Festive family guidance
Christmas can be a delightful time for many, but also a difficult time for some.
Contrary to popular belief there is no New Year rush of spouses wanting a divorce (unlike the New Year rush of divorce lawyers seeking headlines). However for the few unfortunate enough to be contemplating separation and divorce over the holiday period there are some recent developments that may be of interest.
Plans to remove the need to apportion blame in divorce are progressing. The government has launched a consultation on changing the law, which closes on 10th December. For now, though, the law remains that to get a divorce without having to wait two years one spouse has to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour. It is always best to agree between you what allegations will be made, although often that is not possible.
A recent case in the Child Support Tribunal plugged a hole in the system when it found that a father who had transferred a 40% shareholding in his private company to his second wife could not thereby reduce child maintenance by paying 40% of the company dividends to the new wife.
For recently separated families it can be helpful to consider the challenges that may arise over the festive period so that things can run more smoothly. With this in mind we have prepared a festive guide:
• Agree who will be having the children well in advance. The important days are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Try and share these days by alternating each year. If ever there is a dispute, this is what the court tends to do.
• Do any special Christmas arrangements over the children take precedence over the normal weekly pattern of child arrangements? Make sure you both know where you stand on this and iron out any misunderstandings well in advance.
• If the children have a nativity play, what are the ticketing arrangements? Each parent should be in contact with the school and should be able to get their own tickets. If only two are available share them if you can. A child would normally prefer to see both parents in the audience.
• Speak to each other over presents. Who is going to get what? What is being said about Santa? Try and avoid spoiling the magic of Christmas.
At Evolve Family Law we hope everyone has a happy and restful Christmas.
Andrew Lee, Consultant Solicitor
Evolve Family Law