Figures released by the Ministry of Justice have shown a marked increase in the numbers of unrepresented parties ending up in the Family Court since 2012. Unrepresented parties brought around 25,000 cases in 2012 whereas this figure increased to nearly 35,000 in 2013. Legal Aid cuts implemented in 2013 are thought to be a significant factor in this phenomenon. As well as the year-on-year figures for child-related cases displaying a marked increase in the numbers of unrepresented parties overall; in relative terms, they made up more than 50 per cent of the child-related cases appearing in the Family Court in the latter part of 2013. Legal Aid Cuts and Divorce Since 2013, cuts to legal aid have removed financial assistance for a host of civil claims including many areas of private family law.This means that divorcing couples often feel that they cannot seek professional specialist legal advice due to a lack of personal financial means. Despite this, the number of divorcing couples heading to court to resolve their differences has not fallen but has increased by around 5 per cent, resulting in significant delays. It has been suggested that the absence of solicitors in the divorce process may have made couples less likely to be informed about the alternatives, leaving them to opt for unnecessarily costly and stressful court proceedings. Family lawyers are not just experts in family law but they usually have significant experience in alternative dispute resolution techniques such as... read more
As the population ages, conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are on the rise. If a loved one is suffering from dementia, they may have been able to plan who will make decisions on their behalf when they are no longer able to do so; for instance setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). If no provisions have been made in advance, the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to manage the affairs of a person who lacks mental capacity. This is called a Deputyship Order. I have been asked to become a deputy ? what does it involve? Often, the deputy is a friend or relative, but they can also be a professional such as a solicitor. If you have been asked to become a deputy, you need to be aware that this can be a difficult role which carries a number of responsibilities. You have specific duties you must carry out. You will be responsible for making decisions on behalf of the person who lacks... read more
We all want to help our children get on in life. In the past, people often expected to leave their children an inheritance after their death, but rising house prices, university tuition fees and an uncertain jobs market have all created extra pressures for younger adults. Parents may wish to help by passing down some of their wealth to their children at an earlier stage than they might have done in the past. If you are considering passing some of your wealth to your children, there are different avenues you can explore. Passing down wealth using a trust There are a number of different types of trust you can utilise, all with different advantages, but they can be an excellent way of passing wealth to your children in your lifetime. Trusts are flexible, enabling you to change the beneficiaries or their provisions. As the rules governing trusts are complex, it is always advisable to seek legal advice so you can make the best decision for your family’s... read more
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