Author Archives: Charlotte Newman

Story of the no fault divorce

No fault divorce: don’t blame me!

Hello readers,

I have previously written a post about this subject, but it is becoming more relevant than ever. I thought, therefore, that I would update you as to the position in respect of the ‘No fault divorce’. On 13th October, Richard Bacon MP recommended an amendment to divorce law which would enable divorcing couples to make an application for a no fault divorce, on the basis that they both agree that there is no fault to lay at the feet of either party for the breakdown of the marriage. The proposal would allow a divorce “when each party has separately made a declaration that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down without a requirement by either party to satisfy the Court of any other facts“. On 13th October 2015, MP’s passed the first reading of the No Fault Bill.

Discussions and proposals to introduce a no fault divorce, have spanned over nearly 2 decades; so this is by no means a new idea. However, when legislation providing for a no fault divorce was passed in 1996, the law was eventually repealed, when a change in Government meant that the provisions were never actioned.  There have been countless debates about whether a move to a no fault divorce would diminish the sanctity of marriage by making it easier for people to divorce which may then increase the number of divorces. However, it now seems as though we are taking a step, in what I suggest is the right direction. Mr Bacon himself has made it clear that he does not wish to make achieving a divorce easier. Instead, he would simply like to create a no fault option for couples who are divorcing.

The current law states that there is one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This ground must then be supported by one of 5 facts, which are as follows:

  1. Adultery;
  2. Unreasonable behaviour;
  3. Desertion;
  4. 2 years separation with consent; and
  5. 5 years separation.

It is easy to see that in the absence of 2 years separation and adultery, the only ground to be relied upon is unreasonable behaviour if the parties wish for the divorce to proceed immediately. However, it is an unreasonable behaviour petition that can often provoke unnecessary hostility and acrimony. This can even be the case where parties have initially expressed a wish to handle the proceedings in a conciliatory manner. The fact of the matter is that even if the marriage has broken down naturally, one party will ultimately have to be blamed. In this sense, the current law can be confusing. This is particularly so when parties are acting as litigant in person (without representation).  Solicitors are trained to make the particulars as benign as possible, drafting the particulars of behaviour in a subtle and sensitive way. However, even with the help of a solicitor, arbitrating blame where there is none can set proceedings off on the wrong foot, often to the detriment of any children involved.

I will keep you all updated on the progress of the No Fault Divorce Bill and welcome your opinions on the matter!

Photo by Nancy L. Stockdale via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Too much too young?

This week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in relation to a children matter. Unfortunately, when couples separate, issues in respect of the children arise. Such matters are fraught with emotion and can be particularly hard to resolve. Ultimately, there are many ways to parent children and views often conflict.

A regular consequence of such disputes is that the children will be detrimentally affected. The Court recognises that this is the case and the very principles that guide the Courts, illustrate the point further. The key underlying principle, contained in Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 is that when a Court determines any question with respect to:

  1. The upbringing of the child; or
  2. The administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it,

The child’s welfare shall be the Court’s primary consideration.

The Children Act then refers the Court to Section 1(3) to the ‘Welfare Checklist’ of which the Court must have regard to when exercising its powers to make a Section 8 Order, such as contact. Ultimately, the Order made must be in the best interests of the child. However, as one can easily imagine, what is in the best interests of the child/children will differ dramatically from parent to parent and possible even from Court to Court. There is an abundance of case law available to the Court to further assist their decisions in respect of each of the factors contained within the Welfare Checklist. However, I chose today to focus on Section 1(3)(a) Wishes and feelings of the child.  Indeed, the case that I was working on today did exactly that.

The age of the child is most obviously an important aspect of this factor; however it is not the only aspect to be considered. We all know that sometimes children are wiser beyond their years and sometimes they are extremely immature. All children differ and so the wording of Section 1(3)(a) guides Judges to consider the wishes of the child in light of their age and understanding. The Court will, alongside considering the child’s maturity, also take into account the likelihood that they have been influenced by the other parties.

It must be noted, that although the children’s wishes can be influential they are not decisive. The weight to be attached to what the children want will be at the Court’s discretion and will not always take precedence. This is because, unfortunately, the child may not have the requisite maturity or life experience to know what is in their best interests. I know that there were many times when I was younger, that I thought I knew what was best for me but was proved wrong by my mother, teachers and the like.

For example, in Re C (A Minor) (Care: Child’s Wishes) [1993] 1FLR 832 it was held that a 13 year old girl was too young to make decisions as to who she would live with. In this case, she wished to live with her father but the Court decided that the burden of making decisions about her future was too large. However, this case can then be contrasted with Re S (Contact: Children’s views) [2002] 1 FLR 1156 the wishes of children who were aged between 12 and 16 were all respected, when the Court was faced with the task of deciding upon contact.

What becomes clear from the case law, is that each case must be judged on its own merits. The Children Act 1989 and in particular, the Welfare Checklist affords the Court’s with wide discretion. This can often infuriate clients as there are unfortunately no certainties. What is in the best interest of the child is not always clear and as such, can be a matter of opinion. On the other hand, sometimes it is abundantly clear. However, the Court will only make an Order if to do so is in the best interest of the child that would be subject to it. This is another principle of the Children Act 1989, namely, the ‘no order’ principle.

Unfortunately, I believe that the wishes of the children involved in the case I was working on, will hold little weight as they were too young to fully understand the situation. That being said, I do believe that children’s voices matter. Children are often more astute than we think! It is very unlikely that there will ever be a uniformed method of deciding what is in the best interests of a child and I am sure that the case law in respect of the children’s wishes will continue to grow …… and also conflict! I would be interested to know the readers perspective. Should children be able to decide who they should live with? How much contact they have with the absent parent? Or is that simply too much for a child to have to decide?

The Blame Game: No Fault Divorce

Baroness Hale has recently shown her support to the calls for the introduction of a no fault divorce in England and Wales, and she is not alone! Many practitioners have also expressed that they would favour a no fault divorce process. It seems that it is the general consensus that the move would be a ‘common sense approach’ to take.

As it stands, to obtain a divorce, in the absence of being separated for 2 years, a petitioner would have to cite either adultery or unreasonable behaviour as the reason for the breakdown of their marriage. I personally believe that no fault divorces could have the potential to remove a degree of acrimony from the proceedings. Unfortunately, the particulars of behaviour in fault based petitions can often enflame the atmosphere between the parties which inevitably has an effect on how the future proceedings in relation to the finances and/or children are conducted. Perhaps removing the blame element would encourage parties to remain amicable and work together towards reaching agreements.

Indeed, Resolution have commented and stated that the introduction may reduce the likelihood of cases litigating. They suggested that it may also “facilitate a constructive focus on future arrangements and responsibility in the best interests of any children”. They went on to say that a no fault divorce would be beneficial in other way as it would allow “parties should be free to achieve financial certainty quicker than they do now”.

However, on the other hand, it has been argued that the introduction of a no fault based divorce may have the potential to increase the numbers of people divorcing. At present, the importance of the sanctity of marriage is reflected by the law. Parties cannot divorce in the first year of marriage and must thereafter wait two years or otherwise rely on adultery or unreasonable behaviour. It may be the case that removing the fault element would somehow dilute the significance placed on marriage by making divorce to readily accessible.

That being said, the reality is somewhat juxtaposed to the underlying principles of the law. People who are not able to obtain a divorce on a mutual footing (2 years separation with consent) either end up living separately and waiting for those two years to pass or decide to one of the fault based facts, when they otherwise would not have done so. One must bear in mind, that just because people are not divorced…. It doesn’t mean they will stay together.

I would be interested to see what you, the readers, think. After considering the potential effects of removing the blame, I believe that costs would be saved, court appearances reduced and relationships given the chance to remain amicable!

Prenuptial Agreements, are they worth the paper they’re written on?

This week I attended a meeting where the client was seeking advice in relation to a Prenuptial Agreement (PNA’s). Taking a detailed note in client meetings is an integral part of a trainee’s role. The note enables the solicitor to manage the case effectively and attending the meeting certainly aids my learning and understanding of the law as I am able to see everything I learnt at university and on the LPC put into practice. This week that was prenuptial agreements.

So… what is a prenuptial agreement exactly? A prenuptial agreement is a contract which is entered into by the parties either contemplating or in preparation of an upcoming marriage. The agreement details what will happen to their individual assets in the event that the marriage breaks down. Most PNA’s will concentrate on the protection and regulation of assets, but they can also dictate the jurisdiction of the financial proceedings, should they occur.

I thought that I would, therefore, use this blog post to inform you all about the quasi contractual nature of PNA’s and how the Courts decide what degree of weight should be attached to the agreement. Are they worth the paper that they are written on?

The case of Radmacher v Garantino 2010 was a landmark case in the history of English divorce law. Prior to Radmacher, PNA’s had been viewed as somewhat opposing to public policy. PNA’s are not subject to any statutory guidance, however, the ruling in Radmacher resulted in the PNA’s being given effect so long as they were entered into freely and where both parties intended for the agreement to have legal effect and had a full appreciation of the consequences of entering into the agreement. That being said, the jurisdiction of the Court is unfettered and as such, varying factors can either enhance or lessen the weight that the Court will attach to the PNA as part of ‘all the circumstances of the case’ within the meaning of Section 25 (1) MCA 1973. However, the Court must also use its discretion to ensure that it would not be unfair to hold one to the agreement. It should be noted that it is clear that the Courts are now a lot more willing to attach the suitable weight to the PNA.

The judgement in Radmacher gave definitive guidance as to the treatment of PNA’s in proceedings for ancillary relief following a divorce. The case law that has since developed reveals what some practitioners would consider to be a move towards enforceability.

In the case of B v S, Mostyn J summarised the principles (as he interpreted them) that had emerged from Radmacher. To see the full summary can be found here.

However, the principles are as follows. A Court will give effect to a PNA if:

  1. It is entered into freely by each party with a full appreciation of its implications;
  2. There has not been a material lack of disclosure;
  3. It should be entered into with no element of duress, fraud or misrepresentation;
  4. There was no exploitation of a dominant position;
  5. The agreement doesn’t prejudice the position of any children of the family;
  6. The agreement is fair and does not leave one party in a position of real need;

However, it was also noted in the judgement that there must be a consideration by the Courts for the respect of individual autonomy and allowing married couples to decide what happens to their assets following divorce.

We are now 5 years on from the case of Radmacher and it is likely that the case law in this area will continue to develop. It is inevitable that many will view the outcome of Radmacher as desirable. Divorce law in England and Wales is discretionary and is thus uncertain. It is likely that people will view the ruling as a way to battle the uncertainties and protect their financial position. The underlying aim of the ruling in Radmacher was to give greater sovereignty to the parties to a marriage in deciding how to distribute their property following the unfortunate breakdown of their marriage. However, the case law suggests that the courts will carry on approaching PNA’s on a case by case basis with the needs of the parties and the fairness of the agreement being the salient consideration in the Court’s decision whether to uphold the agreement.

There is a notable move towards giving PNA’s the contractual status they are subject to in other jurisdictions. It would seem that the PNA’s have been afforded a quasi-contractual nature at present and my guess is that they will continue to gain popularity due to the new readiness to uphold them. That being said, the Court cannot be precluded from exercising its jurisdiction in financial matters and I for one don’t think that is likely to change any time soon.

Goodbye Residence and Contact Orders

When a relationship breaks down, one of the hardest things to deal with and one of the most contentious issues can be what the arrangements will be in relation to the children. Unfortunately, parents will have to accept that they will not be able to spend the same amount of time with their children and this can be exceptionally hard for parents who are used to seeing their children every day.

The law in relation to children has been reformed and today the Children and Families bill was given Royal Assent. The act will result in changes to the law to give greater protection to vulnerable children and for children whose parents are separating. In addition, there will also be a new system introduced for disabled children and those with special needs and extra support for parents.

Here at Stowe Family Law, one of the biggest changes that we will see after the implementation of the act is the abolishment of residence and contact orders, which have been replaced by the all-encompassing Child Arrangement Orders. Under Section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989, as amended, a Child Arrangements Order means an order regulating arrangements relating to any of the following:

a) With whom a child is to live, spend time with or otherwise have contact.
b) When a child is to live, spend time with or otherwise have contact with any person.

It would appear that the logic behind the change is that the Courts believed parents to be making applications for Contact or Residence simply for the status, finding that they had not attached importance to the actual substantive matters. Furthermore, what is apparent from the change is that the focus is henceforth to be on the content of the order, rather than its name. The underlying aim in the change of terminology is to prevent the historic conception of there somehow being a winner and a loser in children cases.

However, that being said, the Child Arrangement Orders definition does not, in reality, look dissimilar to Residence and Contact. Ultimately, they still provide for where the child will live and with whom, when and how the child is to spend time.

Parental involvement presumption
What the Children and Families Act most notably does, is tries to address the common perception that the current law does not fully recognise that it is crucial for a child to have both of their parents involved in their life. This problem was addressed by way of Clause 11 of the Bill which most definitely falls within the ambit of the controversial discussion on whether there should be a statutory presumption in private law, that there should be shared parenting or parental involvement.

Clause 11 introduced a new section 1(2A) into the Children Act 1989 which requires the Courts to “presume, unless the contrary is shown” that involvement of each of the child’s parents in their life “will further the child’s welfare”, when considering applications for the discharge or variation of a section 8 order.
However, it should be highlighted that this new insertion into the Children Act does not in fact mean that all parents will fall within its scope. This is because Section 1(2A) also states that

“if that parent can be involved in the child’s life in a way that does not put the child at risk of suffering harm; and is to be [so treated] unless there is some evidence before the court in the particular proceedings to suggest that involvement of that parent in the child’s life would put the child at risk of suffering harm whatever the form of the involvement”

Therefore, if a parent’s involvement would be seen to put the child in harm’s way, the presumption will be rebutted. Even in cases where the presumption is applied, the Courts must still consider whether it should be rebutted if it is decided that the involvement of the parent would not further the child’s welfare.

Mediation
Another area, in which the Children and Families Act will have an impact, is by the encouragement to resolve matters without litigating. Parties to a children dispute are now required to attend a mandatory MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). MIAM’s are central to the Child Arrangement Programme which was introduced by the Act. The purpose of the MIAM is to provide information about mediation and discuss how the dispute may be resolved without the need for Court intervention. There are, however, categories of persons that will be exempt from the requirement to attend, including cases concerning:
-domestic violence
-child protection concerns
-Urgency
-Non residence is England and Wales
-Lack of contact details for respondents

The exemption categories can be found in rule 3.8 of the Family Procedure Rules.

It remains to be seen how the requirement to attend MIAM’s will work in practice and indeed whether they will lead to a reduction in Court applications… Only time will tell.

New contributor – welcome paralegal Hayley Crossman

Hayley

This is my first post on the Trainee Blog at Stowe Family Law.  I have written pieces for the firm’s Marilyn Stowe blog before but I thought I would use this guest space to talk about studying whilst working full time.

Working full time and studying part time is something which is not going to be unknown for many and those who have undertaken such a task will understand what is required in order to meet the needs of both work life and study life; time management being the key but there is of course much more to it.

I am currently studying for a Masters in Child Care Law and Practice at Keele University and am now working on my dissertation, which I have decided to write on contact with children.  Working within private law, there is never a shortage of examples of contact proceedings and part of the job of a paralegal is to help undertake research on different points of law, emerging case law and amends to legislation. Since starting work at Stowe Family Law in April, after leaving the Family Law team at the Department for Education, I have seen the legislation and policy which I had been working on alive in the real world.  This opportunity to see the law in practice has been vital to the work I am doing outside of Stowe and has fed in to areas of research for my dissertation.  A key part of studying in a work related area is to take every opportunity to learn on the job.  Those studying the LPC whilst working will understand that the working day is full of opportunities to practice the core skills taught on the LPC course.

Zoe’s recent post on the enforcement of Contact Orders is an area which is currently under consideration and is key to any discussion on contact.  Needless to say, it is a news article which I am sure I will refer to within my dissertation.

But for today I want to look at M (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1147 which considers the appeal against an order refusing the father’s right to contact with his children given that there had been a history of extreme domestic violence.  So, on my train ride home (again, making the most of the time available to me) as I look out of the window and with this case in mind, I will be considering the following: contact may not always be appropriate but what has to be proven to deny it completely; and with indirect contact options available, should a child be denied access to a birth parent completely?

Hopefully, at some point I will be able to argue this question with more certainty and authority but for now it is a starting point.  I hope future blogs I write will bring out other issues to consider and authorities to influence discussions in this area.  Every day is a school day, and not just for trainee solicitors and paralegals.

Financial Orders: A Trainee Solicitor’s Primer

stowe family law leedsIt was somewhat eerie walking through town today on my way to the Stowe Family Law office in Leeds. The usual packed streets of the city centre resembled a ghost town! It is Christmas Eve however, and I am very much looking forward to spending tomorrow with my loved ones. The streets are empty, but my desk is not! I have many tasks to complete before I leave Stowe Family Law LLP for the Christmas break!

My day is starting with an Attendance Note from a conference I took note in last week. The conference was very informative and I must now compile the all of the relevant information into a document, which can be reviewed on a later date.

Much of my note is focused on the Financial Orders made available upon divorce. Once a marriage has irretrievably broken down, and consent to divorce is given by both parties, the most contentious issue is how they can achieve a financial settlement. This can be a quarrelsome issue as if one party feels as though they have been wronged they sometimes take the view that it entitles them to a substantially bigger share of the matrimonial assets. This is just one of the many reasons ancillary relief proceedings can be extremely difficult however. The Courts (unfortunately for the wrong party) do not deal with the emotional fall outs within the relationship; instead they deal solely with the finances, using factors listed in s25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act to guide them on the appropriate Order to be made.  I think it necessary that I now tell you what Orders are available!

The Court has the power to make the following Orders with regard to the finances:

  • Interim maintenance;
  • Long-term maintenance;
  • Lump sum payment;
  • Transfer of property; and
  • Pension sharing Orders
  • Child maintenance if the CSA do not have jurisdiction

The orders are not mutually exclusive, and the court can make the whole range of orders in any one case. The starting point for the division of the matrimonial assets is 50/50 but, in some cases, the Court will consider whether there should be a departure from equality taking into account factors listed under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These include:

 

  1. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the Court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
  2. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  3. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  4. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  5. The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after home or caring for the family;
  6. The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would be in the opinion of the Court be inequitable to disregard it;
  7. In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring

Each case is thus heard of a case-by-case basis. The facts with regard to finances are different in every case, and thus different Orders are appropriate for each case. The Court’s primary aim is to provide a fair settlement, one which ultimately caters for both parties’ needs.

I am now going to get on with my work… otherwise I fear Santa may be leaving coal for me this year.

Merry Christmas to all, from the trainee solicitors and paralegals at Stowe Family Law!

The difficulties of Child Protection Orders

bumpRecently there was a story in the news about an Italian woman whose baby was put for adoption after a caesarean. Her child is now being adopted by a British couple despite her pleas to raise the child herself. The case has been condemned as extraordinary and totalitarian and an MP has even gone so far as to call the Essex Children’s Services ‘unaccountable and out of control’.  The woman in question unfortunately suffered from mental health issues, and the view of social services and the Courts was ultimately that her health issues deemed her unable to raise her child.

During my time at Leeds University I studied child law, and orders with such extreme results were often the subject of debate amongst my peers. We would often spend seminars discussing Child Protection Orders and the difficulties that the law faces in relation to them. There are many orders at the courts disposal, and thus we would sometimes disagree on the appropriate order to be made in respect of a child who is at risk of harm, or indeed suffering harm. Some would choose the most extreme, reaching the conclusion that care proceedings should be initiated and others would suggest that such an order is not necessary under the present facts of the case. It became obvious that this is not a clear cut area of the law, and that it is fraught with controversy.

A few problems that the law has to deal with in relation to children protection orders are as follows:

Evidential problems; in care cases the judges are faced with the task of having to penetrate ‘ the fog of denials, evasions, lies and half truths which all too often descend’. In other words, social workers and the courts do not always know all the facts and thus must deal with the possibilities.  It is also noticeable that even experts examining the same injuries that a child has incurred, can differ widely in their interpretation of them. So here lies a problem, a decision must be made as to what is best for the child despite the truth not being established. Ultimately this can lead to a more extreme order being made, when in actual fact, a less severe order would have been more appropriate, and vice versa.

Secondly, even if the facts are know, there is much controversy over how much suffering the child should face before it is suitable for the state to be able to intervene to protect the child. Many will have a differing view on what is harmful enough to constitute permanent removal from the parents. For example, does a child living in a dirty home, who is not fed correctly or washed, need to be removed from that environment or should the state simply offer support to the parents to improve their lifestyle? The issue here is should the state only intervene in the most serious cases so to protect the privacy of the family or are they justified in acting in order to prevent abuse. What is evident also is that the lines are blurred, what some will call neglect or abuse others may not view so seriously.

Finally, critics have argued that even where the facts are established, and abuse is proved, there is still much debate as to the correct response to it. Research has shown that there is a level of abuse of children in care, and in particular of those in children homes. Further, it has been argued that removing a child from an abusive family only to place him or her into an abusive situation in a children’s home is to heap harm upon him. Obviously this is not always the case, but nevertheless is another concern that the Courts must face when making decisions in relation to child protection.

In addition the issues mentioned above, after the Human Rights Act 1998 English and Welsh law must now start with a strong presumption that the state must respect the right to a private life (Article 8 of the ECHR). This means that in all cases involving care orders, the court must consider whether there any infringement of human rights will be justified. In spite of this, it would be wrong to assume that the Human Rights Act supports a non interventionist approach in child protection cases.

To conclude it is clear that the courts are faced with an extremely hard task in child protection cases. They have to decide what is best for the child and that is not always clear. The facts of the case can be distorted and a decision to remove a child from their home must be balanced against the detrimental effects of removing them from their family.

I have not read the case of the Italian lady fully, and thus cannot form a well-educated opinion on the judgement as of yet. What I am sure of however, is that it will remain a controversial decision consumed in differences of opinion.

Image by MestreechCity

Contact orders

Charlotte blog picYesterday, I was speaking with a friend who has tried endlessly, and to no avail, to have contact with her father. It appears that despite his actions, she wishes to have a relationship with him simply because he is her dad. So, it got me thinking about contact orders. Working at the firm, I have seen many people requesting contact orders so that they can maintain a relationship with their child/children, after the breakdown of their relationship. However, after talking with my friend, I started thinking ‘if only she could have imposed a contact over her father’! This is (unfortunately for her), not possible, so today I thought I would tell you all about contact orders, namely, what they are and what they do.

The effect of a contact order: –

As well as dealing with whom the child should live, the court must also consider whether the child should have regular meetings with their other parent (the contact parent), or indeed with other relatives or family friends. The hope is that regular meetings will enable the child to continue his or her relationship with both parents, and both sides of the family. As it is often stated, ‘parenthood is for life’, and thus the fact that the parents have separated should not affect their relationship with the child.

However, it is sometimes the case that following a bitter separation, the resident parent may be deeply opposed to the child seeing the other parent. This is particularly so if the resident parent finds a new partner and wishes to form a new family. On the other hand, the contact parent will seek to do all that he/she can to retain contact with the child and make the most of the contact permitted. Furthermore, it becomes evident that contact applications are often very bitterly disputed.

I have already seen many cases like at Stowe Family Law. But should the law be able to force a parent to have contact with a child, a young child who may wish to see their parent but the parent does not wish to see them?

As it stands the law has not yet directly addressed the question of whether the non-residential parent can be required to have contact with the child. If the evidence is clear that the child would benefit from regular contact with the non-residential father, but the father does not wish to have contact, can be compelled? It appears not. Thorpe LJ in Re (A child) explicitly denied that a parent could be ordered to spend time with a child against the parent’s wishes.

I think that this is a sensible interpretation of the boundaries and definition of a contact order. After all, the Children Act 1989 states that the welfare of the child must be of paramount concern and it would is in all likelihood going to be counter-productive to compel a reluctant parent to see a child!

A contact order only provides that the resident parent will make the child/children available for contact, leaving the onus on the resident parent. A contact order, ordering a non-resident parent to see their child would thus, most likely, be impossible to enforce. So why prolong the suffering?

As in all cases involving children, the law must have make decisions depending on what is in the best interests of the child. Although my friend is an adult now, and thus does not fall within the ambit of the Children Act 1989, I would still question whether it would be in her best interests to see her father?  I believe that a parent who clearly wishes to have no involvement in their child’s life, who is then forced to, may not be in the right mind to look after the child, making the contact detrimental  and thus not in their best interest.

Just some food for thought as I bid you all farewell until next week!

Image by Photochiel

 

 

 

 

Preparing for my LPC

AA

This week one of the partners at the Leeds office and I, made our way to the Barristers chambers. Although, I was prepared to work hard in the meeting, and ensure that I took a detailed attendance note, I was not prepared for the harsh winds outside. Note to self, appropriate winter work shoes are needed as soon as possible.

I had been reviewing the case file at the beginning of the week, and was looking forward to hear the instructed barrister’s thoughts on the case. Conferences with counsel are held so that the barrister can meet with the client, seek further information about the case, and advise on the prospects of success. They would also recommend the steps that need to be taken to prepare for the hearing. Today was our client’s last conference before they will be attending the final hearing in a few weeks.

Thankfully, I have been given the opportunity to attend the hearing, so will get to see how the case concludes. I really am getting some invaluable experience at the firm. Attending meetings, conferences and hearings is enabling me to get a real feel for the life of a solicitor. I feel that it is also preparing me for the LPC, which I intend to start in the coming months. Doing a law degree can only prepare you for the legal profession in part, this is because the course does not teach one what law is like in practice. Those wanting to pursue a career in law must complete the LPC (Legal Practice Course) and following that, a training contract.  To find out more about trainee contracts, take a look at ‘Time to Review Stowe Family Law training contracts’.

The LPC gives you the essential training needed to become a qualified solicitor. It will act as a bridge between my life in academia and the professional life at a law firm. The aim of the course is to provide the legal knowledge and skills to thrive in today’s market. Indeed, the school where I will be doing the course focuses on the all round legal skills and commercial awareness that employers seek. In attaining these qualities, I hope to cement my place at Stowe Family law!

I know that the course will not be an easy one. I have friends who are now qualified lawyers that have informed me that it is extremely intense. I am most definitely up for the challenge, however this may not stop me asking my ‘co-bloggers’, Zoe and Becca for some useful tips! On that note, I’d like to wish Becca good look in her upcoming exams (not that you will need it).

Have a good weekend all!

Image by CarbonNYC