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Wigan Family Law Blog

New law to protect victims of domestic violence inspires many

A new law launched after the murder of a woman in 2009 has seen nearly 300 people contact the police. The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, called Clare's Law after the Salford victim killed by her ex-partner, allows those who fear a partner may have a history of violence to ask police for information about the existence of any criminal record containing abusive offences.

The 36-year-old woman met her boyfriend through a social media website and was unaware that he had a history of domestic violence against his partners. Just under a week after he strangled his ex-girlfriend and set fire to her body, his corpse was found in an abandoned public house. The victim's father campaigned for a new law to cover family problems. It was eventually introduced in Wales and England in March of this year.

No backlash after female celebrity reveals she hit partners

A domestic violence charity has expressed extreme disappointment that there has been no public reaction after a female celebrity revealed that she had hit two of her ex-partners. The charity, who supports the male victims of family problems, said that it was disappointed that the glamour model's revelations have provoked no public outcry.

The woman has recently released her autobiography. Extracts from the book detail two occasions on which she attacked her then partner physically. A spokesperson for the charity, ManKind, said that if a male celebrity had admitted to hitting a female partner, the press and social media would respond with outrage. He said that the silence regarding the matter showed that male victims of domestic violence are not taken as seriously as female victims.

New laws to protect victims of non-violent abuse considered

A criminal offence that specifically covers psychological and emotional abuse is currently being considered after a report condemning the police response was published. The investigation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary described police attitudes and responses to domestic abuse and other family law problems as 'alarming and unacceptable".

The document said that officers do not view non-violent domestic abuse as a serious crime, noting that a new law specifically targeting controlling and coercive behaviour might make officers understand that controlling non-violent behaviour in a relationship is criminal. It was also hoped that the new law, which could encompass deliberate isolation from friends and family, restriction of funds to limit freedom and threats of violence as well as physical abuse, would encourage victims to speak out.

The value of a Separation Agreement or Deed of Separation

If a couple reaches a state of irretrievable relationship breakdown, particularly if that couple are not married, a Separation Agreement (or Deed of Separation) provides proof of any agreement reached. For example, financial interests such as bank accounts, savings and any other interests, as well as the division of physical property and custody of any offspring, can all be documented to ensure clarity.

Particularly when considering the primary care and maintenance for any children, a Separation Agreement can act as a valuable tool if the post-breakdown relationship becomes less amicable. Although a Separation Agreement is not legally binding, it offers protection against attempts to amend arrangements at a later date. That is to say, if an agreement has been in place and has been adhered to by both parties for a significant period of time, a court will take this into consideration. This is also useful if a divorce is sought at a later date and an attempt to change the agreed-upon terms is made.

Maintenance payments after a marriage ends

When a couple dissolves their relationship or divorces, the courts may instruct the individual with the greater income to make a regular contribution to their former partner's living costs. Called a maintenance order, this contribution may have a time limit applied to it that sees payments continue until remarriage, a new civil partnership is entered into or until a specified date has been reached. Amendments can also be made if the financial circumstances of either individual change.

Often imposed as part of a couple's asset division, such family law problems considered by the courts will take into consideration the length of the union, any property or financial holdings, both party's ability to garner an income, the age of both parties, the standard of living experienced during the union and the individual roles of each party. That is to say, a judge will make their decision on any award or maintenance order based on the living circumstances and position as either primary carer for any offspring or breadwinner for the household.

CSA replacement service will charge parents

The Child Support Agency will be replaced with a service that charges parents an application fee if they seek help. The new service is set to completely replace the CSA by 2016, and any open cases dealing with such family law problems will be closed at that time.

The new Child Maintenance Service differs from the CSA in a number of ways. In particular, the organization will charge a fee to individuals who use it. It is hoped that the new charges will encourage former partners to reach voluntary agreements regarding maintenance payments, but many fear that reaching such an arrangement without intervention will be impossible if the relationship breakdown was acrimonious. However, the new regime allows those who have suffered domestic abuse from having to pay when seeking support.

Labour MP seeks to treat domestic violence as a serious crime

The Shadow Home Secretary is planning to state publicly that the police need to start treating domestic abuse as a serious crime instead of replacing legal prosecution with compensation and apologies. She said that two women each week are killed as a result of domestic violence, and that this would cause a 'national outcry" if it happened at football matches.

The Community Resolutions, which are currently used to conclude cases of violent family problems without going to court, were intended to be applied to minor offences, including petty theft and incidents of vandalism. The MP says that using them as a punishment for instances of domestic abuse serves only to show that the authorities simply do not take 'violence against women seriously".

British expatriate in Dubai ordered to pay divorce settlement

The High Court has ordered a man living in Dubai to pay his former wife, who now resides in the UK, a lump sum of £2.3 million in settlement or face a prison sentence. The man says that reports suggesting that he is disputing the settlement are untrue, but has told reporters that he cannot comply with the order in one payment and that his attempts to arrange a payment schedule have been rejected.

The couple finalized their divorce in 2006 and the man was awarded full custody of their son who is now 17 years old. The woman remained in the marital home in Dubai until she returned to the UK in 2009. The man said that his former wife and the judge who made the order were ignoring 'commercial realities" and had falsely accused him of living a lavish lifestyle.

Legal options for those considering the end of a relationship

Some couples who are seeking to end a marriage may face certain barriers when trying to divorce. Individuals might attempt to avoid divorce for a number of reasons, including religious beliefs and a desire to give the relationship time to work, and in some cases, a couple might be barred from applying for divorce. For example, couples that have been married for less than a year are not allowed to fully dissolve a marriage. Those couples might choose to pursue a judicial separation instead.

Although such arrangements can be made informally, separating couples gain an advantage if they document agreements concerning property interests, division of material possessions, support payments and childcare obligations, and submit the agreement to the courts. This allows both parties to understand their rights and obligations concerning their relationship more clearly, and a legal separation agreement can be amended later if circumstances change.

Domestic violence conviction rate reaches all-time high

Recent figures released by the Director of Public Prosecutions show that the rate of conviction in domestic abuse cases has reached an all-time high. The numbers demonstrate that nearly 11 percent of Crown Prosecution Service cases now deal with family problems. Referrals to the police increased over 17 percent compared with the year before during the period in question.

The director, who released the Violence Against Women and Girls report during the yearly Women's Aid event, said that the figures, when considered as a whole, showed that referrals, prosecutions and convictions were all up in number. Indeed, the CPS saw 6 percent of domestic violence cases in 2007 and 2008 and just under 9 percent in 2012 to 2013. The new ratio sat at 10.7 percent in the current year.