Parental Responsibility – What it is and how to get it.

Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility is the term used to define a person’s responsibility and obligations towards a child. A person with Parental Responsibility can make decisions on behalf of a child such as determining the name that they will be known by, consenting to medical treatment as well as decisions as to how a child is to be educated.

Parental Responsibility can be held by one person or more than one person. Where Parental Responsibility is held by one person, that person has the sole right to make decisions regarding a child and can for example, lawfully change a child’s name, remove the child from England and Wales or appoint a guardian in their will which will take effect upon their death.

Where Parental Responsibility is held by more than one person, they will each hold it jointly and any significant decisions such as changing a child’s name or removing the child from England and Wales (even for a holiday) will have to be agreed by all.

A mother will automatically get Parental Responsibility when the child is born. Unfortunately, it is not so straight forward for a biological father but there are a number of ways in which he might acquire it.

Firstly, he might acquire it if he is married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth or subsequently. Secondly, if he and the mother are not married, he will automatically acquire it if he is named on the child’s birth certificate (for births registered after 1st December 2003). Thirdly, he and the mother can enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement and finally, an application can be made to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

There are also provisions for same sex parents to both acquire it where assisted reproduction has been used including a Parental Order when a surrogate has carried the baby.

People other than the parents can also acquire Parental Responsibility. A Step- Parent might get it by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement, getting a Parental Responsibility Order or being named as a person the child lives with in a Child Arrangements Order.

Other people may get Parental Responsibility if they are named as a person the child lives with in a Child Arrangements Order, appointed as Special Guardians for the child or validly appointed as a child’s guardian in a parents will on their death or appointed by the court as a guardian following the parent’s death and of course, if they formally adopt the child.

Whether a father has Parental Responsibility or not does not however, mean that he can avoid responsibility for paying Child Maintenance and a lack of it does not impact upon the child’s inheritance rights. It is also the case that where a father does not have responsibility, although the mother may have the sole right to make decisions on behalf of the child, it is still subject to the fathers right to make an application to the court for a Section 8 Order if he does not agree with the decision made.

At Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd our specialist family solicitors have assisted countless people in resolving issues concerning Parental Responsibility and the arrangements for children. We offer initial fixed fee appointments at prices from as little as £50 + vat. We have offices in Enfield, Hertford and Bishops Stortford and also offer telephone or Skype appointments if preferred.

For more information please call us on 01992 558411 or contact us here: http://www.breezeandwyles.co.uk/index.php/form-family-divorce/

 

 


Stalking

I think my ex is stalking me. What can I do?

Stalking

 

Although often the subject of fictional dramas, domestic abuse and stalking are very real issues with figures showing that 11,889 stalking and harassment prosecutions were started in 2016/2017. The actual number of incidents is actually likely to be significantly higher as many incidents will not be reported. Whilst a stalker can be a stranger to you, it is far more likely to be someone you know with 71% of the prosecuted incidents being related to domestic abuse.

The breakdown of a relationship is a very difficult time. When a relationship comes to an end, people will generally go through a grieving process and the range of emotions that go with that. They may be angry or having trouble accepting that the relationship is over or want to try and control you and the decisions you make. The separation may also result in various other issues needing to be resolved such as finances or the arrangements for the children, which can further heighten the tension levels for all as the future becomes uncertain.

Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed. It includes behaviour that happens two or more times, directed at or towards you by another person, which causes you to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against you.

That attention can take many forms and can include things that might not seem obviously sinister such as;

  • sending flowers, letters, cards or presents
  • following you, turning up at your place of work or home uninvited
  • persistent phone calls or texts
  • contacting people who know you to get information about you,

It can also escalate and include more obviously concerning behaviour such as

  • manipulative behaviour such as threatening to commit suicide
  • telling lies about you to others to weaken your support network or undermine your employment.

There is also the risk that escalation can result in violence or threats of violence with damage to property and physical assaults which can and have historically resulted in murder.

If you think that you are being stalked then it is important to get help and we would most definitely recommend that you keep a diary as this will allow you to make a record of all incidents and is likely to be crucial evidence in helping to get it to stop.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 introduced the crime of Harassment. This made it an offence to pursue a course of conduct causing alarm or distress or putting a person in fear of violence. In 2012 the Government changed the law, introducing two new offences covering stalking and providing further options to assist in prosecutions. These provisions allow the criminal courts to punish a person found guilty of an offence but also allow the criminal court to make a restraining order which can impose controls upon the accused for example preventing them from contacting the victim. Such an order can be made if the court considers it appropriate whether or not the person has been found guilty of the crime. More recently in a bid to further help victims of stalking the government have expressed an intention to introduce a new Stalking Protection Order which is intended to protect victims from unwanted attention and may be obtained without a prosecution for an offence unlike a restraining order. Furthermore, it has been announced that those committing offences will also be facing tougher sentences in future.

It is also possible to take action against someone in the civil courts even if they have not been convicted of an offence as an application can be made under the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997 for an injunction ordering the person harassing you to stop. In the event that the person harassing you is an “associated person” such as an ex partner then an application can be made to the court for a non molestation order under the Family Law Act 1996 which is an order which forbids your ex partner from using or threatening violence, harassment, intimidation or pestering you.

In the event that the ex partner fails to stop then they will be committing a criminal offence and can be sent to prison.

At Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd, our experienced team of family solicitors have significant experience in dealing with problems involving stalking, harassment and domestic abuse. Karen Johnson, our joint head of department is an accredited domestic abuse specialist with over 15 years experience in helping male and female clients who had or were suffering domestic abuse and harassment including victims of rape, psychological and physical abuse, controlling and manipulative behaviour. With her help, those people were able to end the abuse, protect themselves from further incidents and ensure outcomes with regards to children or finances that allowed them to move forward with their lives in safety.

Our qualified solicitors are able to offer appointments at our offices in Bishops Stortford, Enfield and Hertford as well as appointments via telephone or skype from as little as £50 + vat. For more information call us on 01992 558411. Or contact us here: http://www.breezeandwyles.co.uk/index.php/form-family-divorce/


Moving on

8th January 2018 AKA "DIVORCE DAY"

 

 

The beginning of the year always brings with it an increase in instructions as couples make the decision to separate. For some the stress over the festive period was simply too much for the relationship to bear; for others perhaps the decision was made towards the end of the last year but put on hold to allow for “one last Christmas”. Additionally, the New Year is generally a time when we are expected to take stock of our lives and make changes to tackle things that we are not happy with and it stands to reason that this applies just as much to problems with a relationship as with the other areas of our lives such as health or fitness.

A decision to separate is not one to be taken lightly. It has significant consequences for all concerned and especially children. Consideration should always be given to whether the relationship can be saved and in this respect marriage counselling can be of significant benefit. If however the breakdown is irretrievable, early advice from a specialist family solicitor will ensure that you are aware of your options going forward so that you know where you stand in relation to a divorce, the financial arrangements resulting from the separation and also the arrangements for the children.

Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd are specialist family solicitors in Hertford, Enfield and Bishops Stortford, able to offer advice and support in relation to divorce and other family law matters. We are also one of only a few solicitors able to offer the full range of process options including mediation, collaborative law and Arbitration. More information of the services we are able to offer is available on our website , including details of our fixed fee services or alternatively call 01992 558411.


Highly recommended..

...... I have to say Breeze and Wyles have been fantastic throughout and I will always highly recommend your team to anyone.

Mr T - 1/6/17


Teamwork makes it happen..

I am writing to you to confirm that I have successfully received the fee for the transfer of equity transaction. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your team for the excellent work and assistance you provided....

Mr S - 1/6/17


Another happy customer

Just got the keys 2 days ago, and the flat looks great! I would like to thanks you two again for all your help and professional work. Without you, I would definitely have even less hair on my head now, and would probably had requested a change of solicitor half way through the process.

Mr L - 2/6/17

 

 


Domestic Abuse Convention to be followed in UK.

On the 27th April 2017 The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017 received royal assent.

The purpose of this act was to ratify (make official) the UK’s agreement to comply with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence which is also known as the Istanbul Convention.  

Violence in any form is unacceptable and although domestic abuse is perpetrated against men and women, statistics show that the majority of victims are female. The convention is based upon the understanding that Domestic Abuse is committed by men against women because they are women and as a way to sustain male power and control. The convention places an obligation upon the state to prevent violence, protect victims and prosecute the perpetrators. It is stated that there can be no real equality between men and women if women experience gender based violence and that states that turn a blind eye and do not actively take steps to tackle these issues are complicit.

Countries that ratify the convention are obliged to raise awareness and educate and encourage people to challenge gender stereotypes, harmful traditional practices and misogynistic attitudes, establish shelters, hotlines, medical services, counselling, legal aid, criminalise and actively prosecute all forms of domestic abuse whilst ensuring that culture, tradition or so called honour are not regarded as a defence. The convention also requires countries to give an annual progress report until they are able to say that they are compliant with the convention.

For current victims of domestic abuse there is support available and it is important to get quick, reliable and easy to understand advice to know what your options are. Our family department is able to offer advice in relation to the full range of family law issues including domestic abuse, finances, divorce and children. Karen Johnson, one of the directors at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd is a Resolution Accredited domestic abuse specialist and Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd are also members of the East Herts and Broxbourne Domestic Abuse Forum.

For more information and support contact us on 01992 558411 or complete our online enquiry form.

 


Ilott v Mitson - Inheritance Act Claims

to the dogs

Animal Charities succeed in Appeal to Supreme Court.

On the 15th March 2017 the eagerly anticipated judgement on the case of Ilott v The Blue Cross and Others from the Supreme Court was handed down.

Mrs Ilott made an application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 following the death of her mother Mrs Jackson. This legislation allows people to challenge inheritance provision if they can prove that it does not provide “reasonable financial provision”.

Mrs Ilott and her mother had become estranged 26 years prior to Mrs Jacksons death. When Mrs Ilott was 17 years old she had left home to live with and later marry a man that her mother did not like. Despite a few attempted reconciliations over the years, they had remained estranged and Mrs Jackson made in clear in the number of wills over that time, including her last, which stated that she did not wish to leave any of her estate to her daughter.

On her death Mrs Jackson left an estate worth approximately £486,000. Her will stated that other than a small amount to be left to the BBC benevolent fund, the remainder was to be left to three charities.

Mrs Ilott’s position was that she was living in Housing Association Accommodation and was reliant upon state benefits. She stated that she had not had any expectation of receiving anything from her mother’s estate.

When the case was first dealt with, the court awarded her £50,000. Mrs Ilott appealed and in July 2016 the Court of Appeal determined that she should have £143,000 to enable her to purchase her accommodation plus a further £20,000 as maintenance to be paid in such a way as to enable Mrs Illot to continue to receive her state benefits. The charities appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decision was to set aside the order made in the Court of Appeal and restore the original decision.

In the Judgement the court confirmed that in accordance with the legislation, unless the applicant is a spouse or partner “reasonable financial provision” is limited to what is reasonable for maintenance only. They confirmed that what is “reasonable” is an objective standard to be determined by the court and that what is “reasonable” did not extend to everything that the applicant wants but is also not limited to bare essentials.

The court confirmed that the appropriate level is case specific requiring the court to consider various factors and whilst maintenance might usually be considered to be income it could be dealt with by the provision of a lump sum.

The factors which the court have to take into account when dealing with these cases include;

  • The financial needs income and resources of the applicant(s) and any beneficiary.
  • Any obligation or responsibility which the deceased had towards to the applicant(s) and any beneficiary.
  • The size and nature of the estate.
  • Any physical or mental disability of the applicant(s) and any beneficiary.
  • Any other matter including conduct of the applicant(s) or any other person which the court may consider relevant.

The Supreme Court considered that the judge first hearing the matter, had taken into account all the factors that he was supposed to and was entitled to reach the decision that he had after weighing up all of the evidence. As such the Appeal Court should not have interfered and their decision should be set aside.

Whilst there had been much discussion surrounding this case and whether it would provide new hope to disgruntled relatives cut out of a deceased’s will or provide further challenges to our right to leave our property to whoever we want, the outcome has not been quite so dramatic. A testator’s right to deal with his estate as he wishes remains intact subject only to very limited claims that can be bought where “reasonable provision” has not been made so long as the Will itself is valid. More particularly the Supreme Court have essentially confirmed that unless the judge first hearing the matter reaches a decision no other judge given the same information would have come to, gets the law wrong, takes into account something he shouldn’t or fails to take into account something he should have, then the appeal court can not interfere with the award.

The reality of these cases is that the court retains much discretion in their objective assessment of the case. These are challenging cases which require an assessment of competing interests and are made all the more difficult due to the fact that emotions will understandably run high. Early advice is key and ideally every attempt should be made to reach an agreement without going to court subject to the strict time limits that are in place in which to bring a claim.

If you have any issues in relation to an inheritance dispute you can contact our family team. Our team of specialist family solicitors are able to offer appointments at our offices in Bishops Stortford, Hertford and Enfield and Nationally via telephone and Skype.

For more information and advice contact us on 01992 558411 or complete our online enquiry form.

Karen Johnson is Director and Family Mediator of Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd. Karen is a highly skilled and experienced Family Solicitor with in excess of 15 years experience of working in Family Law. She is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in the fields of Domestic Abuse and Financial Matters. Karen is additionally a Family Mediator trained by and a member of the Family Mediators Association (The FMA).


What our Clients say about us...

Conveyancing - Would just like to say thanks to you and Breeze and Wyles team for making this possible. I would also like to note that the online service provided was very helpful, being able to logon to the site and see what has been completed and what is still required I found to be very helpful and comforting.

Take care all the best for the future.

Mr L

 

 


yet another happy client

Conveyancing - I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say thank you for all your assistance with the successful completion of the sale of my property.

It was a pleasure working with you on this and I will recommend you and use you again for future projects.

All the best.... have a fantastic week.

Thanks

Ms R