Alcohol testing can be required from time to time in family cases. This is particularly so when allegations are raised that alcohol is being consumed excessively that represents a significant risk of harm to the care and welfare of a child or children in residence and contact disputes.
There are a variety of options available to test for alcohol consumption. These include a breathalyser, urine testing, blood testing, hair strand testing and transdermal alcohol continuous testing (also known as TACT). The first four options have been in place for many years. TACT has only been available in the UK since February 2013. The person to be tested wears an ankle bracelet which sends alcohol data from perspiration on the person’s skin to a base station set up in the person’s home. The data is sent every 30 minutes and it is generally advised that it is worn for up to 30 days to give a reasonable overview of the wearer’s alcohol consumption.
For further information as to what test might be appropriate to alleviate your concerns or to prove that any allegations are unfounded contact one of our family lawyers for specialist family law advice.
Failing to finalise the financial arrangements! Without a signed Consent Order or a Court determined financial Order either party can make further claims for income or assets down the road. This will include claims against property and pensions and even if those assets are gained after the marriage ended in divorce.
Make sure you protect yourself from any future surprises by seeking legal advice from a trained experienced family law specialist.
You should also update your Will so that your assets will go to the people you choose, after your die rather than your former spouse.
For legal advice on drafting a financial consent order please contact one of our specialist divorce solicitors for a free initial consultation.
In A v D (Parental Responsibility)  EWHC 2963 (Fam) the court granted an order allowing the mother to change both the forename and surname of the couples child and granted an order terminating the fathers parental responsibility. The Court also directed the mother should have sole residence of the child because it reflected the reality of the arrangements for the child and it would provide the mother with a sense of security.
In this specific case, the father had a detailed criminal record involving many violent related offences and at the time of the hearing was serving a prison sentence for Grievous Bodily Harm against the mother. The fathers violence towards the mother had been witnessed by the child. This had left the mother suffering from various conditions, including post traumatic stress disorder. The child had also suffered from what they had seen and had a Guardian appoinnted to represent their views. The father had written to the Court confirming he did not oppose the mothers applications.
Each case is fact specific and depends on all the circumstances of the case. For advice on the arrangements for your childs parental responsibilty, residence and contact speak to one of our experienced family solicitors for a free initial consultation.
The Ministry of Justice has recently announced the introduction of a new set of national standards for expert evidence in family courts. The new standards are not due to be implemented until April 2014. The new standards are designed to improve the quality of expert evidence in the family courts and minimise delays. From April 2014 only qualified, experienced and recognised professionals will be able to give evidence as expert witnesses in family proceedings relating to children. Experts will have to ensure the following:
That they have knowledge appropriate to the court case
That they have been active in the area of work or practice and has sufficient experience of the issues relevant to the case
That they are regulated or accredited to a registered body
That they have relevant qualifications
That they have received suitable training
That they comply with safeguarding requirements
If you are experiencing difficulties with the arrangements for your children and want to find out more as to what you may be able to do, to improve the situation contact the team at Thomas Chaytor for a free initial consultation.
In Ball v Shepstone  EWCC 6 (Fam), a father in proceedings brought by the mother of their two children seeking financial support for the children was committed to prison for fourteen days, for contempt of court, for failing to comply with the Court’s order that he should complete and serve a statement of his financial circumstances on a Form E.
If you require legal advice in relation to completing a Form E and or attending Court to deal with the financial claims upon divorce or separation contact one of our experienced family lawyers for advice.
The Department for Work and Pensions has recently reported its response to the consultation on Supporting Separated Families and Securing Children’s Futures in relation to the draft Child Support (Fees) Regulations 2013 and the draft Child Support (Ending Liability in Existing cases and Transistion to New Calculation Rules) Regulations 2013 . Under the new Child Maintenance Service both the parent with care of the children and the parent paying maintenance for children are charged a fee for using the Child Maintenance Service. This has been controversial. For example, some organisations consider that it is punishing parents with care, where the non-resident parent decides not to pay or fails to pay voluntarily.
The Department for Work and Pensions has proposed the amount to be charged to the parent with care is to be reduced from 7% to 4%.
The introduction of fees for using the service has been considered necessary to ensure that funding was in place to allow the system to support itself to function and by continuing to operate it thereby ensured parents with care received maintenance payments for dependent children for their benefit.
However, some organisations are concerned that because of the proposed fees, some parents with care will decide that they are better off not pursuing maintenance altogether. Charging is likely to be introduced from the middle of next year.
However, from the 25th November 2013 the new Child Maintenance Service is now available to all new applicants. The Child Support Agency has been replaced together with the formula for calculating child maintenance.
To determine your child maitnenance entitlements or obligations and what charges will apply to you contact one of our specialists for advice as to your child maintenance options.
Across England and Wales the week of the 25 to 29 November 2013 is Resolution First for Family Law, Family Dispute Resolution week.
During this week there will be a variety of events taking place to raise awareness of the alternatives to court and the benefits of why people facing a separation or divorce should seek advice from a Resolution member.
What are some of the benefits of using a Resolution member? Resolution members agree to adhere to a Code of Practice which commits to endeavouring to resolve disputes between couples separating or divorcing constructively and amicably and as quickly and effectively as possible. Resolution members will also be able to explain the alternative methods of resolving what will happen to the children and the finances upon a separation or divorce and will assist with advising you as to which method of dispute resolution will best suit your needs. Resolution members also have contacts with other service providers that will be able to help you through your separation and divorce. For example, this could be an independent financial adviser to assist with your identifying your mortgage capacity through to various counsellors, coaches and family consultants that will be able to assist you with dealing with the emotional impact of a separation or divorce. If talking things through is not for you Resolution members also have a range of resources and materials they can provide to clients that can be read at a time convenient to you. During Family Dispute Resolution week Resolution will also be launching an updated Dispute Resolution Handbook – Separating Together. This is aimed at a range of audiences who may be a port of call for separating couples.
At Thomas Chaytor, all of our solicitors are Resolution Members and we offer a free no obligation introductory meeting. If you are experiencing difficulties in your home life and you want to find out about your options if you were to separate or divorce please arrange an appointment to see us or contact Karen Newman by email at Karen@thomaschaytor.co.uk for a free information leaflet on alternatives to the Court process or for a copy of the Code of Practice for Resolution members.
In Vince and Wyatt  EWCA Civ 495 a wife applied for financial support from her former husband, with whom she had divorced nineteen years previously. At the time of their divorce they had no assets and no income and had chosen to live a New Age or Traveller lifestyle. They had one child together and the wife had a child from an earlier relationship. The only document that survived the original divorce proceedings was the decree absolute dated in 1992. It could not be established whether the wife’s claims had been applied for in her divorce petition or whether her claims had been dismissed by the Court by consent or whether there was no order. The former husband cohabited in 1986 and had a further son and remarried in 2006. In 1993 the wife cohabited with a partner with whom she had two more children. However, by the time of the application to the court that relationship had ended. The wife remained of modest means. In 1995 the former husband had started Ecotricity, which has turned into a successful business in the wind industry and worth many millions. The court held that there is no limitation period in family cases. However, the court held they would not allow either party to a former marriage to be harassed by claims for financial relief which are issued many years after the divorce and have no real prospect of success. It was decided it would be an abuse of the courts process.
To avoid such pitfalls contact one of our specialist family lawyers to advise you of your options to resolve the financial claims in parallel to your divorce.
In SvS EWHC 991 (Fam) the wife made an application for the financial settlement to be reviewed because of the husband’s alleged material non-disclosure of his financial circumstances. The court held that “any information that is relevant to the outcome must be disclosed”. The court confirmed that “the duty to disclose extends beyond what is certain on the date that the order is made to any fact relevant to the court’s review of the foreseeable future”. On the facts of this case the husband failed to disclose that his company had appointed bankers to prepare for an initial public offering or outright purchase. This amounted to a material non-disclosure. However, on the facts of this case the financial settlement remained the same. The judge determined that had the court known of the material non-disclosure at the time of the financial settlement, the matter would have been adjourned to await developments. However, as no purchase or initial public offering had taken place the court decided that the order would have been made even if proper disclosure had taken place.
To ensure you provide true and accurate financial disclosure as part of divorce proceedings contact us to discuss your legal requirements.
The Centre for Social Justice has reported on the 10 June 2013 that “one million children grow up with no contact with their father”. If you are a parent facing contact issues contact us to assist with advising you of your legal options. Source: Fractured Families:why stability matters from the Centre for Social Justice.