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26 April 2017

In a recent case - T (A Child) [2017] EWFC 19 – Mr Justice Holman highlighted the previously unrecognised value of Facebook as a tool for tracing birth parents. The case involved the adoption application of a young boy; his birth father was aware of the proceedings and present in court, but the child's birth mother had not been made aware of the proceedings as she's a foreign national and was believed to be living abroad somewhere.

However, the birth mother was traced just a few days prior to the hearing by way of a very simple search of profiles on Facebook. The birth father's partner was able to identify the profile as belonging to the birth mother and duly called her and informed her of the proceedings; the birth mother was of the belief that the child had actually already been adopted.

24 April 2017

The recent case of Briers v Briers [2017] EWCA Civ 15 concerned a woman who was successful in obtaining a share of the wealth her former husband had accrued after their divorce.

Although the couple had been divorced for many years and agreed an informal settlement at the time, no financial consent order or other formal and legally binding agreement or court order was obtained at the time. This then meant that Mrs Briers could apply to the Family Court for a financial order some 10 years after the divorce was finalised.

11 April 2017

An aspect of separation and divorce that is rarely talked about with any level of seriousness is what happens to the family pets? As anyone with a cat, dog, turtle, axolotl or miniature elephant will know, pets are more than secondary to a family life, in fact they form part of a family's dynamics and may even be viewed as another family member. For children, pets can be constant and anchoring presences who keep confidences while offering unconditional love and affection at a time when they may question their parents' love for them. In short, family pets may offer comfort and companionship during a tumultuous time in a way that no human can.

24 March 2017

The recent decision from the Court of appeal, which upheld the original judgement by Judge Tolson QC, has created a huge amount of uncertainty for those seeking a divorce. Judge Tolson's original decision to dismiss Tini Owens’ petition for a divorce effectively said to Mrs Owens' that her husband's alleged behaviour was not so severe that she could not be 'reasonably expected to live with [him]'.

The Court of Appeal judgement contained some of the details of the examples used by Mrs Owens in her divorce petition, as well as her later amended petition. What was surprising about the examples was that they were spread over a wide span of time. In some incidents, the alleged behaviour had occurred years previously. The standard legal approach would be to cite an example from the last 6 months of the couple living together as husband and wife, and then to include a dated specific example that demonstrates the effect of the alleged behaviour on the petitioner. This effectively, and to use the words in the CoA judgment, is a good way of 'beefing up' the petition.

26 January 2017

There is a distinct feeling, shared among many divorce lawyers, lawmakers, religious organisations and indeed general members of the public, that the introduction of "digital divorce" would somehow trivialise the vows and institution of marriage.

It is easy to understand this point of view, to believe that to make divorce cheaper, more accessible and, ultimately, more attainable would only serve to undermine one of society's most traditional and sanctified of contracts. In short, they suggest, it would represent little more than another lurch down the slippery slope to eventual social Armageddon.

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