The government overhaul of legal aid (public funding) came into force on 1 April 2013 and is due to affect the entire justice system. Criminal barristers have begun striking, court staff are already striking and, with the family court system at breaking point, litigation is becoming even more of a last resort for privately paying clients.
Labelled ‘the biggest shake up of the welfare system for a generation’, Universal Credit is a new welfare benefit in the United Kingdom that will replace seven of the main means-tested benefits and tax credits.
In cases relying upon means tested benefits, family lawyers will struggle to estimate the timing or quantum of any impact upon receipt of benefits or the future entitlement of their client or client’s spouse. It will be crystal ball gazing to attempt to predict with any accuracy the payments that will be received after the changes have been implemented or when they will take effect in the appropriate region. Most crucial, however, is the treatment of unearned income under the new Universal Credit system. There will be a pound for pound reduction in Universal Credit Support for income received from ‘Universal Credit Equivalents’, which includes pension income from early retirement and most notably for family lawyers, spousal maintenance payments.
27th March 2013
Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s divorce settlement is edging closer and now we know there is no pre-nuptial agreement (unlike the Coen brothers film of the above name). Hollywood being what it is, the onetime highest grossing female actress is in the autumn of her career and Ashton is now the wealthy younger buck. Demi wants some of the financial action. After all she was the bigger Hollywood player when they got together and gave his career a leg-up.
14th March 2013
It is rare for there to be contested divorces. It involves the distressing situation in which one party argues that the marriage can be saved in spite of the other party’s assertion that it has broken down irretrievably. In a recent case, a husband tried to prevent a divorce after his wife based the petition on an argument about her map reading skills whilst on a wine tasting holiday in Burgundy (presumably amongst other things). He claimed that his wife had not provided the judge with anything that proved the marriage had irretrievably broken down. However, the court refused the husband permission to appeal and allowed the divorce to proceed.
27th February 2013
This week, the Department of Education published a Young Person’s Guide to the Children and Families Bill (which had its second reading in Parliament on 25th February) written specifically for a younger audience. The guide, according to the Department’s website, is designed to provide young people with a “good summary” of the proposed changes to the law and what it might mean for them. Lucy Thomas, Senior Associate in Family, takes a look at the guide.