In the New Year, there will be a widening of the gateway evidence required to obtain Legal Aid. The time limit of 5 years for validity of evidence will be removed. Domestic violence support organisations will be able to provide evidence. Housing support officers will be able to provide evidence. These are expected to come into force on 8/1/18.
HMCTS has announced that some designated family judge areas are to pilot new settlement conferences where they will adopt an inquisitorial approach to encourage co-operation between parties, designed to help identify solutions and reach an agreement which is in the children's best interests.
The Supreme Court allowed the wife's appeal to be released from an undertaking given in a Consent Order to sell the matrimonial home if she did not succeed in securing husband's release from the mortgage covenants.
The look and style of the Divorce Petition will change and will be in what looks more like a question and answer document. This is to take effect from 4th September.
The Business and Property Court in Wales was officially opened by the Lord Chief Justice on 24th July 2017 at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre. The Court will specialise in business and property work and create a super-highway between courts in London to ensure that international businesses and domestic enterprises are equally supported in the resolution of their disputes.
The Rt Hon Sir Ian Burnett appointed as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales as from 2 October 2017. He will be the youngest ever appointed.
The Court of Appeal held that the Wife was correct to contend that the combination of potentially relevant factors, namely short marriage, no children, dual income and separate finances, was sufficient to justify a departure from the equal sharing principle in order to achieve overall fairness.
A High Court awarded ex wife £453 million, one of the biggest ever divorce settlements in the UK. This reaffirms the high bar that has to be met to justify assets not being split equally.
A 28 day limit on police bail has come into force in England and Wales following criticism of people being kept on police bail for months without charge as a result of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
The case of Owens v Owens 2017 has highlighted the pitfalls of the fact of unreasonable behaviour in divorce proceedings. The Court refused to grant Mrs Owens a decree of divorce. The Petition was issued on the ground that the marriage had broken down irretrievably due to the fact of Mr Owen's behaviour. The Court did not accept the Petition applying the law as it stands. Until there is reform by introducing no fault divorce, there is no choice but to apply the current law. Petitions, therefore need to be completed carefully!