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All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law

  • Sobek
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29 Nov 10 #237573 by Sobek
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Hi there,

This Group has been set up to try and make things better inside the family justice system for parents and children and to that end it is having lots of very interesting public meetings in the House of Commons and everyone is welcome!

The Group now has its own website,with an introduction on its purpose, information about the members and updates on all our events, including press releases, transcripts and much more.

If you would like details of our next event which is tomorrow night and would like to come along, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Our guest speakers will be members of the Family Justice Review Panel, discussing the future of family law and their views on the current problems in the system.

Come on down and join us and let's make things better!

Natasha

Group's website:
researchingreform.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/appg-new-website/

Next event on 30th November, 2010:
familylaw.allpartyparliamentarygroup.org..._review&pg=index

  • LittleMrMike
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29 Nov 10 #237582 by LittleMrMike
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Thank you.

Any reform is likely to come too late to be of much use to me. But I do share the views expressed on the undesirability of maintenance for life.

There is a saying of Jesus, not reported in the Gospels, which says that life is a bridge ; you can cross it, but you can't stay on it.

Change that slightly, and you get " Spousal maintenance is a bridge ; you can cross it, but you can't stay on it. "

My thoughts exactly.

LMM

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29 Nov 10 #237585 by Sobek
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Pleasure, Mr Mike :)

Reform is going to be a long road as inevitably any changes that have occurred in the past have been piecemeal, fleeting or lost in translation, so perhaps the key is to keep gently pushing for change which is both sustainable and right for families.

It would be lovely to get parents (and children who are old enough to vocalise their impressions of the system) to get involved on a long term basis. I think their input is undervalued and all too often ignored or used as collateral to bolster vying professional and political agendas.

How wonderful would it be to be able to engage in friendly debate with our government, and to have a government who really listened - to every side of the story.

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11 Jan 11 #244442 by maggie
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Thinking about "the undesirability of maintenance for life" I've been trying to establish how many "joint lives" orders on divorce there are these days.
I thought of all people Baroness Deech would know so I emailed her but she has said she doesn't know - I've searched the online statistics as best I can but for periodical payments on divorce where no children are involved I can only find totals undifferentiated as to "joint lives" or term. HMCS obviously collect statistics on "spousal maintenance" orders but I don't know whether they count the number of "joint lives" orders.
I have asked them previously but received no response.
Could I ask whether anyone has researched the medium to long term effect of the various orders currently used in Ancillary Relief claims with particular reference to the effect on women in old age?
Personally I believe that when judges are obliged to take all the circumstances of the case into account - and who would not want that to be the overarching principle?- then they must have the widest possible choice of remedies to ensure fairness.

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12 Jan 11 #244691 by maggie
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I asked
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
about their report
www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/jcs-stats-2009-211010.pdf
"Table 2.7 "Family Matters" "periodical payments not in respect of children"
The table reports 941 orders for "periodical payments not in respect of children", i.e. payments commonly known as "spousal maintenance".
Can you tell me whether it's recorded how many of these orders were "joint lives" orders - ie lifelong payments only ceasing when one of the former spouses dies ? "

Their response is that the types of this order - term or "joint lives" - aren't recorded separately.
941 seems like a very small percentage of the divorces that went to Decree Absolute that year. I can't establish how many of those were for "joint lives" - but even if they all were, this can hardly be called a widespread problem. The pressure in the system is all towards producing a Clean Break - judging by this forum joint lives maintenance is hotly resisted - can we assume given all the resistance and legal hurdles that it is usually the only fair remedy and not randomly and liberally scattered like confetti?

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12 Jan 11 #244694 by Sobek
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Hi Maggie,

Thanks for posting. I'm not sure that I would agree with the Clean Break scenario being the only fair option.

To my mind choice has to be very much a part of the system in order to make sure that the interests of fairness are served and the rights of vulnerable members of the family unit are protected, whilst maintaining a system that should function with integrity.

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12 Jan 11 #244708 by LittleMrMike
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I wish I knew the answer to this one ! I have tended to take the view that, being myself on the wrong end of a joint lives order, I am not exactly impartial or neutral on the subject and my opinion might well be slanted ( which is a very restrained way of putting it ! )
Joint lives orders can, potentially, last for a long time ; in my case I have been paying for 28 years one way or another, so there may be people like me who got stuck with a joint lives order at a time when judicial attitudes may have been different, and who are still stuck with them, with little prospect of escaping , except by death. The argument in my case is simple, remorselessly logical, and legally impeccable - namely,
1. The Court should discharge the order only if satisfied that the recipient can manage without the payments ;
2. My ex could not manage without them, and never will be ; so
3. There can be no discharge, as long as I can afford the payments ( which I can ).
I have already said that I'm not in a position to offer an impartial view ; for what it is worth, impartial or no, my view is that yes, I should support my ex for a time, this preserving the rule that I can't or shouldn't seek to fob off my responsibilities to the taxpayer. But for an indefinite period ?
Again, I don 't know. If cases like mine are rare ( as I am sure they are ) then giving me a release in my twilight years is peanuts in the context of the totality of public expenditure.
I'm sorry to go like this but believe me, it is to some extent therapeutic for me, so I crave your patience.

LMM

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