Is September the new January?
Often we experience an increase in the number of enquiries from couples looking to separate following the summer holidays.  We have previously noticed a significant increase in the number of new enquiries in the first week of September, which of course coincides with children returning to school.  Many parents put off divorcing until this time; and in many cases extended periods spent with partners, for instance on holiday, can lead to separation among childless couples too.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern which we have seen before. Quite often people have been on holiday together and have come to realise that perhaps there are more issues in a relationship than previously thought. Often those couples with children find that problems raise their heads during the same time, and once the children are back at school have more time to consult a solicitor.  Once the normality and routine return, we usually find an associated increase in enquiries relating to divorce. There is also often a desire to have a divorce completed by Christmas, and the process can be fairly lengthy, so people consult a solicitor at this time of year.
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family & divorce team.
What’s in a name?
A recent study by Aviva, the insurance company found that 49% of adults in the UK who live with a spouse or partner or children have had at least one past relationship which they regarded as committed either by marriage or cohabitation. Nearly a third of families now include a stepchild from a previous relationship and in 2014 the Office for National Statistics reported that there were 2 million lone parents with dependent children living in the UK.

Increasingly, parents ask if it is possible to change a child’s name following the breakdown of a relationship and loss of contact between a father and child, remarriage or when a subsequent relationship becomes long term.

Legally a child’s name can be changed easily by deed poll or change of name deed providing that everyone with parental responsibility for the child consents.   This is necessary even where the parents of the child have separated, divorced and remarried. Once a child turns 16 they can apply for their own deed poll and parental responsibility is no longer required. 

Parental responsibility is the legal term that defines who has the legal rights, duties, powers and responsibilities for a child under the age of 16.  The mother of a child automatically acquires parental responsibility at the time of birth.   A father also automatically acquires parental responsibility at the time of the child’s birth if he is married to the mother of the child at the time or subsequently marries the mother.   Since 1st December 2003   an unmarried father will acquire parental responsibility if he is named or is later entered on the child’s birth certificate.

In circumstances where the mother has sole parental responsibility she is not required to seek the consent of the father and it is only necessary for her to complete a declaration confirming her legal right to change her child’s name and confirm that she is not required to seek the consent of any other person. 
Consent to change a child’s name can be by agreement between the parents and evidenced by a letter from the parent giving permission for the name to be changed. In the absence of consent it is necessary to apply to the court for permission.  This is done by making an application under the Children’s Act 1989 for a s8 Specific Issue Order.   

A court will consider if it will be in the child’s best interests to allow the name change.  The level of commitment of the non-consenting father to the child will also be taken into consideration as will the frequency and quality of contact and involvement between the father and child to determine whether the name link between the father and the child can be broken. 

Older children of secondary school age (ie 11 years and over) will have their views taken into consideration to determine if the name change sought should be allowed. 

GC Solicitors can advise and assist you should you be considering changing your child’s name.

Claire Ballard

Injury Prevention Day 2018
Ahead of Injury Prevention Day 2018 on Wednesday 15 August 2018, how about joining in?  The Association for Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) are campaigning to raise awareness of the important role car head rests play in protecting your neck.  Research by Thatcham suggests that whiplash injuries occur in 80% of road traffic accidents.   You can join in  by checking the head rests in your car to minimise any whiplash injury if you are involved in a car accident. 

If you are not sure that your head rest is adjusted correctly you can see a  guide by clicking here.  Remember to make sure your passengers adjust their head-rests in the back too. 

Sylvia Phillips
Fitbit – a good way to show the impact on daily life in accident claims?

Technology is being integrated into everyday life with increasing sophistication each year. Wearable technology such as the Fitbit has been heralded for its uses in weight loss but now the activity tracker is help victims with their injury claims. These technologies come in a variety of forms including smartwatches and GPS trackers and even include computerised clothing such as Google Glasses. They can provide validation for victims who have suffered injuries which impact on their daily lives and may have led to a permanent lifestyle change.

In assessing the legitimacy and success of a personal injury claim several aspects will need to be considered including medical records, assessments and reports from experts. To strengthen the case it is now becoming increasingly possible to submit digital records from wearable technology which would have recorded the event and its aftermath to aid the claim.

Most significantly a device similar to that of a Fitbit can be used to show a deterioration in health; if worn every day the activity tracker will become accustomed to daily routine thus can recognise when activity has fallen below average levels. An injury may lead to reduced mobility, disrupted sleep patterns or even emotional damage which can be validated by this data. This creates a clearer picture of a victim’s physical state thus strengthening the case.

Whilst in most cases the use of wearable technology should be helpful in the pursuit of lawful injury claims we must also consider the dark side to this technology if it is to be used in widespread practice. Some people may be tempted to make fraudulent claims with skewed or falsified data and this would complicate the matter in pursuing a case. In addition to this, the personal data collected will be subject to public use, this arguably, could lead to a privacy issue as insurance companies may want to access this information.


By Shaan Raju