Garner & Hancock supported  Spark’s 35th anniversary at their Summer Celebration in the stunning surroundings of the Great Conservatory of Syon House on Wednesday 24th June 2015. The event was hosted at the The Duke of Northumberland’s Estate in Isleworth



Vinay Tanna who is on the advisory board of Spark, attended the Reception, co-hosted by Brentford Chamber of Commerce.


Spark work  with education and business to prepare young people for working life and enhance their employability through practical, accredited and inspiring work-related experiences





London to Brighton charity Bike Ride – Congratulations to Neville Simpson

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Congratulations to Neville Simpson  for completing the London to Brighton bike ride on Sunday 22 June 2015. Neville who proudly owns a Brompton Bicycle (one of the clients of Garner & Hancock) completed the 54-mile bike ride to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Neville with  around 22,000 cyclists from Clapham Common in London finished on the seafront in Brighton. See picture above.

Garner & Hancock has proudly sponsored Neville in his endeavour.

Garner & Hancock Christmas Party on the Square with the Salvation Army






The Garner & Hancock annual party was held on Thursday 18th December 2014,


With warm mulled wine and mince pies, our clients, friends and neighbors joined in the carol singing on Lower Square, led by the Salvation army and the All Saints Church Choir. A beautiful tree and lights adorned the square outside our offices.

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A Cheque was presented to the Mayor’s representative Councillor Ruth Cadbury who is the  Labour candidate standing for Member of Parliament for Brentford and Isleworth.  The donation from Garner & Hancock of £100 was presented by Deborah Creigh, a partner and Niamh Murphy, a private client solicitor at Garner & Hancock LLP



The Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Corinna Smart – Mayors supported charities are Hounslow Community FoodBox and the London Wildlife Trust.







Free Wealth Protection Seminar

from birth through marriage and death. Topics will include:

•Lasting Powers of Attorney
•Deeds of Trust
•Discretionary Trusts
•Nuptial agreements & Cohabitation agreements

Tuesday 18th November, registration and drinks at 6.45pm.

Speakers: Mr Daniel Flynn, Miss Niamh Murphy and Mr Vinay Tanna

Please register by contacting
Garner & Hancock, 4 Church Street, Old Isleworth, TW7 6BH


Congratulations to Neville Simpson on completing the Ealing Half Marathon

Neville Simpson

Neville Simpson staff member of Garner & Hancock completed the Ealing Half Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Society on Sunday 28th September 2014.


half marathon

Garner & Hancock supports the Alzheimer’s Society.



Neville took about 2 and A Half hours to finish. He said “I was so very pleased to see the finishing line in Llamas Park” He added “Thanks to all the supporters who lined the route and shouted out my name as I passed by(see T shirt).”Neville is a keen runner and cyclist and been with Garner & Hancock for over 18 years.

Cheaper alternative to Court in Family proceedings – ARBITRATION



Please see the Article by Charlie Dunckley on the introduction of Arbitration to resolve family disputes.

Click here to read the full article

London to Paris Bike Ride 13-15 September 2014 – Good Luck

PARISLondon to Paris Bike Ride 13-15 September 2014

Our Nikki Johnston is shortly to complete her Cycle from London to Paris and raise funds for the charity Relate.

The challenge is to cycle 237 miles in just three days! The ride will Nikki  through rolling English countryside and the breath-taking panorama of Northern France to a spectacular finish at the Eiffel Tower. 

Garner & Hancock are proud to support Nikki in her exciting challenge.

paris bike

To Have and to Hold (On Trust) – Pre-Nuptial Agreements are given more weight


To Have and to Hold (On Trust)

Pre-nuptial agreements are given weight

There can be few areas of family law that generate so many column inches and yet are so niche as the preparations of pre-nuptial agreements. Since Radmacher v Granatino was finally decided in 2010 in Ms Radmacher’s favour, Pre-Nuptial agreements have often been in the news but are actually relatively rare. What has brought them back into the news of late is the final report as a result of a Law Commission enquiry, announced on 27th February 2014 and available here, that recommended a review of the law surrounding financial agreements in marriage.

It was a common misconception after the press coverage of Radmacher that from then on, parties could contract out their matrimonial rights to a financial settlement. In fact the pre-nuptial agreement was found by the Supreme Court to have “decisive weight”. It was recommended by the Court that this should be the applicable test for pre-nuptial agreements unless they were unfair on one or other party, but if anything this led to more confusion on the matter. What does “decisive weight” mean? How does it interact with the other most important criteria in dealing with financial relief, the needs of the parties? It is still unclear to what extent one party will be required to meet the needs of the other after their relationship is over.

This uncertainty is the source of extensive legal argument and equally extensive legal bills in the rarefied economic circles in which the headline cases such as Radmacher and more recent pre-nuptial cases have taken place. However, most matrimonial clients are not operating on this financial level, and all clients want their pre-nuptial agreement to lessen the amount of legal argument and court fees rather than being a source of dispute. Therefore the needs of the parties will become the most important consideration with “decisive weight” in any potential divorce, and family lawyers have to bear this in mind when drafting pre-nuptial agreements. In more down-to-earth instances, the assets of the parties will be limited to a matrimonial home and perhaps some mortgaged investment property. In such circumstances, any agreement will likely be of very limited weight in comparison to the needs of any children of the parties. Since at the time of the engagement – and therefore pre- nuptial agreement – this is often uncertain, meaning that clients are concerned from the beginning that once their first child is born, the agreement will be worthless. It is with this uncertainty in mind that engaged couples will approach a pre-nuptial agreement.

Although the Law Commission’s intention was to remove uncertainty, at the moment uncertainty is only increased. Couples enter into a pre-nuptial agreement not knowing what the legal landscape will be when the agreement comes into effect – if ever, and hopefully never. There is also the uncertainty of the position of the parties. Although they are about to commit to each other in marriage, they have to think about what would happen in a potential divorce. This means considering all the mistrust, acrimony, and financial challenges that a divorce might involve when considering a pre-nuptial agreement.

It is the role of the lawyer to try and manage this uncertainty. By striking the balance between fairness and protecting what can be protected, as well as guiding the parties through the process and helping them to understand what is and what isn’t possible to protect, family lawyers can make the process as painless as possible. By preparing an agreement which is clear, practically minded, and well-drafted family lawyers can try and ensure that it is effective for the longer term.

Daniel Flynn

Trainee Solicitor at Garner & Hancock LLP

Garner & Hancock LLP provides a full range of wealth protection services. Get in Touch by calling our Wealth Protection Team: Mr Vinay Tanna and Mrs Brenda Zoller and Miss Niamh Murphy

Read our articles on Wealth Protection

When to mediate and when not to mediate


When to Mediate?

Because the process of mediation is flexible and can accommodate a variety of situations, most disputes can be mediated, this can be particularly true for family cases where the parties do not wish to enter into potentially lengthy and expensive litigation but there are matters which need to be resolved and there is a genuine possibility that with the help of an unbiased and experienced professional an agreement may be reached.

There are no fixed rules for determining when mediation will work and it is not always possible to know without trying. However, when deciding whether or not to try mediation, consider the following factors:

  • First, ask:
    • Is there a negotiable issue in dispute?
    • Will all parties voluntarily commit to a face-to-face meeting to try to agree?
    • Can any party get away with simply ignoring the problem?
  • Mediation is attractive if the parties want a private solution.
  • Mediation is attractive if the parties want a flexible and informal process or if other options for resolving the conflict are not desirable.
  • Mediation is often recommended where both parties have an interest in maintaining their relationship, this can be particularly important in divorce/separation cases where there are children involved and the parties will inevitably remain a part of each other’s life after the dispute is resolved.
  • It is helpful, but not necessary, for the parties to trust each other. Trust makes mediation easier, but it is not a prerequisite.
  • Disputes about tangible issues (such as money, property, behavior, rights, licenses) tend to be easier to mediate than disputes based on personal values or beliefs.
  • It helps if the power balance between the parties is fairly equal. It is essential that one party not be able to dominate another or unilaterally dictate the outcome of mediation. At the same time, keep in mind that mediators are trained to assess power imbalances and can often intervene to balance inequities. The presence of legal counsel or use of independent legal advisors is one way to establish bargaining equality.
  • It helps if each party needs something from the other. This way there is more likely to be an equality of bargaining power and an incentive for each party to reach an agreement.
  • Mediation often works well for complex cases requiring creative solutions.

As a general rule, the earlier a dispute goes to mediation, the more likely it will settle. The longer a dispute goes on, the more parties tend to become committed to their positions and less willing to consider another point of view.


When not to mediate

Some disputes do not lend themselves to mediation. These include cases in which:

  • a party is acting in bad faith (for example, wants to use the process for delay only or to try to avoid disclosure of relevant information); and
  • there is fear of violence between the parties and the mediation would not be safe. Divorce/separation cases which were characterized by domestic violence would not be appropriate for mediation.

As the mediation proceeds, the mediator will assess the viability of the process and will end the mediation if he or she concludes that it is unfair or prejudicial to any party, or unlikely to resolve within a reasonable time.

We encourage our clients to attend mediation before they come and see us. Ideally, by talking, parties will save considerable cost. We believe that a line of communication open between the parties makes the whole process go smoothly and results in a better and more robust agreement.


We recommend Mediation in Divorce

13 Rosslyn Road,

East Twickenham,
Middlesex TW1 2AR » Map

Phone: 020 8891 6860
Fax: 020 8891 3107

Shared Parenting – A myth or reality?

Presumption of Shared Parenting?


Fair or not, accusations that the family courts are biased towards women are nothing new. Organisations like Fathers 4 Justice promote an idea that courts will necessarily side with the mother in a disputed residence or contact hearing. While it is true that the mother is more often than not the parent with care, there is no legal or practical reason why there should be any imbalance in this way. The Children Act, the main piece of legislation governing court cases in this area, specifies that neither parent has particular rights to contact or residence; instead it is the child that has a right to see both parents. However, not a department to let the lack of a problem prevent them from proposing a solution, the Department for Education has decided to promote what it says is a new idea, the “presumption of shared parenting”. This is the principle that both parents should be involved in the parenting of a child after separation and the child should “maintain a meaningful relationship” with both parents.


Whether this means an equal 50/50 division of time or simply that both parents will be involved in the child’s upbringing is something which may differ in each case. Under the current regime this figure is usually dictated by the practicalities of the particular case, and the new rules do not put forward any clear framework as to how this will change in future. Indeed, it is not clear what “maintaining a meaningful relationship” will mean in practise. As the law stands, it is already a presumption in the family courts that maintaining a relationship with both parents will be beneficial to the welfare of the child, and further that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration for the family court.


It is being proposed that fathers have equal or at least substantial input in their children’s lives. However, it could be argued that this is already the case; in 2010, just 300 section 8 contact orders were refused out of 95,460 applications. What this would mean in the context of the new provisions would depend on how “meaningful relationship” comes to be defined, as no doubt some of these cases will have limited the interaction between the parent without care and the child to indirect or heavily supervised contact.

MegaBu7 child2

Similar changes were made to family legislation in Australia in 2006, and the result has been a marked increase in childcare litigation. It is believed down under that the presumption of shared parenting has created a right to have equal time for contact which has led to far more contested litigation. In actual fact, the presumption does not create any such right. Nicholas Cusworth QC, until December 2013 chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, was quoted in The Guardian when this idea was first mooted in 2012 as saying “on shared parenthood, we agree with the Family Justice Review’s finding that, learning lessons from the Australian experience, legislating on this issue risks creating the perception that there is a right to substantially shared or equal time, for both parents. It is already widely understood and applied by the courts that children benefit from having a relationship with both parents and legislation would be unnecessary and may do more harm than good. The government must consider this with the greatest of care.”


David Norgrove, chair of the Family Justice Board, was also sceptical of the proposals, commenting in a report released in 2012 that he had “thoroughly considered the issue of shared parenting and concluded the law should not be changed. If the government has decided to legislate, I regret that and it will be vital to find words that avoid the difficulties encountered in Australia.


The Law Society has gone as far as describing these changes as “seriously flawed”, with some claiming that these proposals detract from the primary consideration- the child.


Then there is the possible effect on vulnerable parents to consider. How about relationships which have suffered from domestic violence? Surely shared parenting could have a detrimental effect on both the victim and the children. There are of course cases, however few in number, where maintaining a meaningful relationship would be either impossible or unwanted. In such instances giving a parent a right to see a child that does not want to see them, or even making a parent think they have that right as the comparable legislation has appeared to do in Australia, is likely to produce more rather than less contention in family cases, and more rather than less emotional difficulty for children in family cases. Equally, a presumption of shared parenting is not going to create through legislation a desire for an absentee parent to involve themselves in a child’s life. Where a parent does not wish to take an active role, no legislation will create a meaningful relationship where one did not exist before.

Garner & Hancock Children and Family Legal Department

Other than a presumption of shared parenting, the major reform proposed is the statutory 6 month time limit in care and contact cases. How this operates in conjunction with a presumption which has slowed up resolution in family courts in Australia remains to be seen. To a certain extent, a statutory time limit misses the real delay in family courts, which is almost always for practical reasons. This could be through lack of available court time, CAFCASS officers not being able to produce reports on time, or other delays resulting from a lack of investment in the practical apparatus of family justice.


While other aspects of the review of childcare law have been cautiously welcomed, such as proposals to strengthen the courts powers of enforcement in contact cases and proposals to streamline the process of Children Act applications with a view to speeding up the resolution of contact disputes, the presumption of shared parenting has united opinion as being a bad idea. However, with the government apparently set on this proposal it will remain to be seen what the judicial interpretation of “meaningful relationship” is, how it affects contact decision, and whether a new regime proposing to free up the family courts ends up bogging them down in unnecessary litigation as it did in Australia.


Leila Azzi and Daniel Flynn

Garner & Hancock LLP

20th January 2014