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


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?


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