief. At time of posting it doesn’t yet appear to be on www.bailii.org. Judging from the brief summary in The Times it tells us this though: that a TiB has three years from the date of bankruptcy to get his money out of a former matrimonial home, or else the property will re-vest in the bankrupt. In this case on the day before the 3 year window ended the TiB had purported to transfer his interest in the property to a third party for consideration of £1 and 25% of any eventual sale of that interest. This little ruse did not work held the Court of Appeal, as it did not fall within the meaning of ‘realise’ as required in s283A(3)(a) of the Insolvency Act 1986. Thus, the property vested back in the name of the lucky LUCKY bankrupt.

Read Full Post »

Ancillary to NOTHING

Where there is no lawful marriage there is no divorce and where there is no divorce there is nothing for ancillary relief to be ancillary to. The BBC reports on the High Court ruling recently in respect of a distant beach marriage that did not create legal ties. Did this poor lady never hear of Jerry Hall? Sad story, but not in fact terribly interesting legally. What an unpleasant argument to have to run on behalf of the not-husband.

If that were a tale of the innocent deprived of their just deserts, this by contrast is a tale of a refusal by the courts to help an applicant for ancillary relief which is far less likely to arous you sympathy: this case of a paedophile convicted of sexually abusing his ex wife’s grandchildren is a rare example of conduct deemed bad enough to warrant the court refusing to exercise its discretion.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been meaning to make a short post about registration of births since going through the process myself with our newborn. Today it is reported that the arrangements are going to change. For myself and the other half registration of his name as father on the certificate is automatic since we are married, but for unmarried parents this is not the case and whether or not the father appears on the certificate will be in the hands of the mother.

.

Since 2003 the inclusion of a father’s name on the birth certificate is effective to grant him parental responsibility, and his absence will mean that he must either obtain the mother’s consent or apply to the court for parental responsibility. Often of course the main reason that a mother has failed to name the father on the birth certificate is precisely because she does not want him to play a part in the child’s life, including through parental responsibility and so more often than not the father will have to take the more litigious route. 

.

The flip side of the coin is that inclusion on the birth certificate also triggers financial responsibilities to pay child support.

 

.

However under the new proposals there will apparently be an element of compulsion applied to both parents: upon the mother to identify the father and for the father to sign the register. This is likely to have several ramifications as far as I can tell (assuming the requirements to identify and to sign are complied with):

  • the grant of parental responsibility will go hand in hand with the responsiility to maintain financially – either both will apply or neither.
  • mothers who wish to obtain child support will be unable (theoretically) to avoid the grant of PR by leaving the certificate blank. .

It is unclear how these requirements will be enforced. If a mother is determined not to identify the father or a father is determined not to sign – will the threat of a fine really make a difference? And according to The Times a sole registration will take place where obtaining the fathers details would be ‘impossible, impractical or unreasonable’ – including cases of genuinely unknown fathers or cases of abuse (does this mean in cases of children who were conceived by rape or is it more wide?). That is all well and good but doesn’t this provide a gaping loophole through which any mother who wants to can skip, and that renders the whole reform a waste of time? 

.

I wonder how all this will work in practice? A birth certificate is a pre-requisite to an application for child benefit so whilst the registrar is messing about trying to locate the errant father so that she can finally issue a birth certificate – the child benefit payments are delayed. Of course all these things can be ironed out no doubt but this is just one of several ways in which this is a dumber and more complicated idea than it perhaps first appears.  

.

And even if it is successful in its own terms – labelling parents as such and giving them theoretical responsibilities, what this law reform plainly will not change is the inability of the child support system to get blood out of a stone, or the difficulties in transforming the tage ‘parental responsibility’ into the ability to play a meaningful part in a child’s life in cases of implacable hostility. An ‘end to fatherless children’ as touted in The Times? I don’t think that’s very likely.

Read Full Post »

Well, we all knew there would be some kind of appeal – and apparently it is by way of Heather Mills McCartney appealing the decision to make the full judgment public, due to be heard tomorrow. In the meantime here is a link to the summary of the judgment published today.

.

In short, Heather Mills McCartney was awarded £24.3m inclusive – far far less than asked for and quite substantially less than some pundits had suggested. Paul apparently has an asset base of £400m. The award was based primarily upon need. This may have been a case involving extraordinary wealth, and for most of us £24m is in itself an extraordinary amount of money, but this was never going to be a case where anything like an equal sharing of assets was imposed, not least because the majority of the wealth in question was presumably treated as non-matrimonial.

. (more…)

Read Full Post »

The NSPCC and the Law Society have recently aired their concerns by press release about the detrimental side-effects that the enormous hike in court fees for the issue of care proceedings is likely to have on child welfare. NSPCC director and chief executive, Dame Mary Marsh, says quite rightly:

.

‘It is a matter of public interest to ensure that children are kept safe and have access to justice. There is a real and serious risk that vulnerable children and their families will be prevented from having full access to justice if these proposals are implemented because some decisions about taking proceedings in relation to vulnerable children could be finance led.’

.

What is of course left unsaid is the sad fact that these decisions are – in some instances at least – already finance led. I would not go so far as to say that is is the norm., but I have handled several cases recently which should for the sake of the children have been care proceedings, but the court and the parties were left flailing without the support of social workers because the Local Authority was reluctant to issue and trigger more onerous duties to the family. The distinct impression one is left with in these cases is that the Local Authority prefers to avoid its more onerous duties to what might otherwise be accommodated children by persuading the more capable parent or a grandparent to seek residence orders, whilst at the same time attempting to maintain the view that the children have suffered or are likely to suffer significant harm (the threshold for initiating care proceedings). In at least one case I have dealt with this led pretty directly to the breakdown of a placement with extended family under a residence order because the Local Authority viewed the residence order as the end of the matter and failed to support the carer. In another it has led to the Local Authority failing to allocate a named social worker for sexually abused children even when the children’s Guardian was begging them to do so.

.

Again, I think (hope) my experience is of isolated aberrations but it does highlight the potential for cash strapped local authorities and underresourced social work teams to make decisions about how they spread those resources between families on the basis of cost. I don’t know if certain Local Authorities have policies to push for private law orders (residence orders) where possible as a matter of course, but it does sometimes seem that way.

.

Read Full Post »

Making sure granny gets her pocket money

Yet another reminder that kinship carers are entitled to equality of treatment when compared other types of foster carers – the Local Government Ombudsman has just published a report relating to an instance of discriminatory treatment by way of a refusal to make the same payments available to kinship carers as were available to other foster carers. The Ombudsman found this to be maladministration and has published a report as he considers the issue to be one of the public interest.

.

This is something which frequently crops up on the margins of what we do at court, and often slips through the net. Kinship placements should be properly supported and often financial assistance is vital to ensuring that a placement does not fail. Most kinship carers are not legally represented and do not know what they are entitled to so it is often left to the parents legal representatives or the Guardian to remind the local authority of its obligations to help out with money in order to ensure that even if the child can’t be with the parent, they can remain securely placed with the wider family.

.UPDATE – yet another example of a local authority being caught out paying less than it ought.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »