Category: domestic legislation

No Fault Divorce and Domestic abuse proposals may be revived in the Queen’s Speech

Two key bills which have a major impact on family law face an uncertain future given the recent prorogation of Parliament. Both the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill and the Domestic Abuse Bill have been halted due to lack of parliamentary time.

As reported in the Law Gazette, both of the bills were a result of extensive cross-party work and follow years of campaigning for reform. As there was no cross-over motion pre-prorogation then if the Government brings the bills back the process may have to start from scratch in the next parliament.

A glimmer of hope comes from the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg who has stated that the Domestic Abuse Bill is “likely” to be a feature in the new parliamentary session.

He heavily hinted that it will feature with in the Queen’s Speech, saying: “I can’t tell you what is precisely going to be in the Queen’s Speech but I think I can give a steer that it’d be a great surprise to all of us if this Bill was not revived very quickly.”

Parliament has been suspended by the Government and is due to return on 14 October 2019.

Divorce and Children’s Education

Schools are an important and often overlooked area of divorce and complex issues can arise when parents don’t agree on where their child goes to school, who pays for what and who takes responsibility for picking up and dropping off at the gates.  

With many good state schools oversubscribed parents may well be concerned that their children won’t get a good education if one partner has to move to another area where schools are not of the same standard.  

There can also be disputes over who will continue to pay for a child’s education if one parent has always paid the lion’s share of fees at a fee-paying school.  

In both case the arrangements are best made through a mediation process where parents can decide what is in the best interests of the child. This can mean decisions are made over affordability, for example if one parent can’t afford to pay school fees then the other may commit to pay a share of the costs.  

This sort of arrangement may also apply to the purchase of school uniforms, equipment and school clubs throughout the school year.  

When it comes to living arrangements, then the parent that has custody of the child will be the one who decides for practicality reasons where the child should attend school if they live in a particular catchment area and the only option is a state school.  

These are just some of the issues surrounding a child’s schooling which may arise during divorce proceedings and if you need help with this or any other issues surrounding divorce, contact us today.

Men Who Aren’t Breadwinners Face A Higher Risk of Divorce

Even though society has moved on from men being the sole breadwinners in relationships, recent findings suggest that those men who don’t fulfil this traditional role are more likely to end up divorced.

The idea that a husband’s job and, more importantly, whether that job is full or part time job have a big influence on the success of marriage is a controversial one but a paper written by Harvard sociology professor Alexandra Killewald shows results that this is the case.

The report does go on to suggest that wages themselves are not a deciding factor in the likelihood of divorce, the women in those relationships still seem more likely to stick with men who fulfil their stereotypical role according to the study.

Couples who took part were married both pre- and post-1974 in the study Money, Work, and Marital Stability: Assessing Change in the Gendered Determinants of Divorce. Interestingly divorce was found to be less likely among those marrying pre-1974 when it came to men not fulfilling their traditional breadwinning role.

This may in part have been due to more women taking responsibility for housework than men. Since the 70s, women are far more likely to be going out to work and contributing significantly to household finances which might also be a factor.

It is possible that even though women are earning and more likely to be in full time employment than they were pre-1974 many are still not prepared to assume the role of breadwinner in their marriages and these tensions can result in divorce.

Does Divorce Still Have A Strong Impact On Child Psychological Wellbeing?

Various studies into the psychological effects of divorce on children over many years have often revealed negative impacts on wellbeing. A recent article in the independent highlights that despite many positive changes that consider the impact on children, long term effects are remain present leading to poor educational attainment and emotional difficulties.

While some of these effects may not be exclusively due to divorce, evidence from recent studies show that it is a factor. The article highlights that a study on children with exceptionally high IQs which began in the 1920s showed a negative effect on how long those subjects lived even if it didn’t have an effect on their IQs.

The effects in this study were shown to be long term and less obvious as those who took part showed no noticeable differences to the children who hadn’t seen their parents’ divorce.

A study which covers an even longer period starting in Sweden in the 19th century and covering more than a century showed that there has been little change in educational attainment and psychological wellbeing in children of divorced parents in that time.

The conclusion to draw from this is that while divorce is unavoidable for many couples, the welfare of children involved should always be considered a top priority.

Former Model and US Citizen receives £75 million divorce settlement in English Court

Christina Estrada, 54, sought £238 million from her former husband Sheikh Walid Juffali, 61. The parties had been married for 13 years and have one daughter together. According to the Guardian, Ms Estrada had claimed that she required £1 million a year for clothes, including £40,000 for fur coats, £109,000 for haute couture dresses and £21,000 for shoes. The total settlement of £75 million included a cash payment of £53 million.

Ms Estrada is a US citizen who has been in the UK since 1988. Mr Juffali divorced Ms Estrada in Saudi Arabia in 2014 under Islamic law, without her knowledge. In 2012, Mr Juffali married a 25 year old Lebanese model, mother of his two youngest children, whilst still married to Ms Estrada. In Saudia Arabia, Muslim men are permitted to have more than one wife.

Ms Estrada had to obtain permission from the Court under part 3 of the 1984 Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act to apply for financial relief in England, as she could not bring a case in Saudi Arabia. Mr Juffali had tried to use his status as a diplomat to avoid any divorce proceedings in England however this defence was rejected by the High Court and the Court of Appeal confirmed that Mr Juffali’s permanent residence in the UK prevented him from using this defence and avoiding such protection against his former wife’s financial claims.

Following the hearing Ms Estrada said: ‘I am very grateful for today’s ruling. I have lived in the United Kingdom since 1988 and am thankful for access to the British courts. I never wanted to be here. I always wanted to resolve the matter amicably. This process has been incredibly bruising and distressing. Walid and I were happily married for 12 years and have a beautiful daughter together. He both took a second wife and divorced me without my knowledge…His use of diplomatic immunity to try and prevent me from access to a legally binding settlement set a worrying precedent’

London has a well-established reputation as the one of the ‘divorce capitals’ of the world with a legal system which is said to be more generous to the ‘poorer’ spouse than in many other countries. This case reaffirms the fact it is becoming increasingly common for spouses resident in other countries to relocate to England and seek out the English courts to divorce their former husband/wife or to apply for financial relief.

In order to bring a claim under part 3 of the Matrimonial and Family Proceeding Act 1984, as Ms Estrada did, you need to have a valid marriage, a divorce with judicial involvement and you must also meet the jurisdictional requirements to bring a claim in the English courts. If you have married or currently live abroad and are interested in discussing your options further please contact a member of our team for more advice.

What Impact Will Brexit Have on Family Law?

Now that the dust seems to have settled on Brexit, what we are left with is what Michael Heseltine recently referred to as a ‘dark cloud’. This dark cloud is filled with uncertainty not just concerning politics and economics but also our laws.

Family law is one area that could see significant changes in the coming years when EU laws will need to be replaced. While the cross border elements of family law will inevitably see changes, so too will cases involving exclusively UK nationals.

The risk in all of this is that there will be holes left if amendments and new domestic legislation is not made in time, once the UK government gives formal notice of its intention to leave the EU.
Things may get particularly complex for the many relationships and marriages between UK nationals and EU citizens. Then there will be the issue of settlements and how volatility in the financial markets might impact on the fairness of those settlements.

While Brexit presents challenges there might also be opportunities for the reform of existing laws imposed by the EU. Some EU laws currently impose regulations that have a major impact on UK laws when it comes to jurisdiction and enforcement of any decisions.