Dogs suffer in divorce!

According to the Daily Mail on Saturday and a survey by the Kennel Club, more than 700 dogs will be ending up in rescue centres this month as a result of couples splitting up.

This statement surprises me as in my experience, most individuals fight tooth and nail to keep hold of the dog. They are often prepared to spend large amounts of money in legal fees and I have been asked for help in setting up “residence and contact arrangements”.

For many couples without children, they become surrogate children and where the dog has been in the family for any length of time, individuals are prepared to take matters to the court.

The problem is that the law doesn’t distinguish between a dog, a car or a coffee table. It will look at ownership and registration details when making decisions, but will encourage couples at all stages of the process to try to resolve matters outside of court, perhaps through mediation.

I should also mention that it is not just dogs that are fought over but family pets in general.

It must be the time of year as I have recalled writing about the same subject around this time last year that I wrote about my Springer spaniel, who I am pleased to say is still defying vets and costing us a fortune as she enters her 14th year!

Posted in Courts, Divorce, Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Outrage! You don’t know what you’re doing!

As is most things these days, I received the news via Twitter that Nigel Adkins had been sacked by Southampton. Shocked and outraged were my immediate emotions. I babbled to my wife about my disgust and confusion! Wrong audience!

I went back to Twitter and Sky Sports just to see if I was dreaming. Bam! Southampton have now appointed a new manager, already! I am now shocked and dazed, who is the new chap, surely Strachan hadn’t changed his mind, perhaps Pep Guardiola fancies a warm up before Bayern job.

No Mauricio Pochettino, who?! I will naturally give him the support any fan would to their club, bar Chelsea, but surely a full explanation from our chairman is required. The short statement about the direction of the club and young players has already been achieved and is continuing. We have a 17-year-old left back who is already the next huge talent to come off the conveyor belt with a number of others in the wings.

Mr Cortese has made some strange decisions in the past and timing is not his strong point see Pardew sacking after beating Bristol Rovers 4-0, but I have to say that worked out well with Adkins appointment, back to back promotions and now 15th in Premier League and on the way up.

I think we should all judge our new manager at the end of the season and also the chairman. By then I hope the press office will have pictures in red shirt and not the blue jumper he wore today.

To Nigel Adkins a massive thank you for all that you have achieved at the club and the success you have brought, take the club to a tribunal and get a decent payoff, you deserve every penny. Just a shame it will not be spent on helping the Club forward by being used on a new player!

I hope we wont be singing “You don’t know what you’re doing!” come May but if relegation happens clearly questions must be asked!

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Joint property ownership and TOLATA claims.

The Law Society and Land Registry have today published a Practice Note in relation to joint property ownership. Whilst it has been addressed for all those involved with conveyancing it is also a good aide memoire for those of us who undertake TOLATA (Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996) claims.

As a general rule it is always easier for our conveyancing colleagues completing the purchase of a property to explore how the property is to be owned. Generally this will be in joint names as joint tenants meaning that the survivor will automatically inherit the others share upon death.

However in today’s climate with more unmarried couples buying property, they purchase the property in joint names as tenants in common which means that they can determine their individual share holdings and do not automatically inherit upon death.

I say it is easier for the conveyancers as clearly purchasing a property together is usually a happy time where the relationship has an expectation of lasting and the parties are in a position calmly to set out their intentions.

This may not be the case when I find myself instructed at the end of the relationship or very close to it when emotions are sometimes running high or are strained and both parties have adopted positions of self interest. With no documentary evidence recording the parties’ intentions individual’s memories are relied upon for evidence.

This makes it difficult with regard to advising individuals following recent case law which it had been hoped would simplify matters but sadly has still left a degree of uncertainty in this area of law.

In Stack v Dowden the House of Lords stated that where there was no express declaration, the general presumption was to be that the property would be owned as joint tenants in equal shares UNLESS one party could show differently, but it would only be in exceptional or unusual cases that the court would be persuaded.

This case was then followed by Jones v Kernott where the Supreme Court broadly followed that approach but added, if, it could be shown that the parties intended to hold the property in separate shares, then the court would decide, based on the whole course of dealing between the parties in relation to the property, what those shares would be.

The advice is therefore simple for those buying or intending to buy a property, complete Form JO , for those that don’t then be prepared for potentially lengthy and costly litigation with by and large an uncertain outcome given current legislation.

Posted in Cohabitation, Family Law, Joint ownership, Property disputes, TOLATA | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whatever happened to the clock and time?

This is my rant. I have tried to get the exact time today without phoning the speaking clock. I knew my bus this morning was running late but how late? My watch was slow, I knew that as the battery needs changing so it loses 5 minutes a day, the clock in the car was fast as I hate being late.

My two mobile phones both iPhones and set to UK GMT give different times, why don’t they say the same time, they are synched to the same computer?

I get to work and my clock on my lap top gave a different time, the office phone another. The BBC website gave another.

My sky tv box gives another time but the box in another room gives a different time.

I may only be talking about minutes and seconds in some cases but with everything capable of being synched surely technology should be able to link everything to GMT if we are in the UK.

I suppose that I don’t have a leg to stand on when my daughter says five more minutes to bed time, the fact she is clever enough to use a different clock to gain those extras minutes is worth a try.

Please can technology sort it out I just want to know the exact time.

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Aspergers at Christmas

Wow what a difference a year makes! Last year our eldest daughter was 6 and whilst showing the expected levels of excitement in December 2011 we knew something was wrong. She would come out of school and break down in floods of tears in the week before Christmas unable to speak for sometimes 30 minutes. She had developed a facial tic which would explode into life as soon as she was in the car and continue for the rest of the night until she slept, if she could sleep.

What we thought was excitement at the forthcoming Christmas holiday was in fact a deep lying anxiety and formed part of a later diagnosed Aspergers condition.

She couldn’t sleep, would have nightmares and would complain that she couldn’t turn her imagination off. How she was able to watch the television or see her food to eat was a minor miracle as at its peak her tic occurred every 3 seconds.

We couldn’t understand why this was happening? My wife, a qualified children’s counsellor researched for hours facial tics and we went to our GP, where of course the tic disappeared for the fifteen minutes we were in the appointment. Research shows this is actually very common. It was dismissed by the GP, the school hadn’t noticed until we pointed it out. Her teacher said that all the children were excited and wound up but that our daughter was not one who coped well with the change in routine as nativity play and rehearsals took place instead of usual lessons. Her behaviour remained perfect – not something you would expect if she was having problems.

Despite involving her in everything and speaking to her and listening to her we couldn’t work out what was happening. We discovered that the tic whilst brought on by anxiety was also brought on by excitement. However to help her we returned the house to normal taking down the tree and decorations on Boxing Day which seemed to help her considerably.

After discretely filming her as evidence to show her GP we were referred to a specialist who recommended a referral to a Psychiatrist. We were horrified, why would our 6 year old need a shrink? What could she be anxious about? We researched everything and agreed to give it a try.

We had a meeting without our daughter to discuss the process and then with her. Our daughter has mild Aspergers with chronic tic syndrome. Gradually over the year we have been able to learn more and cope with our daughter’s condition. A child’s anxiety is different to an adults in many ways and things that stressed her would include positive experiences such as going on holiday or a day out somewhere special.

She is extremely bright and an expert in dinosaurs. At five years of age she told reception class she wanted to be a palaeontologist and could spell it! She loves school, when she’s learning it gives her focus and everything is planned but the whole hustle and bustle of school is something she finds difficult. So when she told my wife in front of the psychiatrist about how she felt at school we were heartbroken, she said ” you know that feeling when you are walking along and somebody jumps out behind you and shouts boo, that’s how I feel all day. I don’t know what people are going to do next.”

But we have learned how to cope and prepare for this. We give information, lots of information about what is happening over the next few days, how long things will take and what will happen if things do not go to plan. The school understand this and are involved in helping with this process.

So Christmas 2012, the preparation started early, the decorations went up much later, our daughter has lead the planning rather than us and we have had no repeat of 2011. Yes the tic happens but is slightly less frequent and mostly only when eating her favourite food, pizza!

I am no expert but the old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is very apt. I don’t want to fail my daughter so the extra time spent preparing and really giving priority to how she will feel about things has made it the best Christmas ever!

Posted in Aspergers syndrome, Children, Christmas | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Make Sure it is not the season to make lawyers jolly!

Traditionally the media will have you believe that all relationships breakdown over the Christmas period and that the first week of January is boom time for us family lawyers with 7th January touted as D-Day (Divorce Day)

Many relationships do break down over this artificial period, as couples spend significant periods of time together outside of their normal routines, with financial pressures and other demands causing stress and anxiety.

But here are a few top tips for making the festive period go as smoothly as possible so that you will hopefully maintain a good and at least civil relationship whether that is ultimately to be together or apart:

Beware of alcohol!

Think before you drink! It is not an excuse to say or do things which you may later live to regret.

Put the children first!

They don’t want to see parents arguing or fighting as this may have a detrimental impact upon them not just for this Christmas but possibly for further years to come. Remember the Den and Sharon Watts scene in Eastenders and the impact it had on their daughter Sharon?

Respect each other!

Especially if you have children, respect the fact that the children cannot be in two places at once. They can have a great second Christmas day. Be positive about the other parent and about the time they spend with them. The children will be happier if they are not treading on egg shells for fear of upsetting a parent.

If the relationship does breakdown and you have to remain under the same roof, be civil and sensible. Freezing bank accounts in haste when not appropriate can cause you both difficulties particularly with cash flow at this time of year.

Destroying possessions may seem a good vent for your anger or frustration but remember there is a cost implication which will be increased significantly when lawyers get involved.

If the New Years resolution is for a separation be sure you have explored the options for reconciliation through Relate or marriage guidance alternatives before phoning a lawyer.   

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The End of the World and insurance premiums!

Is it coincidence that the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice that forced the UK to enact legislation to ensure that all forms of insurance cover comply with gender neutral pricing from 21.12.12, the same day as the Mayan Calender predicts the possible end of the world.

Yes it’s the Winter Solstice but unless something happens during the rest of the day it would appear that the significance of the date is that young women in particular can expect motor insurance and life insurance premiums to rise by as much as 25% given that their current premiums have been lower than men’s.

Conversely because men have a shorter life expectancy than woman and therefore benefit from higher annuity rates (on a like for like basis) men will lose out in retirement as their annuity rates are expected to decrease.

Complex changes from 1.1.13 which HMRC are introducing on the way insurance companies are taxed are likely to mean, one thing, more costly premiums for the customer.

If you are reading this having survived the end of the world, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!



Posted in Insurance, UK, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments