Category: Domestic Violence

How long does it take to get a divorce?

If you and your partner have decided to get a divorce, you’ll probably want to get things settled as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Unfortunately, getting a divorce can sometimes be complicated and the timescales for getting one can vary significantly.

How long it will take from filing for a divorce to receiving your decree absolute is dependent on several factors including:

How quickly you reach an agreement
If you and your partner reach a straightforward agreement, then this is called an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually much quicker to settle than contested divorce.

If you cannot reach an agreement about the terms of your divorce, then you will be required to attend mediation followed by court if the dispute still cannot be resolved. This can cause the process to drag on and take much longer than an uncontested divorce.

Whether any children are involved

If you and your partner have children, then it may take longer to iron out all the terms of your divorce relating to custody and child maintenance payments.

How many assets are owned
The more assets that you and your partner own, the more complicated and time-consuming the process of dividing your assets is likely to be. Just some of the assets that will need to be considered include property, savings, pensions, and vehicles.

How busy the Court of Administration’s processing centre is
Even if you come to an agreement quickly and fill out and return all documentation promptly, if the Court of Administration’s processing centre is very busy and have a backlog of work, this can hold things up.

Average timescale for a divorce in the UK

Once an agreement has been reached and a divorce has been filed for, the average time to receive a decree absolute is around 12 months.

For further help or advice with divorce law or beginning divorce proceedings, give our team of family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

What evidence can be used during divorce proceedings?

During divorce proceedings you will be required to give evidence to support all information and claims you make.

When applying for a divorce, you will need to provide proof that your marriage has irretrievably broken down for one of the following reasons:
• Adultery
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Desertion
• Two years separation with your spouse’s consent; or
• Five years separation, whether your spouse consents or not

The evidence and documentation you provide will be used to prove your grounds for a divorce and help to fairly divide assets and make important decisions regarding custody and maintenance costs for any children involved in the case.

Types of evidence that may be required to support your case

Financial
• Bank statements
• Tax returns
• Salary information
• Details of property owned
• Details of assets owned
• Details of any debts

Children
• School records
• Your child’s medical records

Reasons for divorce (eg. domestic violence or adultery)

• Photos
• Text messages
• Social media posts and messages

As well as physical documentation and evidence, you may also provide evidence verbally through your own testimony and witness testimonies by friends, family and experts.
Hearsay is not acceptable as evidence.

What should not be included as evidence?

• Confidential documents/letters obtained without permission.
• Private emails, social media messages and text messages obtained without permission.

Intercepting confidential letters or communications and hacking into a person’s private digital accounts is illegal, so any evidence obtained this way cannot be included in proceedings.

You can, however, include any physical or digital communications that you have received yourself.

All of your evidence should be given to your solicitor during the preparation of your case so that it can be included in your exhibit list and properly introduced during the court case.

For further help or advice with divorce law or beginning divorce proceedings, give our team of family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

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.

What evidence is required when applying for an occupation order?

Victims of domestic abuse should gather as much evidence as possible to support their case if they wish to apply for an occupation order.

Occupation orders are a type of injunction used to provide victims of domestic abuse with protection from their abuser and a safe place for them and their children to live.

If you meet the eligibility criteria to apply for an occupation order, then you will be required to gather as much evidence as possible to submit with your application. The more evidence you have, the better your chance of being granted an order.

Evidence may include:

Sworn statement

You will be required to write a sworn statement (sometimes called an affidavit) detailing the abuse that you have been subjected to and the effects that it has had on you and any children involved.

Although it may be painful and upsetting to recall events in detail, the more detailed and precise you can be, the better. If you know the dates and times that any of the incidents took place, then it is beneficial to record these in your statement.

Details about past events

Details about any past incidents should also be given as these can be useful in providing context to your case.

Independent evidence

If you can obtain any professional independent evidence like medical or police reports, then these will also strengthen your case.

The court will use the evidence you provide, and a ‘balance of harm’ and ‘core criteria’ test to consider the circumstances of your case in detail and the effects that an order would have on the health, wellbeing and safety of all parties involved.

If you require help, support, or legal advice relating to domestic abuseor occupation orders, please give our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

What constitutes psychological domestic abuse?

Since 2015 the law has recognised that psychological or emotional abuse can be just as upsetting and damaging to individuals as physical abuse.

The Serious Crime Act 2015 made ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ in an intimate or family relationship an offence in the UK. Earlier this year, Scottish Parliament also made psychological domestic abuse a crime under their new Domestic Abuse Act.

Physical domestic abuse tends to be much easier to identify that emotional abuse, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing for the victim.

The key behaviours that constitute psychological domestic abuse are:

  • Controlling a person’s day-to-day activities– this can include, but isn’t limited to, where they go, who they see, and what they wear.
  • Intimidating behaviour– any behaviour that makes another person feel scared, including shouting, acting aggressively and making threats.
  • Putting someone down– this includes behaviour that damages a person’s confidence and sense of self-worth like repeatedly putting another person down or calling them names.
  • Financial control– this refers to controlling behaviour relating to another person’s employment or finances and can include withholding money or preventing someone from getting a job.
  • Isolation– preventing a person from spending time or speaking with their friends and family.
  • Degrading behaviour– carrying out activities or enforcing rules that humiliate, degrade or dehumanise a person.
  • Emotional blackmail– using threats or emotional outbursts to control or manipulate another person.

One or two isolated incidents of any of the above behaviours is unlikely to constitute domestic abuse. The behaviours become an offence when they are used repeatedly and calculatedly by a perpetrator, resulting in serious alarm or distress for the victim.

If you are being subjected to domestic abuseand require legal advice or support, give our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

Am I eligible to apply for an occupation order?

An occupation order can enforce safe living arrangement for victims of domestic abuse.

If you have suffered domestic abuse you may feel unsafe living in the same house as your perpetrator. An occupation order can be used to provide you with a safe place to live by regulating who can live in your family home.

How can an occupation order be used?

Occupation orders are flexible and can be used in a variety of ways to offer victims protection. Some of the commonest ways in which occupation orders are used in domestic abuse cases include:

  • To exclude someone from the family home.
  • To enforce the right to remain in or return to the family home.
  • To set out who pays for expenses relating to the family home.
  • To exclude someone from a defined area around the family home.

Eligibility to apply for an occupation order

In order to be eligible to apply for an occupation order you must be ‘associated’ with the other person in one of the following ways:

  • Married, in a civil partnership, or engaged.
  • Previously married or in a civil partnership.
  • Cohabiting in a family scenario.
  • In an intimate physical relationship for a significant length of time.
  • Have parental responsibility for the same child.

Occupation orders are only applicable in very serious cases as they can grant access to a property that a victim does not have a legal entitlement to and deny access to a perpetrator with legal entitlement.

The court will assess whether an occupation order is suitable for your individual case by applying two tests. The tests are called the balance of harm test and the core criteria test. These tests take into consideration the health, safety and well-being of the victim and any children involved and their related housing and resource needs.

If you require help, support, or legal advice relating to domestic abuseor occupation orders, please give our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

67-year-old millionaire ordered by the Court to leave his home due to accusations of physical and emotional abuse towards Wife

The Family Division at the High Court heard that the Wife in this case, who is in her late 70s, was frightened of her husband, a 67-year-old millionaire from Essex, and took legal action against him. Judge Catriona Murfitt concluded that the Wife was likely to suffer ‘significant harm’ if the Husband stayed in the property any longer and therefore he was ordered to vacate the property.

The Husband went on to appeal this decision, stating that the ruling was ‘unfair’. Mr Justice Baker dismissed this appeal and told the Husband that he had ‘no prospect’ of overturning Judge Murfitt’s initial ruling. Mr Justice Baker went on to say that the Wife claimed ‘that for the duration of the marriage, she had been the emotional punch bag for his insecurities and frustrations’.

Mr Justice Baker said that Judge Murfitt held that the Wife was likely to suffer significant harm if an order was not made and that harm was greater than any harm which the Husband was likely to suffer from having to leave the property and he upheld this decision.

Occupation orders

If you are experiencing abuse following your separation or your former partner is acting in a vengeful manner and causing you to fear for your safety in the family home, as outlined in the case above, the Court can issue an occupation order against your former spouse.

An occupation order is an order setting out who has the right to stay, return, or be excluded from a family home. An occupation order doesn’t change the financial ownership of a home, it is usually a short-term measure and the length of time an occupation order lasts will depend on your circumstances. In many cases an order will last for between 6-12 months and some can be renewed. An occupation order can only be made for a property where you both live, did live, or intended to live in as the ‘family home’.

Our Family Law specialists are here to help and can provide the proper advice and guidance you need. You can talk to us in complete confidence about the legal steps you can take to bring your abuser to justice, to feel safe in the former matrimonial home and to legally end your relationship. Please contact us for an initial consultation today on 0161 927 3118.

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.

Two Thirds of Domestic Abuse Victims Unaware Of Eligibility For Legal Aid

The well-publicised reports of domestic abuse concerning Amber Heard and Johnny Depp has once again brought the issues surrounding domestic abuse in marriage to the fore.

While the allegations remain unproven in the case of Heard and Depp, cases often go unreported when there is a genuine need for some form of legal support to prevent abuse continuing and, in some cases, endangering the lives of those affected.

While it is often easier for celebrities to simply call their lawyer, for people who lack the financial means, seeking legal advice can seem daunting and too costly for those concerned.

Yet there are many cases where those on low incomes can get hold of legal aid to help them with their situation. This means they will miss out on vital legal advice as well as information on where they can go for help.

The legal needs survey of 8,912 people in England and Wales by Ipsos MORI found that 20% of respondents didn’t believe they would get access to legal aid and 47% didn’t know they could be entitled to it. 86% percent of those surveyed were not aware that there are mediation services which can help them.

This shows that a lot of work still needs to be done to educate those affected by domestic abuse.