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Exposing the Myths: Family Arbitration
Sunday 21st July 2013

When deciding how to divide assets or deal with a property dispute on separation have you considered the benefits of appointing a family arbitrator rather than going to court?

The main advantages are that you choose your arbitrator – someone with a particular expertise in the area of family law which is the subject of the dispute who has been appointed post a rigorous training regime – and you can arrange the timing and venue of the hearings (if you need any) to suit your own circumstances.

An award – the arbitration decision – is binding.  With the agreement of the arbitrator decisions can be made after a full hearing or on paper alone.  The procedure is therefore flexible and can be tailored to your own requirements.  Decisions can be made just on one discrete area of a case if required.  That may be invaluable as a means to unlock the whole dispute if there is one specific area that the parties just can’t agree on.

For more information contact Helen Marriott, Qualified Arbitrator.


Can Izzy and Gary get their baby back
Wednesday 26th June 2013

The current Coronation Street storyline puts the risks of surrogacy arrangements in the spotlight.

Unfortunately for Izzy and Gary, Tina, as the woman who gave birth to their baby, is always treated as the legal mother. Tina has the right to keep the baby even though he is not genetically related to her.

However, hope of getting their baby back is not entirely lost for Izzy and Gary. Gary, as the baby’s biological father, can make an application to the court for a Residence Order. The court would then have to consider the legal principles as with any other legal application.

Surrogacy arrangements should never be entered into lightly. They are not legally enforceable, even if a contract has been agreed and expenses have been paid. The surrogate mother has the right to change her mind at any time before she transfers her rights through a parental order.

If you are considering surrogacy then we would urge you to take legal advice to ensure you know your rights.

If you require advice, please do not hesitate to contact a member of Brabners Family team on 0151 600 3000.


Are the Family Courts As Private As You Think…?
Wednesday 6th March 2013

The High Court has recently lifted an injunction which prevented a journalist from reporting on a family case involving children. This decision follows other rulings where judges have allowed media reporting to bring greater transparency in family courts. But such cases are still held in private and journalists can’t report without the consent of the judge.

Mr Justice Mostyn, sitting in the High Court, recently lifted an injunction which had prevented a journalist reporting on a family case which involved the future of children who were living with their mother.

The journalist objected on the basis that the case was in the public interest and the injunction breached his right to free speech.

In 2008 the Labour government brought in rules which allowed journalists into family courts, in order to shed greater transparency on the family justice system. But judges were reluctant to permit reporting arguing they cited there was a need to protect the identity of children. They ruled that although journalists could attend family hearings, they could not report without the judge’s consent.

This recent case shows that senior judges are now in favour of opening up the family court system.


Pre-nuptial Agreements
Wednesday 12th December 2012

The Supreme Court in Granatino v Radmacher found that the court should uphold a pre-nuptial agreement provided that the agreement is entered into freely by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless it would be unfair to hold the parties to their agreement.

In the High Court case of V v V Mr Justice Charles (Charles J) heard a case regarding the validity of a Swedish pre-nuptial agreement.

At the first hearing in the local county court the District Judge gave the nuptial agreement limited weight because she thought that it did not clearly set out what would happen on marriage breakdown or divorce. The District Judge was also concerned that the wife had not sought legal advice and that the husband and wife had not disclosed details of their assets.

At the appeal in the High Court Charles J considered the impact of the pre-nuptial agreement. Following the landmark case of Granatino Charles J stated there is a need to recognise a couple’s autonomy including freedom to reach agreements regarding their financial affairs. Charles J said that if an agreement is entered into “honestly, freely and knowingly” then “proper respect” should be given to the agreement.

Whilst this case demonstrates that pre-nuptial agreements are likely to carry full weight it also clearly states that they are only one of the factors to be taken into account when dealing with financial matters following divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. In this case the court also considered the length of the marriage, the husband’s financial contribution to the family and the wife’s need for a home. The court concluded that the pre-nuptial agreement should be followed in accordance with the principle of autonomy. However any nuptial agreement must meet the needs of the parties and achieve fairness.

It is important to seek legal advice in relation to a pre-nuptial agreement to ensure the agreement’s validity and the likelihood that it will be upheld by a court.