Friday, 9 November 2012

Family Law & Review of Contact Arrangements

The child’s best interest: a current review of contact arrangements

Family Law Solicitor Emma Peart discusses the recent review proposals of the Children Act 1989 regarding contact and residence arrangements for children in the event of a divorce or marriage breakdown.
Ministers are currently reviewing how to aid the Court in ensuring that a child’s best interests are met if it becomes involved in the child’s welfare when the parents cannot agree contact and residence arrangements.

family law and review of contact arrangements for children
Generally it is felt that a child will benefit greatly from regular contact with both parents. Proposals are being made to try and improve the non-resident parent’s contact with a child in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown to ensure this. Normally the non-resident parent is the father.

Under the Children Act 1989, the court is to focus on meeting the best interests of a child when considering contact and residence arrangements should it become involved in any dispute regarding this. This does of course allow a court to order contact with the non-resident parent. Children’s Minister Edward Timpson has highlighted proposals to take the current law further, hinting that at present the present legislation does not promote stable contact with the non-residential parent enough. It seems that the Minister has listened to various opinions that the Court is not allowing as much contact with both parents as the child could benefit from. He has therefore unveiled proposals that legislation should be amended to make it a presumption that regular contact is granted to the non-resident parent as this would be in the child’s best interest so long as it is safe. The Minister states that this would also be encouraged by tighter penalties on parents that do not conform to any court order for contact. Penalties being considered are the removal of passports or driving licences, or the imposition of curfews on their movements. At present the minister envisages that the proposal could be implemented within a year.

What is also of interest is that the review has taken the opportunity of considering what relationships may be in the child’s best interest outside of the relationship with the mother and father. It is hinted that the review of legislation will ensure that the Court are to consider the child’s contact with grandparents if it is felt this would be in the child’s best interests. This is quite a general guideline to the court with no presumption that grandparent’s will be entitled to contact. However it shows that Ministers feel it is something that now should be considered in more depth by the court without the onus being on a grandparent to raise the issue of contact.
Emma Peart is a Family Law Solicitor at MTA Solicitors LLP and runs drop in clinics at The LawStore, where you can take advantage of their free 30 minuite consultations regarding any legal issue.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Whiplash Injuries and Compensation

Marco Severini, litigation team manager at MTA Solicitors LLP discusses the recent ‘bad press’ for Whiplash Compensation Claims and the cost of insurance premiums.

whiplash compensation claims and insurance premiums
The press have been attacking victims of whiplash claims stating most are false and inflate the cost of insurance premiums.
Whiplash injuries can for some be very excruciating and unbearable and sometimes long term. The victim has a right to pursue the negligence of another party; however the issues solicitor’s face, which insurers deny, is that they can be their worst enemies and pass the blame for increasing personal injury claims to solicitors who are simply attempting to obtain justice to injured parties of negligence. In actual fact insurance companies vigorously support personal injury claims themselves, despite genuine or not.
Firstly, the majority of insurers will ask their policy holder whether or not they are injured when the matter is reported to them. If they are the insurance company will refer them to one of their panel solicitors to act on their behalf regarding a personal injury claim. The panel solicitors will pay the insurer a referral fee for the introduction of the personal injury claim. Secondly, insurers will sometimes make offers to victims prior to anyone having been notified of the injury or contemplated making a claim (known as pre medical offers). How can the insurance industry have complaints about personal injury claims when the encourage individuals to make a claim and essentially profit     from it.
I do not dispute some people do make fraudulent claims but the Government and the insurance industry must not tarnish each claimant with the same brush. Whiplash is a real injury and should not be played down.

What is Whiplash Injury?

Whiplash is the injury that occurs when the soft tissue in the spine is stretched and strained after the body is thrown in a sudden, forceful jerk, and is most commonly caused by involvement in a car accident involving sudden deceleration or heavy breaking, but can also be caused by other strenuous physical activities or from a blow to the head.
If you have been in a car accident that was not your fault and you think you have suffered a Whiplash injury you should contact a Solicitor who will assess your situation and apply the correct course of action depending on your circumstances. You may be required to have an assessment from a medical professional who will most likely examine the function of the spinal cord in order to determine if any damage is present.
The following areas are likely to be assessed:

  • Your physical strength in both arms and legs
  • Your ability to sense touch on the skin in different parts of the body
  • Your Reflex at the joints of the arms and legs
  • The medical examiner will also inspect the head and neck for any external signs of trauma including bruises, cuts, and abrasions
  • You may be asked to move your neck in a controlled way to the left, right, up, and down. Tell the doctor if neck pain, numbness, or tingling in any of the arms or legs, or any other abnormal feelings during these movements is felt
  • X-rays may be taken of the neck bones to make sure there are no fractures or signs of other serious injury. The doctor will review these x-rays and order further imaging with a CT scan or MRI if needed.

Marco Severini is a litigation manager at MTA Solicitors LLP who have a team of specialist Personal Injury Solicitors, experienced in dealing with compensation claims for injuries that result from car accidents and other long term, repetitive activities that can cause damage to the head and neck.

Experienced Personal Injury Solicitors are on hand to guide you through the right course of action and provide straightforward, clear-cut legal advice and assistance.
MTA Solicitors will work with you and guide you through the right course of action in pursuing your Whiplash Claim.

In all cases the initial advice is completely free and, of course, strictly confidential.
MTA Solicitors can pursue your injury compensation claim on a no win no fee basis, they will assess your situation and apply the correct course of action, tailored to suit your needs.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Emma Peart from MTA Solicitors LLP discusses the recent  amendments to the Legal Aid Bill

Further to the bill being passed back from the House of Lords there have been some amendments to the Legal Aid Bill.

Firstly, the scope of definition of domestic violence that can be covered by legal aid has now taken that used by the Association of Chief Police Officers

Now victims would not have to show evidence of a criminal prosecution for domestic violence before claiming legal aid. Also, the bill has been amended so that the definition of evidence that can be used to prove domestic violence can now include admission to a refuge, a letter from a GP or social worker, an undertaking made by the perpetrator or a police caution he or she might have received

Welfare benefits on a point of law to upper tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court will continue to be covered by legal aid. The Justice Secretary has also said that appeals on a point of law to the lower tribunals could also be covered, if Ministry of Justice officials could find a way of ensuring that somebody other than the claimant or their lawyer certified that a point of law was involved.

The time limit to bring a claim for domestic violence has been extended to two years.

While these amendments are welcomed by many, some feel that too many persons suffering domestic violence will not be able to obtain legal aid under still.

Lady Scotland has fought to extend the grounds on which victims of domestic violence can claim legal aid. Lady Scotland says imposing a time limit shows a complete misunderstanding of domestic violence as victims can suffer for some years before finally deciding to take action. She also argued that the criteria for legal aid should include information from police over attendances at the matrimonial home. However, it was argued that while police may be called many times it is often the case that the victim will not press charges and so attendance records should not be used as evidence of domestic violence. At the moment the gateway does not include information from the police that there has been visits to a property due to a concern of domestic violence.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Beating The Debt Recovery Storm

David Green, Managing Partner at MTA Solicitors gives advice to small businesses on cash flow and keeping the debts at bay in these tough economic times:

debt recovery solutions from MTA Solicitors
If you’re a small business whose survival is dependent on regular cash flow, the urgency of recovering overdue bills is critical.

Recovering debt as quickly and as smoothly as possible is one of the key aspects to staying afloat in a difficult market. Taking the right steps from the outset will allow you to maximise the monies which are rightly owed to you without damaging your business relationships.

Many businesses find it hard to chase a customer for debts as there is a risk that attempts to recover them will be seen as aggressive.  

But it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the customer has failed to pay you the money they owe, and you simply can’t afford this issue to jeopardise the financial stability of your own business.

recovering overdue monies
A solution for recovering overdue monies needs to be one that can be put into action swiftly to give you every chance of getting your money back at the lowest cost to you.

The first step towards recouping outstanding debts is to ensure that your terms and conditions are clear regarding payment. If you are going to use an external company to collect overdue payments make your intentions clear to your customer so there can be no misunderstandings.

As the payment terms near their end a ‘friendly’ phone call can often result in payment, and if not you have the option to follow this up in writing to instigate a gentle reminder of the outstanding payment due and, to re-emphasise your payment terms.

What has to be avoided is continual phone calls and letters chasing debt as this wastes your time and stops you from concentrating on new business.

Enlisting the help of a recovery agent or a professional solicitor at the early stages could be beneficial in terms of saving you time and money in the long term. These debt recovery companies or specialist solicitors will act on your behalf to recover the debt and although often effective some of the charging models require such firms to be aggressive, which can damage relationships.

In my view, the most efficient debt recovery model is to use a combination of all the various options but not be afraid to allow those representing you to take the action that is necessary to recover the debt.

It is always advantageous to recover a debt without resorting to litigation as costs are often not recoverable unless the unpaid amounts exceed £5000, and you will be expected to cover such costs.

A law firm with the right experience will know how to manage a case in the long run, saving you money and recovering your debts more efficiently. It is important to choose a firm which has efficient case management systems and an impressive recovery record.

Debt Recovery can become very complicated and expensive and choosing the wrong company to represent you may result in processes that sour relationships, costs you don’t expect and recoveries not meeting your expectations.

David Green is Managing Partner MTA Solicitors LLP

See Positive Collections: for a cost effective online debt recovery process.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

New Family Law Solicitor Service at The LawStore

Emma Peart is a Solicitor who specialises in Family Law and Litigation. She runs a 'drop-in' Family Legal Clinic everyday at The Law Store, in The Glades in Bromley. As well as divorce Emma can also help with co-habitation agreements and pre-nuptial agreements along with a range of other family law issues. No appointment is needed. The LawStore is run by MTA Solicitors LLP, and is a new way to receive legal advice and services.

family law solicitor emma peart the law store mta solicitors llp
Emma Peart - Solicitor Law Store
Issues of a family nature can be extremely stressful. LawStore aim to assist in many areas and to make the process of resolving family issues as straightforward and pressure free to clients as possible.

Family Law Solicitor, Emma Peart explains how she can offer assistance in the following:

  • Cohabitation and Pre-Nuptial Agreements: Advice as to how you may best protect your assets prior to cohabiting or entering into a marriage or civil partnership in case the relationship breaks down. We can fully advise on and draft cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements which can assist preventing a former partner’s entitlement to your assets should the relationship break down.
  • Ending a marriage or civil partnership: We can assist in formally ending a marriage through completing the relevant application for a divorce/civil marriage dissolution to the relevant court, or assisting you to complete the relevant documentation to agree to or contest an application to end the marriage by your partner. In the case of a divorce, we therefore could assist you in completing the relevant documentation from the initial divorce petition to decree nisi and decree absolute.
  • Residence/contact issues for children: During the breakdown of a marriage/civil partnership contact and residence of any children will have to be dealt with. We can assist in completing the relevant documentation to resolve such issues. Should you and your ex-spouse be in agreement in relation to residence and contact of the children, this can be a simple case of completing a statement of arrangements for the children form and filing this in the divorce proceedings. Should you not be in agreement with the arrangements for the children, we can assist in helping you to mediate and reach an agreement that you and your ex are happy with. Should the issue be one of dispute at this stage, we can then assist with any necessary court proceedings to determine residence and contact.
  • Financial Issues after a separation: When couples separate, whether ending a marriage, civil partnership or simply a co-habitation, there are normally property and financial issues to consider. We are able to advise in all aspects in this area. We can assist in negotiating a settlement and making the agreement binding by way of a consent order. Failing this, we can assist in financial settlement proceedings at Court. This will include complying with the courts timetable in relation to the exchange and examination of each party’s assets by way of Form E and questionnaires and representation and the First Appointment and Final Directions Hearing to secure a court order regarding the distribution of finances should you and your ex-partner not be able to reach an agreement.

Changing of your name or your child’s name

We can assist in the procedure for changing you or your child’s name legally. This will involve creating a legal document to officially change the name, and normally separate documentation for the passport agency. We can also help advise in whether the other parent will need to give consent.

Non-molestation orders

We can assist in gaining protection for a person who is facing the threat of violence. We can assess if there is enough justification to make an application to the court for an order that a person is not allowed to be within a certain distance of you or your home if you are in fear that they will be violent to you or they will threaten or intimidate you. Normally this will be in relation to an ex-partner or family member. Should you be successful, you will obtain an order directing that a person is not entitled to be within a certain distance of you your residence, and must not threaten violence or intimidate or harass you for a specific time period of normally about 2 years, after which time you would have to seek to renew the order.

Protection against a forced marriage

In some religions it is seen as customary for an arranged marriage to take place. Should a child or adult be in a position that they are being forced into a marriage, and it is against their will or they are not seen as having the legal age of consent, then we can assist in gaining protection for them by way of a court order to prevent the marriage and them being removed from the country for the marriage to take place if necessary.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Law Store Bromley

Visit The MTA Solicitors LawStore

MTA LawStore is the brand new way to receive legal advice and services from Solicitors in Kent. There is no need to make an appointment, visit us today for a warm welcome and legal advice you can trust. You can pick up free legal advice leaflets. Run by MTA Solicitors LLP, The LawStore in Bromley, Kent provides the opportunity for anyone to have access to plain speaking, approachable Solicitors and promises:
  • Same day advice
  • Direct Lawyer contact
  • No Hidden Costs
Visit one of our Daily Law Clinics for a Free 15 minute consultation. The LawStore is located in Regent Arcade,  The Glades. Bromley. Call 020 8466 5764 and find out how MTA LawStore can help you.

Monday, 12 March 2012

About time adoption laws were reviewed and given a shake up

Adoption Law Review

It is about time that adoption laws got a review and the Government took the delays in the system seriously.  The Government has now promised new laws to reduce the chronic delays endured by children waiting for adoption.

They will set out plans for a national register to match children with families who want to adopt, no matter how far apart they live.  At present, distance can be a huge hurdle to adoption.
There will also be moves to force councils to approve prospective adopters more quickly – perhaps in as little as three months.

Additionally it will become law that race, cultural background or language must not be a ‘significant or decisive factor’ in placing children with adoptive parents.

This will stop social workers leaving children in care because they cannot find a perfect ethnic match for them, even though other families could offer them a loving home.
In another change, prospective adoptive parents will be able to look after the child they have been matched with under a fostering arrangement before the court has made its final decision on whether adoption can go ahead.
A Bill will be tabled in the next session of Parliament and David Cameron has said speeding up adoption is ‘a priority’ for the Government.

This has got to be a good thing as waits of over two and a half years to get children out of care and adopted is too long. Consequently this is having a huge impact on the welfare of these children and society.

For further resources, this site provides some useful information: / adoption law

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Third Party in a Marriage? Beware of Social Networking Sites

Emma Peart, Family law Solicitor discusses the recent research regarding Social Networking sites and the breadown of marriages.

social networking sites and divorce rates
Social networking sites are being cited more and more commonly as one of the reasons why a marriage has fallen apart. Technology in modern society is perhaps giving people more opportunities to contact or stay in contact with ex-partners or members of the opposite sex.
The initial research carried out by Divorce-Online., incredibly, cites that 1 in 3 divorces link social websites to being a cause of the breakdown of the marriage.
This statistic can be seen to follow social networking's rise in publicity perhaps,

given that there has been an increase of 13% usage since 2009.

So why have social websites effected so many marriages?
The survey done by Divorce-Online states that it is generally contact that their spouse is having with a member of the opposite sex (generally in an inappropriate manner) on these sites that causes problems. However those surveyed have also stated that comments by their spouse about them or friends commenting on the spouse’s behaviour also led to conflict.

The popularity of online social networking is certainly fuelling the breakdown of marriage, and this recent research shows that 'cyber-straying' is becoming more and more common. If you are keeping anything from your spouse it is also much easier to find these things out if you are communicating with others via online networking sites and more and more divorce cases are using comments on websites by their spouse as evidence of unreasonable behaviour.

It will remain to be seen if people learn their lessons and start to keep their relationships off the cyber highways or whether this situation will actually get worse as more and more people use online networking.

Emma Peart is a Solicitor who specialises in Family Law and Litigation. She helps to run a 'drop-in' Legal Clinic at The Law Store, The Glades in Bromley. No appointments needed. The Law Store is run by MTA Solicitors LLP, and is a new way to receive legal advice and services.