Something else for parents to worry about: will our children ever own their own home?

Something else for parents to worry about: will our children ever own their own home?

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in News

A survey by housing charity Shelter has found that 49% of British parents think that their children will never be able to afford to buy their own home, at least not without the help of an inheritance.

Many of the parents surveyed by the charity gave high house prices and a lack of affordable housing as reasons for this belief.

Unfortunately, the charity believes that they may in fact be right.

Government data has shown that between 2003-2014, the proportion of homeowners aged between 25-34 years old has dropped by a massive 23%. These days only 36% own their own property.

As a result, many young people rely on inheritance to be in with a chance of owning a house in their lifetime.

Chief executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb, has called on politicians to make “a real and lasting commitment to building the affordable homes we desperately need” ahead on next month’s general election.

The charity has started a petition to raise awareness of the affordable housing issue.

Read more on this story on Marilyn Stowe’s family blog.

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The Law Commission reviews law of marriage

The Law Commission reviews law of marriage

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in News

The Law Commission has started work on a review of the current law of marriage, following a request from the government.

The scoping phase of the review is currently under way. This is due to last until the end of 2015, at which point an initial report will be released.

But why is this review taking place?

The review seeks to discover whether the current law provides a fair and coherent framework for marriage, and whether the current law, which has evolved over a long period of time, meets the needs and wishes of those seeking to marry, whilst protecting the status of marriage.

The Law Commission will research both domestic and comparative law in order to answer these questions, and then use this information to develop any necessary reforms.

The Law Commission has noted that any work will not consider who can marry, the rights and responsibilities which come with marriage, and the question of whether or not religious groups should be obliged to solemnise marriages of same sex couples.

Following the publication of the initial report, the Government will consider if any steps need to be taken, and whether and to what extent the Law Commission will be involved in these.

Have a question about marriage? Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with one of our team.

For further details contact us or request a call back.

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Elections pledges relating to looked after children: the BAAF respond

Elections pledges relating to looked after children: the BAAF respond

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in News

This week, Chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, Caroline Selkirk, responded to the general elections pledges set out by the major parties with regards looked after children.

Below are the manifesto pledges of the parties, along with Caroline Selkirk’s responses.

The Labour Party: Supporting kinship care

Party Pledge: We will increase support for children in kinship (family and friends) care and their families, a group too often overlooked and undervalued.

BAAF Response: We have been campaigning alongside the Family Rights Group to raise the profile of kinship care, and we’d like to see a commitment from all parties to support kinship care. We are delighted that the Labour Party has taken this first step.

Kinship care is currently the Cinderella care option- kinship carers are not eligible for the same support as adopters or foster carers, and they are also penalised by the benefits system. For example, many have fallen foul of the spare room subsidy and availability to work rules. As a result, it is crucial that any additional support for kinship carers should enable free access to legal and advice services.

The Conservative Party: Regional Adoption Agencies

Party Pledge: We will introduce regional adoption agencies, working across local authority boundaries to match children with the best parents for them.

BAAF Response: Introducing regional adoption agencies would be a major change to the way in which adoption services are currently delivered. It is vital that any such reorganisation will focus on a child and their need for a family for life. We need to see greater clarity on these proposals.

At present there are nine Regional Adoption Boards reporting to the Adoption Leadership Board, who are focused on improving performance at a regional level. This is still a fairly new initiative and needs further time to become established.

We agree that there are benefits for children when local authorities work co-operatively, together with Voluntary Adoption Agencies in their region, to identify suitable matches for children in their care. There are already some well-established regional consortiums, where local authorities are developing new ways of working together and we would support further development of these models.

The Liberal Democrats: National adoption gateway and training for foster carers

Party Pledge: Continue to make it easier for children in care to find a loving home, through the national Adoption Register and the new national gateway for adoption, a first point of contact for potential adopters.

BAAF Response: Recent reforms to adoption have reduced delay in the time it takes for a child to be placed. However, for children from ethnic minority backgrounds, older children, those with a disability and sibling groups it is still a challenge to find the right match. The decision by the Liberal Democrats to maintain momentum on the current measures, like the Adoption Register, and the new national gateway for adoption, provide continuity and is welcome.

Party Pledge: Tackle delay and instability in foster care, with better support and training for foster carers, including on mental health issues.

BAAF Response: Providing better support and training for foster carers, and focussing on mental health issues will be essential to the development of foster care. A further step in the right direction would be a government commitment to driving forward best practice in the sector, ensuring increased support and funding of foster care, alongside the emphasis on support and training for both foster carers and social workers.

There are over 90,000 looked after children- that’s children in the care system in the UK. It is paramount that the next government provides appropriate support for these children and their carers. Any failure to do so risks condemning some of our countries’ most vulnerable children to an unstable and uncertain future.

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Children’s Commissioner sets out her priorities

Children’s Commissioner sets out her priorities

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in News

On 2 March, Anne Longfield OBE started as the new Children’s Commissioner of England. Her role involves promoting and protectiong the rights of children, especially those who are in care, who receive social care services, or who live away from home for any reason.

She has now set out her immediate priorities. There are as follows:

–        To work with children to ensure their interests are prioritised in decision-making both nationally and locally;

–        To secure improvements for vulnerable children in the care system;

–        To ensure adults and professionals that work with children recognise signs of abuse or neglect and act on these;

–        To secure real commitments from political parties to make children a priority following the election in May.

Ms Longfield said:

“I will spend my six year term as Children’s Commissioner stretching every sinew to improve lives of children – listening to what children and young people tell me and bringing their concerns to the table.”

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Vince v Wyatt: The Supreme Court’s controversial decision

Vince v Wyatt: The Supreme Court’s controversial decision

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in News

Last month, the Supreme Court held that an ex-wife was entitled to pursue her claim for financial support from her ex-husband, despite the divorce having been finalised more than two decades ago.

The couple originally divorced in 1992. At the time they had no assets. However, in 1995 the husband founded Ecotricity, a multi-million pound renewable energy company.

The wife claimed that she had been unable to advance any financial claim until 2010, after seeking the advice of a fifth firm. During this period all paperwork relating to their separation and divorce had been destroyed- save the decree absolute. As a result it was not clear whether the parties had dealt with their financial claims at the time of the divorce.

The Court of Appeal had previously indicated that the judges should adopt a robust case management stance in “hopeless claims” such as this one, due to the pressures already on the court system. However, the Supreme Court held that this was the wrong approach, and whether or not a claim in the Family Courts had a real prospect of success was not a basis for allowing it to be stuck out.

A unanimous judgement from the Supreme Court held that although Mrs Wyatt would face “formidable difficulties” in bringing the claim, she was entitled to do so, and that her “greater contribution to the upbringing of the couple’s children over many years… may justify a financial order”. The Court therefore returned the case to the High Court to consider the quantum of Mrs Wyatt’s claims.

The Court also held that the husband was to provide the wife with the funds to finance the legal proceedings.

This case appears to have paved the way for couples to seek financial settlements based on contributions made at any point- during the marriage, after separation, and even after divorce. This case shows that financial claims can persist, even many years after a divorce, if not dealt with properly at the time.

Need help with financial issues in your divorce? Contact one of our solicitors to ensure that the matter is dealt with quickly and properly.

If you wish, read the Supreme Court’s judgement in full.

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Theresa May: We need to review Shari’a law

Theresa May: We need to review Shari’a law

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in News

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced an independent investigation into the application of Shari’a law in England and Wales.

During a speech on Islamic extremism, Ms May stated that there are problems, such as the divorce of Muslim women, that need to be examined in order for us to know the full extent.

She stated that there is evidence of women being “divorced” under Shari’a law and left in penury, and others who are forced to return to abusive relationships due to the husband’s right to “chastise” his wife. Furthermore, there is an inherent inequality, as the Shari’a councils give a woman’s testimony less weight than that of a man’s.

Learn a bit more about Islamic marriage and divorce, and read the full text of Ms May’s speech on extremism.

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