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10 September 2021 Family Matters

While it is not always easy for a couple who have separated to agree arrangements for their children, it can be even more of a challenge for farming families especially at this time of day.  Early starts for milking, and the long hours required at harvest can add to the stress, especially if a family cannot enlist the help of grandparents for school runs, after-school clubs, and wraparound care. The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard on children as they were repeatedly parted from their friends and their studies for extended periods, due to numerous lockdowns and self-isolation rules. No sooner were they back into a reassuring routine at school, albeit a routine featuring face coverings, social distancing and class bubbles, the summer holidays kicked in, again spelling separation from friends and a break from the reassuring…
12 August 2021 Family Matters

While many adults drink alcohol responsibly, unfortunately there is a significant percentage of the adult population in England that misuse alcohol.  Government statistics for 2020 show that over half a million adults in England were admitted to hospital, primarily due to excessive alcohol consumption.  When misuse of alcohol is a factor in family breakdown, it can be a particular concern when there are children and arrangements need to be agreed for residence and contact. It is not uncommon that someone with an alcohol problem denies any problem exists, especially if they fear they may not get to see their children.  Meanwhile the other parent will be concerned and fret over the safety of their children in their former partner’s care.  ‘The issue of concern for any court looking at arrangements for children is not so much…
05 July 2021 Family Matters

Within a marriage or civil partnership, the concept of bad behaviour can cover a multitude of activities, from leaving the top off the toothpaste to serious or criminal activities.  One option when applying for a divorce is to claim that your relationship has broken down irretrievably. One way of proving this is to show that your partner has behaved ‘unreasonably’. Following the case of Owens v Owens, unreasonable behaviour must be more than the run-of-the-mill type of annoyances to be expected in a long marriage. You must show that the behaviour was such that it would be unreasonable to expect you to stay with your spouse. If you succeed with an unreasonable behaviour divorce it is normal that the courts will order your spouse to pay for the legal costs. For many, allocation of the legal…
08 June 2021 Family Matters

Recent research by Loughborough University shows a sharp rise in the so called ‘boomerang’ generation of young adults returning to live at home until their late twenties or early thirties.  This trend has continued as a result of the pandemic causing job losses, furlough, and university closures.  ‘With the shape of family life changing, we are seeing an increase in queries about whether adult children living at home have any rights in a divorce,’ says Robert Bellhouse, a Solicitor in the family law team with Pearsons & Ward in Malton. ‘The law makes a number of provisions to ensure minor children continue to be cared and provided for following divorce, but more recently the children living at home are older.  Unlike a tenant or lodger there is unlikely to be any legal formalities in place, such…
19 May 2021 Family Matters

For the majority of people, their most significant asset is the family home. So, it is not surprising that when it comes to dealing with the financial consequences surrounding divorce, questions about what will happen to the matrimonial home are usually top of the list.  In most cases the home will be dealt with in one of two ways – either it is transferred to one spouse, and the other spouse will receive a lump sum of money or an asset such as a pension pot or holiday home in exchange, or it is sold and both spouses receive a division of the sale proceeds. Where a property has to be sold, external factors come into play, such as the property market, the economy, a pandemic, or tax incentives such as the stamp duty holiday. These…
12 April 2021 Family Matters

Following separation parents usually want to minimise any disruption to their children, ensuring that they soon settle into a new routine - whether that is in the existing family home, or following a move to a new home.  Where your children will live may be an obvious or straightforward decision, for example if one parent works abroad or has a job which makes it difficult to accommodate childcare.  For other families, the decision can be complex especially if parents feel strongly that the children should continue to reside with them. If you find yourself in this scenario and fear that an agreement will never be reached, then it is wise to obtain early expert legal advice on the best way forward.  Robert Bellhouse at Pearsons & Ward in Malton has a wealth of experience and can…
01 April 2021 Family Matters

Following the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 and same sex marriages in 2014, there has been an increase in families and then relationship breakdown between same sex parents.  Finding agreement over issues relating to children can be tricky in any relationship breakdown. When a same sex couple separate it can raise several unique additional questions regarding arrangements for children and each person’s legal rights when children may be adopted, the parents may benefit from surrogacy or sperm donation, or one partner may have children from a previous relationship. Robert Bellhouse, a Solicitor in the family law team with Pearsons & Ward in Malton looks at some of the steps and considerations same sex couples need to bear in mind in relation to agreeing future arrangements for children. Reaching agreement together In any family breakup, if…
19 March 2021 Family Matters

Families now come in all shapes and sizes, and children may live with parents who are cohabiting, married, separated or divorced. They may be part of a step-family, live with adoptive parents, grandparents, other relatives or a special guardian. If you have spent many years living with and developing a close bond with a child, you may be concerned that your ‘parental’ status is not formally recognised and you may worry that you could be excluded from key decisions in the future. Robert Bellhouse, family law expert at Pearsons & Ward Solicitors in Malton explains that parental responsibility is a legal concept defined by the Children Act.  ‘It determines all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.’ Whoever has parental…
10 March 2021 Family Matters

As part of any discussion regarding family finances following divorce, it is important to consider pensions.  As Robert Bellhouse, family law expert with Pearsons & Ward in Malton explains, this is particularly so if compared to your former spouse you only have a very modest pension of your own or perhaps no pension at all. ‘In many cases it may be possible to obtain a share of your former spouse’s pension pot in order to address any inequality in entitlement’, explains Robert Bellhouse, ‘but it is important to seek legal advice early to determine whether an application to the court is appropriate and, if it is, to ensure that any order made is fair’. When can a pension be shared? The court can make a pension sharing order where legal proceedings are issued to resolve the…
25 February 2021 Family Matters

As a step-parent who is getting divorced or separating, you may feel confused over what rights you will have in relation to your step-children especially if you have spent many years living as a family and have grown to love them as your own.  You know how important your bond is and may be worried that your former spouse may try to damage this relationship.  It can be an anxious time, but we can help you understand what rights you have and what options are available to you. In legal terms, to be a step-parent you must have married or entered a civil partnership with one of the child’s biological parents.  If you did not marry the biological parent but lived together with them, then your rights will be slightly different and it is important that…
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