Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm

Family Law Journal: May 2015
Brabners LLP

Helen Marriott highlights the challenges of dealing with bonus payments when assessing periodical payments

Bankers’ bonuses frequently dominate the headlines and occupy the political platform. Bonuses may form a large part of the available family income and many clients want to know how such sums will be treated by the court when it comes to final settlements. The treatment of bonuses earned after a couple have separated has been a frequent source of contention within financial remedy claims. Bonus payments in the finance and banking sectors are usually contingent, not only upon market factors, but also work-related performance. It may, therefore, seem inherently unfair that a proportion of such bonuses may be ordered to be paid to a former spouse, who is no longer making any contribution to the home-life of the breadwinner. The main source of contention is usually two-fold:

Daniel Sanders weighs up the factors to be taken into account on an application for change of a child’s name

There is a growing trend for separated parents to consider a change of surname where children remain in the care of a parent post-separation who goes on to have further children who carry a different surname to their half-siblings. It is a common conception, and sometimes misconception, that the court’s approach on an application to change a surname will be to join or merge ‘old’ and ‘new’ surnames by way of a double-barrel, but this approach is not a default position. It is however an approach often accepted as a compromise or middle ground between ‘old’ and ‘new’ surnames in cases where there are no clear welfare disadvantages to the child in making the change. If there is no welfare disadvantage then there is an implicit welfare advantage to be derived from the change, taking into consideration the court’s power under the no order principle. Double-barrelling is sometimes the right way to approach the child’s identity using both birth parents’ surnames. Some parents accept the idea of a double-barrelled surname (but sometimes dispute which surname should come first), whereas others object to this style.

Edward Floyd looks at the court’s jurisdiction where permission to appeal has already been refused and the meaning of a real prospect of success

In McHugh v McHugh [2014] the Court of Appeal provided an overview of the circumstances in which it has jurisdiction to hear an appeal against a financial remedies order and, conversely, situations where legislation and public policy dictate that finality should be brought to bear on family litigation.


Victoria Sterritt takes a critical look at the pros and cons of government funding for DNA testing

In February 2015 Justice Minister Simon Hughes made an announcement regarding orders for and the funding of DNA tests in the family courts with effect from September 2015, saying:

HBJ Gateley

Philippa Cunniff contrasts the approach of the courts in Scotland to spousal maintenance to that of England and Wales

There is a general awareness that family law in England and Wales on the one hand and Scotland on the other is enormously different. The area in which the regimes diverge the most widely is in relation to ongoing financial support for a spouse after divorce. In Scotland, other than in very specific and limited sets of circumstances, spousal support after divorce will be awarded for only a brief period, if at all. This contrasts starkly with the position in England and Wales where orders for periodical payments are still very much the norm, whether on a joint lives basis or otherwise.

Paula Butterworth considers the issues arising in Mann as to agreements to mediation and when an order may be varied

Mann v Mann [2014] was concerned with an appeal in financial remedy proceedings. The Court of Appeal was concerned with both the jurisdictional and procedural issues of making orders following the discharge of a previous order for periodical payments by capitalisation, when that consequent order for a lump sum had not been satisfied and enforcement proceedings were pending. The earlier hearings had been dominated by the parties’ agreement to mediate and the court’s attempts to encourage them to continue down that path.

Richard Adams examines the impact of the parties’ standard of living on interim maintenance and the broad-brush approach of the courts

Many family law practitioners will be familiar with the maintenance pending suit budget that exceeds the parties’ standard of living during the marriage and the often costly litigation that ensues. The decision of Moylan J in BD v FD [2014] addresses that issue and provides a useful analysis for the approach to be taken in such applications.