Thursday, October 19, 2017

Software review: Capitalise

Any family lawyer dealing with high net worth cases will frequently need to calculate what capital sum will be required to generate a given income. The conventional way of doing this is to consult Duxbury tables, and do the calculation manually. However, there is a software-based option: the program Capitalise. Capitalise has been around for some time, but it has recently been revamped into a new-look version two, which is available on PC, on Mac and online.

Capitalise was devised by Class Legal, with the help of Mr Justice Mostyn and Sir Peter Singer. With a pedigree like that, I think we can be assured of the quality of the product.

Once installed, Capitalise must be activated by registering with the user's name, email, password and registration key, or by logging in if you have already registered. Registered users can also access Capitalise online via a browser, which very handily means that they can use the software anywhere that has an internet connection, on any device.

On first logging in the first thing I noticed was the extremely clean user interface, giving the software a very 'modern' look. In fact, so clean was the interface that I initially struggled for a moment to work out what to do next, but that was probably just me being slow. I soon realised that the first step was to set up your case, with the client's name, sex and date of birth. You must then set up your 'calculation parameters' (for life or a specified duration, whether you wish to preserve capital, inflation rate, whether the client will get a full basic rate pension, etc.) and then input the required income. You can then ask the program to do the calculation, whereupon you will be greeted with the results, something like this:

(Note this is only a partial screenshot)

Once you have done the calculation you can then of course print out a report, in pdf format. You can also, as the screenshot indicates, export the results to Excel.

If you should require any assistance, there is a help system included in the program, which includes the figures used in the calculations and legal and methodological explanations. If you get really stuck, Class Legal has a helpdesk that you can call or email.

And that, in a nutshell, is Capitalise. Of course, it has a lot more to it (I haven't mentioned, for example, that it can very usefully do a 'reverse' calculation, working out the income a specific capital sum will provide), but it would take a much longer review to do justice to its considerable capabilities. However, if you want more information Class Legal have made a detailed (63 minute!) video introduction to the software, which you can view here.

If that is not enough, a free 35 day trial is available, on request. And if you are one of the aforementioned lawyers then I very much doubt that you will want to return to the old manual calculation methods after trying Capitalise.

Capitalise can be purchased from Class Legal, here. A site licence costs £250.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New divorce stats show laws on cohabitation & fault-based divorce need to change, say family lawyers

Today’s official statistics on the number of divorces in England and Wales show there were 106,959 divorces among opposite-sex couples in 2016 – up 5.8% from 2015.

Commenting on the rise, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of the family justice campaign group Resolution, said:

“Although the numbers of divorces, and the divorce rate, are up on 2015, both are still far lower than their recent peak of 2003. As the ONS recognises, this is almost certainly due, in part, to the rise in the number of cohabiting couples - the fastest growing family type in the UK.

“Yet despite this, there is still little or no legal protection for cohabitants should they separate. What’s more, many are living together while still believing there is such a thing as common-law marriage in this country and that as a result they have rights – there isn’t and they don't. Action needs to be taken to change this.

“It’s also important to recognise that behind these statistics, there are tens of thousands of couples who are currently discouraged by the current system from taking a non-confrontational approach to divorce. For many separating couples, the need to apportion blame on the divorce petition can introduce unnecessary conflict, which adds to the stress and heartache for the couple themselves and, crucially, any children they may have.

“For decades, 'unreasonable behaviour' has been the most common reason for divorce among opposite-sex couples, yet many are forced into playing this ‘blame game’ by our archaic divorce laws.

“That’s why we have repeatedly called on government to legislate for no-fault divorce, and will continue to do so. This call is echoed by senior legal figures, such as Baroness Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, and Sir Paul Coleridge, the Chair of the Marriage Foundation.

“In the face of such overwhelming support, and with the Supreme Court due next Spring to hear the appeal of Mrs Owens, whose divorce has been denied because of the current law, the government needs to listen and take action.

“It’s time to make no-fault the default.”

Monday, October 16, 2017

News Essentials: 16th October 2017

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

Guidance given in important hair strand testing judgment
Practices of testers affirmed and suggestions made for report writing. Full story: Family Law Week. See report, below.

Cafcass Chief Executive addresses the rising number of children in care
LGA Conference hears that number of looked after children has reached a new high of 72,670. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In September 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,637 new private law cases. This is a 4% increase compared with those received in September 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in September 2017
In September 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,109 care applications. This figure represents a 10% decrease compared with those received in September 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Fifth of CPS cases are alleged sex crimes or domestic abuse
Report says 19.3% of prosecutors’ caseload involves such alleged offences, compared with 7.1% a decade ago. Full story: The Guardian.

Boys with ‘narcissistic cult’ mindset removed from mother’s care
Three teenage brothers, who believed they were intellectually superior, had suffered physical and emotional harm, judge told. Full story: The Guardian. See report, below.

FE v MR & Ors [2017] EWHC 2298 (Fam) (14 September 2017)
Judgment dealing with issue of whether the court should submit a request to the courts of Spain for the transfer of proceedings concerning two children. Full report: Bailii.

DP v PC [2017] EWHC 2387 (Fam) (01 September 2017)
Appeal by father against summary dismissal of contact application. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

P & Ors (Human Fertilisation And Embryology Act 2008) (No 2) [2017] EWHC 2532 (Fam) (13 October 2017)
Further judgment in cases where there had been administrative failures by clinic providing IVF treatment, concerning the need for the failures to be resolved by obtaining an order of the court. Full report: Bailii.

L-S (Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 1551 (12 October 2017)
Application by mother for permission to appeal against decisions made in 2016 concerning arrangements for a 12 year old child, focusing on whether the judge was wrong to refuse to re-open his original findings in the light of new material. Full report: Bailii.

Northumberland County Council v S (Mother) & Ors [2017] EWHC 2432 (Fam) (23 June 2017)
Application by local authority for permission to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to a 14 year old boy in care, in order to place him at a residential school in Scotland. Full report: Bailii.

S v S (Relocation) [2017] EWHC 2345 (Fam) (14 September 2017)
Application by father to remove his two sons, to live with him in Switzerland. Application granted, but father and lawyers for children criticised by judge. Full report: Bailii.

H (A Child : Hair Strand Testing) [2017] EWFC 64 (29 September 2017)
Judgment in care proceedings considering the science of hair-strand testing for cocaine, and the way in which expert reports on the test results are presented. Full report: Bailii.

The London Borough of Wandsworth v M & Ors (Rev 2) [2017] EWHC 2435 (Fam) (03 October 2017)
Care proceedings concerning three boys with ‘narcissistic cult’ mindset. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Twitter, a case, and a report...

...were the inspiration sources for my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Flawed Twitter poll still indicates support for no-fault divorce - As many as 9 out of 10 people agree with it.

A second bite of the financial cherry after an overseas divorce - Or: Just what is Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 for?

Courts deal with invisible children - How can judges make life-changing decisions for children without even knowing what they look like?

Criminal justice system takes over the burden of dealing with domestic abuse - As confirmed by the latest figures from the CPS.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, October 09, 2017

In denial - Ministers’ flagship family policy withering on the vine

Jane Robey
New figures show slump in family mediation starts 

Commenting on news that the number of couples starting family mediation has slumped by a quarter, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said:

“Ministers need to wake up and understand their own flagship family policy is withering on the vine.

“The government made it a legal requirement in 2014 for separating couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) before applying for a court order. Yet the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency’s latest statistics show that ‘family mediation starts’ were 24 per cent lower in the April to June 2017 quarter, compared the same period in 2016.

“The number of MIAMs was down by a tenth on 2016, and the 1,600 mediation starts recorded is the lowest number since the 2014 Act that supposedly made the MIAM compulsory.

“Figures we at National Family Mediation obtained recently from a FOI request show that over 60 per cent of couples ignored the new law last year. Of nearly 90,000 applications for private law proceedings to a family court in 2016, only 35,627 had followed the supposedly ‘compulsory’ process.

“It’s meant to be compulsory for divorcing couples to seriously consider mediation to help them find amicable and constructive ways to resolve parenting, money and property disputes.

“Professional family mediators want to do what the government are going to do about the fact that most people are somehow sidestepping the law.

“By making the consideration of mediated settlements compulsory, the government’s aim was help tens of thousands of couples who separate each year save money, time and stress in making post-divorce arrangements.

“Ministers need to explain how they intend to address this. Until they do so the government is in denial on divorce.”

News Essentials: 9th October 2017

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

MFPA 1984 Part III award overturned by Court of Appeal
Agreement by the parties was Radmacher fair. Full story: Family Law Week. See Zimina v Zimin, below.

Billionaire property developer says he was never married to 'wife' in bid to protect fortune, court hears
A billionaire London property developer has claimed that he was never married to his "wife" of 14 years in a bid to protect his £1.1bn fortune, the High Court heard. Full story: The Telegraph.

Study reveals link between childhood in care and mothers who have babies removed by the courts
A study launched today has found a high number of women, who repeatedly appear before the family courts and lose many children into public care or adoption because of child protection concerns, have been in care themselves. Full story: Family Law.

Solicitor disclosed wife's new address to violent ex-husband
A firm and its solicitor have been fined a total of £35,000 after disclosing a woman’s new address to her ex-husband, who was subject to a restraining order. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

A Child (no approved secure accommodation available; deprivation of liberty) [2017] EWHC 2458 (Fam) (14 September 2017)
Judgment in proceedings concerning the accommodation of a 13 year old boy with a history of seriously uncontrolled behaviour. Full report: Bailii.

Zimina v Zimin [2017] EWCA Civ 1429 (05 October 2017)
Appeal against lump sum order made under Part III MFPA 1984, where a foreign order had already been made. Appeal allowed.  Full report: Bailii.

Egeneonu v Egeneonu [2017] EWHC 2336 (Fam) (19 September 2017)
Application by mother for father's committal to prison for breaches of orders made in connection with the retention of the parties' children in Nigeria. Full report: Bailii.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust v YZ & Ors [2017] EWHC 2211 (Fam) (27 July 2017)
Application by NHS Trust for an order declaring, inter alia, that it was in the best interests of a 14 year old child to receive as a matter of urgency treatment for a suspected overdose of paracetamol. Full report: Bailii.

M v G [2017] EWHC 1712 (Fam) (22 June 2017)
Application by father for summary return of children to Romania. Return ordered. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Obsolete divorce laws provoke the deliberate picking of fights

The re-emergence on the political agenda of “no-fault divorce” has been welcomed by England and Wales’ largest provider of post-divorce solutions on parenting, money and property.

National Family Mediation (NFM) Chief Executive Jane Robey says the appearance of leading divorce lawyer, Ayesha Vardag, at the recent Conservative Party Conference, throws a welcome spotlight on outdated laws that provoke separating couples to pick a fight with their ex.

Ms Vardag was at the Manchester conference to add her voice to those, including NFM, which have lobbied the government over law changes to make it easier for couples to split in a supportive and amicable way. Her appearance created widespread media attention and support from sources including controversial columnist and broadcaster Katie Hopkins. The Labour Party’s 2017 election manifesto committed to introducing no-fault divorce, but the Tories’ one did not.

Jane Robey said: “Outdated divorce laws which mean someone has to be proved ‘at fault’ - even when a couple agrees on the need to separate - creates a bidding war which then often escalates to a full-blown courtroom battle brimming with resentment and anger.

“The current legal need to prove a spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ fuels bad feeling between a couple. Very often we find that couples who, for whatever reason, have decided to separate just want to get on with it, and make a fresh start.

“These archaic laws deliberately provoke separating couples to pick a fight with their ex, to the detriment of the future of everyone in the family.”

Previous attempts to reform divorce law have failed because legislation has been introduced privately, without the weight of government backing that would see it reach the Statute Book.

Jane Robey said: “If the government took the opportunity to bring forward its own legislation for no-fault divorce, time would be allocated and the Bill would be passed.

“For Ministers it’s not a question of the volume of people affected, or the impact of legislative change. That’s undeniable. It’s one of will. It’s high time for Ministers to take long-awaited steps to divorce reform.”

Monday, October 02, 2017

News Essentials: 2nd October 2017

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

Mostyn J confirms that family court has power to order indemnity in respect of mortgage liability
Such orders have been made ‘routinely’ over last three years. Full story: Family Law Week. See CH v WH, below.

Important overview of Court of Protection’s welfare jurisdiction published
Cardiff University uses ground breaking empirical research. Full story: Family Law Week.

Children in care numbers rise at fastest rate in five years
The number of children in care has risen at its fastest rate in five years while the number of children being adopted continues to fall, official figures have revealed. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

MIAMs in April to June 2017 down 11% on a year ago
1,600 mediation starts was the lowest number since LASPO Act was introduced. Full story: Family Law Week.

Family court statistics quarterly: April to June 2017
This report presents the latest statistics on type and volume of cases that are received and processed through the family court system of England and Wales in the second quarter of 2017 (April to June). Full story: Ministry of Justice.


E-R (Child Arrangements)(No.2) [2017] EWHC 2382 (Fam) (11 September 2017)
Judgment varying terms of child arrangements order providing for the child to live with family friends, following the death of the mother. Full report: Bailii.

CH v WH [2017] EWHC 2379 (Fam) (28 September 2017)
Judgment concerning the power of the court to order an indemnity, in respect of liability under a mortgage. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.