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Question

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The latest ten questions are displayed below. Use the drop-down menu below to search for other questions and answers.

Q.

I am currently going through a divorce and my Daughters Father was ordered at court to carry out indirect contact in the form of letter or card every fortnight. He has not adhered to this and in the space of 24 weeks we have only had 3 letters. In this time he has moved in with his girlfriend, got engaged and they are now expecting a baby. He has had enough time to do all of that, yet, not write a letter. The content of said letters are misleading which I feel is inappropriate. I am also due
to visit the contact centre before their supported contact takes place within the next few weeks. Am I able to take him back to court for breach of the court order and postpone access until the indirect contact has been carried out as the order stated? My point being that he has not proved  himself indirectly in the first instance, therefore is not committed to physical contact.

A.

The short answer is yes you can. The indirect contact was ordered to allow a relationship to be built up to move towards contact at a contact centre. The fact that it hasn't taken place and when it has the letters have not been appropriate is relevant to the commitment shown by your former partner. You need to make your application asap to ensure you get a hearing date as soon as possible because of the planned move to supported contact"

Kind regards

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

What do I do if mother refuses to hand over child even though I have a court order.

A.

If you have a court order and the mother refuses to hand over the child, you need to point out that she is breaking a court order and if she still refuses, you need to consider applying to the court for enforcement of the order. The court has the power to enforce the order by ordering her to do unpaid work or even fining her. Alternatively you could apply for a penal notice to be attached to the order which will state that if she does not comply with the order she could be sent to prison.

I would suggest that it is important to find out the reason why she may not comply with the order and see if you can resolve the problem before applying to the court. Before taking court action I would strongly recommend that you seek legal advice.

Good luck!

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

Hi. I am a 31 year old. My parents were divorced in 1994. Their  property was not shared between them. My mother was only given a part of my fathers pension of which was 10 years.My parents had verbally agreed  that my father would be given the entire property provided that it will always be mine. Now my father remarried in 1998. I was never given a share of the property and it seems like my fathers new wife has no intention of giving me any part of it. I am the only biological child of both my parents. What are my rights now? Can I get my share?

A.

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately if the agreement was not recorded anywhere then there may be no record of it. In addition, unless the agreement was recorded in a deed or other contract then it is likely to be unenforceable. If your mother reached the agreement to leave the house with your father because it was intended that it would then come to you, if your father has not upheld that part of the agreement then it may be possible for her to put a claim in for a final order in relation to their divorce, but only if she has not remarried and no final order was made at the time.

However, due to the passage of time it is likely that the agreement will not be enforceable and the court would not look favourably on a new application by your mother. Sorry I can't give you more positive advice.

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

To be brief I took my ex to court as she wanted to move my son froma specialist  school to a mainstream inclusion. I put in prohibitle steps - but a dialogue between my ex and the old school was produced to show she had ticked all the boxes. I have since discovered that this dialogue was fabricated to order and back dated to appear robust. She used an old email account I set up and still had access to (my email was the 2ndary backup accout) - I just need to know what I can do to redress this? And if I am at all culpable for reading and recording the dialogue.

A.

Thank you for your query. My first question must be what your son's statement of special educational needs states and what school the education authority believes is able to meet your son's needs.

I presume your son must have special educational needs as a result of attending a specialist school rather than mainstream. I would suggest that rather than raising this issue through the family courts, it needs to be dealt with through the education department dealing with special educational needs in your area. If your son has a statement then although you and the mother must be asked for the preference of school, it is the educational department that make the final decision based on the resources available and the needs of your child. I would suggest that you ask for a meeting with the educational officer to find out more about the process and how the current placement was chosen. You should also ask to see a copy of the statement of special educational needs. If you believe that his current school is not able to meet the child's needs than you may need to formally raise this by asking for a review of his statement. You may also want to seek the assistance of your local parent partnership organisation that will be able to give you more detailed advice. In relation to the mother producing false emails to the court, you are not culpable at all, even if you read the emails. There is obviously an issue of possible perjury if your wife gave this information under oath but in reality there is little that the court will do to rectify this matter, particularly as it sounds like this is actually a matter of education law rather than family law.

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I'm in the process of trying to re-negotiate our divorce agreement that was made over 5 years ago. I'm asking for half way  meets and a drop in the spousal as my ex has a part time job job now and had 5 years to re-train and the children are at school full time. She has agreed to spousal drop as I can't afford it based on my realistic earnings and she's fit to work and children are at school now. I do every other weekend with the children and 15 days holiday a year. I work 50 hours a week. She keeps trying to change the half ways meets. I've ended up agreeing to half way meets on the Friday only and now she wants this to be capped to allow her 5 meets on the Friday where I pick up from hers. The Sundays is me dropping off all the time and it's a 2 hour journey there and  back. I Will a court get her to meet me half way for both pick up and drop offs off's. I've tried negotiating but she's just pushing for more and mediation  hasn't helped either.

A.

I'm afraid there is no easy answer to this.  The court will look into the journey by taking into account the impact on the children such as an early start or late travelling, the costs to both of you, the interruption in quality contact time and the overall impact on each of you.  Your ex needs to make the children available for contact and that includes a certain amount of facilitating.  In my view, a relevant factor would also be whether one of you is responsible for the distance.  If your ex moved away in order to make contact difficult, that would be a major factor in ordering her to do at least half of the journey.  Equally, if you chose to move away without a good reason, the court may not sympathise with you.  I hope that helps.  That would be my approach in any event.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

I split with my ex 6 years ago and we have a 7year old son together, i have ben in contac with my son for the last 2 tears on the condition from my ex that my wife has no involvment in the arragments, my wife and i have 4 boys together and my ex is ok for them to all  meet. i am sick of the situation and my sons are asking why mummy cant go on days out with all of them. i have started court procedings and my ex stopped contact as soon as she recieved the solicitors letter, she will not agree to mediation nore dose she respond to any letter from my solicitor. could you give me a little advice and will i be granted  reasonable contact in court.

A.

Thank you for your question.  The court will look in to what is best for your son.  You say that you have been having contact with him for the past two years presumably with no issues.  Providing that there are no risks of harm to him, I don't see why your application would be refused.   That said, the most important thing is how your son feel about this.  Do you think that he wants to meet his step brothers and step mom or, would he prefer to be with you alone.  You have to look at this from his point of view and indeed the court will do the same thing.  If you are satisfied that it is also what he wants, the merits are high. 

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I've got a court order to see my daughter every 2 weeks an she stops overnight once a month an now my ex partner is wanting to move to Scotland with my child an i live in leeds can she move that far away when there is a court order for me to have my daughter every 2 weeks or is there a limit on how far she can go

A.

If you have parental responsibility for your child then you have a right to be consulted on all major decisions concerning your child's upbringing and the mother should not unilaterally decide to relocate your child outside England and Wales without your agreement.

The first question is therefore whether you agree to your child moving to Scotland and if not, you need to consider applying for a prohibited steps order to prevent it. Your contact order is capable of enforcement in Scotland although you would need to register in Scotland. This means that even if the mother moves with your child, she is still bound by the contact order. I would suggest that you speak to the mother and find out why she is going and what her plans are in relation to your contact. I would strongly recommend that you try mediation to discuss these matters. You need to look practically at how you can retain a close relationship with your daughter if she does move to Scotland. If you don't reach an agreement then your only option is to apply to the court for a prohibited steps order to prevent her going and/or a residence order so if the mother still intends to go, your daughter comes to live with you. However, you need to be aware that if the mother has made reasonable and practical plans for how the move to Scotland will work and has good reason for the move, the court are likely to agree for them to go.

If you would like more information about parental responsibility or the law about children you can find it by following this link:

 Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I have recently split with my wife and staying at my brothers house, my x wife is insting i have to leagally pay half the mortgage and pay maintance, can you please give me some advice

A.

In respect of the mortgage, if you are named on the mortgage (ie it is in the joint names of you and your wife) then legally each of you are jointly and severally liable for the mortgage.  What this means is that you are each liable for 100% of the mortgage payments each month, and this does not change just because you do not live there.  You therefore need to reach an agreement with your wife as to who is going to pay the mortgage.  If your wife does not, then the mortgage company would expect you to do.

Turning to maintenance, if you have children, then you are required to pay child maintenance, unless you have 4 or more, the current rates for maintenance are 15% of your net income for 1 child, 20% of your net income for 2 children or 25% of your net income for 3 children.  Net income is your gross pay less your tax and national insurance and pension payments.  This can also be reduced by 1/7th by each night a week on average your children spend with you.

Although both of you are obliged to support each other upon marriage there is no automatic obligation to pay spousal maintenance unless an agreement has been reached for you to so, or a court order has been made. The issue is that when assessing your child maintenance, no allowance is made for the mortgage that you may be paying on a property which you have a legal interest is as a joint owner of the property. 

I would therefore suggest you calculate the child maintenance you should pay, and your wife can use this however she wants, including payment of the mortgage.  If you can afford to give her a little bit extra as a token to the mortgage that would be helpful.  It is in your interests for the mortgage to be paid, as any missed payments will effect your credit rating, and also you will want to receive your interest in the home, whatever that may be, as part of the financial settlement.

I would suggest you seek legal advice about the financial settlement both your short term and long term options as it is important that you appreciate what the possible settlement might be for you, and how you can financially move on.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I was divorced last year. My solicitor was awful, promised much but delivered very little. Despite my many communications I cannot get an explanation for his terrible service. My now ex wife took everything of value and inherited a large sum of money whilst we were seperated, yet still married. My solicitor promised that there would be a settlement,and that we'd get a charge put on the property she spent the money on. Neither of these things materialised. Do I have any chance of getting either of those things done, and if so, how?

A.

It is difficult to give a specific response to your question as I would need more information to do so.  In general however, if you are unhappy with your solicitor, you should complain to the firm for whom your solicitor works and go through the complaints process. Each firm is required to have a named person to deal with complaints and you should have been notified about the complaints process at the outset of the matter. If that does not answer your questions, you can refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.  This can only deal with your complaint as to your level of service and will not look at perhaps the next steps you still might need to take.

To do that, you would need to see a new solicitor, ask them to look at your paperwork and advise you as to your next possible steps that you need to take.  They would look at the action taken and what you could do next, but that would depend on the stage reached and how an agreement was reached, if it was. I hope that answers your question.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I am a grandparent with residency of 5 year ol who has lived with me for two and half years.before that she stayed at least one night a week sometimes more since she was 3 months old. Mother had not sen her since nov 2011 and made contact again in feb 2013.now she wants me to go to mediation as she wants her back. Do I have to go and if so who pays? If she goes to court who pays?

A.

Thank you for your question.  Yes do go to mediation.  You need to hear what the mother has to say and if possible work with her to deal with any past or present issues.  It may be that she wants to have more contact with her daughter and if so, mediation is a good environment for you to discuss any concerns that you may have.  Do allow her to give you reassurances and try to work together to reach an agreement that is for the benefit of your granddaughter.  If mediation is unsuccessful, she may apply to the court for a contact Order and you will pay your own costs.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang 

Best Soilictors