Forced marriage is illegal and can cause both physical and emotional trauma to victims. Shaheen Marriott, Family and Child Law Solicitor, answers some frequently asked questions on the issue that is Forced Marriage below.

What are the signs of forced marriage?

It can be hard to spot, as arrangements are often made in secret. This is to ensure that the victim does not know they are being set up to be married. Common indicators of risk can be:

  • A young person being removed from education or being prevented from engaging with further education.
  • A sudden 'engagement' to somebody who has not been previously mentioned or is a complete stranger.
  • A sudden family holiday abroad.
  • A young person appears to be 'watched' or overlooked by their family. For example, they are collected from school, prevented from going out or having free access to things such as a mobile phone or the internet. 
  • a young person may present a change in their personality whereby they appear withdrawn or depressed/anxious to peers.

What is a forced marriage called?

A forced marriage is sometimes referred to as an 'arranged marriage'. However, a forced marriage is where an individual is given no choice about the marriage.

An arranged marriage can be done with the individual's knowledge and consent to the arrangement, and can involve the individual's families and social groups when selecting a potential partner.

A forced marriage is a marriage which takes place against your will. It can be a marriage that you agreed to, but only due to having no choice in the matter or made to do under pressure from family, social or religious groups. 

What countries have forced marriages?

Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are typically linked to the concept of forced marriages, however, it is important to be alert to the issue as it can (and does) take place in Western Countries as well.

What is a Forced Marriage Protection Order?

It is an order made to protect a person who has been, is at risk of, or is being forced into a marriage against their will. The order will impose restrictions against family members to prevent them from being able to carry out the marriage. It can also put in place other measures, such as the surrender of passports.

It is usual practice to serve the Court Order on the Passport Office to that any attempt by the family to remove the victim from the Country can be prevented. Orders can be made as part of other family court proceedings or as an application, and often are considered without the respondents being told in advance. This is to ensure that the order is there to protect the person at risk first. Breaches of these orders can lead to arrest and prosecution. 

What is the Forced Marriage Act?

You can obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order under the Family Law Act 1996 and the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. These acts were brought in to give the Court the power to make orders to protect people at risk of forced marriage. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made forced marriage a criminal offence in England, Scotland and Wales. 

If you have any further queries on the above, or are looking to obtain legal support and guidance, please contact Shaheen Marriott based in our Sevenoaks office on 020 3551 8443. Alternatively, you can contact us here.


Shaheen Marriott
Shaheen Marriott
Solicitor

What Organisations Can Assist You?

There are many organisations that are able to provide support and assistance to victims of forced marriage. If it is an emergency, it is always advised to call 999 in the first instance.

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit as well as charities such as Refuge and Childline for further help and guidance. 

We understand that relationships can break down, and whilst many couples may separate, they may not know that they can do so legally. Partner and Collaborative Lawyer, Georgina Earle-Hutton shares some insight into Legal Separation below.

1. What is a Legal Separation?

The correct term for a legal separation is judicial separation. A judicial separation is a legal process whereby a married couple or parties in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership can legally separate without divorcing or dissolving their civil partnership. 

2. How long does a Legal Separation last?

Unlike divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, there are no time limits. Therefore, parties can apply for a judicial separation at any time after their marriage or registration of their civil partnership and can continue to be judicially separated until either party applies for a divorce. 

3. Why would you get a Legal Separation instead of a Divorce?

There are a number of reasons why parties to a marriage or a civil partnership may not want to get divorced. These may be because of:

  • Religious reasons.
  • The parties have not been married for more than a year; a prerequisite for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.
  • Either party may not be certain that their marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
  • The process is quicker unlike divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings.  If a judge is satisfied that a party is entitled to a judicial separation they will grant one immediately, as opposed to a party having to wait 6 weeks and a day after pronouncement of a decree nisi or a conditional order.

4. What are the disadvantages of a Legal Separation?

The main disadvantage of a judicial separation as opposed to a divorce is that the parties are still married. This means that in the event of either party finding a new partner, they will be unable to remarry until decree absolute has been pronounced, or in the case of a civil partnership, the civil partnership has been dissolved. 

Although the Court can make financial provision orders for parties to a judicial separation in respect of their assets unlike in divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings, the Court is unable to make any orders in respect of either parties pensions. Therefore a parties pension which may be a valuable and considerable matrimonial asset would remain the sole property of each party. That asset could be drawn down, cashed in or dissipated, thereby defeating a claim of a party at a later date in divorce proceedings. 

5. What costs are involved in a Legal Separation?

Our family specialists offer a 1 hour fixed fee consultation in which our specialists will be able to provide you with further legal advice. They can advise you in relation to considering whether a judicial separation is the appropriate option for you, or whether a divorce would be more appropriate to your situation. 

Please contact us on 020 3551 8500 so that we can make a mutually convenient appointment for you or contact us here to see how we can assist you.


Georgina Earle-Hutton
Georgina Earle-Hutton
Partner & Collaborative Lawyer - Family & Child Law

Nicola Jones-King, as Head of the Division, is very pleased to announce that the team have been shortlisted for this national award, in recognition of what the team stands for and the high standards of legal service everyone continued to provide to clients throughout the pandemic lockdown and through the merger of the two businesses. She says “these have been challenging months in many ways, with the new pressures of remote working and juggling family and work within a changing world where most client work began virtual overnight, and with huge rises in care and domestic abuse clients needing help.  That the team had been able to adapt so well to new ways of working, is a testament to the hard work and dedication of every member, and the true team spirit and cooperation between everyone that makes this team the best group of family lawyers, who are a joy to manage and being nationally recognised, is justly deserved” 

As part of Taylor Rose TTKW Ltd, an ABS, we advise clients across a wide range of services.  Taylor Rose McMillan Williams is a multi-branch law firm with 32 offices, covering Cumbria to Sussex, with headquarters in Peterborough and London. 

The specialist Family team undertake publicly funded certificated work and private Family work: from Abduction, Adoption, Care, Child Arrangements, Divorce, Forced Marriages, FGM issues, Family Law Act applications, Financial Remedies through to Wardship.  The team has a strong reputation in Care Proceedings, with nine Children Panel Solicitors; Nicola Jones-King, Amarjit Ryatt, Sheila Gulliver, Sarah, Newens, Barbara Macdonald, Charlotte Collier, Elen Davies, Lisa Ursell, Keeley Lengthorn; with two others working towards their applications. And works with a number of domestic abuse organisations, providing Pro-Bono Legal advice; Family Justice Centre (FJC), Bromley One Stop Shop, Chelmsford Law Clinic, Anglia Ruskin University, Next Chapter, FLOWS, The Link Café, Safer Places and Southend-on-Sea Domestic Abuse Projects (SOSDAP), who refer Clients directly as we will go the extra mile for each one.

It is a testament to the team that we are being sought out as the firm that can ensure protection for victims the quickest, having not allowed the constraints of working remotely to impact the quality of service provided to those who are in desperate need. This period has shown the enhanced skills and dedication of our team, whose commitment and innovation, has allowed our clients to be supported throughout.

Nicola Jones-King,  Head of the Division is very pleased to announce that the team has been shortlisted for a Law Society Excellence award within the Family and Children Division, in recognition of what the team has done to promote access to justice, particularly during the pandemic which has impacted victims of domestic violence and children at risk during the lockdown. Nicola says “the last few months have seen major changes for everyone, and family justice is no expectation, the sad fact is that the lockdown has had substantial impacted on those most vulnerable, with marked increases in those seeking protection from domestic violence, forced marriage, the return of children after contact and social services proceedings. At such times the need to be able to access experience and sensitive legal advice is even more important. Everyone in the team has worked hard to be accessible and to adapt to the shifting need and the new challenges of remote advice, different formats for hearings and flexible hours, to meet those increased needs. Being shortlisted for such an important award that recognises those who go the extra mile to ensure the most vulnerable in society are not denied justice, is one of the most important things any solicitor can do. It goes to the core of what makes the profession such an essential element of the welfare state, by ensuring the sort of safeguards that are all too often taken for granted, are there when people need them, is a real achievement. Having been a campaigner on legal aid issues for much of my own career, I am particularly proud that my team are shortlisted for their efforts in this area”

MW part of the Taylor Rose group, advises clients across a wide range of services. Taylor Rose McMillan Williams is a multi-branch law firm with 31 offices, covering Cumbria to Sussex, with headquarters in London. A specialist Family Law team undertake publicly funded certificated work and private family work across all types of family law from Abduction, Adoption, Care, Child Arrangements, Divorce, Forced Marriages, FGM issues, Family Law Act applications, Financial Remedies through to Wardship. 

We are a strong, dedicated team of lawyers with a commitment to Legal Aid, and an emphasis on growing young lawyers. We have recruited 1-2 Newly Qualified Solicitors each year, for the last 5 years, from within our training programme, and brought in NQ’s qualifying in other firms, to build a robust team and nurture new Legal Aid Family Solicitors. They have developed close links with agencies in the geographical areas they cover; each has a responsibility for a location and works to be embedded in that community, which we strongly believe is the key to clients feeling confident that their needs are understood. We encourage quality staff by having Solicitors with specialist memberships and active committee engagement, to offer the best levels of service, by being Children Panel, Family Panel and Resolution accredited. We are members of the Association of Lawyers for Children and we’re involved in committee work at all levels of Resolution including ‘YRes’. Members of the team work with Local Family Justice Boards, the Family Drug & Alcohol Court, and other Family Justice organisations. We have an enviable reputation in Care Proceedings, with nine Children Panel Solicitors; Nicola Jones-King, Amarjit Ryatt, Sheila Gulliver, Sarah, Newens, Barbara Macdonald, Charlotte Collier, Elen Davies, Lisa Ursell, Keeley Lengthorn; with two others working towards their applications. 

We work with a number of domestic abuse organisations, providing Pro-Bono Legal advice; Family Justice Centre (FJC), Bromley One Stop Shop, Chelmsford Law Clinic, Anglia Ruskin University, Next Chapter, The Link Café, Safer Places and Southend-on-Sea Domestic Abuse Projects (SOSDAP), who refer Clients directly as we will go the extra mile for each one. We are members of FLOWS (Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors) offering online domestic abuse advice and representation.

The team has shown an overwhelming commitment to helping the increasing number of victims of domestic violence, during this current national health crisis; very quickly adapting to new working methods and managing to prepare and lodge applications for Non-Molestation, Occupation Orders & Forced Marriage Protection Orders within 1-2 days, to achieve protection for the most vulnerable. We quickly adopted Zoom, Teams & Skype, and were able to offer remote advice immediately, with court applications and representations continuing. It is a testament to the team that we are being sought out as the firm that can ensure protection for victims quickly, having not allowed the constraints of working remotely to impact quality of service provided to those who are in desperate need. This period has shown the enhanced skills and dedication of our team, whose commitment and innovation, has allowed our clients to be supported throughout.

David Hall congratulates Nicola Jones-King, Head of Family & Child at McMillan Williams, who has been shortlisted for The Law Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Law Society’s Excellence Awards is a nationwide annual programme that celebrate the work of solicitors and showcase the best of the profession across England and Wales. The lifetime achievement award recognises effective contribution towards the work of the profession.

Nicola, who heads up a thriving department of 28 talented lawyers at McMillan Williams, which is part of the Taylor Rose TTKW group, provides family, separation, financial remedy,  children , care  both private and Legal Aid services across 26 offices nationwide.

David commented "Nicola is an incredibly hard working and dedicated lawyer who over the many years I have known her has always been committed to making a difference to the lives of a huge number of children and families she represents. She manages not only a large personal caseload but one of the largest legally aided family teams in the country, and this never fails to impress me.”  

Nicola, who is a member of the Association of Lawyers for Children and now Honorary Life-Time Vice President, commented “Being shortlisted is a real honour and recognises the many years of  work at the coal face of high street practice and in particular work on legal aid policy issues nationally where I have campaigned to ensure desperate families have access to specialist  representation in the family courts, and that young lawyers get the training and support  they need to become the next generation of quality legal aid practitioners, I wish the best of luck to all shortlisted, we are a formidable group that shows what the profession can achieve”

Nicola  was involved in negotiations with the Legal Services Commission along  with other family law organisations over fixed fees and Legal Aid funding. She is also on the Pan London Family Drug & Alcohol Court Steering Committee and involved in supporting the setting up of the FDAC service across South London.  She sits on Resolution’s National Legal Aid Committee, contributing to recent challenges & issues for Legal Aid applications, gateway evidence and financial pressures for providers during COVID-19; recent work has included working on the updating of Prior Authority Guidance in Family and the updated VHCC schemes in Family. She has also contributed to recent MOJ work on intermediary use and about to contribute to HMCTS digital work on a case management system for Care cases.  She has trained  a number of young lawyers many of whom remain in family law  in both private firms and local authority’s.

Her team work with a number of domestic abuse organisations, providing Pro-Bono legal advice; Family Justice Centre (FJC), Bromley One Stop Shop, Chelmsford Law Clinic, Anglia Ruskin University, Next Chapter, The Link Café, Safer Places and Southend-on-Sea Domestic Abuse Projects (SOSDAP), who refer Clients directly as the team will go the extra mile for each one. They are members of FLOWS (Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors) offering online domestic abuse advice and representation.  And where  at the forefront of pushing HRA claims within care proceedings, with Barbara MacDonald being involved in a leading case, and Nicola Jones-King working on the issue with the LAA and training on the issues at ALC conference. The ability to refer to other specialists within the firm (Crime, Civil, Actions Against Public Bodies), means the team offers the client a full service. Links with referrers allows Nicola and her team to provide clients with a holistic advice and support, be that around housing, refuge accommodation, benefits advice or updates from the local police. This enables them to make urgent Court applications, so vulnerable clients are immediately protected.

Nicola has been a solicitor since 1993 and has specialised in family law throughout, as she says she started work when the Children Act came into force and hasn’t  looked back since! Although over the last 20 years this has been primarily in public law care proceedings and adoption, where she represents children, parents, adoption agencies  and families in courts across the South East.

For more information on the Awards and to see the winners announcement on the 13th October click here.

Click here to read Nicola's profile.

 

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