Second marriages more stable, research shows

A report produced by charity The Marriage Foundation has shown that second marriages are more stable than first marriages, counter to the popular opinion that couples who remarry are likely to repeat the mistakes from their first marriage.

According to Harry Benson, Communications Director at The Marriage Foundation and author of the report, some 45 per cent of all couples who marry for the first time in 2013 will divorce during their lifetime. However, divorced couples who marry for the second time have only a 31% chance of their marriage ending in divorce.

The report showed that the age of the married couple was responsible for this difference, with older couples more likely to stay together.  Another reason cited was improved affluence giving older couples getting married for the second time a better chance of making their marriage work compared to younger couples marrying for the first time.

Mr Benson also concluded that factors such as education and living together first which influence the outcome of a first marriage have less effect the second time round.  “Reduced social and family pressure for men who marry the second time around is also a factor in the reduced divorce rate of second marriages.”

The report concluded: “When it comes to marriage, age is everything. Couples who tie the knot later in life are much less likely to divorce over their lifetime than couples who marry at an earlier age.”

For more information on divorce please contact Alistair Dobson at family law solicitors Lawson-West in Market Harborough on 01858 445 480 or James Haworth in Wigston on 0116 212 1080.

Former Miss Malaysia may receive biggest ever divorce settlement in Britain

A former Miss Malaysia who now lives in Hertfordshire could receive Britain’s biggest ever divorce settlement of between £400 and £500 million it has been reported.

Pauline Chai, 66, lodged a petition for divorce in London last month on the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and is now seeking half of former husband Khoo Kay Peng’s fortune. Dr Khoo is chairman of Malaysian United Industries, has a 40 per cent stake in Laura Ashley, and is also a director of Corus Hotels Limited.

As Dr Khoo’s assets are technically owned by his companies, it is expected that proceedings will be dominated by the issue of Dr Khoo’s actual worth.

The couple bought their Hertfordshire estate in 1998, and Ms Chai has since made her home there. This entitles her to initiate divorce proceedings in this country.

The case is the latest in a series of big-money international divorces that have been brought to the UK courts. They include the wife of the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who is reported to have received between £100million and £200million, and Beverley Charman, who received £48million when her marriage broke down.

If you’d like information on divorce and financial settlement please contact James Haworth at family law solicitors Lawson-West on 0116 212 1080.

Lord Northampton divorce settles before High Court trial

Following a bitter and messy two year battle, Lord Northampton has now agreed to pay his fifth wife £17 million after their 23-year marriage ended in divorce, it has been reported. The settlement will save the couple some £2 million in court fees for a High Court divorce trial which was due to start last month.

Lady Northampton, whose affair with a multi-millionaire Romanian businessman prompted the divorce, is set to receive a £4 million apartment in Pimlico on top of cash and possessions worth in the region of £13 million.

However, this is a small proportion of Lord Northampton’s fortune, which has been estimated conservatively at £120 million and includes two stately homes, land, paintings and furniture.

Lord Northampton’s solicitor commented: “We are pleased to confirm that the case has now been settled without the need for further court proceedings. Under the terms of the parties’ agreements there will be no further comment.”

Lady Northampton had originally demanded about £25 million. The couple met in late 1980s and married shortly after.

If you’re considering divorce and would like advice, please contact divorce solicitors  Alistair Dobson or Janet Hopkins at Lawson-West on 01858 445 480.

Decline in divorce rates

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 117,558 divorces in England and Wales in 2011, a drop of 1.7% on the previous year.

The number of divorces for the year was highest among people aged 40 to 44. Statistics also suggest that around 42% of marriages are today expected to end in divorce, compared with 45% a few years ago. This reinforces the trend of a general decline in divorce figures since 2003, in part influenced by the recession.

If you’d like information on any aspect of divorce please contact James Haworth at Lawson-West, family law and divorce solicitors Leicester on 0116 212 1080.

Family life makeup shifting

The latest statistics released by the Office for National Statistics shows that the nature of family life in the UK is shifting.

The number of opposite sex couples living together has grown significantly from 1.5 million in 1996 to 2.9 million in 2012. Over the same period, the number of dependent children living in opposite sex cohabiting couple families doubled from 0.9 million to 1.8 million.

Of the 18.2 million families in the UK, 12.2 million were married couples. Some 38% of these married couple families had children, compared with 39 per cent of opposite sex cohabiting couple families.

In 2012 there were also nearly 2 million single parents with dependent children, which has grown steadily from 1.6 million in 1996.

The best way to protect any investment you make in a property while cohabiting is by making a living together agreement. For more information please contact James Haworth at Lawson-West, family law solicitors Leicester, on 0116 212 1080.

Legal aid – the real losers

An article in the Derby Evening Telegraph today reports on fears for the users of an advice service in Derby, when its legal aid funding is stopped in April next year. The service, run by Direct Help and Advice offers free advice to people regarding debt, welfare benefits and housing issues including eviction and repossession.

However, when the money it receives for legal aid funding is stopped, the service will also stop, meaning local people won’t be able to benefit from free advice on their problems and the legal aid funding to sort them out. This could see vulnerable people getting trapped in debt and even losing their homes.

The story highlights one effect of the end of Legal Aid in most areas.  Clearly the government needs to make cuts and all those who rely on public funds can argue a strong case that their area is too important to be affected and that the cuts should occur elsewhere. Cuts to politically sensitive areas such as education and health are unpopular, whereas cutting Legal Aid is easier with the general perception being that only ‘fatcat lawyers’ who have milked the system will suffer.

In truth, and as today’s article shows, Legal Aid has more far reaching uses. The real people to suffer are likely to be those for whom access to justice, whether it be help from organisations like Direct Help and Advice in Derby, or help for divorcing couples arguing about who should pay the bulk of the negative equity in their home – or where little Johnny should live – will be severely restricted or even denied.

James Haworth, Family Partner, Lawson-West

Wives more likely to issue divorce proceedings

Grant Thornton has released the results if its ninth annual matrimonial survey, which found that more than half of the family lawyers surveyed reported that they received more divorce applications from wives than husbands.  The survey, which was completed by 139 of the UK’s leading family lawyers,  also found that ‘growing apart’ or ‘falling out of love’ was the most common reason for divorce (25%) with infidelity close behind (24%).

The respondents also suggested that the recession is continuing to have an impact on divorce rates, with 75% saying they felt that couples are delaying proceedings because of financial constraints. This is down slightly on last year’s survey which showed 82% felt the recession was having this effect.

According to the survey results, on average, wives received more than half of the matrimonial assets in 62% of cases, compared to only 6% of husbands. However, 35% of the respondents stated that the average value of the total family assets distributed was less than £500,000 compared to just 18% of respondents two years ago.

If you’d like advice on any aspect of divorce please contact family law solicitors Alistair Dobson at Lawson-West on Market Harborough 01858 445 480 or James Haworth on Wigston 0116 212 1080.

High earners waste value of home in bitter divorce

A high earning couple who lived in a £3.2m seven-bedroom home until they split after ten years of marriage, have been left with less than £100,000 between them, after years of fighting over money and their children during a bitter divorce.

The couple, Mr & Mrs Kavanagh, have been criticised by Judge Clive Million for “wrecking the ship of their marriage, then turning their attention to the lifeboats…The ship of marriage may founder, but this couple have driven theirs full tilt onto the rocks,” Judge Million said.

Despite Mr Kavanagh earning over £485,000 a year as a partner in a law firm specialising in aerospace litigation and insurance, he was left with “net debts” after the former matrimonial home was ordered to be sold and divided between them.

Mrs Kavanagh was awarded two thirds of the proceeds of the sale of the home but with costs amounting to nearly £900,000, she received just £94,500.

The couple have now returned to court to argue about the level of maintenance payments Mr Kavanagh was ordered to pay to his ex-wife.

If you’d like information on divorce, children and maintenance, please contact James Haworth at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1080.

Domestic abuse definition widened

In a Home Office announcement, the definition of domestic abuse has been widened to cover psychological intimidation and controlling behaviour and will also be extended to victims under the age 18. The move aims to increase awareness of domestic abuse, and result in more prosecutions.

Under the new definition, acts like preventing partners from leaving the house, or having access to a phone could now lead to prosecution. The Home Office has also urged more youngsters to come forward to gain the support they need – for example by speaking to someone about their situation or contacting a helpline or specialist service.

The changes will be implemented in March 2013, and follow calls from local authorities, police and voluntary organisations.

If you’ve suffered domestic abuse and need legal help please contact Lawson-West on 0116 212 1080.

Reforms to family courts announced

Proposals by Mr Justice Ryder to change the culture of family courts and speed up cases in England and Wales have been published this week and backed by the Lord Chief Justice.

Family courts often deal with child custody cases following divorce or separation of parents, and also decide whether victims of child abuse or neglect should be taken into local authority care.

The plans announced include a single family court run by judges and magistrates, which will replace the existing system where judges sit in multiple court buildings: currently family matters are dealt with by the “family division” of the High Court, by district judges in county courts or by specialist magistrate-led “family proceedings” courts.

Other recommendations set out by Mr Justice Ryder include:

  • Less reliance on expert witnesses citing that they are “misused and overused”
  • That the decisions and processes of the court be better explained to the children at the heart of the action
  • That more training and guidance be given to  judges to help them reach decisions more quickly
  • That the views of children should be heard and communicated to the court.

The proposals, which do not require legislation, will be introduced in parallel with suggested changes in the government’s Crime and Courts Bill and the Children and Families Bill.

For information on divorce or separation please contact Lawson-West on 0116 212 1080 or 01858 445 480.