Divorce Laws in the UK

In Europe, you would find that the judicial system varies from country to country. In the UK, for instance, the ‘English law’ applies, while North Ireland has its own legal system that is mostly identical to English family laws with minor changes, if any.

Then you have Scotland’s legal system, which firstly is in a wholly separate jurisdiction and has a different court-structure. The only similarity would be that both share a magnificent Supreme Court, situated in Parliament Square. The laws themselves are quite contrasting. 

Scotland’s laws don’t offer the same provisions that the UK does to couples. In fact, as per the sound cohabitation law, couples don’t get the same rights as married couples. There is, however, scope for dispute resolution even for cohabiting couples.

Even when it comes to married couples, the divorce proceedings, financial settlements and general laws governing divorce are markedly different when compared to that of England’s. Scotland is a bit more conservative when it comes to divorce laws, and the two systems are so different that where the ruling is in favor of the husband in one system, in the same situation, the ruling would perhaps be in favor of the wife in any other system. Lets take the case of a non-working woman married to a wealthy man. This woman has got a sizable inheritance over the course of their marriage.

If a divorce is to occur, then the woman would be at a huge financial disadvantage after the ruling in Scotland, where the ruling will be in favor of the husband. On the other hand, England’s laws provide the woman a monetary settlement that covers her basic needs so that she can meet her needs in full without much effort. By contrast, Scotland merely offers half of their shared assets and three years’ maintenance. The assets her husband owned prior to marriage are out of the scope of Scotland’s divorce laws. 

Now in the instance where there is a dispute between Scotland and the UK, where each party wishes to conduct the proceedings in a different jurisdiction, then the divorce proceedings will be held in the country where the parties had their most recent matrimonial home.

England and Wales are considered to be in the same jurisdiction, so if the matrimonial home is in England or Wales, but the wealthier party chose to hold the proceedings in Scotland, then the decision of Scotland’s court could be contested and the petition would be stayed.

Scotland’s laws require strict time-limits regarding the divorce-petition application or agreement between parties, whereas the UK  is more liberal when it comes to this. England requires financial disclosure before any kind of financial settlement, whereas Scotland does not require it.

Scotland and England are quite different when it comes to their laws, so choosing to hold your divorce proceedings in either jurisdiction could have an effect on the final ruling, so you should consult your family lawyer as soon as possible regarding the same.

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Private Investigators & the legal process

There has been a general stigma surrounding private investigators of late, and this is primarily because of image that the recent high-profile cases involving them seem to portray.

If you follow these cases, a private investigator merely looks like a shady person who hacks into the target’s devices and gathers information. They look as if they are merely tools for journalists to gather information for their stories, but the truth cannot be far from this.

The fact is that private investigation is a completely legal line of work, and opting for such services doesn’t put you on the wrong side of the law. Only a small minority of public investigators use less than legal means, and unfortunately, they are also the most vocal, which is the reason for all this bad publicity.

Now coming to the matter at hand, there are a few things you should look at when you are hiring a Private Investigator.

Don’t hire the first investigator you find in the Yellow Pages. Do some research and only hire reputable companies. You would be surprised at the amount of shady websites set up, looking to take your money under the guise of offering private investigation services. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

One way of reducing down is by choosing only firms that are part of a recognised organisation. Sure, it isn’t necessary for a private investigation firm to join these bodies, but choosing from these organisations is like having a stamp of approval. This is because bodies like World Association of Private Investigators or The Association of British Investigators have a strict code of conduct, and they let new members in only after they meet their high requirements. 

You now have a considerably smaller list, and to whittle down further, give them a call and ask them to find the Insurance Number and bank account details of your partner. Those who agree to do it should be removed from your list, and those who don’t are the ones that follow a strict code of conduct. You don’t want to get into any trouble with the law, and that’s why you should choose the latter..

Now’s the time to know which detectives specialise in the type of investigation you want to conduct. Simply go through their website, and find whether they can do what you want. Investigation as part of divorce proceedings? An investigation involving employees of a company? Do they showcase their portfolio of recent cases? If so, that’s a good way to know whether they specialize in the kind of investigation you want to conduct. You should also check their success-rate.

It’s time to get the final list, and for that, you can search their names with the word ‘review’ next t o them to find out the experiences of others. Is their success rate high? Are they involved in any legal disputes? Do clients say that they have had a bad experience with them? You should choose firms that have a good reputation online. 

Now, if you ask them whether what they are doing is legal, everyone will assure you of the same. But the good ones will assure you that they have gone through everything well within the confines of the law, and that the method of obtaining the evidence won’t compromise the case at all.

When choosing a private detective, better safe than sorry. This is because even if a single evidence is obtained through illegal means, not only does it compromise the case, it leaves you open for more court disputes.



Divorce and Family Law in the UK (myths & truth)

When it comes to divorce and separation it seems that everyone is ‘well informed’ about what their rights are in this area and the rights of all other parties involved.

There are always friends, family members, a neighbor or colleague that comes with helpful advice, whether it be about how much money you are entitled to when you get divorced, which parent gets custody of the children or how much money absent parents are supposed to pay for child maintenance.

The truth is that family law is very complicated and this matter requires legal advice from an expert and professional lawyer. You won’t be able to get satisfactory results without a trained and professional lawyer at your side.

Not all cases of divorce are the same, therefore it is important that a family law expert should be called in to evaluate the specific circumstance of your current situation, give practical legal advice and come up with the best approach for your case.

Common Law

The phrase common law is what many people refer to when they are talking about unmarried couples. This misconception is that if two people are living together for a certain period of time, they are common law husband and wife and therefore have claims on each other’s possessions. I can guarantee you this is not the case.

Only when you are legally married to your partner or you enter a civil partnership with the same sex, then the union has legal implications automatically.

There is one exception to this rule. If you and your partner are living together you can draw up an agreement stating what each of you have in your possession and then arrange how things will be divided between the two of you if you should go your separate ways. This is extremely important and there are many couples that find that it is best to deal with these issues up front in their relationship. This agreement can include aspects like who are the owner of which items, financial claims and parental responsibilities if there are children involved.

Who gets custody?

In legal terms custody or access to children does no longer exist. The court is no longer allowed to grant custody to one or the other parent. So if any one recommends that a parent (mainly the father) will not get custody of the children should he get a divorce does not have their facts straight.

The court only has the power to determine certain decisions that will affect the children, for instance, with which parent will the children live, how often the absent parent gets to spend time with the children and so forth.

The court only gets to make these decisions if couples cannot come to an agreement between themselves. To determine where the children should stay the court grants a residence order. In very rare cases the court will make an order in the favor of all parties involved and allow the children to spend equal time with both parents.

The court also has what we call a contact order. This determines visits, phone calls, weekends and holiday visitation for the absent parent. This can be arranged by a family attorney, but couples should be encouraged to agree on these issues on their own between themselves as these orders may be incredibly hard to enforce.

Maintenance myth

Since the Child Support Agency (CSA) was introduced in the early 1990s, it has become a legal fact that the courts have no power to deal with maintenance for children. The court is only entitled to make maintenance orders in very rare cases for children. This include special cases where both parents apply to the court for an order by consent, in cases where the child are disabled and it involves care cost and cases where children receives full time education and it involves cost like school fees.

So if you are in a situation where you are being threatened about going to court for maintenance, you can rest assure this is only cheap talk. You can then recommend that the treating party seek the advice of professional, experienced family law solicitors.

It is the duty of the CSA to deal with the payments in order to help support the children. The CSA will assess your case based on the information given by the parent and will follow up in the case of a default.

Attorneys may also advice you in such circumstances and gives advice on whether you should apply for maintenance to the court, or leave the situation to the CSA. You should seek this expert advice in the early stages of divorce, so that you will be able to make the right choices for your children.

Fathers’ Rights

There is one other common myth which states that a father has rights to their children. It’s true that married and unmarried fathers of all children that were born after the 1 December 2003, have rights to their children provided that their details are on the children’s birth certificates.

But other fathers, including step-parents are not automatically entitled to rights. Any of our clients, whether a step-parent or unmarried father has the right to apply for parental responsibility. This will allow these fathers to make certain legal decisions on their own, without having to get any consent of the other parent/partner, for example in cases of a medical emergency.

These myths listed in this article are just a few of the most common myths that we hear about, of course there are many more out there that holds no resemblance when it comes to the current family law.

Some of these myths may have been true at one time, but a long time ago. Other myths were never true to begin with. The reality is that some of these facts that are highlighted within this article may not even be true next year. The law keeps on changing. This is why it is very important to seek advice from a family law specialist. This is the only way to ensure that you are getting the best advice for your specific case.