Injection of £4.5 million could end delays for children awaiting adoption

Injection of £4.5 million could end delays for children awaiting adoption

Posted by on Jun 30, 2015 in News

The new regional adoption agencies – which are groups of councils working together to match children quickly with their adoptive parents – are to receive new government funding worth £4.5 million. This money will allow these agencies to be up and running earlier than originally planned.

Whilst the Department of Education (DfE) states that there was a record increase by 26% in 2014 of children finding permanent homes (more than 5,000), it was also stated that there were 3,000 children who remained to be matched with their adoptive parents even though the latter were available to receive them.

According to the DfE, adoption is happening at too small and localised a scale. A recent study showed that in around 1 in 3 cases, children were left waiting longer than necessary due to council’s reluctance to look outside their immediate area for the right family.

By encouraging councils to work together, the potential matches for a child would increase significantly, giving children a far better chance of quickly finding a permanent family.

For the whole article please visit Family Law Week website.

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Married couples unable to benefit from new tax break due to computer system

Married couples unable to benefit from new tax break due to computer system

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in News

A conservative policy, dating from April 2015 has implemented a transferable marriage tax allowance.

This policy applies to married couples and couples in civil partnerships and should allow an estimated four million couples who are lower rate taxpayers to transfer £1,000 of their personal tax allowance to their significant other.

For more information on the details and eligibility requirements of this government policy, please check the marriage tax allowance how does it work article on The Guardian.

However, despite registration now being open for this tax break, thousands – notably elderly and low income families – are missing out. This is mainly due to an overly confusing computer system asking for documents that cannot be produced causing couples to abandon the application. Such information includes details of credit cards, mortgages, passports and driving licences, some of which older couples could potentially lack. There has also been rejections due to applicants not having access to mobile phones on which to receive necessary security codes.

To see the full article, visit the Telegraph article Thousands miss out on marriage tax breaks due to confusing computer system.

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The Supreme Court to settle the impact of fraud in divorce settlements

The Supreme Court to settle the impact of fraud in divorce settlements

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 in News

The Supreme Court has been called upon to settle two cases of dishonesty within divorce proceedings pertaining to Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil who were tricked by their respective ex-husbands.

It is the first time in a generation that the highest court in the land will hear cases on this issue. Specialist divorce lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, representing both women, hope that judges will seize the opportunity to show that dishonesty will not be tolerated in the family courts.

For an article on the facts of both cases, visit Family Law website Supreme Court to hear double divorce challenge.

According to both women, their ex-husbands misled them and the courts during divorce proceedings for failing to disclose an accurate portrayal of their financial situation.

These cases provide the ideal opportunity for the Supreme Court to take a strict stance on tackling fraud and dishonesty within divorce proceedings once and for all in order to prevent injustice.

The outcomes of these cases are very important, not only for situations where there are substantial funds, but also for those of more modest means.

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No anti-father bias in family courts, research finds

No anti-father bias in family courts, research finds

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in News

Men are treated fairly when trying to get access to their children in family courts, and are ‘overwhelmingly successful’ in getting contact applications approved, a study of 200 cases since 2011 has found.

The joint report by the University of Warwick and the University of Reading counters the widespread perception that family courts in England and Wales discriminate against fathers because of a gender bias.

Earlier this year Cordell & Cordell, a US family law firm targeting men, announced it would launch in the UK, with co-founder Joseph Cordell stating the firm’s goal was to ‘bridge the gender gap’ in family law.

‘Men are still unfairly represented in family courts in the UK. We recognised the need for this service back in 1990, so it’s great to expand the business and help more fathers, dads and husbands in need of advice and representation,’ Cordell said at the time of the launch.

Yet the study found that men and women have similar success rates when applying for orders to have their children live with them in family courts.

And transfers of sole residence, although rare, were ‘disproportionately’ likely to be transfers from the mother to the father.

Dr Maebh Harding, from the University of Warwick and the co-author of the report, said: ‘Whilst it’s true that mothers were usually the primary care giver in contact applications, this was simply a reflection of the social reality that women are more likely to take on the role after a relationship breakdown.

‘But there was actually no indication of any bias towards mothers over fathers by the courts.’

The report, funded by Nuffield Foundation, did, however, raise concerns that the pursuit of equal or near equal care was decided to ensure fairness to adults, rather on the need of the child.

The researchers also warned that cuts to legal aid are threatening the public’s access to the court system.

‘We have concerns that the wholesale diversion of the cases from court through cuts to legal aid will mean that parents will agree to unsafe arrangements were risk factors are not appropriately managed or will be unable to reach agreement about having contact with their children,’ Dr Harding said.

View original story in The Law Society Gazette.

If you are experiencing family issues and need support we are here to help you minimize or avoid collateral damage.

Please call us on 01273 205 805 or email advice@brightonandhovelaw.co.uk, or if you prefer to visit us check our contact page.

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Unregistered surrogate children a ‘legal timebomb’ according to judge

Unregistered surrogate children a ‘legal timebomb’ according to judge

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in News

Mrs Justice Theis has warned that surrogate-born children who do not have the protection of parental orders run the risk of finding themselves ‘stateless and parent-less’.

Dame Theis spoke at a Surrogacy Symposium in London, telling the conference that parents who fail to obtain court-sanctioned parental orders in respect of children born through surrogacy agreements have created a ‘ticking legal timebomb’.

A parental order is required to transfer parental responsibility for the child from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents. These orders extinguish the rights and responsibilities of the birth mother, and failure to obtain one means that the birth mother remains the true parent in the eyes of the law.

It is estimated that around 2,000 children are born each year by surrogate mothers before being handed over to British parents. However, Cafcass, the government’s child protection agency, confirmed that last year only 241 applications were made for parental orders.

Dame Theis further warned that unless the child’s status was registered it might not inherit from its new parents, and would retain a claim on the estate of the birth mother.

She added that obtaining a parental order is in the best interests of the child, and that:

“If no order is made, there is the psychological impact of [subsequently] discovering that the mother is not their [birth] mother. And there’s practical issues in terms of inheritance and other financial matters. The court’s paramount consideration is the child’s long-term welfare needs.”

To read more at The Guardian website.

To find out more information about obtaining a parental order, call us on 01273 205 805 or email advice@brightonandhovelaw.co.uk to set up an appointment with a solicitor.

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