Month: February 2014

New guidance to raise awareness of Domestic Violence

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that doctors and nurses should receive special training to recognise the signs of domestic violence. In its new report, NICE says its recommendations should act as a ‘wake-up call’ to the levels of domestic violence both women and men are experiencing.

It’s thought that around 1.2 million women and 784,000 men in England and Wales are victims of domestic violence every year, and that one in three women and almost one in five men will experience domestic violence at some point. However, it’s also thought that many cases go unreported, with victims too afraid of their attacker to go to the police or social services.

Research suggests that domestic violence costs the UK around £15.7billion each year, including healthcare, criminal justice costs, social services and refuge costs as well as working days lost due to domestic violence injuries.

NICE has recommended that doctors and nurses need to be trained to spot the signs, ask about abuse and encourage patients to seek specialist help.

The guidance says: “Health and social care service managers and professionals should ensure front-line staff in all services are trained to recognise the indicators of domestic violence and abuse and can ask relevant questions to help people disclose their past or current experiences of such violence or abuse.

“The inquiry should be made in private on a one-to-one basis in an environment where the person feels safe, and in a kind, sensitive manner.”

Dr Adrian Boyle, accident and emergency physician at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, said: “In emergency departments, we see a lot of patients who are experiencing domestic violence, including those who don’t feel able to tell us what is happening to them.

“At the moment there is no requirement for staff to be trained, but what this new guidance recommends is that all staff should be trained to respond well to patients who chose to confide what is happening to them.”

If you are experiencing domestic violence within your marriage or partnership, you can talk to us in complete confidence about the legal steps you can take to bring your abuser to justice and to legally end your relationship. As Family Law specialists we will handle your case with sensitivity and provide the proper advice and guidance you need. Please contact us in confidence for a free 20 minute consultation on 0845 548 1007.

Will pre-nups be given legal status in the UK?

We’ve all heard of famous celebrities and their pre-nup deals to protect their fortunes – the latest reports regarding music mogul Simon Cowell suggest that he has allegedly already drawn up a pre-nuptial agreement which, should he marry girlfriend Lauren Silverman, would give her £20million in the event they should divorce.

Pre-nuptial agreements are drawn up before a marriage and allow couples to set the terms of any future divorce. Whilst not exactly romantic, it’s certainly prudent for anyone wishing to protect any money or assets they bring to the marriage.

At the moment pre-nups are very rarely recognised in the UK courts, with judges instead trying to divide a couple’s assets on the merits of each case. However, that could be set to change as the Government’s law reform advisors look set to recommend a shake-up of the divorce laws which would make US-style pre-nups legally binding here. The package of reforms is likely to outline a new law ‘to consider the treatment of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements’ and may also include rules to deter ‘gold-diggers’. This means that a bride or groom bringing their own assets to a marriage, for example an inheritance or family-owned business or property, would not lose these in the event of a divorce.

The turning point came in 2010 when the Supreme Court judges ruled that German heiress Katrin Radmacher should keep her £100million fortune after her divorce in accordance with the terms of her pre-nup.

Now, after four years of wrangling, the Law Commission has drawn up the ‘Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements’ proposals which could pave the way for pre-nuptial agreements gaining full legal status here in the UK.

It’s unlikely that there will be any changes to the law before next year’s General Election as the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will need to consider the proposals at length. But the Ministry of Justice has said that the Government will consider the recommendations when they are published.

As we’ve said, asking your beloved to sign a pre-nuptial agreement before your marriage or civil partnership may not be the most romantic gesture. But if you have interests to protect in the event of a divorce – and should the law be changed to fully recognise these agreements – then drawing up a pre-nup could be as sensible as making a Will or taking out Life Insurance.

For advice and guidance on drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement, please contact our specialist Family Law lawyers on 0845 548 1007 for a free 20 minute consultation.