Controlling and Coercive Behaviour: Widening the Net
We need to move away from legal disputes for separating families to help to build better relationships and cause less harm. Society’s approach to divorce and separation has to change. A report published today by the Family Solutions Group calls for a rethink.
The Supreme Court recently made clear in Villiers v Villiers  UKSC 30 that divorcing in one EU country does not prevent a party from making a separate claim for maintenance from their spouse in England and Wales. The case therefore demonstrates the possibility of ‘forum shopping’, where a party seeks to bring a financial claim in a jurisdiction (country) that is more convenient or provides a more generous maintenance provision than the jurisdiction in which the divorce is taking place. However, the loophole relies on an application of the EU Maintenance Regulation which will cease to be in force in the UK on 31 December 2020. This blog considers the case of Villiers and how Brexit will affect the current position.
We recognise that the last few months have been testing for many separated parents who have been co-parenting throughout the pandemic – with home schooling and juggling work and child care commitments between two households. With the uncertainty as to whether schools can safely reopen fully, some separated parents may well find themselves disagreeing on whether their child should attend in such circumstances.
Much has been written about the case of Barder v Calouori  AC 20 (“Barder”) in the initial stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. It was held out as the means by which maybe, just maybe, it might be possible to reopen a case where a substantive financial order has been made on the basis that the COVID-19 pandemic is an event which has invalidated the basis, or fundamental assumptions of the original financial order.
After decades of campaigning, predominantly by family law practitioners, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill finally received Royal assent and became an Act of Parliament on 25 June 2020. In the biggest shake-up of divorce laws for 50 years, the move towards “no fault divorce” is long overdue, and a welcome change which is aimed at reducing the impact that the requirement to apportion blame in divorce petitions can have on couples and their children.
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