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17 June 2019

Francis Bacon famously said that "money is a great servant but a bad master" and over the years this quote has been adapted to fit with the truth of technology; it truly is a great servant but as a master is likely to have significant failings.

This is nowhere truer than the legal services market, where technological innovation works to simplify processes and reduce costs. Technology is undoubtedly to the benefit of the user, but when it only serves to frustrate human interaction and to create a feeling of helplessness and automation, it is not the assistance one would hope for.

Probate is an area of legal services provision where technological solutions to practical problems are at last beginning to make their presence felt after a long period of uninterrupted fustiness. However, these are not always for the better.

28 May 2019

There's no denying it, divorce and separation creates a raft of consequences. With the breaking up of familiar relationships children immediately have their lives rearranged, as one parent, typically the father, leaves the family home.

When it comes to who cares for a child, the mother automatically has parental responsibility from birth. Fathers will have parental responsibility if they are either married to the child's mother or are named on the birth certificate. Having parental responsibility typically affords you the right to maintain a relationship with children (as long as there are no injunctions or prohibitive orders in place to prevent contact) and separating parents are encouraged to reach an amicable agreement for child arrangements. These could include living arrangements, visiting schedules and other factors such as religious upbringing, schooling and contact at sensitive times such as birthdays and major holidays such as Christmas, Easter and the school holidays. Of course, it's not always as easy as that, and the difficulties faced by many parents are well documented.

24 May 2019

Last month Mr Justice Moor, sitting in the English family court, reached an important decision in the divorce case of Pierburg v Pierburg – between Gisela Pierburg, "the Wife" and Jurgen Pierburg, "the Husband".

The so-called "Eurostar" divorce case concerned a dispute about whether the divorce should be resolved in England or Germany and indeed whether England had jurisdiction to hear the divorce petition.

The Wife, believing that she had met the necessary habitual residency test, submitted an English divorce petition on 12 January 2018. Exactly one month later, the Husband issued his German divorce petition in the Berlin-Schoneberg District Court. He claimed that as both he and his wife were German citizens, Germany was the correct jurisdiction.

13 May 2019

The probate process can be complicated, stressful and protracted; with the time it takes to complete the administration largely dependent on the size and complexity of the estate. However, in cases where there may be doubts about the integrity or legality of a Will or how the process is being handled, things can quickly become even more fraught.

Losing a family member or other loved one is an inherently emotional time and, for many, this can lead to feelings of extreme reticence when dealing with the deceased's affairs, even when there might be strong grounds for challenging probate. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced and sensitive contested probate solicitor to provide advice and guidance, challenging probate need not be an insurmountable task.

26 April 2019

Blame is seldom a useful emotional response. Yes, it can be used to apportion responsibility and to mete out accountability for certain criminal actions, but within the context of relationships and, specifically, marriage and divorce, it serves little to no practical purpose, can be counterproductive and furthermore, when children are involved, is only likely to increase the impact of emotional trauma.

The futility of the blame game is just one reason why it is such a relief to learn that the government will be changing divorce laws in England and Wales to ensure that no divorcing spouse will ever again have to prove their partner is at fault because of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

It will also end the absurd two-year stasis (stipulated time of separation as one of the Five Facts) faced by many couples whose marriages have proved unworkable but who don't wish to apportion blame; five years in the case of couples where one spouse opposes the divorce.

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