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One of the biggest family changes in 25 years came into force this week, as Government ministers introduced plans to use students and trainee lawyers to guide couples through the divorce process.

At advice centres across the UK, students are now able to help divorcing couples and offer them legal advice on family and financial matters before their divorce is finalised in court. The new initiative is being introduced in order to cut the legal aid budget. 

Is this a good move? Will the new plans help divorcing couples? Does it place added pressure on legal students? We take a look at the positive and negatives of this proposed plan:

Pros

  • Divorcing couples have the opportunity to save costs in the short term.
  • The Government saves money on legal aid – the average mediation costs £500 in legal aid, compared to £4,000 per person if the proceedings go to court.

Cons More...

 

taking children abroad when youre separated

For separated parents, the issue of  taking children abroad can be a complicated process. While the vast majority of separated couples are able to communicate and amicably agree to their children going abroad on holiday, disputes can happen concerning the issue of ‘temporary removal’. 

Whether you’re planning on taking your children abroad or are contesting your ex-partner’s decision, it’s important to know where you stand.

What is the legal position of parents who want to take children on holiday abroad?

It’s important to note that it’s a criminal offence to take a child abroad without the consent of a parent (or anyone else with parental responsibility). Failing to obtain permission can result in a fine or even imprisonment, however to impose these sanctions can be lengthy and expensive. Both parents, grandparents, schools and family friends have to obtain the appropriate consent before taking children abroad.

However, if a parent has a Child Arrangement Order stating that the child must live in their care, then the consent of the other parent is not needed if the child is going abroad for less than 28 days. It’s still worth obtaining consent in this scenario to avoid any future legal problems and to evidence that you are willing to communicate with the other party should the matter be brought before the Court in the future. More...

family justice reform

Family justice reforms, which the Ministry of Justice has termed, 'the largest for a generation' have come into effect as of the 22nd April 2014.

The 22nd April 2014 saw the establishment of Family Court and the introduction of landmark primary and secondary legislation. The new single Family Court has come into force and most of the family justice provisions from the Children and Families Act are implemented.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes has said that the reforms "put children clearly at the heart of the family justice system and focus on children's needs rather than what parents see as their own 'rights'." Simon Hughes said it was "a hugely important change" to what had been a "very dysfunctional system".

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, said the changes were “the biggest in a lifetime.”

Simon Hughes went onto say: "In 2011 the independent Family Justice Review, chaired by David Norgrove, found the family justice system was no system at all. The review found that vulnerable and damaged children who were meant to be protected were having their 'futures undermined' by excessive delays, with care and supervision cases taking an average of 56 weeks. This seriously harmed children's chances of finding a permanent home and potentially damaged their development, as well as causing them distress.More...

Family Law Firm of the Year

Howells Solicitors has been named has been named UK Family Law Firm of the Year by Corporate LiveWire in its 2014 Global Awards.

Presented annually, the awards honour the businesses, finance firms and professionals that stand out as leaders in their respective fields and show best practice and innovation in their work. 

In presiding over the awards, the judges assessed how the legal professionals in Howells’ family law department managed complex cases over the last 12 months. These included several multi-million pound financial proceedings involving overseas properties and large company valuations as well as children law matters.

Richard Scott, Partner in Howells’s Family Law department, said:

"We are delighted to be named as UK Family Law Firm of the Year by Corporate LiveWire.

“This is the first time a Welsh law firm has been awarded this accolade and it recognises the skills and expertise of our team in comparison with law firms across the UK.”

To speak to award-winning solicitors at Howells about any aspect of family law, speak to us today. Simply call 02920 404014 or email info@howellslegal.com.

by Tristan Lewis

 

early conciliation

This April, as well as all the usual changes to statutory caps within employment law, has also brought along the introduction of Early Conciliation, in an attempt to further reduce the amount of claims being issued within the Employment Tribunal.

The scheme is handled by ACAS (the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) and became mandatory from 6th May 2014.

What is early conciliation?

This means that anybody looking to issue a claim through an Employment Tribunal will firstly have to go through early conciliation to see whether there is any possibility of reaching a settlement between the parties.

The short time limit to issue any employment claims within three months shall be put "on hold" for an additional month from when the individual first contacts ACAS. This also can be extended by a further 14 days.

More...

With effect from 15th February 2015 EU Regulations on Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) allow consumers who bought our services online to submit their complaint via an online complaint portal.

We are required under the regulations to provide our clients the following information:-
  1. Link to the ODR platform - please follow the following link for further information (http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr).
  2. Our contact email address in case of a complaint under the ODR regulation – Andrea Coombes andrea.c@howellslegal.com