Live updates

£300 fine for late child maintenance payments

Parents who have to be pursued through the courts or have child maintenance payments deducted from their wages will risk a charge of £300 under a new child support system that comes into force today.

Parents will also face fees if they cannot come to an amicable arrangement on supporting their children financially.

The new system means the Child Support Agency (CSA) will be phased out over the next three years and replaced with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

Letters have already been sent to 50,000 parents in England, Scotland and Wales earlier this year warning them of the changes.

Parents risk fees if they fail to agree on child support

Separated parents will be hit by charges if they cannot come to an agreement over child support for their children under a new system coming into force today.

Parents who turn to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to collect and pay settlements will face hefty fees.

The parent not living full-time with their children will face a 20% surcharge on top of their support payment, while the other parent faces losing 4% of the money they would normally receive.

Advertisement

Rise in the number of over-60s getting divorced

There has been a jump in the number of people over the age of 60 getting divorced. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show:

  • The number of men aged 60 and over granted divorces reached 9,500 in 2011, a 73% rise from 1991
  • There was a similar trend in the number of older women getting divorced, 5,800 in 2011, a sharp rise from 3,200 in 1991

The rise is partly down to an increase in the number of over-60s living in England and Wales. The figures are the second highest on record. The highest was in 1972 after the Divorce Reform Act came into effect, making it easier for couples to separate.

Supreme Court to rule in tycoon divorce case

A Nigerian oil tycoon should today discover whether he has won a legal fight with his estranged English wife.

The Supreme Court - the highest court in the UK - is due to rule on the cash dispute between Michael and Yasmin Prest following a hearing in London in March.

Divorce lawyers are watching the Prests case very closely as it could have significant implications. Credit: Martin Gerten/DPA/Press Association Images

Legal experts say the ruling could have significant implications for divorcing couples.

Mr Prest won the last round of the fight in October when the Court of Appeal ruled that he did not have to hand property worth millions of pounds to Mrs Prest.

Appeal judges concluded that a High Court judge had wrongly ordered Mr Prest to transfer properties held in the names of companies he controlled.

Mrs Prest then asked the Supreme Court to overturn the appeal court's decision.

Advertisement

Government to put more money into divorce 'mediation'

New funding for mediation services to help separating couples will bring the total spent in 2013 to £25 million.

This comes after changes to court processes last year, meaning that couples seeking a court order about child contact or financial matter, must first attend a mediation assessment session.

  • The average time for a mediated case is 110 days, compared to 435 days for a non-mediated case
  • The average cost of resolving property and finance disputes caused by separation is around £500 through mediation for a publicly funded client, compared to £4,000 for issues settled through the courts

Third-party help encouraged for separating couples

The first working day in January has been dubbed 'Divorce Day' by the legal sector Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In a bid to avoid "traumatic" courtroom battles, separating couples are being asked to consider third-party mediators.

The Ministry of Justice said that the number of enquiries about separation soars during the post-Christmas period, with the first working day in January being dubbed "Divorce Day".

According to Family Justice Minister Lord Thomas McNally, mediation is used as a quicker approach, to longer, more expensive court hearings.

The Government will put a further £10 million into mediation services, which can save publicly-funded clients £3,500.

Load more updates