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Family Law Journal: September 2013

Beverley Jones discusses the legal and financial issues surrounding surrogacy and clarifies the rights of all parties involved

Following the Department of Health’s recent announcement on ‘three-parent’ babies (see, surrogacy has once again come to the fore and questions have been raised about the rights of the mother versus those of the intended parents, and what happens when events do not go to plan. The financial compensation involved is also subject to debate, with many unclear on what the law states. For those contemplating surrogacy, what steps can be taken from the outset to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible for all? What kind of agreements should be put in place to protect the interests of the intended parents and the child? What does the law state about financial reimbursements?

Mary Gaskins and Sarah Woodsford summarise guidance and practice points on freezing orders in UL v BK (Freezing Orders: Safeguards: Standard Examples)

In June 2013, Mostyn J gave judgment in UL v BK (Freezing Orders: Safeguards: Standard Examples) [2013] regarding the application by a wife to continue a freezing order that had been made without notice to the husband in February 2013.

Rebecca Huxford considers the arguments for and against the introduction of a limitation period in financial proceedings

Unlike most areas of law, limitation periods are unfamiliar territory to family practitioners. Sections 23 and 24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) both state that the court has jurisdiction to make financial orders ‘on granting a decree of divorce… or at any time thereafter’. This can create a number of difficulties for family lawyers faced with the prospect of financial remedy proceedings many months or even years after the date of separation or decree absolute. These problems were highlighted in the recent case of Vince v Wyatt [2013].

Julian Bremner examines whether the decision in Thursfield v Thursfield makes it more likely or not that committal orders in family proceedings will be made

A recent trend in the senior courts has been to curtail and/or remove the, arguably legally unorthodox, practices that have developed over time in family law to deal with a variety of different problems that regularly occur in family proceedings. In particular, Tchenguiz v Imerman [2010] and Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] made it plain that the family courts need to play by the ‘same rules’ as their civil counterparts. While this shift has given rise to arguments that the job of the financial matters family lawyer has been made considerably more difficult (and such discussion is not the purpose of this article) the recent Court of Appeal, Civil Division decision in Thursfield v Thursfield [2013] illustrates the more stringent application by the civil courts of processes available in the family law world.


Sonny Patel sets out the courts’ approach to inherited assets and steps that can be taken to protect the interests of parties

On divorce, the family courts have a very wide discretion to re-allocate assets from one party to another, regardless of the strict legal ownership or the origin of the assets. The discretionary nature of family law allows the court to impose tailor-made, fact-specific solutions but this also means that it can be difficult to give precise advice on the likely outcome on a given set of facts. Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the considerations that the court must consider if asked to impose a financial order. They are not listed in any order of priority; different factors may have varying weight in different cases depending on the facts.

Anthony Gold

Kim Beatson and Lehna Hewitt look at recent decisions on leave to remove and the factors that will be taken into account by the courts

Holman J described international relocation cases as the ‘hardest of dilemmas’ in S v Z (Leave to Remove) [2012]. These cases are difficult and painful for all concerned, but travel between countries is an important part of everyday life and some would say that unrestricted movement from country to country is fundamental to our concept of freedom.

Rebecca Harling analyses a rare application to terminate a father’s parental responsibility

In CW v SG [2013] the court was concerned with a mother’s application to terminate a father’s parental responsibility for their eight year-old son and the father’s cross-application for a specific issue order to receive regular updates about his son.