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What does the future hold for family law?

Napthens - November 23rd 2015

The landscape of family law is ever changing. In recent years the development of alternative dispute resolution in the form of Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration have emphasised the advantages of resolving issues surrounding relationship breakdown out of Court.

Where children are involved, untold damage can be inflicted by allowing CAFCASS (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) Officers, Judges and other external parties to take over responsibility for decisions from the parents. Parents have to communicate and function after the Court case is over and children need to know that they have the support of both parents to enjoy their relationship with the other.

When it comes to money, the Courts continually emphasise the negative impact of costs in the court process. Costs inevitably diminish the asset pool available for distribution. It is therefore far better to reach agreement so that the cost is kept under control and couples can take ownership of the process rather than running the risk of an outcome which may be devastating to one or the other.

Despite all good intentions many cases still have to be resolved in Court and seldom a week goes by without the newspapers reporting either the result of a landmark case or the day to day experiences of people involved in disputes relating to their finances or children.

As people adopt different living and relationship arrangements, family law is always evolving to reflect this. From co-habitation agreements and divorces to dividing family assets in business and child custody arrangements, the law relating to families is a complex and diverse field.

It is now much more common for parties wanting to involve their matrimonial lawyers in their financial planning and it is invaluable to work with our colleagues in Wills & Estate Planning, Wealth Management and our Corporate team when drafting Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements linked to Discretionary Trusts and Shareholder Agreements with a view to protecting assets in the event of relationship breakdown.