Q. My father left my mum when I was 18 months old. He never paid maintenance and I’ve met him twice. If he leaves me nothing in his will, can I claim against it? I don’t know exactly where he lives, so how would I find out if he died?
A. If your father dies without a will you would be entitled to a share of his estate under intestacy rules. If you are left out of his will you may have a claim, but it would only be worth doing if your father is well off. You must claim within six months of probate being granted, so learning of his death in time would be important. You could carry out a free search at the District Probate Registry every six months, or enter a “caveat”, which means they will notify you if someone applies for probate.
Q. We took out a three-year lease on a unit on an industrial estate. The landlord told us the roof was in danger of collapse, so we agreed to move to a different unit – at double the rent. We vacated the old unit six months ago although we have still been paying for it. The landlord won’t accept this money in part payment for our new premises.
A. You need expert legal help with this. The terms of your original lease should cover the situation where your premises become unfit for use. At the very least the rent on your old premises would normally be suspended, and so the rent you have paid since your move ought to go towards new premises.
Whether you should be paying extra rent will depend on the terms of your lease.
Q. I was married in the United States to a US citizen. Things aren’t too good, and I wondered how I would go about a divorce, especially insofar as the children are concerned. Would they be able to stay in England with me or go to the United States with my husband?
A. It depends very much on where they usually live. Under the Hague Convention, to which the US is a signatory, the principle is that matters concerning the custody or residence of a child are most appropriately decided in the country where the child usually lives. So if, for example, they go to school in the US a court in this country may decide that it cannot hear an application for a residence order. You should see a solicitor specialising in this area urgently.
* Fahmida Ismail is a partner at Sydney Mitchell solicitors, based in Birmingham. If you have any legal problems, write to Legal advice column, Birmingham Post, Floor 6, Fort Dunlop, Birmingham B24 9FF. Or you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.