Autumn relocation newsletter
Autumn relocation newsletter
Welcome to our Autumn Newsletter, bringing you articles, news and updates from the world
of international relocation and education.
Voting whilst abroad
By James Cafferty, Living Abroad, LLC
Ask anyone who has traveled abroad for any length of time, and you will quickly learn that relocating to a foreign country requires a colossal amount of preparation.
What will your new living quarters be like? Where will your children attend school? How’s the local food? Are there any security concerns? What are the passport and visa requirements? These questions represent a mere fraction of top-level concerns for expatriates; however, one question that often gets overlooked is: How do I vote while abroad?
The answer is simple: absentee ballots.....
Most countries have some form of absentee ballot system that allows voters who are unable or unwilling to attend physical elections the opportunity to vote by other means. Voters may use absentee ballots for a wide variety of reasons such as illness or disability, overseas military duty, study abroad, or business relocation. In some countries, all voters are eligible to request absentee ballots for no stated reason whatsoever, while others are tightly regulated and only use absentee ballots in specific circumstances.
Postal voting is the most common procedure for requesting and submitting absentee ballots.
Typically, ballots are requested by writing a letter to an election office, town clerk, or other election official; many countries also use request forms that may be obtained online, printed out, and mailed to the appropriate office. Once the request has been received, processed, and approved, an election official will send an absentee ballot. The voter must then fill out the ballot and mail it back to cast their vote.
It is important to keep in mind that submitting an absentee ballot may add a considerable amount of time to the voting process, and therefore it is crucial to plan how you will return your ballot ahead of time. In some cases, submitting your vote is as simple as uploading, emailing, or faxing your completed ballot to your election officials. Other ballots - such as those for the US presidential election - must be submitted by mail.
You may use a local mail service if it has a reliable delivery to your home country, or you may use a professional courier service. A third option is to place your completed ballot in a postage paid envelope and bring it to your nearest embassy or consulate, which typically be able to forward it to your home country. The process of requesting and submitting absentee ballots varies by country.
The following are a few examples of how the procedure works in various countries worldwide:
India has an absentee voting system that is tightly regulated and generally restricted to government employees—typically military members or state officials—who are stationed overseas or in remote areas. These individuals, termed, “service voters” by the government, must apply for an absentee ballot via the National Voter’s Services Portal. Once the Election Commission of India has approved the application, service voters may request a postal ballot.
Recently, the government has also permitted the use of e-postal ballots. These forms are simply blank ballots that may be downloaded and printed out by registered service voters, who cast their vote by completing the ballot and mailing it to the appropriate returning officer via the post office.
As of 2013, all South African citizens who will be either living or traveling out of the country during national elections may apply to vote abroad. Compared to other countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and India, absentee ballots work a bit differently in South Africa. Rather than sending voters a postal ballot, the South African government instead sets up physical polling stations in South African diplomatic missions worldwide.
To apply to vote abroad, registered voters must first submit a form stating their intention to vote abroad; this form may be completed either online or downloaded, printed, and mailed to the election office in Pretoria. Forms must be received at least 15 days prior to the election date. Once the forms have been received and approved, voters may then cast their vote at the mission indicated on their confirmation letter. It is important to note that polls in South African missions are typically only open on a single date, and it is not possible to vote on any other date.
In the United States, the procedure for requesting absentee ballots varies depending on the type of election in which you are voting, as well as your home state. Registered voters may submit a request for an absentee ballot by writing to their local election officials—typically their town clerk. Increasingly, email, online forms, and even mobile applications are being used to request and submit ballots.
Ballots for the November general elections are delivered electronically or by mail forty-five days prior to Election Day. For other elections such as primary, run-off, and special elections, ballots are typically sent out thirty days prior. Some states allow voters to request a ballot either for a specific election, or for all the elections that year.
Once the ballot has been received and completed, it must then be sent to the appropriate US election official—either via email or online form for electronic ballots, or by mail or courier service for physical ballots. US citizens may also drop off completed ballots at their nearest embassy or consulate.
In the United Kingdom, absentee ballots take the form of postal ballots. Registered voters may choose to vote via post whether they are at home or abroad, and applicants are not required to state the reason why they wish to use an absentee ballot.
To apply for postal voting, UK residents must download an application form and mail the completed document to their local electoral registration office. Registered voters must send in their applications eleven working days prior to the poll. Residents of the UK may apply for a postal vote either for a single election or permanently, and voters from England Scotland, and Wales have the additional option to receive postal ballots for all elections during a specified time period.
In addition to postal voting, the UK also allows citizens to apply for proxy voting. Using this method, voters may appoint a close relative—defined as a spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child, or grandchild—to cast their vote at a polling station in their stead. Proxy voters must be registered to vote for the election in which they will be casting a proxy vote. To apply for proxy voting, voters must submit an application and explain why they are not able to go to their polling station on polling day.
It is important to note that the regulations and procedures for postal and proxy voting in Northern Ireland differ from those of the UK. Consult the local Electoral Office for a comprehensive overview of election procedures there.
How to find information for your country
Whether at home or traveling abroad, it is crucial to voice your opinion and exercise your right to vote if you are able. If you reside in a country other than those mentioned above, a good first step to determining your country’s voting procedure is to contact your local embassy. To find your nearest embassy, consult: https://www.embassypages.com. For further information regarding absentee ballots in the countries discussed above, visit:
Election Commission of India
Register and Vote abroad - South Africa
UK Postal Vote
Electoral Office of Northern Ireland
USA Federal Voting Assistance Program
James Cafferty, Living Abroad, LLC
Custom Agreements across the globe
Tim Daniells - Client Account Manager, DT Moving
TIM DANIELLS - Client Account Manager at DT Moving
"“...I’m really sorry Mr Smith, your samurai sword is not allowed to be shipped to the UK...”"
Customs Requirements Across the Globe: Simple Steps to Get it Right
Most Global Mobility professionals reading this will probably repeat the above quotation at least a couple of times before it sinks in. “Shipping a Samurai Sword?” “Into the UK?” “Seriously?!?” And quite rightly. It’s not the kind of discussion that we in Global Mobility hear very often.
However, the above snippet from a recent telephone conversation between a move coordinator here at DT Moving and a VIP assignee is an appropriate reminder to us all about one of the most important, but rarely discussed, matters of any international relocation: customs regulations in the host country. It’s an item that we ignore at our peril, whether we like it or not.
Indeed, with Britain’s exit from the EU (29 March 2019) only months away, we are on the verge of a new era in the management and processing of goods coming into Britain from European Union countries. We await, with bated breath, confirmation of the Brexit deal that the UK and European politicians finally agree, and the subsequent effect that this will have on Britain’s customs border. We are, at this moment in time, unaware of the exact changes that will take place, but changes there will certainly be!
For now, leaving Brexit to one side, let’s take a look at the current customs landscape...show some real (and peculiar) customs rules, delve into the implications of getting it wrong, and provide some tips on the best approach for both individuals and corporate employers.
Current Customs Process - Explained
All international removals (excluding intra EU moves at this point) are subject to customs clearance formalities on arrival at destination port, whether that arrival is at sea, airport, cargo terminal or border crossing.
Every country has the right to examine such unaccompanied household goods and effects before granting clearance and release. And every country has different customs requirements and expectations for unaccompanied household goods and effects.
In Russia, pre-1950 items have to be registered with authorities otherwise they cannot be re-exported when you leave; in Nigeria, items that are less than six months old cannot be taken into the country; in some Middle Eastern countries there are restrictions on religious items or films containing nudity; in Saudi Arabia, you cannot import equipment capable of sending or receiving radio signal. And so the list goes on - in China regulations are regionalised, meaning something acceptable in Beijing may not be authorised in Chengdu.
Implications of Getting it Wrong
Ignoring the different regulations, or not understanding them, can have serious cost and service implications, as follows:
- Re-Shipping Costs: if, for example, a piano with ivory keys hasn’t been granted a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificate in advance of the move, then the destination country can refuse entry and the item will need to be returned to it’s country of origin until the certificate is granted.
- Demmurage Costs: the charge from the shipping line for delayed operations of loading/unloading at airport / sea port. This cost is typical for consignments where customs paperwork has not been completed satisfactorily.
- Customs Duties: Duty fees, varying from country to country, are applicable for items including cars, alcohol and perfume
- Delivery Delays: if items are held at port or returned to the origin country then this can delay delivery of the consignment.
Not to mention additional temporary accommodation costs caused by a delay to delivery of all / part shipment or indeed the risk - on a corporate sponsored move - that the assignee becomes dissatisfied or unproductive as they get embroiled in matters detracting from their core role.
The Good News!
The good news is that with correct advice in advance and ongoing counselling during the packing process at origin, the cost and delay scenarios above are rare.
- The customer should initially be provided with a customs regulation factsheet, containing all prohibited items, all restricted items, all necessary documentation.
- These requirements and restrictions should then be reinforced by a dedicated move manager verbally and in writing before and during the packing process.
- The same move manager is available to answer any questions that the assignee and/or Mobility team have surrounding the customs process.
- The dedicated mover’s packing leader should be aware of these same restrictions and report any discrepancies or potential issues with the goods they are packing to their office based move manager.
What can Customers Do?
Appointing a FIDI affiliate relocation provider is a good start. Preferably one that has achieved FAIMPLUS accreditation, the highest level quality certification (audited by Ernst & Young) that can be achieved within the international moving industry.
Do not move items that are liable for duty or likely to attract delay or refusal by customs officials. (For Global Mobility / HR Managers, ensure appropriate restrictions are applied to both the Global Mobility Policy and Moving Allowance to discourage the movement of such items)
Request that your appointed mover has the latest customs guidance and is applying this guidance to every move they undertake on your behalf.
Request that your appointed mover immediately reports, during the packing process, any items that are outside of allowance or categorised as prohibited or restricted on FIDI’s customs guidance.
The list goes on and on, but by using the hints and tips provided above, you are unlikely to be in breach of customs restrictions and regulations. Don’t forget, these regulations are constantly being updated on a per country basis, so please rely on your nominated mover to guide you at the time of your move.
If you have any questions relating to any of the above or would like to discuss your moving / relocation programme, please do not hesitate to contact Tim for any advice. firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Exam Success
Students at all three ACS schools have demonstrated their academic success with another set of outstanding results this year and will be attending some outstanding universities across the globe.
Leading the field and heading to Oxford to read History are Maddelena Lombardi and Gregor Roach who both graduated from ACS Egham with world-beating scores of 40 points out of a maximum 45 in their International Baccalaureate (IB) Diplomas.
Re-em Tal from ACS Hillingdon also scored 40 points and will be heading to Cambridge to read Land Economy. Jules Meeus from ACS Cobham scored an impressive 41 in his IB Diploma and is heading off to the University of Bath to take a degree in Business Administration. With Bath in the top three UK universities for business, accounting and finance degrees, this is another excellent academic achievement.
ACS International School becomes a Charitable Entity
We are delighted to announce that we have received confirmation from the Charities Commission that we are now a fully registered Charity. We can now move on with our plan to advance education enabling each student to achieve to the best of their abilities.
Students Sight Saving Trip
Five ACS International School students, went on a 2-week internship with sight saving charity, Orbis, in Chennai, India over the summer. As part of a two-week journalism internship, sponsored by the ACS International school Foundation, students joined Orbis, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing eye care to disadvantaged communities worldwide. The internship, now in its 18th year allows students to understand and witness Orbis’s sight saving work in hospitals, schools and the community.
The five students visited the Sankara Nethralaya Hospital, where they observed an operation where a nine-month-old baby had their cataract removed, as well as visiting the Elite School of Optometry, learning how to spot vision loss and how children’s eyes are tested at school screenings funded by the charity. Meet some of the 20th Class of Scholars here >
Autumn is coming!
What to know and where to go this year
by Relocation Support Services
Sadly, summer is coming to an end, and autumn is just around the corner
Autumn is one of the four temperature seasons, which marks the transition from summer to winter. That’s right, it’s going to go from warm to cold. Prices of coats and jackets are about to go up!
The other main feature of Autumn, and perhaps the best part, is the colour change and shedding of leaves from deciduous trees.
Where did it come from?
The word “Autumn” derives from the ancient Italian language, Etruscan. The Romans borrowed it and it then became the Latin word autumnus. The Roman era ended, and the French used the words autompne or automne, the latter is still used today.
In 1066, the Normans invaded England, and brought us the French language. This remained the language of kings and nobility for over 300 years. King Henry IV (1399) was the first monarch to speak English as his mother-tongue, since the Norman conquest. English was previously spoken by the peasants and the lower class and was considered vulgar by the Normans. Over time, the English and Anglo Norman (French) languages merged and created Middle English. This was due to Normans and Anglo-Saxons intermarrying.
Jump forward to the 16th century you’ll discover that the season is referred to as harvest - because it is the time of year where the crops are ripe for harvesting.
As more people moved away from the farms/fields, and migrated to towns, the term harvest became obsolete and the words autumn and fall began to be used. Autumn being adopted from the French language.
The word fall has origins tracing back to old Germanic languages. There are discussions that are still ongoing about the exact derivation of the word. There are a couple of words from the Old English language that it may have come from, but in any case, they all mean “to fall from height”.
Autumn and fall were used in the UK, pretty much equally. As more Brits moved to colonies in America, they took their language with them and introduced the term fall to our cousins across the pond. Back in England, the term fizzled out, and autumn became the comon name for the season.
What to do
During Autumn, the English countryside and forests become a colourful masterpiece which attracts photographers and artists from all over. Many of the famous woodlands and parks have a wide range of family activities, tours, and hiking trails. They have become popular vacation destinations. Here are seven examples:
Stourhead in Wiltshire, England is 2,650-acre estate which includes a Palladian mansion, gardens, farmland and woodland and has been part owned by the national trust since 1946.
The National Arboretum, Westonbirt
The Westonbirt Arboretum is made up of 18,000 trees and shrubs over 600 acres. It is listed Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest.
Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, Gloucestershire
Forest of Dean and Wye Valley is one of the last surviving ancient woodlands, in the UK. The areas original inhabitants pre-date the Romans and J.K Rowling set some chapters of her last Harry Potter book in the Forest of Dean.
The New Forest
219 sq miles of parkland, woodland, grassland and tree plantations. It was proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conqueror and is featured in the Domesday Book. Lots of wildlife and amazing scenery
The Lake District, Cumbria
This is a very popular UK holiday destination with 16 million annual visitors. It contains the largest mountain in England, and the deepest bodies of water. Great scenery, hiking trails, and a lot of other activities for families.
During the months of autumn, we encounter Halloween. This is an annual event that takes place on October 31st. It’s a time where people hold themed parties, where people dress up in outfits related to the occult, ghosts, or anything that strikes fear into the unlucky person who greets the guests at the door.
Originally it was a pagan festival where people believed that the dead walked amongst the living. This is still believed today in some cultures.
Here are some links to some Halloween related activities that are taking place this year (probably not suitable for the kids):
Another tradition of autumn is Harvest Festivals. These festivals and this tradition has been ongoing for hundreds of years. Previously, it was the time of year where the crops were ripe for harvesting which was a cause for celebration.
These days we see Harvest Festivals popping up all over the country throughout September, so make the most of the autumn season by visiting one of the best harvest festivals in the UK. You’ll find autumn produce, pumpkin carving, harvest crafts, farming demonstrations, expert speakers and so much more. Here are eight harvest festivals recommended by countryliving.com
Supplied Courtesy of Relocation Support Services Ltd
By Andrew Kittell
Follow Andrew on Twitter or LinkedIn
With the 2018-2019 academic year now underway, three of the four ACS International Schools campuses are celebrating multi-year high enrollments.
Our schools remain exceptionally diverse communities, in aggregate welcoming families representing 100 nationalities and speaking 70 first languages. Most ACS-enrolled families still relocate for career-related reasons. They come from around the world, including here in North America where the ACS group’s maintained an outreach office for over two decades. This autumn, we’ll continue enrolling an ever-increasing number of internationally minded British and other local families in the UK and Qatar.
We’re also honoring our Founders’ legacies as well, becoming even more socioeconomically inclusive while striving to serve the greater good.
ACS Formally Granted Charitable Status in the UK and Launches US Non-profit
As reported elsewhere in this newsletter, ACS International Schools is now a UK registered charity with a clearly defined mission to better serve our core population, but also broaden access, offering both merit and need-based scholarships on both sides of the Atlantic. A newly formed and completely separate US non-profit also held its first board meeting this month in New York. Much more will be shared in the days ahead, but our Founders’ long-term vision’s been realised, one of helping bright young people benefit from a world-class ACS-style education, including summer study near London.
British Studies Summer Programme Welcomes 20th Class of Scholars
For 20 years, highly deserving and academically able high school-age American students have travelled from across the United States to our Cobham, Surrey campus for a nearly two-week residential summer study-travel programme we call British Studies.
Some of these summer scholars will be honoured Thursday, September 20th during a formal reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, DC.
Plans are now underway to expand the reach of British Studies, attracting more students and building an endowment funding future for all-expenses-paid scholarships.
Look for ACS on the Road Autumn 2018
In the autumn, ACS representatives will sponsor, exhibit, and present at key relocation and related events. Please catch up with us here:
Canadian Employee Relocation Council Conference in Montreal Montreal, September 16th-18th
British Ambassador’s Reception for ACS Summer Scholars
Washington, DC, September 20th
Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium
Seattle, October 17th - 19th
Independent Educational Consultants Association Conference
Los Angeles, November 7th - 9th
New Jersey Relocation Council Conference
New Jersey, November 14th
Profile: Ruth Clark
L. Ruth Clark, Partner, Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Now a welcome and respected presence at mobility industry conferences, Houston based Ruth Clark is an established legal practitioner.
Ruth’s introduction to immigration-related issues came very early in her professional journey. Interestingly, this first experience involved the rights of asylum seekers. She recounts that beginning,
“I started off in the immigration field when I was in law school. My summer after my 1L year, I took an Asylum Law course, which I found fascinating. The professor who taught the course also ran my school’s Immigration Clinic, and he encouraged me to participate. I worked in the Clinic for two semesters and was able to gain experience working on asylum and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) cases and an appeal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Through my professor’s relationship with a partner in a local firm, I secured an internship. It was through this firm that I began to learn the business side of immigration, and after passing the bar, I was hired as an attorney. In my early years of practice, I did removal (deportation) defense, family-based immigration, and business immigration.”
Defending the rights of those facing removal from the US was rewarding, but also emotionally exhausting. When Ruth learned of an opportunity to work with a firm specializing in business-linked immigration, she made the move, albeit with some reservations. She explains, “I was nervous at first that I would not feel as fulfilled only doing corporate immigration work, but there is so much room for growth at so many levels managing clients’ immigration programs and managing the talent within the firm. Earlier this year, after 7 years with my current firm, I was promoted to Partner. Every day is a new challenge and I am able to use the foundation that I built in doing all types of cases to help me in my current role.”
Given the ongoing and very public US national immigration debate and seemingly ever-changing regulatory and legal environment, Ruth Clark’s recent work days present more than their fair share of challenges. As Ruth notes, she’s by no means alone.
She observes, “Everyone in the profession is currently struggling with the increased scrutiny from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We are dealing with a rapidly changing policy environment and stricter adjudication on the government side. Meanwhile, our clients are grappling with how to secure work visas for their employees, and the employees themselves are in a state of anxiety hearing about all of the changes and denials. We constantly have to come up with creative solutions, allay fears and calm nerves all while navigating the new adjudication trends ourselves.”
Facing daily challenges a plenty, Ruth also finds her work gratifying. Again, it’s all down to personal relationships and positively impacting others. These rewards can be immediate or very long term. Ruth explains, “With business immigration, you are absolutely impacting peoples’ lives, but not to the same degree that you do when you are defending someone from deportation. While we still have very grateful clients, you are not as personally invested in their lives in order to see how your help has truly helped them. Therefore, I primarily find reward in the relationships I create with the people with whom I work in the global mobility sections of the clients who I represent as well as with the people with whom I work internally. On the client side, it is rewarding to know that we are making their jobs easier and making the immigration journey more efficient for their employees. Internally, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone progress professionally; taking the knowledge you have helped them gain and then allowing them the autonomy to truly grow in their career.”
As her industry and immigration law have changed in the last few years, so too have Ruth’s responsibilities. These days she spends more time managing others and focusing on her clients’ immigration programs rather than the more transactional tasks of processing of petition filings.
Ruth’s sources of inspiration include her fellow BAL partners on whom she relies for guidance and support professionally. But closer to home, it’s all about her children (ages?). She confides, “Personally, I just have to look to my kids for personal inspiration. They are why I work hard, and I want to be a role model for them.”
Striking a work-life balance isn’t easy for any of us let alone an attorney with a practice stretching across time zones. As Ruth explains, “It’s all about priorities and sharing quality non-screen time, “For me, what is most important is to make my kids feel like they have my attention when I am with them. I leave work around 4:45 every day so that I can pick them up from school, spend some time with them, and have dinner with them. While I still glance at my phone every once in a while to make sure there are no emergencies, I try not to. And there is definitely a no phone policy at the dinner table. Once they’re in bed, I log back in to make up for leaving early. I also make sure to create time for working out each week and train for half marathons. It helps keep me sane and organize my thoughts, and I think it’s important to have non-work personal goals.”
Ruth Clark competing in Aramco's Houston Half Marathon
Ruth Clark has some experience-learned advice to share with those considering a career in immigration law, “I think starting out doing all types of immigration law (family, removal, business) is a good idea as it gives you a foundation that is essential. I see a lot of immigration attorneys who only specialize in one niche area, and they really are at a disadvantage because they can’t see the full picture in order to give full analysis.”
Ruth gives a perfect example of how her previous role practicing removal allowed her to help an individual being detained by the government. Several years ago, an individual who works in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa had issues with his entry documents, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was not going to admit him to the U.S. In a panic, and potentially due to a language barrier, he claimed he was afraid to return to his home country, Canada.
CBP then, by law, had to detain him until the asylum claim could be reviewed, which is not a fast process. It was clear an asylum claim for a fear of returning to Canada would never be approved, and the individual would ultimately be removed, or deported, from the U.S. This would affect his ability to return to his job and life in the U.S. Ruth was able to liaise with CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow the individual to withdraw his claim of asylum, withdraw his application for admission to the U.S. and voluntarily return to Canada.
The process took several weeks, but in the end, it allowed him to return to the U.S. to his job with no serious repercussions to his future. After having practiced solely employment-based immigration for years, Ruth says “it was exciting to be able to dip my toe back into the removal realm. It is a high-stress situation that really gets your adrenaline pumping, and you feel an enormous sense of relief when you are able to accomplish what would normally be impossible, and in that process, you affect an individual’s life in such an enormous way.”
A credit to her family, her profession, and her firm, Ruth Clark continues to strive each day, keeping her clients’ interests first of mind, herself and her children centered, and her phone sometimes turned off.
UK relo round up
By Caroline Breeds
Caroline Breeds - Cbreeds@acs-schools.com
Looking back over the summer, we have celebrated graduation at all four of our campus locations.
Having worked so hard to complete their pre university qualifications, it’s a great afternoon celebrating with family, whilst listening to student speakers, teachers, and keynote speakers. This year our keynote speakers were once again inspiring to all. Here is an insight into a couple of our keynote speakers:
Bonita Norris the youngest woman to scale mount Everest at the age of 22 years old. Bonita talked about the challenges she faced climbing Everest, including securing funding and the physical effort and focus needed to reach the summit. She encouraged all students to keep striving for their dreams despite the obstacles they may face in the future
Rachel Yankey OBE, who had played 129 times for the England women’s football team.
Rachel shared her early year struggles to make it in women’s football as well as the hurdles she had to overcome to get to the top of her career. Her personal sacrifices but more importantly her passion and dedication resulted in success and hence she reminded the students that there are no short cuts to achieving your dreams.
Once again our students gained great results for the IB diploma, with a high percentage across all of our campuses obtaining over 38 points. 38 points is equivalent to over four A grades at A level points. Many of our students have gone on to study at leading universities across the globe and we wish them all well with the next chapter of their journey.
Start of the school year…
We have been extremely busy welcoming new and returning families to our four campus locations. New families are invited to attend our orientation days; these are invaluable for families that are not only new to ACS many have recently arrived in the UK so are at the beginning of the transition process. The orientation days help settle any first day nerves so that students and parents alike are familiar with the campus and are able to meet with staff to ask questions regarding the upcoming year. It concludes with lunch allowing families to socialize in an informal setting.
At the start of each school year we update our bussing map according to demand. Last year we took the decision to run two shuttle busses from London to our Egham campus. This was following parent feedback and has been extremely successful and numbers of students continues to grow on these routes. Here is the link to our bus map.
As many of you know we offer rolling admissions so although we have welcomed many new families we will continue to welcome more families throughout the year. If you have a family that are due to arrive in the UK please do contact our admissions departments to find out our very latest regarding availability for each grade.
The ARP awards dinner was held at the beginning of the Summer, Fergus and I had the opportunity to network with industry peers at St Ermin Hotel. It was wonderful to be there to watch Iain Crichton receive the Lifetime Achievement award. I was lucky enough to meet Iain at one of the first networking events that I attended when starting with ACS, he was always there to introduce me to different contacts at networking events, which I very much appreciated. We always look forward to seeing Iain at our relocation events, he is a keen supporter, we look forward to seeing you again soon!
I am looking forward to welcoming a new contact from the one of the Embassy’s to our Hillingdon campus later this month, if you haven’t visited any of our campuses before or for some years we would be delighted to welcome you, please do contact me to arrange a date.
My colleagues Fergus Rose, Advancement Director and Andrew Kittell, Corporate Relations Director will be attending the Worldwide ERC conference in Seattle. Please find them in the exhibition hall to say hello.
SAVE THE DATE,
December 5th our next relocation event will be our Christmas event at ACS Egham, a great opportunity to meet our interim Dean of Admissions at Egham, Delphine Lenoir, as well as other members of the wider ACS team. We look forward to getting you into the festive spirit! In the meantime, please do contact me if you would like to arrange a campus visit or meeting at your office. I look forward to seeing many of you soon.
By Michael Allum and Emma Chowdhury
International Family Law Group
Reflections on Family Law: What is ‘Family’?
Reflections on family law can occur in the most unusual of places. After a recent delayed flight from London to Chicago (taken by Michael), a couple were asked at customs whether they were family. Both gave conflicting answers: she said yes, and he said no! Over the jet-lagged fueled bickering, it got Michael thinking about how the concept or term ‘family’ can mean different things to different people. It turned out this couple were living together as boyfriend and girlfriend but their difference of opinion on whether they were family members recalled the recent lecture given by the former President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby.
In his lecture given to the University of Liverpool in May 2018, the then President made the point that before considering what family law means, one should first address the question of what is ‘family’. As he highlighted in his lecture, there was a time when most people probably thought that the answer was clear and obvious. Nowadays it is not so simple.
The former President gave five reasons for what he described as “enormous and very profound changes in family life” in recent times. First, there have been significant changes in the social and religious life. Second, there has been a large increase in the number of trans-national families. Third, there has been an increasing lack of marriage as an institution. Fourth, there has been a change in attitudes towards same sex relationships. And fifth, there have been enormous advances in medical and reproductive science.
These changes are not just academic but are seen in our daily work. As a firm specialising in international family law we have the benefit and privilege of seeing people from all walks of life. By way of example:
We are routinely consulted by same sex couples seeking assistance either in relation to the recognition or dissolution of their marriage or civil partnership. One problem which often occurs is a couple who enter into a civil partnership or same sex marriage here move to live in another country which does not recognise the status of their relationship and then discover, on separation, that it is not possible to dissolve their marriage/civil partnership in the country where they are living. England offers a residual jurisdiction in these circumstances provided the marriage/civil partnership took place here, but most countries do not.
Another issue which we encounter on an all too regular basis is the status of religious marriages entered into in this country. Although England will recognise religious marriages which are entered into overseas provided they satisfy various safeguards, primarily some state registration, religious marriage ceremonies which take place in England are not always automatically recognised unless there is a separate civil or accompanying ceremony. Although the recent decision of Williams J in Akhter may have shone some light upon a potential route to making financial claims in some circumstances, the current law can often lead to the financially weaker party being unable to claim financial relief through the family court.
We are also regularly consulted by couples from countries where de facto relationships are recognised and give rise to financial claims. This can often lead to difficulties in recognising and enforcing overseas de facto financial settlements in countries where de facto relationships are not recognised, particularly when the order requiring enforcement is not related to maintenance.
When we consider the broadness of the term ‘family’, the issue of ‘recognition’ does not just arise from a black letter law standpoint of whether a marriage/divorce can or cannot be acknowledged by one country or another. There is also the argument that the current law does not recognise or reflect the varying facets of modern family life. It is likely that an unmarried couple who have lived together over many years and share children together would consider themselves to be a complete ‘family’ unit. However, if they were to separate neither of them would be able to apply for financial provision for themselves within the family court and would be left to hard property law principles or financial provision for any children of the family.
In 2017 the Office of National Statistics published results showing that since 2002 the percentage of the population in England and Wales who cohabit but have never married has increased, whilst cohabitees who got married has decreased.
This reflects the changing attitudes in England and Wales towards the need to marry in order to build a ‘family’ life. Moreover, it points to the distinct divide between the beliefs of a large sector of society and the law as it stands today.
The lack of recognition of the different modes of family life is also demonstrated in the difficulties faced by step-parents and same-sex parents when wishing to enforce their responsibilities over the children of the family. For example:
If an unmarried same-sex female couple have a child together and they do not agree at the time of insemination that the non-child bearing party is also the child’s parent, that person will not hold parental responsibility over the child nor will they be able to acquire parental responsibility later except in very limited circumstances.
A step-parent has no parental responsibility over the child unless this is agreed with the child’s mother and everyone else with parental responsibility, or he or she applies to Court. This issue is likely to become more and more prevalent if we see an increase in the number of ‘hybrid’ families, as opposed to the traditional nuclear family, in the coming years.
The issue of married couples vs unmarried couples also rears its head here. An unmarried father who is not named on the birth register will not have parental responsibility in respect of his child unless he obtains an agreement from the mother or applies to Court.
These extra hurdles of applying to the Court highlight the prejudice by our law towards the non ‘traditional’ members of a family.
Calls for reform have been coming for some time and is long overdue. However, with Brexit imminent it is hard to imagine that family law is going to get much consideration in Parliament anytime soon. Perhaps this is an opportunity to first consider what constitutes family law which will have an impact on the reforms needed.
Michael Allum & Emma Chowdhury
The International Family Law Group LLP
Michael Allum is an Associate Solicitor at iFLG. He works predominantly in the divorce, forum and finance team. Emma is a Trainee Solicitor at iFLG. Emma completed the Graduate Diploma in Law at the University of Law and the Legal Practice Course at BPP University, obtaining a Distinction in both.