Domestic violence and contact with children – the court’s approach

Historically, the family courts have always presumed that contact is in the best interests of the child. Following years of domestic violence perpetrated on women and children by absent parents who were granted contact orders, a report published in 2006 recommended a change to judicial practice in moving away from the presumption of contact to contact that is safe and positive for the child. There followed the issuing by the President of the Family Division in 2008 of Practice Direction 12J – Child Arrangements and Contact Order: Domestic Violence and Harm. In 2010, this was substantially revised to contain a...

Rights of cohabitants – or no rights?

Cohabitation is widespread and is becoming ever more common.  National figures show that cohabitation is the fastest growing family type in the UK having doubled in the last 10 years including couples of same sex.  So who is a cohabitant?  The legal definition is  ‘two persons who are neither married to each other nor civil partners of each other but are living together as husband and wife or as if they were civil partners’  (s.62 (1)(a) Family Law Act 1986). This would include those couples living together who are ‘married’ in the UK under their own religious laws & customs...

How do I start a divorce proceeding?

There might come a point in your life where you feel that divorce is the only option you have. In such an unfortunate time, you will need to be clear on how you can start the divorce proceedings. In this post, we’ll explain the process of starting divorce proceedings in simple terms. In order to get a divorce, you need to have been married for one year. We explain this in more detail in our post here. To start the divorce you will need to the following: 1)    File a document, called a Petition, to the Court to initiate the...

Nikah (Islamic Marriage) and Matrimonial Rights in the UK

A recent court case, Akhtar vs Khan, received sensational attention in the British press. The reason? It dealt with the status of a Nikah, – a marriage entered into under Sharia Law. The parties were Mrs Akhtar and Mr Khan who had “married” through a Nikah in 1998. Despite Mrs Akhtar seeking to register the ‘marriage’ under civil laws, Mr Khan was not so agreeable and eventually refused to go through with a civil ceremony. Mrs Khan petitioned for a divorce in 2016. Mr Khan defended the divorce on the basis that the parties had not entered into a valid...

What is a ‘Stateless Person’?

It might seem unfathomable, but some people belong to no country. Imagine having no national identity, no passport or no place to really call home. Statelessness happens in a variety of ways; sometimes people are born into statelessness, sometimes they become stateless later in their lives. Many people who are stateless have never even crossed an international border or left the country they grew up in. Citizenship and the state Citizenship of a nation doesn’t just provide a sense of belonging. It is a bond between person and state. It gives you the right to have rights. Citizenship allows you...

Are Pre-Nups legally binding in the UK?

Pre-Nups and Post-nups are not legally binding in the UK. However, more weight is given to them in court now, provided the agreement is a “qualifying agreement”. What makes a Pre-Nup a “qualifying agreement”? For a Pre-Nup to meet the criteria of a “qualifying agreement”: There must be full financial disclosure of both parties’ assets before the agreement is made; no assets should be hidden by either party Both parties must receive independent legal advice about the agreement from different Solicitors The agreement has to have been signed no later than 28 days before the wedding The agreement must not...

Brexit: The impact on Wills and Probate

A large proportion of Wills are made with tax planning questions in mind, particularly Inheritance tax which has always been a hot topic amongst voters.  Many people feel that after working and paying tax all their lives, then having an additional tax charged upon their death, is undeniably nefarious. Now there is a new challenge facing us ahead – Brexit.  There has never been more uncertainty in Britain since the outcome of the referendum to leave the European Union. Many UK and non-UK nationals who have property across the EU member states are concerned about inheritance tax and succession planning as...

Benefits of providing gifts to charities

Whilst public spending cuts have increased this year, the Government has given a major tax incentive to those who wish to leave money to charity upon death. Currently inheritance tax is charged at 40%, but by leaving a part or all of your estate to one or more charities, this will reduce or eradicate your estate’s inheritance tax liability altogether.  By leaving a legacy or a percentage of your estate to charity, this will not be included for inheritance tax as charities are deemed to be ‘exempt beneficiaries’ or non-tax payers.    Therefore, should you decide to leave everything to charity,...