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Wigan Family Law Blog

High-profile couple facing divorce battle over dogs

A singer and her estranged media-personality husband are facing a protracted fight over custody of their family pets. While the couple already has an agreement in place settling the matters of custody and parenting for their three-year-old twin children as well as a financial agreement regarding the divorce settlement for their collective assets, there is no preexisting agreement pertaining to their dogs.

The wife, a 44-year-old singer who has sold over 200 million records and has a string of chart hits to her name, has asked for sole custody of all eight dogs. Her husband, a 33-year-old media personality and reality TV host, has asked for sole custody of two of the animals, claiming that he has a special bond with them, as well as visitation rights for the other six.

Understanding the Child Maintenance Service

There are usually six stages that the Child Maintenance Service follows when calculating a weekly child maintenance award. The first involves calculating the gross annual income of the supporting parent. This calculation is made with information sourced from HMRC and does not include student loans, student grants or tax credits.

The next stage is to assess whether there are other financial responsibilities, like pension payments or other child maintenance payments, that might affect the level of annual income, and then the final figure is converted into a weekly amount. The third stage in the process is to assess which rate is applicable. There are five levels of maintenance rates that can be applied, and they are all dependent on this gross weekly income.

Homeware tycoon fights to have divorce heard in Malaysia

A high-profile couple is fighting over where their divorce should be heard with over £500 million at stake. The estranged husband, a 75-year-old homeware tycoon, wants the divorce proceedings to be considered in Malaysia where he is resident. His younger spouse is arguing that the case should be heard in England as that is where the family home is located.

The couple, who have been married for over 40 years and have raised five children, are expected to be party to the largest settlement in British history. The proceedings have already accumulated preliminary legal costs of over £2 million, which a judge earlier in 2014 described as a very high price to pay for arguments before a case is even heard.

Survey reveals information about domestic violence in the UK

A recent poll of over 2,000 women found that nearly 40 per cent of them had been a victim of domestic violence. The survey was undertaken as part of a domestic violence campaign that was launched by a television show in conjunction with a charity that supports victims of family law problems.

The figures reportedly revealed that 37 per cent of those surveyed had suffered abuse in a domestic setting, 35 per cent of those surveyed would want any abuse they suffered to remain private and 43 per cent felt that their experience was not serious enough to involve anyone else. Of those who took part in the poll, nearly 25 per cent said that they would not know how to help a victim of domestic violence or where to go for assistance and 14 per cent thought that such behaviours were to be expected in a relationship.

What proof is needed for the courts to grant a divorce

The courts require a certain amount of proof that a marriage has suffered, in legal terms, an 'irretrievable breakdown' before they will grant a divorce. In the English and Welsh courts, there are five main reasons that a marriage would legally be considered at an end: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years or more (with both parties in agreement) or separation for five years or more (if one party does not agree to the divorce).

Adultery is considered adequate proof that a relationship has irretrievably broken down, although the innocent party cannot bring this to a court as cause if they continued to cohabit with their spouse for more than six months after finding out about an extra marital sexual relationship. If the innocent party can prove to the court that the other party committed adultery and that they lived apart for at least six months, then a divorce may be uncontested. It is important to note that, in cases where a spouse has committed rape, this will be considered adulterous behaviour in the eyes of the law for the purposes of a divorce petition; a victim of rape is not considered adulterous.

Woman seeks to set aside previous divorce agreement

A woman who found that her former husband had concealed the true value of is company during divorce proceedings has won the right to take the case to the Supreme Court. The man, a software entrepreneur who retained shares in the company he founded, had told the original court that the company was worth £47.25 million. Shortly after the divorce proceedings concluded, it was revealed that the company was potentially worth up to £700 million, significantly increasing the shares' worth.

The 46-year-old woman raised a claim in the Court of Appeal to have the original settlement agreement set aside because her former spouse had misrepresented his financial position. The judge ruled that the man had lied and had deliberately hidden information from the court but stated that any renegotiated settlement would not differ significantly from the original. He rejected the woman's request and ordered her to pay the man's court costs in spite of finding that her former husband had behaved in a deliberate and dishonest manner.

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.