Tag: Family Law lawyers Altrincham

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.

How does the court decide whether to grant an occupation order?

When deciding whether to grant an occupation order, the court uses two tests to consider the effects that making the order would have on all parties involved.

When handling domestic abuse cases, the court has a duty of care to the applicant, the respondent, and any children involved in the case.

Granting an occupation order can temporarily provide victims of domestic violence a safe place to live by removing their spouse from the shared home.

The court uses the evidence provided and two tests to decide whether an occupation order is the best course of action.

The ‘balance of harm’ test

When carrying out the balance of harm test it is the court’s duty to consider and balance the level of harm likely to be caused to the applicant, the respondent and any relevant children, if the order was or wasn’t made.

Section 33(7) of the Family Law Act 1996 states that the court must grant an occupation order if they believe that the applicant or any relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm attributable to the conduct of the respondent if an order is not made.

Exceptions to this rule occur when the court believe that the respondent or child are likely to suffer significant harm or greater harm than the applicant if the order is made. In cases that involve a child, the child’s wellbeing is always the court’s paramount consideration.

The ‘core criteria’ test

The core criteria test takes into consideration the applicant’s relationship to the respondent and entitlement to the property.

If the applicant is entitled to the property, then according to Section 33(6) of the Family Law Act the court must then consider the following core criteria.

  • The housing needs and resources of each of the parties and of any relevant child.
  • The financial resources of each party.
  • The likely effect of any order, or of any decision by the court not to exercise its powers, on the health, safety or well-being of the parties and of any relevant child.
  • The conduct of the parties in relation to each other.

If the applicant is not entitled to the property then some additional factors will be taken into consideration, including, whether any children are involved, the length of the relationship, and the length of time since the relationship came to an end.

If you require help, support, or legal advice relating to domestic abuse or 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.

The new no-fault divorce law: What you need to know

The government are introducing no-fault divorces in a bid to end the divorce ‘blame game’ and make the process faster, simpler and more amicable.

When announcing the plans to reform divorce law, Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.”

Current grounds for divorce

Existing divorce laws are over 50 years old and have been under fire for being outdated and causing unnecessary further conflict between divorcing couples.

Currently, couples who wish to get a divorce are required under the Matrimonial Causes Act to prove one of the following:

  • Unreasonable behaviour.
  • Desertion (for 2 years).
  • Mutual separation (for 2 years).
  • Have lived apart for 5 years (if one party does not agree to the divorce).

The new no-fault divorce

Under the proposed new laws, couples will simply be required to issue a statement saying that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of their relationship.

A minimum time frame of six months will be introduced to give couples the opportunity to work things out and change their minds before the divorce is finalised.

Other changes include the option to make a joint application for divorce, and the scrapping of the option to contest proceedings.

There is not yet a date for when the new law will come into effect, but the government have expressed that they are committed to introducing the new changes as soon as possible and expect it to be within the next year.

If you require legal help or advice with any aspect of divorce law, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors here at Lund Bennett by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

Benefits of introducing a no-fault divorce

The introduction of no-fault divorces is set to make getting a divorce simpler and more amicable.

UK law will soon reflect the fact that sometimes relationships don’t work and there isn’t necessarily anyone to blame.

The changes to the law will introduce no-fault divorces, allowing couples to submit an amicable statement of irretrievable breakdown instead of being required to provide evidence of adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Here are just a few benefits of no-fault divorces.

Reduce conflict, stress and upset – Splitting up with a spouse is often a time full of upheaval and big life changes. The option for an amicable no-fault divorce can make the process psychologically easier and help to reduce stress and upset at what is already an emotionally-charged time.

Speed up the process– Under current laws, if only one party agrees to the divorce and there is no one to blame for the breakdown of the relationship, then the couple need to live separately for five years before a divorce will be granted. The new laws will remove the need to place blame on one party just to speed up the process.

More chance of a reconciliation – There is more chance of couples working out their differences and reconciling if proceedings are amicable. Having to place blame on one party in order to prove the breakdown of the relationship causes further friction and intensifies any bad feelings between couples.

Less upsetting for children – For relationships involving children, any measures that make the split less heated are beneficial. Divorce can be traumatic for children stuck between feuding parents who blame each other for the failed relationship.

Save money on court costs – Being able to come to an agreement without placing blame, should make it easier for agreements to be made outside of court, keeping legal costs down.

If you require legal help or advice with divorce law, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors here at Lund Bennett by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

What are the risks of using a DIY legal document?

It is cheap and easy to purchase DIY kits for producing legal documents, but they don’t come without risk.

Whilst it may appear to be quick and simple to fill out a do-it-yourself template for a legal document, can you really be confident that it is valid and will achieve the desired outcome?

Just some of the dangers of using a DIY legal document include:

  • Document is invalid.
  • Template is outdated.
  • Errors mean it results in a different outcome than desired.
  • Errors incur a penalty.
  • Distress for you and your family if the desired outcome is not achieved.

When it comes to legal documents, just one small mistake or miswording could invalidate or completely change the meaning of the document.

The law is intricate and complex, and precision and accuracy are key. Sometimes, in the simplest of cases, a generic template may suffice, but often a more bespoke approach is required.

Legal documents can have long-lasting effects for you and your family and are not something that we’d advise trying to take shortcuts with.

Saving money on the cost of your legal document could well turn out to be false economy if a mistake then incurs penalties or you are required to start again due to an error.

Advantages of using the services of a specialist solicitor

Having your legal documents created by a specialist solicitor will save you time and stress as well as offering you peace of mind that they are free of errors, valid, and will achieve your desired outcome.

Your solicitor will also be able to offer you bespoke advice and guidance tailored to your individual needs, advising you on additional areas that you may wish to consider.

At Lund Bennett our team of specialist solicitors can create professional legal documents for every aspect of family law, from cohabitation agreements to separation agreements. Give our team a call on 0161 927 3118 to discuss your requirements.

Do I need consent from my ex to change our child’s name?

If a parent wishes to change their child’s surname, they should first seek the consent of any other person with parental responsibility.

There are several reasons why a parent may wish to change their child’s name after a separation or divorce. If the parents were married, then it is quite common for one party to revert to their maiden name. Similarly, if one person remarries, they may wish for the child to take their new family name.

Whatever the reason for the name change, everyone with parental responsibility should consent to the change in writing before it can be changed.

When there is consent

If all parties with parental responsibility are happy with the proposed name change then the change can be made via deed poll. If the child in question is aged between 16 and 18 then they too must sign the deed poll to consent to the change of name.

When there isn’t consent

If your ex disagrees with the name change and you cannot get their consent, then you will need to apply for a Specific Issue Order to change the child’s name.

The court will then decide whether the name change is in the best interests of the child. A few factors that will influence their decision includes the length of time the child has had their existing name, the reasons for the change, the effect changing or not changing their name could have on the child, and the child’s wishes.

Specific Issue Orders can also be requested by the opposing parent in order to prevent the name change.

Requesting a Specific Issue Order

If you require a Specific Issue Order to either apply to change your child’s name or prevent it being changed, get in touch with our team of specialist family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett by calling us on 0161 927 3118.

When should a Prohibited Steps Order be used?

A Prohibited Steps Order can prevent one parent from making a significant change to a child’s life or upbringing that the other parent disagrees with.

When two or more people share parental responsibility of a child, it’s unlikely that their ideas about what’s best for the child will always align.

In most cases, it is possible to come to an amicable agreement, however in instances where an agreement can’t be reached, a Prohibited Steps Order may be applied for by the opposing person.

Applications for a Prohibited Steps Order can be made to the court, and if successful, they prevent a parent or guardian from performing an activity with the child.

What could warrant a Prohibited Steps Order?

When applying for a Prohibited Steps Order it’s important to remember that the child’s welfare will always be the key consideration in the court’s decision-making process.

Examples of the type of activity or decisions that may warrant a Prohibited Steps Order include if a parent or guardian wants to:

  • Move abroad with child.
  • Change the child’s school.
  • Change the child’s surname.
  • Allow child to have a medical treatment or operation.
  • Give the child a religious education.

When can a Prohibited Steps Order be used?

Prohibited Steps Orders are not restricted to parents, they can be made by anyone with parental responsibility, including guardians and those with a Residence Order in relation to the child.

However, you cannot apply for a Prohibited Steps Order when the child in question is in the care of a Local Authority or aged 16 or older.

For more help and advice with applying for a Prohibited Steps Order, please speak to one of our specialist solicitors here at Lund Bennett by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.

What is included in a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples, but a cohabitation agreement can offer some protection.

A cohabitation agreement allows couples living together to agree their financial commitments and obligations to each other, to avoid disputes later down the line.

With more people than ever now choosing to cohabit, the lack of legal protection for cohabiting couples can make breakups fraught and messy.

To avoid stressful disputes, many cohabiting couples are now choosing to create a legal cohabitation agreement, to iron out the details about what would happen in the event of a relationship breakdown.

A cohabitation agreement gives couples the opportunity to discuss who owns what, how property and assets should be split, and how children will be supported, should they decide to part ways in the future.

Creating an agreement in advance usually results in fair and realistic decisions being made, which isn’t always the case in the midst of a relationship breakdown.

are a few things that you should sit down and discuss in detail before creating a cohabitation agreement.

Whilst you’re cohabiting:

  • Who owns what?
  • How will bills and living expenses be covered?

In the event of a separation:

  • How will your possessions and assets be divided?
  • How will property be divided?
  • Where would children live?
  • How will children be financially supported?
  • How would money in joint accounts be split?
  • How would overdrafts and debt be split?
  • Who owns each vehicle?

For a cohabitation to be legally binding, you will each need to be able to confirm that you have received independent legal advice and entered into the agreement voluntarily.

For help and advice with a cohabitation dispute or creating an agreement, get in touch with our team of specialists here at Lund Bennett Law by giving us a call on 0161 927 3118.