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Divorce Law Reform

The States of Jersey are looking to reform their divorce laws and have launched a social media consultation seeking the views of islanders on whether their divorce laws need to change. The divorce laws in Jersey are now seventy years old and are quite different to the laws regarding divorce in England and Wales.
The changes for Jersey include:
1) The States of Jersey are looking at removing the three year wait that parties currently have to file for divorce. At present in Jersey parties have to be married for three years before filing for divorce. The situation is different in England and Wales with parties only having to be married for the period of one year before filing for divorce.

2) The States of Jersey are looking to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce. We have looked at this in previous blog posts, it is something that people are currently campaigning for in England and Wales. At present in England and Wales if somebody wants to divorce their spouse sooner than two years after separating they must blame their spouse for the breakdown of the marriage which can cause upset and conflict.

3) The States of Jersey are looking at possibly introducing joint filing for divorce. Joint filing is not available in England and Wales at present; the divorce petition is presented by one spouse known as the ‘Petitioner’ in proceedings and is received by the spouse known as the ‘Respondent’, and the parties are not allowed to share the same solicitor in divorce proceedings. In enabling parties to file for divorce jointly it would allow parties to deal with matters in a more amicable way.

4) The States of Jersey are considering the introduction of compulsory mediation to look at whether or not they are able to agree their divorce settlement. In England and Wales we do not have compulsory mediation for all divorce matters but where a spouse is considering making an application to the court for financial remedy they must attempt mediation before making an application unless they are eligible for an exemption. Mediation can be extremely helpful to parties who both wish to engage.

The reforms being considered by the States of Jersey all point towards making the divorce process less confrontational, enabling parties to deal with matters as amicably as possible which is important especially when there are children of the marriage. Whilst the process is different in England and Wales, the idea is much the same amongst campaigners looking for reform of the divorce process in England and Wales. The thought being that the current systems are too adversarial.
Although there is still a lot that could be done in England and Wales to make the divorce process less confrontational a lot depends on how the divorce process is dealt with. At JNP Legal all of our solicitors dealing with separation and financial remedy are members of Resolution, promoting an approach which is sensitive, cost effective and most likely to result in an agreement. If you are looking to start divorce proceedings but are worried about how to handle matters please contact a member of our family department for some advice and assistance concentrating on minimising conflict and reducing the impact on you and your family.

JNP Legal offer a variety of legal services. Our Nelson office is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and our Merthyr Tydfil Office is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 12pm every Saturday morning.
If you are unable to attend our offices we would be more than happy to arrange a home appointment, where convenient.
We value our clients and pride ourselves on our ability to offer a first class service.
If you require our assistance with any legal matters please call us on 01685 350421 (Merthyr Tydfil Office) or 01443 450561 (Nelson Office) or contact us via email on Law@jnplegal.org.

JNP Legal offer a variety of legal services. Our Merthyr, Nelson & Llanishen office is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and our Merthyr Tydfil Office is open 9am – 12pm every Saturday morning.
If you are unable to attend our offices we would be more than happy to arrange a home appointment, where convenient.
We value our clients and pride ourselves on our ability to offer a first class service.
If you require our assistance with any legal matters please call us on 01685 350421 (Merthyr Tydfil Office) 01443 450561 (Nelson Office) or 02920 763211 (Cardiff Office) or contact us via email on Law@jnplegal.org.

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The Dangerous Side of Social Media; Think Before You Post!

Social networking has shot up in the past decade with people taking to social media to connect with one another, engage with news, share information and entertain themselves. There are various social media platforms and people are choosing to contact each other on those platforms using messages, photos and videos more frequently.

The benefits of the internet and social media are vast but there is also a dangerous side and we are seeing that more and more in the legal profession.
Social media posts that may have been posted in the heat of the moment when emotions were running high have been brought into court proceedings to be used as evidence of behavior, relationships and events, and this ‘evidence’ has been judged in court. This is now commonplace and can have damaging consequences, sometimes affecting the outcome of a case.

It is extremely important to take a minute to think before posting, and to avoid getting into arguments over social media. Not only could it potentially damage any court case that you may have going on, or any future case for that matter, but if your children use social media remember that they may see negative posts and this could cause additional upset.

It is not enough to rely on privacy settings; if you do not want the public to see your post then do not post it! No matter how much you lock your account down, or how careful you think you are with your friends, the reality is that if you post it, it will be seen!

If you’ve got an issue and need someone to talk to, and some advice, do not post it on social media, contact us to arrange an appointment so that you can get some proper legal advice!

JNP Legal offer a variety of legal services. Our Nelson office is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and our Merthyr Tydfil Office is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 12pm every Saturday morning.

If you are unable to attend our offices we would be more than happy to arrange a home appointment, where convenient.

We value our clients and pride ourselves on our ability to offer a first class service.

If you require our assistance with any legal matters please call us on 01685 350421 (Merthyr Tydfil Office) or 01443 450561 (Nelson Office) or contact us via email on Law@jnplegal.org.

 

Is the provision of legal aid in need of overhaul following Charlie Gard case?

The heartbreaking case of Charlie Gard (Great Ormond Street Hospital v Constance Yates, Christopher Gard and Charlie Gard) has touched many hearts and it is difficult for many of us to imagine what his parents have been through. The parents ended their fight accepting that US therapy could not save the brain damaged child suffering from Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome by withdrawing their objection to the application brought by the hospital.

It is difficult to comprehend that Charlie’s parents who were fighting to keep their baby alive did not have access to legal aid. Legal aid is the use of public funds to help to pay for legal advice and representation.

Charlie’s parents were legally represented on a pro bono basis with their legal representatives agreeing to represent them for free, however this should not have been necessary. There are other families out there in similar positions of desperation who have had to struggle to represent themselves. The fact that Charlie’s case has been so heavily documented highlights the difficulties that other families face.

The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 brought in changes to the availability of legal aid in April 2013. Since then legal aid has only been available for family matters where there has been social services involvement in relation to care, supervision and protection of a child, and for other family matters when the person requiring legal aid is the victim of domestic abuse perpetrated by the other party, or where the child of the person requiring legal aid is at risk of abuse. Even when there has been domestic abuse or risk of abuse to a child this needs to be proven and the person applying for legal aid is subject to a stringent means test requiring their income and capital to be below a certain level.  Due to these changes most people are not eligible for legal aid.

Charlie’s parents did not satisfy the means test even though they had been off work caring for Charlie for several months. They were unable to get non-means tested legal aid because even though the application was made by a public body it was not made by a local authority.

Mr Justice Francis hearing the case of Charlie Gard stated that he found it ‘remarkable’ that his parents could not obtain legal aid, and commented that when Parliament changed the law in relation to legal aid it cannot have intended that parents in the position that these parents have been in should have no access to legal advice or representation.

Many are now arguing that the system is in need of overhaul to ensure that there is access to justice for all.

If you need legal advice or representation in respect of a family matter and want to know whether or not you are eligible for legal aid please contact our family department.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your legal needs in a discreet and professional manner.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

We offer home visits to those clients who are unable to attend our offices in person and we pride ourselves on offering first class client care.

If you need assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this blog please call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org and we will do our very best to provide you with the legal assistance you require.

 

Holiday’s are coming!

We are fast approaching the summer holidays and for lots of us that means planning trips abroad. If you are thinking about taking your child/children abroad on holiday this summer then you need to consider whether you have permission to do that.

The law sets out that it is a criminal offence to remove a child from the UK without the consent of any parent who has parental responsibility, the child’s guardian, and anyone who has the benefit of a child arrangement order setting out that the child is to live with them, unless the court has given permission.

Some one who has the benefit of a child arrangement order setting out that the child is to live with them can remove the child from the UK without requiring consent but this is only for the period of up to one month. However it is still always best to seek permission of the other parent so that they are kept updated as to where the child will be.

If you are planning on taking your child out of the UK for a holiday then plan in advance and obtain consent before booking the holiday! Provide as much information as possible about the holiday; give details of the country you are intending to visit, your plans whilst there, the length of the holiday, flight time and number, and the address of where you will be staying. The more information provided the more likely it will be that consent will be given as this will alleviate any stress or concern that the other parent may have.

It is always sensible to provide contact details such as a telephone number or email address to be able to communicate during the holiday and possibly allow some form of contact between the child and the other parent to enable the other parent to know that the child is safe and enjoying the holiday.

If the other parent does not consent to you taking the child out of the UK then you may want to consider mediation where you can have the opportunity to discuss any safeguards that need to be put in place to allow the holiday to go ahead. If consent is still not forthcoming then you would need to make an application to the Family Court for permission to remove the child from the UK for the purposes of a holiday.

The court will consider all of the circumstances of the holiday and you will need to provide as much information as possible about the planned trip. The court always makes decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Consent is not required for a holiday within the UK, although again, it is always best practice to inform the other parent of any trip and to provide details of that trip.

If you are having trouble coming to an agreement about arrangements to take your child on holiday this summer, or want some assistance in getting that consent to book a holiday, then please do not hesitate to contact our family department.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your legal needs in a discreet and professional manner.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

We offer home visits to those clients who are unable to attend our offices in person and we pride ourselves on offering first class client care in a discreet manner.

If you need assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this blog please call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org and we will do our very best to provide you with the legal assistance you require.

Time to introduce No Fault Divorce?

In England and Wales the sole ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The only way to get a divorce without waiting two years or more after separating is to cite the reason for the breakdown of the marriage as being your spouse’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Research undertaken by Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers, has shown that the majority of divorces are fault based; based on either adultery or unreasonable behaviour, with unreasonable behaviour being the most common reason. For couples not wanting to wait two years or more blaming fault on the other is the easiest way to obtain a divorce, even when the other is not necessarily at fault.

There are various reasons for couples not always wanting to wait, particularly emotional and financial reasons. However not waiting encourages blame and often leads to upset and animosity. What could be an amicable separation is at risk of being ruined by one spouse naming the other as being responsible for causing the marriage to breakdown. This can have huge consequences on relationships, especially where there are children of the marriage.

No fault divorce is available in other countries and there have been attempts to introduce it in England and Wales. There have been calls for reform for years and there is growing pressure for change. The concept has been criticised for making it easier for couples to divorce, and critics have argued that it encourages couples to break up.

Although no fault divorce is not available in England and Wales with the right support you can get a divorce petition prepared citing relatively mild allegations against your spouse. We can help you to prepare a divorce petition in a non-confrontational style which will be closer to the no fault approach. We can help you to attempt to agree the contents of the divorce petition before it is sent to the court to be issued. We understand that breakups can be stressful and we can help to alleviate the tension and help to save on the emotional strain that the breakup may have caused.

If you are going through a breakup and need some support in dealing with a divorce application, finances, or matters involving your children then please contact our family department for more information.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your Legal needs.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org

 

 

Common Law Marriage- All a myth?

There has been a trend in couples choosing to live together to bring up children without marrying, and there is an assumption by many unmarried couples in a long standing relationship that they are married under common law, and therefore have the same rights as married couples. That assumption is wrong.

Cohabitants do have some legal protection but cohabitation gives no legal status to a couple.

Cohabitants do not have the ability to claim any financial support against ex partners even after living with each other for years, with the exception of child maintenance. Cohabitants can only claim against each others assets when there is a written agreement in place, or they can prove that they have made a contribution which is often difficult.

It is often all too late for cohabitants finding out about this once they have separated or one of them has died. Couples who have lived together for years and years can find themselves in a position whereby they are left with nothing.

There has been much debate about this topic with campaigners arguing that cohabiting couples ought to have the same rights as married couples in these modern times with so many families choosing not to marry. Others argue that marriage is a couple’s choice and that if a couple choose not to marry then they opt out of the legal protection that it affords.

Contact us if you want to speak to a solicitor about what rights you have, where you and your partner stand in certain situations, or to discuss what you can do to make your position more secure.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your Legal needs.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org

 

 

Back to school!

It’s that time again, six weeks gone in a flash!

Remember as a parent, you’re legally responsible for making sure that your child goes to school; you must make sure your child gets a full-time education that meets their needs. You can be prosecuted if you don’t give your child an education.

You can only allow your child to miss school if either they’re too ill to go in or you’ve got advance permission from the school.

If your child misses school you’ll be contacted by the school and sometimes even the council’s education welfare officer if they think your child isn’t getting a suitable education. The council will offer to help and may even put in place a parenting contract which is a formal, signed agreement between a parent and either the local authority or the school’s governing body. Under the contract, the parent agrees to make sure their child attends school regularly and the Local Authority agrees to provide specific support.

You can’t be forced to enter into a parenting contract but if you’re offered one and refuse, it can be used as evidence against you if you’re later prosecuted.

Head teachers, education welfare officers (also known as education social workers), whose job is to make sure that children attend school, and police officers may decide to give you penalty notices of £50 to £100 if your child regularly misses school and you have not taken action or asked for help. If you don’t pay a penalty notice you’ll be prosecuted.

Prosecution can result in a fine of up to £2,500, a jail sentence of up to three months or a community sentence.

This may seem harsh but it’s designed to tackle the causes of children missing school. Missing school causes disruption to a child’s education, and affects their performance in exams and chances later in life.

The law is tough on parents that allow their child to miss school or ‘truant’ regularly so ensure that your child is attending regularly and if you are having difficulties in getting your child to go school or suspect that your child is truanting contact the school straight away and ask for help.

If you require help or assistance in relation to a prosecution or Local Authority concerns in respect of your child, JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org