NRIO re GRT on AFPS 75 and CEA Roger; Tango Delta out.

Posted on: February 4th, 2016

[Or put another way, there I was with my Oppo down the gulch at stand easy, spinning a few salty dits having had a belter of a run ashore the previous night in Guzz, when the Killick of the Mess told me the Jaunty wanted to see me in the Reg Office. It was then I knew the day was going to turn to rats and it was only a matter of time before I’d have to get me hat and be up at the Skipper’s Table!!!]

Complete load of gibberish? Not if you are from an Armed Forces family. 

The Armed Forces is like a family, sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it, but you you know it will always be there and will provide support when you need it. Like a family it has its own “in jokes” and its own language. The Armed Forces love acronyms and lapsing into TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations); if you are not in the know you just might not understand the true meaning of the conversation.

Our very own Bob Williams is a former Royal Naval officer and speaks the language fluently, much to the amusement of some colleagues who listen to him on the phone and have no idea what he is talking about. 

Coffin Mew is a firm with roots firmly in Portsmouth and consequently has a close association with the Armed Forces.

We act for clients throughout the country and of course those serving overseas – or indeed at the bottom of the sea! 

Being part of a service family has unique benefits and challenges; having an adviser who has some insight into those facts can be invaluable. 

Not having to explain the complex entries on pay statements or the significance of altering married status in so far as accommodation is concerned not only saves time but enables the person seeking advice to concentrate on the issues to which they really want answers. Accepting and understanding the limitations of communication in a submarine or understanding the resettlement process just makes life easier for service personnel and their families.

Tina Day – Family lawyer and Mediator

We receive a significant number of referrals from the White Ensign Association. For the majority of those referrals understanding the Armed Forces Pension Schemes is the key issue. Whether seeking to protect their pension or maximise the pension claim on divorce having the confidence that we understand the intricacies of all three of the schemes is critical. Our team is recognised as national experts in this field.

Helping parents make arrangements for their children on divorce or separation has its challenges, for service personnel there is potentially a whole myriad of additional hurdles to overcome. The Armed Forces have a fairly old fashioned idea of responsibility for children which is simply not compatible with modern day living or, indeed, parts of the Children Act. Take, for example, Continuity of Educational Allowance (CEA), which is an allowance designed to provide stability of education for Armed Forces children. A significant contribution is made towards a child’s education to enable children to board at school whilst their serving parent(s) take up assignments across the UK and abroad. There is an eligibility criteria for this allowance which includes in the event of a divorce or separation that the serving member must have full custody of the child to continue to be eligible for the allowance. Custody hasn’t existed in legal terms since the introduction of the Children Act 1989 which also established the “no order” principle, meaning the court will only make orders when it is necessary and considered to be in the child’s best interests. It is also increasingly common for shared care arrangements to be considered in the best interests of the children. The eligibility criteria immediately causes potential conflict between parents. Retaining CEA is often key to a child continuing their education at their school as well as being able to access travel allowances for staying in touch. For parents serving overseas being able to access the travel allowances might be the only way to fund face to face visits whilst they are posted abroad.

Because of the transient nature of service life it is not uncommon for a family home to be owned in a home town but for parties to be living in service accommodation where they are assigned. Changing martial status will trigger an eviction from the service accommodation which potentially leaves the non service partner (more often the wife) and children homeless. Family homes will often be occupied by tenants and may be hundreds of miles from where the children are settled in school or nursery and where the non service parent has a job and support network. Knowing this will happen and discussing these matters in advance and preparing people for it can be key in preserving a good co-parenting relationship between the parties going forward. 

Bob Williams – Consultant Barrister

As for Bob, he has a unique role to play within Coffin Mew. His aim is to provide a knowledgeable, sympathetic and reassuring initial point of contact for serving and former members of the Armed Forces, Reserve Forces and their families and to assist them with the myriad of problems unique to service.

He works with all ranks and rates within the Armed Forces, with organisations that support the Armed Forces and former service personnel and their families, dealing with disciplinary, administrative and employment issues at all levels. These matters are in addition to his work in respect of representing serving personnel in disciplinary proceedings at Court Martial and the Summary Appeal Court.

Having served for 36 years in the Royal Navy, Bob has a very close affinity to all service personnel both past and present and having “been there; seen it and done it”, his aim is to provide as much help and support to those who now find themselves in difficulties.