James Maguire & Co are a specialist in divorce and family law practice. They advise on all aspects of family law and are leaders in this field, as is reflected by the independent legal directories to the profession and our strong track record. Our mission is to guide, support and advise clients through one of the most challenging period of their lives.
This may or may not be the debate of summer 2018 but in a lot of households, impending doom may be brewing between husbands and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends.
Who has priority over the remote control when it comes to watching the World Cup or Love Island? Both are potentially aired at the same time but on different channels.
This is a genuine dilemma in some households and already I have been told that one individual had blocked her partner’s number on her phone because they had a huge row over this particular issue one night this week. Unfortunately for her the argument ended with the World Cup 1 and Love Island 0.
How many more arguments are going to surface because a compromise cannot be met over who gets to watch their beloved football game or reality dating show? Will this lead to husbands or wives for example seeking legal advice over the future of their marriage and whether this can be deemed as unreasonable behaviour for a divorce to be granted? If that particular complainant feels that their other half is acting unreasonably then we could see this as an example in an unreasonable behaviour divorce petition. It could go something like this……
“My wife insisted that she watch Love Island when my home nation was playing in the world cup final. This then forced me to have to watch it in the local pub. A few drinks later and after the game ended I came home and she started a huge argument with me because I had been drinking”.
If you want to save your relationships and avoid any arguments over the debate of summer 2018 then here are some tips to consider:-
Invest in Sky multi-room so one of you can watch the football in the lounge and the other can watch Love Island in the bedroom for example. You may also need to invest in more televisions if you are a one television household.
For the Love Island fans, go to another fans house (who is allowed to watch it) so you can also discuss the various villa dramas as they unfold.
For the World Cup fans, go to another fans house or the pub, but be careful of how much alcohol is consumed if it is likely to cause an argument later on.
Love Island is available on catch up however you will need to avoid any social media if you don’t want to see any spoilers.
You may have the facility to record or pause live TV so the other programme can be viewed but again as in point 4 above, you may want to avoid social media for potential spoilers.
Is this a big issue in reality?
As family solicitors, we like to analyse these potential problems and see whether the issue is as big as it should be. Love Island is aired 7 days a week usually at the same time and the World Cup Games are also on 7 days a week but at various times of the day/night.
Love Island mostly lasts for one hour between 9:00pm – 10:00pm, which isn’t a problem for the earlier World Cup games or even the 7:00pm starts as really those games could finish in time for Love Island at 9:00pm. However whilst most football games last 90 minutes with a 15 minutes break in between, games can last longer because of extra time.
Already you can feel the anxiety levels rising as the clock moves closer to Love Island time and a crucial winning goal is needed in the last few minutes/seconds of the game.
On a Sunday there are two Love Island programmes lasting 2 hours in total (9:00pm – 11:00pm). A potential problem exists here if football fans like watching the evening highlights as these programmes clash.
On Saturday there is a Love Island re-cap programme on from 9:00pm – 10:00pm. This is where a further potential problem lies as some viewers will miss episodes in the week and so rely on the Saturday night catch up, which could clash with the 8:00pm World Cup Games.
However one reassuring point that has been noted from analysing the fixture list is that the World Cup Final game will take place on Sunday 15th July at 4:00pm so even with extra time or penalty shoot outs, the game should finish before Love Island starts. Everyone is a winner!
For more advice in relation to family law issues such as divorce, separation, finances or children matters, please do not hesitate to contact Kirsten Tomlinson, an Associate Family Solicitor at Maguire Family Law on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk
If you would like to see more of Kirsten’s views on family law issues then follow her twitter account @KGGTomlinson.
As a father myself I am aware how special Father’s Day is. However, special occasions such as Father’s Day can be difficult to manage for separated parents where care of the children is being shared.
There are inevitably some notable dates on the annual calendar such as Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day which can often heighten any tension or dispute between separated parents in terms of where the children should spend those occasions.
Most clients I represent tend to recognise the fairness of the child or children spending time with their father on Father’s Day even if the day falls on a weekend when they would normally be with their mother. However, that is not always the case and this can cause problems.
Where separated parents cannot amicably agree the arrangements for the children to spend time with each other the Family Court can be asked to make an Order known as a Child Arrangements Order. These types of Orders deal with the regular term time arrangements, arrangements for school holidays and increasingly will include arrangements for special occasions such as Father’s Day. Therefore, it is important if you are ever involved in Court proceedings that all special occasions and key dates are addressed and, wherever possible, included in the Court Order.
More generally the Family Courts are seeing an increase in the number of private law cases being issued. Indeed the number of cases increased by 5% in 2017 when compared to the previous year. This is a concerning trend and may indicate that alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation, are not being as successful as had been hoped.
It goes without saying that it is usually better for all concerned if separated parents can agree the child arrangements directly themselves. However, if they cannot manage that, they should be encouraged to explore mediation even if that can be a difficult process to go through. Whilst attending an initial mediation meeting is a mandatory requirement before issuing a Court application, I wonder whether too many people are giving up on the process too early.
Being a single mother, I understand the implications of an absentee father on Father’s Day. Do you celebrate? Do you not? Do you celebrate the other strong men in your child’s life? Some would even argue whether the absence of a father is relevant at all.
The reality is, everyone has a father and the absence of them on Father’s Day likely goes noticed. No matter the reason for the absence, the child is not at fault as to why their father is not there and, it is important that they understand that they did not cause their father to leave.
Whether your child has a part time father or one they have never met, it is normal for your child to ask questions about them. Whilst it can be difficult to put your own feelings aside, there can be much gained by acknowledging the day, keeping conversations about their father positive and having an open discussion.
Parenting a child is hard, parenting a child alone is really hard and no one teaches you how to be a single mum. In fact, the world often sits and watch. As a single mum, you often find yourself relying on a network of people around you to offer support and, as the old African proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child”. This proverb is not suggesting that that the village is responsible for raising your child just that a village interacting with your child providing a safe environment where they feel loved and cared for, certainly plays a valuable role in a child’s upbringing.
So, here’s to celebrating the strong people in your child’s life, the father figures official or unofficial!
Father’s Day is approaching on 17th June this year and this can be an important day for any father, step-father or male role model that may be playing a significant part in any child’s upbringing.
There are a number of family dynamics these days as families have moved away from the traditional times where a mother and father had to be married before they had children and children born out of wed-lock was frowned upon.
Apart from the “traditional” family set up with married parents there are families where a child will have a biological father but the parents have separated and mother has re-married so a step-father exists as well. Or in some cases the mother may just be living with a partner. They may just be referred to as “mother’s boyfriend”. Not forgetting there are some situations where the mother is also having to play the role of both parents if the father has unfortunately passed away or is not involved in their children’s lives.
But what does the law say about all these potential “father figures” who play a significant role in these children’s lives? What rights if any do they have in relation to the decisions made?
Parental Responsibility or PR means the rights, duties and obligations that a parent has towards their children. By having PR it means a parent can have a say over the important decisions in a child’s life such as medical decisions (for example signing medical consent forms for treatment), their religious upbringing and their education (for example which school they attend).
Rights however does not mean a right to a relationship over their child. It is actually the child’s right to a relationship with their parents or other family members. The right means the right to apply for a Court Order determining a certain aspect over the child’s life such as who they should live with and how much time is spent with the other parent. These are called Child Arrangements Orders. There are other Orders called Section 8 Orders which include child Arrangement Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders. More information can be found on our website by clicking the link here.
Do I have PR if I am the biological father?
A mother automatically has PR after their child is born however a biological father does not. They can acquire it in one of the following ways:-
If the father is married to the mother at the time of the birth or later on.
If the father is not married but they are named on the child’s birth certificate as the father and the birth was registered after 1st December 2003
If the mother and father sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement
If the father gets a Parental Responsibility Order from the Court
As a step-father do I have any legal rights or duties?
No you don’t automatically have PR for the child or any legal rights or duties but step-fathers can acquire PR by entering in to a Parental Responsibility Agreement as long as consent has been given by all of the parents who already have PR. Step-fathers can also apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order and any Section 8 Order, which includes an Order for the child to live with them or spend time with them.
What if I am not a step-father or biological father but I am living with the mother and children and treat them as my children?
Again you won’t have PR unless an Agreement is signed and you have the consent of all other people who have PR. You won’t be able to apply for any Section 8 Order mentioned above automatically. You would have to have the Court’s permission to first. You don’t need the Court’s permission to apply for a Child Arrangement’s Order for the child to live or spend time with you if that child has lived with you for at least 3 years out of the last 5 years (and the child cannot have stopped living with you for more than 3 months before the application is made to Court).
For further advice in relation to parental responsibility and children matters after separation or divorce, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
Maguire Family Law is a highly recommended niche practice specialising in legal issues flowing from relationship breakdown. We have a large team and can offer advice at any of our locations as follows:-
This Sunday is Father’s day and an opportunity for us all to celebrate our own dads and dads generally.
The origins of the day are unclear. There are suggestions that it was celebrated by some as far back as the middle ages but it didn’t garner general popularity until the 20th century.
Whilst we celebrate fathers on the third Sunday of June, as do America and a number of other countries, it is not celebrated on that day worldwide and there are some disparities between the customs and traditions of different countries.
This blog, rather than considering the legal and inevitably serious issues facing fathers, is intended to be more light-hearted in tone in keeping with the celebratory nature of the day. What follows are some of the more interesting facts about this day which can be shared with fathers, mothers, children and other friends and family alike.
Father’s day facts
In Bulgaria Father’s day is celebrated by many twice per year- double the presents!
In Uruguay families honour their father by hanging a skeleton outside their home.
It has been reported that we spend less on Father’s day than Mother’s day and are less likely to buy Father’s day cards than Mother’s day cards BUT there are figures to suggest we spend more on wine and spirits for Father’s day than Mother’s day so it’s not all bad news for dad!
China historically celebrated Father’s day on 8th August. This was because the eighth (ba) day of the eighth (ba) month makes two “eights” (ba-ba), which sounds similar to the colloquial word for “daddy”. It is still celebrated on this date in areas still under the control of the Republic of China, including in Taiwan.
Many people feel that the placement of the apostrophe in Father’s Day is grammatically incorrect. It seems we may have the Americans to blame for this as this was the original spelling used in 1913 when a bill was introduced to Congress as a first attempt to establish the holiday. There are arguments though that the reason that it is spelt in this way on greetings cards is to personalise the holiday to each individual father.
In Germany, it is tradition on Father’s day (celebrated on Ascension Day) for groups of males to do a hiking tour with wagons containing wine or beer and many men use this holiday as an opportunity to get drunk. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, alcohol-related traffic accidents multiply by three on this day.
The eagerly awaited case of Owens v Owens has started today at the Supreme Court in London. This is likely to prompt renewed pressure on the government to change the ‘outdated’ family law.
In this particular case, the lower court had refused to grant Tini Owens a decree nisi (an interim divorce order) despite the court finding the marriage had broken down; and the Court of Appeal ruled it could not interfere with that decision.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and Lady Hale, Supreme Court President, has described this divorce case as a ‘rare example of the court rejecting a behaviour petition on the ground that the husband’s behaviour was not objectively bad enough to make it unreasonable for the wife to live with him’.
Mrs Owens’ divorce petition was based on the fact that Mr Owens had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him. This law goes back to 1973, which is more than 45 years old now. However, even in 2018, concept remains that couples need to satisfy a court that there is ‘blame’ unless they wait 2 years to divorce under a separation ground by consent (or 5 years without consent). A lot of commentators, including myself have called current law ‘outdated‘ and ‘unfair‘.
Whilst this case of Owens is not about a ‘no fault’ divorce itself, there are certainly policy issues about what the law ought to be and if the outcome is successful for Tini Owens, or indeed if there is a future change of law to a no fault basis, this is likely to mean there is less need for a party to cite rather unpleasant details of how the other behaved and which is presently overspills into the financial and any children issues that need to be resolved.
I would certainly welcome a change of the law to avoid ‘blame’ and how we can focus on moving forward with our lives but without making marriage itself too disposable. What do you think? I’d be interested to hear any comments.
What rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren?
The government has been asked to consider proposals to change the current law surrounding grandparent’s legal rights in relation to seeing their grandchildren after a divorce or separation. They wish to create a legal presumption that grandparents should be able to see their grandchildren after the parents separate.
As it stands it is actually the children who have a right to a relationship with their parents and wider family members such as grandparents, as long as it is safe to do so and is in their best interests.
Under current children law, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. If grandparents don’t have a good enough relationship with their children or the other parent in order to secure contact with their grandchildren after they separate or divorce, then they have to consider instructing a solicitor and potentially the Court to assist.
If arrangements cannot be made amicably then grandparents would have to make an application to Court for a child arrangements orderto spend time with their grandchildren. This is a 2 step application seeking the Court’s permission to even make the application before it is then considered overall. This is different to a parent making an application to see their child as they don’t need the Court’s permission.
For the Court to grant a grandparent (or other wider family member like an aunt or uncle) the right to make an application to see their grandchild, they will consider the following factors:-
Their connection with the child
The nature of the application for contact
Whether there is a risk that the application could disrupt the child’s life to the extent it causes them harm
If the Court grants the permission to make the application then the Court will apply the usual principles and factors when deciding whether it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with their grandchildren. This includes the overriding principle that the child’s welfare is paramount. The welfare checklist that is applied to an application for a child arrangements order can be found here.
For more advice and information in relation to grandparent’s rights, children law and child arrangements orders, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
Maguire Family Law is a highly recommended niche practise specialising in family law matters. We have a large team and can offer advice either by telephone or face to face at any of our locations as follows:-
Do I need a family solicitor? The saying goes that a man who acts for himself has a fool for a client.
Family lawyers often receive bad press and are accused of encouraging exes to fight it out in a court arena in order to drive up fees so the law firms make more money.
This is simply not true in our case and a lot of the allegations are down to sensationalist journalism and disgruntled divorcees. At Maguire Family Law we pride ourselves on encouraging separating couples to separate/divorce amicably and this is proved by the fact the two founding directors were once married and now amicably divorced. They also have 2 children but can prove that not all divorces or separations have to be both financially and emotionally catastrophic.
If you are recently separated then we would recommend speaking to a family and matrimonial specialist before embarking on the process yourself and potentially making an irreversible error. This is far more useful than picking up bits of advice from google or family/friends. No two divorces are the same in relation to splitting the financial assets as every case and set of circumstances are different. The same can also be said for sorting out the child care arrangements.
A straightforward amicable case just doesn’t quite make for media attention. High net worth cases have grabbed the headlines along with their often hefty legal bills. This has resulted in scaring the people away from using specialist legal services. A common misconception is that legal fees will end in bankruptcy. This just isn’t the case. Seeking specialist legal advice from the outset could potentially save you thousands later on.
As a result of this scaremongering, we have come across a lot of client’s who take a bit of advice here and there and go it alone. This has had disastrous consequences. We cannot undo irreversible damage if you have made a fundamental error along the way, which could ultimately mean you have caused yourself further financial damage/hardship than if a solicitor had just been instructed from day one.
The following examples can have dire results without seeking specialist family law advice, which can be difficult if not impossible to undo. In trying to do so can be very expensive:-
A wrong box is ticked/completed on the divorce petition;
Accepting an offer in open correspondence that you later want to renege on;
Signing a badly drafted financial consent order or child arrangements order;
Not having a financial consent order in place at all;
Signing a pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or separation agreement with no understanding of what it means and no financial disclosure has taken place;
Saying something that implicates yourself in court proceedings and impacts detrimentally to your case;
Delay in dealing with finances and then assets have increased in value over time from your own efforts, or you have come in to money – all of which is capable of being claimed by your ex
For further advice in relation to divorce and finances, including maintenance award, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email: email@example.com
Maguire Family Law is a highly recommended niche practise specialising in family law matters. We have a large team and can offer advice at any of our locations as follows:-
Wilmslow 01625 544650 Knutsford 01565 648228 London 0207 9474219 Manchester 0161 8048441
Single Mum Still Standing – the public outburst of a single mum against her children’s father and the frustrations on child maintenance
The internet has recently gone crazy because of a Facebook post an anonymous single mother has launched expressing her frustrations and anger towards the father of her children because the child maintenance he is paying is not a true reflection of his earnings. A link to the post can be found on the Daily Mail website here. Warning, she doesn’t hold back!
The single mother is frustrated because of the law behind how much a non-resident parent should pay to the parent with whom the children predominantly live with. Currently if an agreement cannot be reached amicably between separated parents over how much the paying, non-resident parent should pay then the parents are directed to the Child Maintenance Service or Child Maintenance Options for impartial free advice. They have an online calculator that works out how much maintenance should be paid on a weekly basis by applying a percentage to the paying parent’s gross earnings.
Other factors come in to play such as the number of children in the family including any other children that are living with the paying parent that they are financially responsible for (they may not necessarily be their own biological children) and the number of overnight stays the child(ren) spend with the paying parent throughout the year. It is the latter factor that can also cause upset and arguments in relation to the childcare arrangements. We have seen some parents take advantage so the paying parent may demand more overnight stays (which they cannot accommodate in reality) to reduce the maintenance they have to pay and for the receiving parent, they may reduce the number of overnight stays (unnecessarily) so they receive more maintenance.
How child maintenance has been calculated has been heavily criticised by a lot of parents. However they don’t have any recourse to ask a Court to decide if they cannot agree. We have experienced a lot of frustrated parents with the system. One issue we see is when allegations are made about self-employed parents who do not declare their true earnings yet their lifestyle does not support the notion they have limited income. There are potential ways to rectify this.
A parent can try and receive a top up in maintenance for the benefit of their child(ren) is by issuing an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. However these type of cases tend to suit a particular set of circumstances and can usually be seen in very wealthy cases where the paying parent earns more than the CMS cap (which is £156,000 gross per annum) and the children have been used to living a certain lifestyle.
If the children are privately- educated or it was the intention of the parents to privately educate their child(ren) then a separate application can be made for a School Fees Order.
For further advice in relation to child maintenance, school fees orders and Schedule 1 Applications, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
Maguire Family Law is a highly recommended niche practise specialising in family law matters. We have a large team and can offer advice at any of our locations as follows:-
Did you know that you have to married for one year and one day before you can ask for a divorce?
Many people do not know this and it would seem that the family law courts have forgotten too!
The most senior, family law judge, Sir James Munby has had this brought to his attention: that many decree nisis have been made final and absolute even though they breach the time limits imposed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Section 3 forbids divorce petitions being presented to the court within 12 months after a couple have wed.
So what happens now?
Many people have actually remarried and as a result may have inadvertently committed bigamy after being wrongfully granted a divorce.
This revelation has meant that some cases have been referred to the Queen’s Proctor – who represents the Crown in this type of situation and Sir James has issued some interim guidance which can be seen here.
And what does this mean?
If the court discovers that a decree has not been granted and the time limit has been breached, it is likely the divorce will be dismissed (and a further divorce petition can be issued in due course);
If a decree has been granted a judge will have to look at the file and the Queen’s Proctor may intervene to decide what is to happen.
Sir James said: ‘HMCTS and judges will wish to be alert to the potentially devastating impact on litigants of being informed that there is a “problem” with their decree, especially if (and this is unlikely to be known to the court when the first communication is made) a litigant who believes that they have been validly divorced has remarried or is due very shortly to remarry. Communications should accordingly be expressed in appropriately sympathetic and apologetic language.’
How has this happened?
It is unclear but it could be as a result of the court’s computer software not picking this 1 year rule up at the start of a divorce case and these errors have effectively slipped through the net. Added to this is the fact that more people are trying to complete a divorce themselves and who may obviously not realise this or understand the law.
This is, however, cold comfort and divorce petitions that breach the time limit rule mean that any consequent decree nisi or decree absolute granted is null and void; and if that is not bad enough, if a party has subsequently remarried, that marriage is invalid.
If you are in doubt about your own personal situation, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist family law solicitors by email: firstname.lastname@example.org