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Family Q & A - helping answer some commonly asked questions

19 November 2013

Our divorce & family lawyer Jonathan Eager answers three common questions that are asked in his line of work.

What financial information do I have to give my spouse as part of my divorce?

Answer: If, as is often the case, you need the court to make an order splitting the marital assets, then both parties will have to make full disclosure of their financial circumstances. Each party’s statement must detail all assets and income, as well as capital and income needs, supported by relevant documentary evidence where necessary.

What happens if my financial circumstances change during my divorce?

Up until the point that the court makes a financial order, you must keep the other party informed of any changes in your financial circumstances. If you do not, then the subsequent order could be appealed later due to material non-disclosure.

I have been ordered to pay spousal maintenance – how long will I need to pay this for?

Usually, the order will come to an end on the death or remarriage of your spouse or on further order of the court. Sometimes the terms of the order will state that it ends on a particular date or following the occurrence of a particular event.

For more information on how we can assist you with family and matrimonial advice please contact jonathan.eager@willans.co.uk

I am in a same sex relationship, do I have any rights against my partner’s assets?

Answer: Yes, possibly. If you have entered into a civil partnership, precisely the same financial claims available upon a divorce are available to you under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. If you live with your partner, but have not entered into a civil partnership, you may have rights/claims in relation to assets they own under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

I am concerned that my children’s father wants to take them abroad for a holiday but do not know where they are going. What can I do about it?

Answer: If your children’s father does not have a residence order for the children (which would enable him to remove them out of the UK for a period of less than 1 month), then by law he is required to either get your consent or apply to the court for permission to do so. In fact, failing to do so would be a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984. You can apply to the court under the Children Act 1989 for an order to prevent the children leaving the UK. Further steps can be taken in relation to passports and a port stop alert to warn immigration officers of the risk of abduction.

As a father, do I have parental responsibility for my children?

Answer: It depends. A father has parental responsibility for his children if he is married to their mother at the time of their birth or if he has been granted a residence order in relation to the children. If not married at the time of the child’s birth, and if the birth took place after 1 December 2003, a father will have parental responsibility if he is named on the birth certificate at the time of the registration or re-registration of the child’s birth. If none of the above applies, a father can enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or apply to the court for a parental responsibility order.

Is there a way to resolve our marital dispute without going to court?

Answer: Yes. There are a number of alternatives to court including negotiation (in person, via correspondence, through round table meetings etc), mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. Not all marital disputes are subject to lengthy court proceedings. However, if a financial agreement is reached, it should be incorporated into a financial consent order. This document sets out the agreement reached and is forwarded to the court for approval by a judge. Invariably, the court will approve the consent order without the need for the parties to attend court.

I have been living with my partner for 10 years. What rights do I have as a result of being his common-law wife?

Answer: In law, there is no such thing as a ‘common-law wife’. This is now an urban legend, the status of common-law wife having been abolished as recently as 1753! Any dispute in relation to the property will need to be considered under property and trust law.

Jonathan has worked exclusively in the field of matrimonial and family law and is accredited as a specialist by Resolution. He helps clients with family and divorce matters, including divorce and separation, nullity, civil partnerships, children, pre-nuptial/civil partnership and post-nuptial/civil partnership agreements, cohabitation and financial issues arising ancillary to separation and divorce.

If you have a matter you wish to discuss, please contact him on 01242 514000 or by email.

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Jonathan Eager FCILEx
Senior associate
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