It was as odd as it was anomalous that for some time heterosexual couples did not have the same legal right to civil partnerships as their same-sex counterparts did under the Civil Partnerships Act 2004. In fact, alongside numerous campaigners, the oddity was recognised by leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who went so far as to call it discriminatory.
However, the law has now changed, meaning that heterosexual couples who do not wish to enter into a marriage are now able to undertake a civil partnership which affords them near legal equality with married couples without any of the religious or patriarchal connotations.
So, 31 January has come and gone, and the EU Withdrawal Bill has now passed into law. If you thought this would put an end to all talks of messy divorce, think again.
Yes, the UK's decision to end our relationship with Europe and to instead embark on the separation process of Brexit has many implications for family law, not least – although most ironically – within the pertinent area of cross-border divorce.
The 'Litigation and Dispute Resolution' departments of full service legal practices in the UK will, almost universally, provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services or at the very least they will be able to facilitate access to trained mediators.
ADR has been used in the UK for many years and particularly since 1999 when the Woolf reforms gave rise to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). The CPR identified principles that aimed to make civil litigation quicker, fairer, more cost-effective and less adversarial for all clients, whether they be commercial clients or private individuals.
It is now expected that parties to a dispute, including Will disputes and contested probate, will attend at least one ADR session. Parties who refuse may find themselves sanctioned by the court with additional costs.
An increase to the statutory legacy amount granted to spouses and civil partners under the rules of intestacy was announced in the House of Commons in January.
There had been widespread speculation that the government might fail to keep its promise to update intestacy rules every five years as an update was due last October, but, as of February 6 the amount will be £270,000 – a £20,000 rise.
The increase, which keeps statutory legacy amounts in line with the Consumer Price Index, means that a surviving spouse or civil partner will now stand to inherit all of a deceased’s personal property, as well as the first £270,000 of their sole estate in the event of intestacy. In the event there are children, the remainder of the estate will be split 50/50 between the children and the surviving spouse.
‘If I had my way, I'd make A do X and B do Y…’ has long been a treatment proffered by layperson pundits across the land, whether discussing politics in the pub or the outcomes of legal proceedings during a dinner party.
However, a man from Kansas, USA, recently sought to convert this sort of sentiment into action when he asked a court to let him engage his ex-wife in sword-to-sword combat in order to resolve their embittered and long-standing divorce arguments.