A remarkable case was published last month in which a 41 year-old man sought to make a claim for financial support from his parents. The claim failed, but the case raises the question: when can an adult child make a financial claim against their parents?

Normally of course financial claims for children are made on their behalf by a parent, whilst the child is still a minor, i.e. under 18. However, it is possible for an adult child to make a financial claim against their parents, albeit in very limited circumstances.

Note that this post does not refer to claims by an adult child against the estate of a deceased parent – such claims are not unusual. And nor does it refer to civil money claims by a child against a parent, such as debt claims.

So what ‘family law’ claims can a child make against their parent(s)?

Since 1993 child maintenance claims have of course usually been made under the Child Support Act. However, the Act only provides for child support maintenance claims to be made by a parent or carer of the child – it does not include provision for adult children to claim maintenance for themselves.

There are, however, ways in which an adult child can make financial claims against their parents. In summary, there are provisions under which they can claim maintenance or even a lump sum from either or both of their parents.

But there are limitations to such claims, depending upon what type of claim is being made. We will not go into detail, but two particular limitations apply in all cases: a court can only make an order against a parent if:

1. The child is, will be or (if an order were made) would be, receiving instruction at an educational establishment or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation, whether or not while they are in gainful employment; or

2. There are special circumstances which justify the making of an order. ‘Special circumstances’ is not defined, but it is generally thought to refer in particular to cases in which the adult child suffers from a disability. There may, of course, be other types of special circumstance, but it is likely to be very rare for a claim to be allowed on this basis.

In short, the law generally considers that a parent’s financial obligations towards their child cease when the child reaches the age of 18 or, if the child is then still financially dependent upon them, when the child is no longer dependent. The child will usually be no longer dependent when they finish education, unless they suffer from a disability, in which case the dependency could be for life.

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If you are, or may be, involved in making an application for maintenance or financial provision for a child then you should seek expert legal advice. We can find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Last week we looked at the procedure to be followed to get a financial remedy order, setting out the financial settlement on divorce. But getting the order is not necessarily the end of the matter.

The order must still be complied with. What if the other party does not comply with it? What can you do? After all, an order that cannot be enforced is not worth the paper it’s written on.

Well, there are various different ways of enforcing financial orders. Which one is appropriate will depend upon the particular situation.

Enforcing Maintenance Orders

Because of their continuing nature, maintenance orders present special problems when it comes to enforcement. Normally, the amount that the court will enforce is fixed at the date of enforcement, meaning any future non-payment will have to be enforced separately.

For this reason, the most appropriate method of enforcing a maintenance order is by applying for an attachment of earnings order, whereby the debtor’s employer is required to deduct the maintenance and a sum towards any arrears from the debtor’s salary, and pay that to the court, for onward payment to the creditor.

Obviously, attachment of earnings orders can only be made where the debtor is employed. If they are not, then another method of enforcement will have to be used – see below.

Enforcing Orders for Transfer or Sale of Property

It is not uncommon for a party to refuse to obey an order to transfer a property, usually the former matrimonial home, to the other party. In this case, or where the transferring party cannot be found, application may be made for an order that the conveyance or transfer be executed by a district judge, instead of the transferring party.

Where there is an order for sale of property, and one party refuses to cooperate with the sale by refusing to give up possession of the property, then an application may be made for an order that that party deliver up possession to the purchaser or to whomever the court directs, to allow the sale to proceed.

Other Forms of Enforcement

There are a number of other methods of enforcing a financial remedy order. Here are some of the most commonly used:

Third party debt order – An order directing a third party who owes money to the debtor (e.g. the debtor’s bank) to pay the debt directly to the creditor.

Charging order – An order of the court placing a charge on the debtor’s property, to the value of the debt. The debt is therefore secured, and can subsequently be recovered by seeking an order for the sale of the property.

Execution against goods – Requiring the court bailiff to attend the debtor’s premises and seize goods to the value of the sum due. The goods will be sold and the proceeds used to pay the debt.

Judgment summons – This is a procedure whereby the debtor is required to attend court, where he will be examined under oath as to his means and will have to explain why he should not be committed to prison for failure to comply with the order. In practice, any committal order is likely to be suspended on condition that the debtor pay the amount due by a specified date, or by specified instalments.

And finally, what if you don’t know what method of enforcement to use? Well, then you can make a general enforcement application, seeking ‘such method of enforcement as the court may consider appropriate’.

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If you have a financial remedy order that you need to enforce then we would strongly recommend that you obtain the advice of an expert family lawyer. We find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Last week we looked at the principles that the courts use to decide financial remedy applications on divorce. This week we will look at the procedure on such applications including, in particular, the Form E financial statement.

To keep things simple we will divide the procedure into five stages, although what actually happens in any particular case may differ.

Stage 1 – The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (‘MIAM’).

Before issuing the application you may have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. As that name suggests, the primary purpose of the meeting is to assess whether the case is suitable for mediation. Some people are exempt from the requirement to attend a MIAM.

Stage 2 – The application (‘Form A’).

If the case does not go to mediation then the application will be made, by completing a ‘Form A’ and filing it with the court, with the requisite court fee.  The court will then fix a date for the First Directions Appointment (‘FDA’ – see below), and timetable certain actions that should be taken by the parties. In particular, not less than 35 days before the FDA each party must file with the court and serve upon the other party a Form E financial statement, more of which in a moment.

Stage 3 – The First Directions Appointment (‘FDA’).

Both parties will have to attend the FDA. The main purpose of the FDA is to ascertain what the issues between the parties are, and to decide how the case should proceed. The court will then give directions as to what should happen next, and when.

Stage 4 – The Financial Dispute Resolution appointment (‘FDR’).

The next stage in the proceedings is usually a Financial Dispute Resolution appointment, or ‘FDR’. At the FDR the parties will be expected to use their best endeavours to reach agreement on the issues between them, with the assistance of the judge. If agreement cannot be reached, then the court will fix a date for the final hearing.

Stage 5 – The final hearing.

A full hearing of the case, at the end of which the judge will make their decision, and a final order will be made.

Form E

The Form E financial statement is the most important document each party will have to prepare in the course of the proceedings. In it, they must disclose full details of their means, including their income, their savings and capital assets, their pensions and any debts they have. In addition, certain specified documentary evidence, such as bank statements, must be attached to the form. You can see a Form E here.

Each party has a duty to fully and truthfully complete the Form E, as without full and accurate information about the means of both parties, the court cannot make a decision. Obviously, the other party does not have to accept the contents of the form at face value. If they believe that full disclosure has not been made then they can request further information or documentation in a questionnaire, which they will prepare before the FDA. The court can order the party to whom the questionnaire is directed to provide replies.

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If you are or may be involved in financial remedy proceedings then we would strongly recommend that you obtain the advice of an expert family lawyer. We find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Café offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Last week we looked at the range of orders that the court can make when deciding a financial remedy claim on divorce. But how does the court decide what orders to make?

If all else is equal…

The starting-point in all cases is what is known as the ‘sharing principle’.

The sharing principle states that marriage is a partnership and that when the marriage ends each party is entitled to an equal share of the assets of the partnership, unless there is a good reason to the contrary.

The sharing principle will be the determining factor in many cases.

The next question, of course, is what is a ‘good reason to the contrary’?

Needs must

The most common reason is the needs of the parties, especially in cases where resources are limited.

The court will try to ensure that the basic needs of both parties (in particular income and housing needs) are met, and if one party has greater financial needs than the other then it may be appropriate for them to have a greater than half share of the assets.

A typical example of this is where dependent children live with just one of the parties. That party will obviously need to have suitable accommodation for the children, and their housing needs will therefore be greater than the housing needs of the other party.

Needs will also of course have a bearing upon whether a maintenance order is appropriate, and what pension sharing order, if any, should be made.

Note that needs are ‘generously interpreted’, meaning that they are calculated by reference to the resources available, and the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage – the needs of a party are not always the same in every case.

Anything else?

Well, yes. In fact, potentially any relevant circumstance of the case could have a bearing upon the court’s decision.

That’s not particularly helpful, so here are a few examples:

□ The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of the parties – obviously!

□ The ages of the parties – could be relevant, especially if one or both of the parties are approaching pension age.

□ The duration of the marriage – for example, after a very short marriage it may simply be appropriate to return the parties to the same financial position they were in before the marriage.

□ Each party’s contributions – where, for example, one party brought significantly more wealth into the marriage, that they had accumulated prior to the marriage.

□ The conduct of the parties – but before you start counting how much you think you should get, bear in mind that only the most serious conduct, such as threats to kill, is likely to have any bearing upon the financial settlement.

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Once again, this is just a very brief introduction to a potentially very complex subject. If you are or may be involved in financial remedy proceedings then we would strongly recommend that you first obtain the advice of an expert family lawyer. We find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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For most people going through divorce the biggest issue is the financial settlement. Sorting out finances on divorce can be a complex and difficult matter, so it’s important to know what the court can and cannot do.

The orders that the court can make are called ‘financial remedy orders’. The term can refer to a specific type of order (see below), or the final order, setting out the full financial settlement, which will usually include several of the specific orders mentioned below.

Note the reference to a ‘final order’. That order is meant to bring matters to a conclusion. It is not therefore usually possible to seek a further financial order once a final order has been made.

It should also be noted that a final order should normally be obtained in all cases, even where matters are agreed (in which case it is called a ‘consent order’), or where neither party is making a financial claim against the other. The reason for this is to ensure that any agreement is enforceable, and that neither party can make any further financial claims in the future.

The court can essentially only make those orders allowed by statute. These include:

Maintenance orders – These are orders requiring one party to make regular (usually monthly) payments to the other. The order will either last indefinitely (until the death of either party, the remarriage of the recipient, or further court order), or for a limited, specified, time. The court can also make a temporary maintenance order, to last until a final order is made – this is usually called ‘maintenance pending suit’.

Lump sum orders – An order requiring one party to pay a lump sum of money to the other party. The order will state by when the money should be paid, and this can include payment by instalments.

Property adjustment orders – These are orders adjusting the ownership of property, for example transferring the ownership of property from one party to the other, or adjusting ownership of jointly owned property from 50:50 to, say, 75:25.

Pension orders – These are most commonly ‘pension sharing orders’, which transfer all or part of one party’s pension fund into a pension fund owned by the other party. Note that this does not mean that the other party will receive the money transferred – it goes straight into their pension, and when they can receive any benefit depends upon the terms of their pension.

These are some of the most common types of financial remedy orders. Sometimes, however, an issue needs to be included in a settlement that cannot be ordered by the court. An example of this might be one party paying for medical insurance for the other party. In such a situation the court can accept an undertaking from the paying party, and the undertaking can be enforced in a similar way to an order.

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Obviously, this is just a very brief introduction to a potentially very complex subject. Even if you have agreed matters with your spouse then an order will need to be drafted, and this is really a job for a lawyer.

Accordingly, if you wish to obtain a financial remedy order then we would strongly recommend that you first obtain the advice of an expert family lawyer. We find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Pensions can be one of the most important assets on divorce, often only second in value to the former matrimonial home. It is therefore essential to know how the courts will deal with them, and two recent cases provide a useful demonstration.

The most important type of order available to the court in relation to pensions is the pension sharing order. Under such an order, a proportion of the pension fund belonging to one spouse is immediately transferred into a pension fund in the name of the other spouse.

The pension sharing order enables the court to deal with the common scenario in which one spouse has a significant pension provision, and the other spouse has little or none. Thus, for example, if all of the pension was accumulated during the marriage, it may be appropriate for there to be a pension sharing order transferring half of the pension fund to the other spouse, thus ‘equalising’ their pensions.

But equalising pensions is not always appropriate.

In the first of the two cases we want to look at the wife was awarded just 25.8% of the husband’s pension, following a marriage that lasted some 12 years. The reason for the wife receiving less than half was that a significant part of the husband’s pension was earned before the marriage.

The wife appealed, arguing essentially that the order had not taken into account her needs, which should take precedence over the fact that the husband accumulated much of the pension prior to the marriage.

The appeal judge accepted that needs could take precedence, but found that the decision was fair, having regard to the fact that the wife had received a higher proportion of the capital assets.

Needs were also a factor in the other case. Here, a husband’s claim for a share of the wife’s pension was struck out by the court, in part because the wife had accumulated a large part of her pension after the parties separated.

The husband appealed. The appeal judge found that the court had failed to take into account the husband’s needs (the husband was aged 59, in poor health and in receipt of benefits). Accordingly, the husband’s appeal was allowed.

Pensions can be a very complex issue on divorce, requiring the help of both legal and financial experts. Family Law Café can put you in touch with the expert assistance you need – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Last week we looked at what constitutes a short marriage, and how that may have a bearing upon the division of assets on divorce. But that begs the question: what is a long marriage, and what difference, if any, does that make to the financial settlement?

As we explained last week, one of the factors that the court must take into account when considering what is an appropriate financial settlement on divorce is the duration of the marriage. Of course, that may not just mean that the fact that the marriage was of a short duration may affect the settlement – it can also mean that the fact that it was a long marriage can have a bearing upon what the settlement should be.

So what is a ‘long marriage’?

Again, there is no definition contained in the statute. We therefore have to look at what judges have decided over the years. And those decisions suggest that a ‘long marriage’ is not actually that long, at least by the sort of measure that most people might use.

Whilst most people might not consider a marriage to be long until it has at least reached its silver anniversary, the courts will generally consider a marriage of fifteen years or more to be long, and sometimes even a marriage shorter than that might qualify.

So what difference does it make to the settlement if the marriage is long?

Well, whilst a short marriage may have a bearing, as we explained last week, the mere fact that a marriage may be defined as ‘long’ does not of itself necessarily have a bearing. The ‘sharing principle’, whereby assets will generally be divided equally unless there is a good reason to depart from equality, applies to every marriage that was not a short one, irrespective of how long it was.

But the length of the marriage may have a bearing in other ways.

For example, if one party gave up a career to bring up the family then the disadvantage that they may have suffered in the employment marketplace will be greater the longer the marriage, and they may need to be compensated for that disadvantage, by having a larger share of the assets.

And after a longer marriage the fact that one party brought assets into the marriage may lessen in significance, making it less likely that that contribution will result in that party receiving a greater share on divorce.

In summary, the court will look at all of the circumstances in every case, including the duration of the marriage, and will make an award that it considers to be fair, having regard to those circumstances.

If you want further advice as to what factors may affect your divorce settlement then you should consult an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such a lawyer – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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When the courts divide financial assets on divorce they follow a general principle that an equal division of those assets between the parties should be departed from only if, and to the extent that, there is good reason for doing so.

This ‘sharing principle’, as it is known, leads many people going through divorce to believe that they are automatically entitled to half of the assets. And, to put it the other way around, it leads many to fear that, no matter what, they will have to pay half to their spouse, even if they contributed most of the assets to the marriage.

But what if it was only a short marriage? Will you still have to pay half to your spouse?

Perhaps the best answer is: not necessarily.

When the court decides how assets should be divided on divorce it must have regard to a list of factors, as set out by statute. One of those factors is the duration of the marriage. Thus, the fact that the marriage was short could have a bearing upon the division, meaning that the party who contributed less may get less than half.

But the statute does not define what a ‘short marriage’ is. All we can do is look at the case law to see what judges have decided, although caution is required, as each case is decided upon its particular facts. And it may be surprising to some just how short a marriage has to be for a judge to consider it short.

Whilst there is certainly no ‘cut-off’ point at which a marriage is no longer defined as ‘short’, the cases suggest that any marriage that lasted for more than three years is unlikely to be defined as ‘short’.

Looking at it the other way though, the shorter the marriage the greater the bearing that the marriage’s duration is likely to have upon the division of the assets. Thus, for example, in a recent case a judge who found that the marriage lasted just eight months awarded the wife just 20% of the assets.

It is important to note, however, that if there are children of the marriage then the fact that the marriage was short is likely to be of less importance to the outcome – the welfare of the children and the future contributions of either party in looking after the children will take precedence when dividing the assets.

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If you feel that the short duration of your marriage might affect your financial settlement then you should seek the advice of an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert – call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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The Supreme Court has allowed a wife to proceed with a maintenance claim in England, despite divorce proceedings taking place in Scotland.

Charles and Emma Villiers spent almost all of their married life living in Scotland. After they separated in 2012 Mrs Villiers moved to England.

In 2013 she issued divorce proceedings in England, but in the following year Mr Villiers issued divorce proceedings in Scotland. Mrs Villiers agreed to the divorce going ahead in Scotland, and therefore her English divorce petition was dismissed.

However, in 2015 she applied to the English court for a maintenance order. Mr Villiers objected to this, claiming that the English court did not have jurisdiction to deal with the application, because of the Scottish divorce proceedings. However, the English court held that it did have jurisdiction. Mr Villiers appealed to the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal upheld the order. Mr Villiers appealed again, to the Supreme Court.

Last week the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, by a majority of three to two.

Giving the leading judgment Lord Sales said that the husband’s divorce proceedings in Scotland did not preclude the wife’s maintenance application as they were not ‘related’ actions.

However, giving a dissenting judgment Lord Wilson warned that the decision means that “untrammelled licence” will be “given to a wife to go forum-shopping, in other words to put her husband at an initial disadvantage unrelated to the merits of her case.” Whether this turns out to be so, we will just have to wait and see.

You can read the full judgment here.

Should you go forum shopping?

So can you issue proceedings in England and Wales, rather than another country? And even if you can, should you?

As the fact that this case went all the way to the Supreme Court indicates, the rules on forum shopping are complicated. We could not possibly set them out here. In general, though, you will need some connection with the country where you intend to issue proceedings. It will also depend upon the type of proceedings that are being issued, and whether proceedings have already been issued elsewhere.

But even if you can issue proceedings here, that does not necessarily mean that you should. London may have a reputation for being more generous to wives making financial applications than other countries, but that does not automatically mean that it will be best for wives to issue here (and for husbands to issue elsewhere!).

Clearly, if you are considering issuing proceedings in England and Wales rather than another country then you should take expert legal advice, both upon whether you can issue here, and whether you should. Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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The Coronavirus lockdown is having a serious adverse effect upon the finances of millions. Incomes are reduced and the value of capital assets has been slashed.

But what if your finances have also been affected by a money order made by the divorce court? What if you can no longer afford to pay the money the court ordered? Or what if the money you were to receive is no longer enough? Is there anything you can do about this?

We are talking about the variation of financial orders: can the order be varied, and if so what are the criteria that the court uses to decide whether or not to vary it, and by how much?

Financial orders essentially come in two forms: capital orders and income orders. Capital orders are primarily lump-sum orders, and orders adjusting the ownership of property. The main type of income order is of course a maintenance order, whether for a spouse or a child.

The rules regarding variation of capital orders and income orders are quite different. Income orders can be varied, but capital orders are usually intended to be final.

The main exceptions regarding capital orders are lump sum orders payable by instalments and orders requiring the sale of property. However, the courts are generally reluctant to vary capital orders. For example, the variation of an order to pay a lump sum by instalments is only likely to relate to the timing of the payments. Still, this could be useful if you want to ask the court for more time to pay.

Otherwise, it is theoretically possible to ask the court to set aside a capital order (and make a different one), on the basis that events have occurred since the order was made which alter a fundamental aspect of the order. It could be argued, for example, that a significant reduction in the value of an asset due to the effect of the Coronavirus is one such event. However, setting aside orders in this way is very rare, and the general opinion is that it would be very difficult to persuade the court to order a strike out in these circumstances.

Maintenance orders, however, are commonly varied. In deciding whether to vary an order the court will have regard to all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family who has not attained the age of eighteen. The circumstances of the case include any change in any of the matters to which the court was required to have regard when making the order. Accordingly, if the maintenance payer’s income has reduced significantly, then the court is likely to make a significant downward variation in the amount of the maintenance payments.

Of course, the maintenance may be varied back up if the payer’s income subsequently returns to pre-virus levels!

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As usual, the above is just a very brief outline of what can be a complex topic. If you would like to apply to vary a financial order then you should first seek the advice of an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such a lawyer – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Over the weekend a national newspaper reported upon a case in which a husband was aggrieved that the court awarded his wife nearly half of his pension pot, including the contributions he made during the years before they were married, and despite the fact that she ‘never bothered’ to save for a pension herself.

The report also suggested that the law regarding the division of pre-marital assets is about to change, which would help people retain assets built up before marriage.

So what exactly is the law now, and is it about to change?

Matrimonial property

The courts do distinguish between ‘matrimonial property’, i.e. assets acquired by the parties during the marriage as a result of their own efforts (which will usually include the matrimonial home), and ‘non-matrimonial property’, which includes assets acquired before the marriage, inheritances and gifts, and assets acquired after the parties separated.

As a very general rule, the court will only divide matrimonial property between the parties, unless the essential needs of one of the parties can only be met by including non-matrimonial property. Accordingly, if the needs of both parties can be met from the matrimonial property then each party can usually expect to retain any assets they owned prior to the marriage. (In the case referred to in the report above it may have been that the court could not meet the wife’s pension needs without including the pension that the husband had built up prior to the marriage.)

The practical effect of this general rule is that non-matrimonial property, including assets acquired prior to the marriage, is more likely to be retained in higher-money cases.

Of course there is a major proviso to this: it is not always easy to separate matrimonial and non-matrimonial property. Very often the two become mixed over time, so that it becomes impossible to quantify what is and what is not matrimonial property. If in doubt the courts are more likely to say that property is matrimonial, rather than non-matrimonial.

Law reform

The newspaper report made mention of both the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, and Baroness Deech’s Divorce (Financial Provision) Private Members’ Bill.

The Government’s Bill will just introduce a system of no-fault divorce, without changing the law on division of assets on divorce. Baroness Deech’s Bill, as its name implies, is intended to change the law on division of assets, including essentially preventing the court from awarding one spouse a share of assets that the other spouse acquired before the marriage.

However, as the Baroness’s Bill is a private members’ bill it is unlikely to be passed. The law on division of assets is therefore likely to remain the same for the foreseeable future.

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The above is of course a very brief summary of what can be a very complex area of law. For more detailed advice you should consult an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such a lawyer – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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When a couple get divorced they will obviously need to sort out what happens to the contents of the former matrimonial home. Unfortunately, this can often be a fraught process, as they argue over who should have what. Here are a few tips that might help make things easier.

1. Difficult as it might be, every reasonable effort should be made to agree the division of the contents with your spouse if you possibly can. If you can’t agree with them direct, then try to agree through lawyers or via mediation. To help you reach agreement, it may be useful to prepare a schedule, setting out the items and their values (see point 3).

2. If you can’t reach agreement, then the court can sort out who has what, but this can be very expensive and time-consuming.

3. It may have cost a considerable amount of money to purchase the contents originally, but their current (second-hand) value is the value that the court will use, and that should be used in any negotiation. Unless you own antique furniture or other items of special value such as paintings, the current value of the entire contents is therefore likely to be minimal. Accordingly, you will not usually want to spend a substantial sum on legal costs arguing over the division of the contents.

4. If you do have valuable items then if they are not divided equally (see the next point) the party who receives less may be entitled to financial compensation.

5. As with other property, equal division is the starting point (save for personal possessions, which each party should keep), although there may be other considerations, in particular if one party is to have any children living with them then their needs should be taken into account, for example they will obviously need to have the children’s beds.

6. If there are single items over £500 or collections over that amount the court can take them into account as assets. To establish what valuable items are worth a jointly instructed expert can be appointed by the parties or the court.

7. If agreement cannot be reached and there are no items of sentimental value, consider selling the items and dividing the proceeds, rather than going to the expense of getting the court to sort it out.

8. Lastly, all of the contents should usually remain in the matrimonial home until agreement is reached as to their division, or the court has decided the matter. If your spouse starts removing items from the matrimonial home without your consent then you should inform your lawyer immediately.

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If you require further advice regarding the division of the contents of the matrimonial home then you should consult an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert – call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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