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Fear, depression, stress, feeling down, withdrawn, and anxiety are just some of the emotions felt by victims of abuse. Abuse can be in any form whether that be verbal, physical, psychological/emotional, mental, financial or sexual. Abuse in any form is never ever okay and in my experience victims can be from any gender, age, colour, background, reputation, status, religion, ethnicity or sexuality. People from all walks of life have been affected by this.
I have represented many victims who have suffered and they tell me how difficult it was to make that first contact to obtain help. I hope to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the hope that I am able to change someone’s life, anyone’s life; even one life affected is far too many.

Everyone is affected differently some of the changes I have seen in my experience include victims loose self-confidence and self-esteem; they become withdrawn and unsociable. Sometimes the victims stop taking pride in how they look and change their dress code for instance stop wearing makeup or pampering them self in any sort.
We know from statistics that domestic abuse will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime.

Let’s talk more about different types of abuse

As I mentioned earlier there are different forms of abuse, I will list a few below
1. The most visible form of abuse is physical violence. This is when the victim has suffered from violent acts such as burns, kick, punches or a brutal beating that has caused bruises or scars on their body.

2. Then there is psychological or emotional form of abuse in which the victims are lead to believe that they are worthless and stupid. The victims are sometimes left in isolation and the perpetrator usually faults and controls them. Emotional abuse usually occurs in conjunction with other forms of abuse.

3. Sexual abuse includes the victim being raped or made subject to a sexual assault.

4. Financial abuse is when victim is pressured or their finance is controlled by the perpetrator by force. This could be pressuring someone to make a will and exploitation of victim’s possessions, property or even benefits.

5. Forced Marriage is when one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage or when consent is extracted under duress.

6. Honour based violence is a form of domestic abuse which is perpetrated in the name of so called ‘Honour’. This can be triggered for many some examples include refusing an arrange marriage, wanting a divorce and having a relationship outside the wedlock.

7. Female Genital Mutation is when part or all of a girl or young woman’s genitals are removed or injured for non-medical reasons. This is sometimes referred to as “female circumcision”.

Options available for victims
If you are a victim of any type of domestic violence it is important to seek advice. This can be done very discreetly, if you are worried about confidentiality then it’s important to know that solicitors are bound by regulations by the solicitor’s regulation authority and must protect your confidential information in your case. This is a foundation feature in the relationship between a solicitor and their client. What you tell your solicitor will be confidential unless disclosure is required by law or you provide your consent. Solicitors can give you advice and make you aware what options you have available and how you can be protected.
Under the Family Law Act 1996, there are two types of court order that can be granted to protect someone from domestic abuse. These orders are occupation order and non-molestation orders. Breaches of the order are treated very seriously by the Court. Maximum sentences can be as high as 5 years imprisonment

Milson Legal Solicitors are specialist family Lawyers, if you have been effected from domestic violence or know someone who needs advice call us NOW for a FREE  initial consultation on 0113 8730032 or complete a form on our website and we will call you back.

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What about the children?

cartoon kids

Separation is a major life changing event in anyone’s life. A mixture of emotions take over, you may feel upset, hurt, confused and maybe angry too. It’s easy to allow theses emotions to take over and control the way you think. It is important to stay amicable and talking to someone can be beneficial. You can talk to your friends, family, counselor, mediator or a Solicitor.

Following separation, it can be a difficult time to understand what the arrangements should be for your children. It is not always a simple solution but if parties remain amicable there may be no need for court intervention, most couples will find a way to work around it. Saying that, not all ex partners find communicating with one another and co-parenting as simply as they may wish.

As a family solicitor, I am often faced with many distressed parents who are unable to reach an agreement with their former partner to decide what arrangements for the children should be. At times parents who have the children living with them seem to control the situation and start to make all the decisions without informing the other parent regarding what they wish or have to say.

So what does the Law say?

The law encourages co-parenting and it’s important for both parents to remember that even if they have decided to separate, then the relationship between each parent and child should remain the same unless contact is shown to be unsafe for the child. Children need stability in their life and family breakdown can have devastating impact on children which is why the law encourages parents to co-parent and work together for the benefit of the child.

The involvement of both parents in a child’s life is very beneficial and the courts adopt the Welfare Checklist in the making decisions about children cases.

So what’s the welfare checklist?

When the Family court decides an issue about the upbringing of a child, the child’s welfare must be the court’s paramount consideration. In other words, the most important factor is what is best for the child.
The criteria considered is set out in the Children Act 1989 (s1 (3) and is commonly called the Welfare Checklist. It covers seven key considerations, which are:
1. The wishes and feelings of the child concerned
2. The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
3. The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision
4. The child’s age, sex, backgrounds and any other characteristics which will be relevant to the court’s decision
5. Any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering
6. Capability of the child’s parents (or any other person the courts find relevant) at meeting the child’s needs
7. The powers available to the court in the given proceedings
When seeking to come to an agreement in relation to children it can be very helpful to keep the welfare checklist at the forefront of your mind.

Best way to resolve child arrangements is by both parents communicating with one another. If communication is broken down and an agreement cannot be reached, then an appointment with a family solicitor would be helpful. Family solicitors try to resolve the problem in a non-confrontational manner, meaning they will assist in negotiation to reach an agreement amicably whenever possible. If an agreement is reached through correspondence; letters than this is the best way to resolve matter for both parties emotionally and financially.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the matter would then be considered for mediation, again to reach an agreement between for both parents without court intervention. Once either party make an application to the court, the matter is then in the hands of the judge and it is the judge who makes the final decision on the case.

If you are experiencing difficulty with making child arrangements or have any questions get in touch with Sabeena Din on info@milsonfamilysolicitors.com

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Are you married in the UK? LEGALLY?

Nikkah

What is a Nikkah.

Nikkah is a marriage contract between two people under Sharia law (Islamic Law). In Islam, marriage holds a high value and is a social necessity for Muslims. Muslims believe that marriage is the only legitimate or the halal way to live with or together as a family unit. To cohabit they must enter into a Nikkah as living together as a couple outside the contract is not permissible under sharia law or haram.

There are 3 elements that form the Nikkah contract

  • Consent of both parties
  • An offer ( the groom offers)
  • An acceptance (by bride)

It is an absolute a must that the above three are present for a marriage contract to be valid.

Further there are certain conditions that must be met. These are:

1) Consent of both parties. One of the conditions of a valid marriage is consent of the couple. Marriage in Islam is a voluntary union of two people and free consent must be obtained by both parties.

2) ” Mahr” is a gift from the groom to his bride. This is also sometime referred to as the dowry or Haq Mahr.. A marriage is not valid without mahr. It does not have to be money or gold. There is no set value. It can be non-material things like teaching her to read the Qur’an or an emotional sentimental gift.  This is the brides right and a must to form the marriage contract.

3) Witnesses – the Nikkah must be witnessed by 2 people for it to be valid.

Once we establish what constitutes a Nikkh, the next question that arises is whether the parties Nikkah is valid in the UK.

Is my Nikkah valid in the UK? This is a question I am asked regular by Muslim clients, I am eager to spread awareness of this subject and hopefully educate on the law surrounding this area.

The Nikkah Contract is between the couple (bride and groom) and this is a binding contract in countries that operate the Sharia Law such as Iraq, Malaysia, Saudi Arab and Pakistan. So a Nikkah will be recognised if the marriage took place in a country that recognises sharia law for example if a Nikkah took place in Pakistan then that Nikkah would be recognised as a marriage within the UK, as the country in which the marriage took place recognised the Nikkah as a valid marriage.

However, saying that, this contract is not recognised in the UK as the English law does not recognise a Nikkah if the Nikkah ceremony took place alone in the UK. This is what has led to

confusion within a lot of marriages and sadly I meet clients all the time who have naively thought they were legally married and only realise that’s not the case when the couple have separated and wish to seek legal advice. The shook on the clients faces is very sad, a lot of the times the women have been made to believe the marriage is legal or at times the couple genuine thought that the marriage was registered.

During my years of practice in this area I have seen that unfortunately it is a believed by many that this constitutes a legal marriage under UK law, this is not true and is simply a myth. To assure that the marriage is recognised in the UK, a civil ceremony is an absolute must, this will then give the married couple same rights as a divorce couple and also in a position to make applications to the family courts and obtain financial remedies. A couple with just a Nikkah ceremony at home, function venue or a mosque that is not registered will be classed as unmarried under UK jurisdiction. Such a Nikkah performed while will satisfy the religious side it will not constitute as a legal marriage. There are a very few mosques in the UK that are registered to conduct legally binding marriages.

On the other hand, there are many couples I see who say that they are satisfied with a Nikkah and are not interested or don’t feel the need in having a civil ceremony, while a vast majority believe that their marriage is automatically registered in the UK by the Imam who conducted their Nikkah and I have heard many more myths which are sadly believed by many. Some of these myths are that, the Nikkah is recognised in the UK, or on having a child after the Nikkah the parties Nikkah is recognised or the Imam must have registered the couples Nikkah contract with the marriage registry office, or I have proof of the big function that took place and witnesses. These are just some of the most common myths I have heard. The truth is that it is the responsibility of the couple getting married to find out if the mosque in their area who will be conducted the Nikkah is registered under the Marriage Act 1984. The problem is that in fact the vast majority of Nikkahs are not conducted in mosques. The Nikkah usual takes place at the bride’s house, at a function centre or a banqueting suite or sometimes (very rarely) at the masjid. Culturally the parents of the couple tend to agree mehr and believe that is sufficient protection, the fact is living in the UK, the law of the country must be adopted.

I see a lot of clients on a regular basis who have no idea where their Nikkah marriage stands under English law.

Some feel it’s not important to register their marriage and are happy with complying with the religious requirements. While this is a choice a couple do make, the fact is that many Nikkah marriages are believed to be legally married. For one to make this decision it is important that the couple both are educated on the rights they will have upon marriage and only then a decision should be taken. It is best to register your marriage with the registry office around the same time the Nikkah is planned.

If a couple choose not to have a civil marriage what implications later in life does the couple face and is there any other way to protect yourself? Yes, parties can enter into a cohabitation agreement which details what would happen if the parties separated. It’s a good idea to enter into a cohabitation agreement while love is young and blissful, as on separation most parties tend to not form an agreement.

Let’s talk about what will happen if your relationship breakdown.

If your relationship breaks down and you only have a Nikkah contract you are living together in the eyes of (English) law as cohabitees and therefore will not be in a position to make a claim under family courts for financial relief. The law surrounding cohabitees is complex and can be very expensive. As the couple are not married under the eyes of law if one party decides to marry somebody else they would not be committing an offence of bigamy or even polygamy.

It is important to protect your rights, circumstances can change at any point in life, for example if your partner died you would not be the next of kin. When you sign your child’s birth certificate you cannot be named on the birth certificate as married. Birth certificates are official documents therefore the information has to be accurate which reflects the situation.

To find out where your marriage stands under English law or if your planning on getting married and wish to obtain advice contact Milson Legal Solicitors today for free initial consultation on 0113 8730032 or leave your details and we will contact you when it suits you.

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