LIFE BITE: Is Marriage Getting Easier to Get Out Of?

apple-150579_1280This week,  MPs in the House of Commons have been debating on whether couples should be able to apply for an amicable ‘no fault’ divorce.

Under current law, couples who want to divorce have to rely on a fault-based ground of adultery or unreasonable behaviour unless they are prepared to wait two years for a no fault divorce.   On this newly proposed  ground, both parties would sign a declaration stating that the marriage had broken down irretrievably.

It is proposed that this new ground for divorce would reduce the level of animosity following the breakdown of a marriage.   There was opposition to the proposal based on the argument that changing the law would make divorce “easier” and increase the number of divorces. In spite of the opposition,  MPs have passed the first reading of this Bill.

What do you think?  Is divorce getting too easy?
We would love to hear your comments below.  If you need any further information on divorce, please email us here.

Family Mediation NI


JoanDavisFMNIJoan Davis is the Director of Family Mediation NI, an organisation aimed at assisting couples upon their relationship breakdown to reach amicable, child-focussed arrangements between themselves. She has provided some information on the organisation and the services they provide:-

What is Family Mediation NI?

Upon the breakdown of a relationship, there are many issues that need to be discussed and decisions that need to be made by both parents in order to move forward not only as individuals but also as co-parents.

Issues which a separating couple may need to discuss can include the following:-

  • Working out best arrangements for your children upon separation – where they are to live, how often they are to see either parent, what school they are to go to, etc
  • Financial matters such as the division of the marital home and other property
  • Child support and maintenance matters
  • Any other problem particular to your circumstances

Separating from a marriage or relationship can be an emotionally charged time for all parties involved and this can sometimes make discussing the above issues in a reasonable and amicable manner very difficult.

Family Mediation NI offers the opportunity for parents, or (former) couples, to discuss any or all of these matters together with the assistance of a mediator to reach a jointly negotiated agreement.

Do I have to use Family Mediation?

No, Family Mediation NI is voluntary and nobody can be compelled to take part against his or her will.   It is often very helpful in assisting people in reaching their own negotiated settlements. The first appointment is always an introductory one so you can consider whether mediation is a way forward for you at this time.

Is Family Mediation confidential?

Yes, all discussions in Family Mediation are confidential.  This confidentiality can only be breached if a crime is alleged against a child, the mediator considers someone to be at serious risk of harm or allegations are made of criminal or fraudulent activity.

Will I need a Solicitor?

At Family Mediation NI, your mediator can record your decisions and summarise them in a written document known as a ‘Mediated Agreement’.  This is not legally binding, but can form the basis of a legal agreement, if your circumstances require this approach.

In mediation, the process belongs to you, you do your own negotiating, removing the need for lengthy solicitor negotiations and legal action and the associated costs, both emotional and financial.  You each may consult a solicitor, pre-mediation to advise you and to make any agreement reached legally binding, if you so wish.  Mediators are neither counsellors nor advisers and do not at any time give legal advice but can help you generate options relevant to your family circumstances.

If you have children, Family Mediation can help you discuss how to talk to your children to ascertain their views and to help them to understand what is happening and in certain cases direct child consultation may be assessed as appropriate.  You may also obtain help in how to tell your children about the breakup and reassure them that both of you are finding a way to support the family move forward.

At Family Mediation NI, we offer a 21st Century approach to modern family disputes. We believe that mediation should be the natural and first choice for most separating parents. Family Mediation NI is available throughout NI.

Joan Davis, FMNI Director

For more information on the services Family Mediation NI offer and the support they can provide you with, please contact them on or telephone 028 9024 3265
Mediation Awareness Week takes place in Northern Ireland from 19th October – 23rd October 2015. Contact Family Mediation NI for more information and details or check out

Listen to Martin Hanna’s Radio Ulster interview on bereavement damages in NI

MHannaMartin Hanna, NI representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner in Francis Hanna &Co Solicitors spoke on Radio Ulster about the disparity between bereavement damages available to those who have been bereaved in NI compared to those in England & Wales.

Hear what Martin had to say below.

Also, read our LifeBite article on this topical issue here

LIFE BITE: Bereaved NI families lose out in compensation ‘lottery’

apple-150579_1280Compensation for families whose loved ones have been needlessly killed in Northern Ireland is ‘wretchedly inadequate’, say lawyers as they urge for the level of payment to bereaved families to be increased.


On Monday 5th October 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a consultation about whether the level of bereavement damages, which currently stands at £11,800, should be increased.

Martin Hanna, NI representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner in Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors says:-

“Bereft families deserve better from the justice system when their loved ones’ deaths could and should have been avoided. As it stands, the payment is wretchedly inaccurate, so we welcome any progress on rectifying this”.

“Bereavement damages in the UK are a lottery based on where the death happens. The level of payment is at its lowest in Northern Ireland at £11,800, and is nearly £1,200 more in England and Wales. In Scotland, the system is much fairer, with each case judged and evaluated on its own merits.” 

The DOJ consultation paper says that any increase in the payment should either bring Northern Ireland in line with England and Wales at £12,980, or with the level of inflation, estimated at £14,339.

Mr Hanna added:

“No amount of money can ever replace a loved one, but bereavement damages do at least acknowledge that a death has been caused needlessly. This issue with the level of payment is not about replacing what is lost, but about looking after those left behind,”

The DOJ consultation closes on 30 November 2015

If you would like to learn more about the consultation paper, it can be found at

For any further information on you and your family’s legal right to bereavement damages,  please feel free to contact us below or alternatively , email us at