No Fault Divorce – Is It Time For Change?

No Fault Divorce – Is It Time For Change?

NO FAULT DIVORCE – IS IT TIME FOR CHANGE?

At Elaine Parkes we understand that family law matters are often highly emotive, especially where young children are involved, and require a comprehensive knowledge of the law. In 2018 a particular divorce case raised a lot of points for discussion, the main one being is it time for a no fault divorce? We have shared our thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Family Law Act 1996, which was introduced by the Conservative government, provided the introduction of no-fault divorce in England and Wales.Last year there was a lot of discussion in the media about no-fault divorce, with the Owens case. Mrs Owens petitioned to divorce her husband of 38 years owing to his ‘unreasonable behaviour’, Mr Owens disputed this and the Trial Judge refused her divorce petition. Mrs Owens appealed the decision up to the Supreme Court. They could not help. They would not interfere with the Trial Judge’s findings (although many of us practitioners did) as he was the one to make the important decision and the lower court was applying the law as it has been since 1973.

A no-fault divorce refers to a type of divorce in which the spouse who files for divorce doesn’t have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse.If you’re looking to divorce, you might be surprised to know that ‘no fault’ divorce doesn’t exist, unless the other person agrees after a period of 2 years’ separation or you have been apart for over 5 years, otherwise you must satisfy the court that your spouse is in the wrong. In order for a divorce to proceed, a party must prove to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to do so there are currently five legal facts you can use:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for over 2 years
  • Two years separation with the consent of both parties
  • Five years separation

Consequently, unless you can prove your partner has committed adultery or you have been separated for two years or more your only option for divorce is for you to wholly blame the other’s behaviour for the breakdown of the marriage, even if nobody is at fault and you have both agreed to separate.  This often creates conflict which sets the divorce process back, which can delay the financial aspects of the separation and could have an impact on any child arrangements.A change in the law to allow no fault divorce would help a lot of people who want to divorce amicably and without further drama. As a firm we support the campaign of Resolution, a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way. Resolution have been campaigning for this for years.

If you are considering divorce, it is very important to seek legal advice. Many people often listen and talk to friends and family for advice. However, each family is unique and each divorce will be different, as it depends many different factors. At Elaine Parkes, our family law solicitors will be able to advise you on dealing with the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership.

If you need help with family law, contact Elaine Parkes on 01424 883 183.

Harassment in the Workplace

Harassment in the Workplace

HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

At Elaine Parkes we understand that employment law issues can be very sensitive and a stressful process for victims, we always aim to establish a resolution through non-adversarial means, such as mediation. Our experienced Employment Law Solicitors have put together a guide on harassment in the workplace and what you should do if you are a victim of harassment.

Your employer is required by law to protect you from any form of discrimination that you could face during working hours. Discrimination can have a detrimental effect on the work place environment and should never be overlooked.

The Equality Act 2010, protects employees from being harassed by their employer, colleagues and customers of the organisation.

The nine protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race, colour, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion and belief

Your employer should have a policy that explains that they have zero tolerance as an organisation for harassment and bullying. It should also clarify what you need to do in the event of needing to make a harassment complaint.

Common workplace harassment examples include:

  • Spreading rumours.
  • Insults, pranks, jokes, and teasing.
  • Flags and emblems that are offensive.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Undermining a competent employee with criticism on a continuous basis.
  • Offensive emails, tweets, and social networking interactions.

If you are being bullied or harassed, you should aim to try to resolve the problem informally in the first instance, having a discussion with the harasser (with someone else present) could be all that’s needed. Keep a copy of all the correspondence and dates you send and receive from the harasser.

If you find the harassment doesn’t stop or your employer doesn’t take your complaint seriously, you should make a formal complaint or raise a grievance. Your employer may offer workplace mediation. If your problem isn’t resolved after this, you can make a harassment claim in the employment tribunal under the Equality Act. You need to make sure:

  • the behaviour counts as unlawful harassment under the Act, and
  • you’re within the 3 months’ less one day time limit for making your claim.

The Employment Tribunal can make a declaration as to your rights, award damages for unlawful discrimination, or make a recommendation.

An Employment Law Solicitor can explain the legal rights you have and where necessary what action to take.

If you feel you have been bullied or harassed at work, contact our Employment Law Solicitors to determine whether you can take legal action to assist in resolving the issues you have faced.

If you need help with employment law, contact Elaine Parkes on 01424 883183

Flexible Working – No More 9-5?

Flexible Working – No More 9-5?

FLEXIBLE WORKING- NO MORE 9-5?

Interested in working in a way that suits you? You may want to consider flexible working.

YouGov recently conducted a survey which has discovered that 6% of people in the UK still work a traditional ‘9am to 5pm’ working day, 66% of people surveyed said that they would prefer to start and finish earlier.

Flexible working is a way for employees to work in a way that suits them and meets their needs. Flexible working is any type of working that is different to the standard 9-5 working day, this could involve different working times, working from home or even changing to job sharing.

If you’re an employee and have worked with the same employer for 26 weeks or more you’re entitled to make a flexible working request. There is no right to flexible working, but you can be considered for it.

How to request flexible working

There will be a procedure that you have to follow when putting in your request.  To start with, you’ll have to write your employer a letter/email, employers are allowed to take up to three months to respond to your request. You’re only able to make one working request each year.

In order to assist your case and make it more likely that the employer will agree to accepting your request, it may be helpful to explain the proposed new working arrangements, although it is not a legal requirement to state why you want flexible working hours. However, it will help to provide a solution, for example, if you want to work less hours suggest how you’ll reorganise the work load.

Refusal of flexible working

Employers must consider all working requests within 3 months unless you’ve agreed to a longer time frame. Your employer can reject flexible working requests for a number of reasons such as:

  • planned structural changes to the business
  • unable to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • unable recruit additional staff
  • detrimental impact on quality/performance
  • detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
  • burden of additional costs on the business.

If your employer turns down your request for flexible working, they should give you a good explanation of why they have made this decision, the reason should not be discriminatory.

Your employer should allow a right of appeal as part of the procedure.

If your request is denied and you and your employer can’t reach a compromise, there are a number of different options if you want to take things further including:

  • contacting ACAS or using alternative dispute resolution
  • raising a grievance via your employer’s grievance procedure
  • bringing a claim to an employment tribunal if certain circumstances apply
  • brining a discrimination claim
  • resigning and claiming constructive dismissal.

If you need employment-related advice, contact Elaine Parkes Solicitors on 01424 883183

New Year, New Team

New Year, New Team

New Year, New Team

During this year at Elaine Parkes Solicitors, there have been a few staff developments and due to our expanding client base, these will continue into 2021

We say a fond farewell to Elaine Parkes herself who is retiring from the company to concentrate on her role as Deputy District Judge and her gold handicap. Happy Retirement, Elaine!

We also be saying farewell to Martin Chambers, whose locum contract has to come to completion. He has been assisting with Divorce and Financial matters for both Elaine Parkes Solicitors Ltd and The Law Firm Group Ltd and his calm demeanour and wealth of experience has been a valuable asset to both firms. 

We welcome Bruce Jackson, who will be leading our Divorce, Finances and Private Child Arrangements Team from January 2021. Bruce has many years’ experience dealing with family and Children Law matters. Bruce’s advocacy experience is excellent and is one of his greatest strengths when dealing with family matters.

We also welcome Charlotte Hustwayte, who will be joining Bruce in our Divorce, Finances and Private Child Arrangements Team from January 2021. Charlotte has experience with all family matters, including cases which involve domestic abuse and require protective orders, such as Non Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders, disputes which affect children, and disputes arising from the breakdown of a relationship, whether married or not.

As many of you will already be aware, in October 2020 we welcomed Sussie Ross who is currently leading our Care and Legally Aided Matter Team. Sussie’s Team consists of Mary Enang and Miriam Yousaf who, between them, have a wealth of experience in this sector, including accreditations from the Family Law Panel and Children Law Panel.

Due to our continued growth, we will be recruiting more staff in the New Year to enable us to continue to provide our clients with our SQM and Lexcel accredited services. 

Top 6 Things to Consider When Writing a Will

Top 6 Things to Consider When Writing a Will

TOP 6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN WRITING A WILL

Preparing to write your will can take a considerable amount of time and planning. You’ll need to think long term and carefully consider all aspects of your life. Elaine Parkes wants to help you ensure that your will is an accurate reflection of how to deal with your most treasured assets and record your requests.

We’ve created a guide of our top 6 important things to think about when preparing your will.

  1. Guardianship of children – If you have children under 16

Some people often write their will after the birth of their first child. When writing your will, you can nominate another person to care for your child until they are adults if anything happens to you and your partner.

It’s important to consider a range of points when choosing your guardian such as:

  • Similarities in lifestyle, values and religion
  • Who does your child have a strong bond with
  • Location of where the potential guardian lives- will it be suitable
  • Who will be able to take on the role physically, financially and emotionally

2.  Assets 

When making a will, it’s important that you make a list of your assets and their values. Once you have compiled your list of assets you’ll be able to identify who you want to give what to.

It’s essential that you note whether the assets you own are owned independently or with someone else for example, a spouse. A jointly owned property will automatically go to the surviving owner.

Cherished items are often overlooked as assets, although they don’t have a high monetary value they do have emotional/personal value. Think about your cherished items as you can pass them along to children or grandchildren as a family heirloom.

3.  Appointing an executor

The executor of the will are the people responsible to carry out your final wishes as you outline in your will. Being an executor can be a complicated task, so when choosing your executor make sure you consider someone who has the time and will be the ablest to accomplish the task.

4.  Naming beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the persons who will benefit from your will. The most common beneficiaries are usually your spouse, children, extended family and possibly favourite charities. If you’re leaving an estate to more than one beneficiary, make sure you explain how it’s to be shared in order to avoid complication i.e. – include sums or percentages.

5. Complex circumstances

There can be many complex circumstances that you need to consider when writing your will and you should take note of them. Some circumstances that you may want to consider are:

  • Excluding someone who would normally expect to benefit from your will
  • Previous marriage/divorce or other family complexities
  • Providing for a beneficiary with special needs
  • Being a company director

Make sure you explain any specific circumstances to your will writer for example, why you want to exclude someone or why you have left someone less than they may expect. This can be kept on file and can be used should anyone claim against your estate.

6.  Getting expert advice

As you can see writing a will isn’t straightforward so it’s best to get advice from solicitors. Ideally, it’s best to speak to solicitors who specialise in wills and probate as they can write the document and ensure that everything is in order for you.

 

Do you need help or advice when it comes to will writing?

If you have any questions about preparing for your will appointment or writing your will, we’re here to help. Contact Elaine Parkes Solicitors on 01424 883183 

Appointments Now Available in Our Tunbridge Wells Office

X