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Family Law Journal: February 2017

Andrew Baines considers dispute resolution in the post-truth era and how mediation can help parties find the right ‘truth’ for them

When people are looking to sort out their lives following a relationship breakdown, they often look to some kind of outside service to help them. As they make their enquiries both the legal process and mediation appear to be services that can be of help. Historically the legal process – solicitors – had been the first port of call. That is now starting to change as people become more aware of what mediation can achieve for them. In discussions, mediation is often brought up by way of comparison to the legal procedure. They each appear to have the same goal in mind: the resolution of a problem. Mostly they are compared on the basis of what actually happens if you get involved with them: mediation is user friendly, whereas the court’s process takes priority over its participants; in mediation you reach an agreement, courts order what is just and equitable; in mediation the outcome is decided by the participants, in court the outcome is decided by the judge; mediation is cheap, the legal process expensive. So why is mediation more Mary Berry than Brian Cox?

Emily Watson analyses recent case law developments on deferring the decree absolute

This article looks at the High Court decision in Thakkar v Thakkar [2016], and the guidance provided as to the grounds on which it is possible to successfully apply to defer the grant of decree absolute. Most practitioners will be aware that it is difficult to prevent a decree absolute from being granted, even if your client is likely to suffer a financial disadvantage, yet given the average timeframes for both divorce and financial proceedings, this can potentially be an issue in the majority of our cases. So what is the law and how does Thakkar contribute to our understanding of the position?

Spencer Clarke and Max Myers outline the recommendations of the Law Commission’s report on the enforcement of family financial orders

On 15 December 2016, the Law Commission published its report on the enforcement of family financial orders. This follows the publication of the consultation paper in March 2015, to which we accepted responses until 31 July 2015. The proposals made in the consultation paper were previously outlined in Family Law Journal (‘Quicker and cheaper’, FLJ147, June 2015, p9).


Francesca Norris highlights the implications of the decision in Goyal v Goyal as to orders that may be made in relation to foreign pensions

The High Court ruling in Goyal v Goyal [2016] concerned an application for a pension sharing order within financial remedy proceedings following a divorce, and raised the question of what jurisdiction, if any, the family courts may have to make an order transferring or assigning a spouse’s interest in a pension annuity policy to the other spouse, outside of the statutory scheme established by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973).

Withers LLP

Suzanne Kingston, Mark Haranzo and Delphine Eskenazi review the approaches to pre-nuptial agreements, privacy and alternative dispute resolution in England and Wales, France and the US

Nowadays it is quite common to deal with clients who have international lives – perhaps they have different nationalities, or they travel for work and are not necessarily based in one particular country. We are used to speaking to our colleagues around the world to ask for their help in different situations. Often, we need to inform clients who have a choice as to jurisdiction for divorce where the best place would be for them to divorce. Each country has rules regarding jurisdictional requirements and there can be vastly different outcomes in relation to finances on divorce. As a consequence, making the right decision early on is crucial.

Hart Brown

Vanessa McMurtrie looks at the challenges of dealing with unrepresented parties and offers guidance on the tricky area of court bundles

The right to a fair trial is fundamental to the rule of law and democracy itself and enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, Art 6. No wonder, therefore, that Peter Jackson J highlighted the risk of unfairness to litigants in person (LiPs) in Re B (Litigants in Person: Timely Service of Documents) [2016], and the need for the timely service of documents on LiPs.

Hall Brown

Alice Couriel examines the issue of delay in the service of a petition, and the implications as to jurisdiction

In Thum v Thum [2016], the husband contended that the wife’s delay in serving the divorce petition on him was tactical, and on his application the court considered whether the wife’s petition should be stayed or dismissed. In his judgment Mostyn J usefully explored the relevant law, procedure and current requirements as to the service of a petition in family proceedings.