Controlling and Coercive Behaviour: Widening the Net
The Government’s review of family justice, chaired by David Norgrave, is published today. The findings are far-reaching and cover the breadth of the family law/justice services. There is a predictable emphasis on the role and benefits of mediation as a way of resolving disputes following the breakdown of family relations. A new online ‘divorce information hub’ is proposed to enable couples to access information and court processes quickly and directly. In children cases, references to ‘contact’ and ‘residence’, which are seen as polarising, are to be replaced by ‘parenting agreements’ designed to encourage parents to agree and record arrangements for their children without judicial interference. Controversially, the proposals do not include the provision of ‘equal rights’ for parents (something campaigners for father’s rights will doubtless challenge) and similarly, an automatic right for grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren does not feature. In addition the report recommends strict court deadlines for dealing with cases involving children in care so as to deal with the current “shocking delays” in the family courts. Given the pressure that this will undoubtedly place on an already over-burdened court system it is unsurprising that the thrust of the reforms is to steer divorcing couples and disputing parents away from the courts by offering them alternative ways to resolve conflict.
The Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by a husband to keep his divorce ‘out of England’.
In a report published by The Telegraph this week, the High Court has awarded a wife, after 25 years of marriage, only £4.3million pounds in a divorce where the total wealth was between £21million and £24million. The reason given for this unequal sharing of wealth was that much of the Husband’s wealth had been inherited from his family and so the court felt it should remain with him.
This has been a busy week for commentators on Family Law issues. Yesterday, Sir Paul Coleridge, a senior Family Court Judge, remarked that obtaining a divorce is now easier than getting a driving licence. Was this an exaggeration or is it really true?
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