Monday, August 21, 2017

News Essentials: 21st August 2017


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Gwynneth Knowles QC appointed to High Court Family Bench
Appointment with effect from 2nd October 2017. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Report calls for young children to have an independent right to privacy
The rise of ‘sharenting’, YouTube families and ‘science entertainment’ television programmes adversely affects the privacy of children, according to a new report. Full story: Family Law.

Children: surrogacy, and single people and parental orders: House of Commons Briefing Paper
Published in anticipation of changes expected in new session of Parliament. Full story: Family Law Hub.

'Unlawful' family court agreement axed
A joint agreement aimed at tackling delays in care proceedings has been ditched amid concerns it is unlawful and could lead to collusion between social workers and family court guardians. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Counselling domestic abusers cuts offending by third, say researchers
A radical counselling scheme for some domestic abusers cuts offending by a third, researchers say. Full story: BBC News.

CASES
X (A Child) (No 5) [2017] EWHC 2141 (Fam) (17 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. Full report: Bailii.

Gaspar v Zaleski & Ors [2017] EWHC 1770 (Ch) (12 July 2017)
Wife was seeking a declaration that she was part owner of a property and an order for sale pursuant to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 so that she could realise her interest. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

G (Children) (Habitual Resident), Re [2017] EWHC 2111 (Fam) (19 June 2017)
Judgment concerning issue of whether the court has jurisdiction in relation to proceedings issued by the mother under the inherent jurisdiction concerning two children currently staying in Abu Dhabi. Full report: Bailii.

R v P [2017] EWHC 1804 (Fam) (03 March 2017)
Application by father for summary return of child to Lithuania. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Absurdities and misconceptions


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were mostly about dealing with absurdities and putting right misconceptions. They included:

The absurd notion that I’m biased against fathers - Putting right this misconception.

Lessons for family litigants from a neighbour dispute - As in Dickinson & Anor v Cassillas.

Is the concern about the new divorce form a storm in a teacup? - The real reason why more adulterers may be named.

Bias against fathers: exercising my right to reply - Putting right further misconceptions.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, August 14, 2017

News Essentials: 14th August 2017


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Supreme Court to consider applications to vary periodical payments orders under MCA s31(7)
Permission given to husband to appeal by Mills v Mills. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In July 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,709 new private law cases. This is a 10% increase compared with those received in July 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in July 2017
In July 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,238 care applications. This figure represents a 5% decrease compared with those received in July 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Supreme Court to hear argument that 'unreasonable behaviour' in divorce is a 'linguistic trap'
Supreme Court grants permission to appeal in Owens case. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Judge approves suicidal girl care plan
A judge who said society should be "ashamed" for not protecting a suicidal girl has approved a care plan for her. Full story: BBC News. See X (A Child) (No 4), below.

Family Procedure Rules amended as of today
New divorce form D8 may be used from today. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Joy-Morancho v Joy (Dismissal of Variation Application) [2017] EWHC 2086 (Fam) (11 August 2017)
Judgment dismissing husband's application for downward variation of spousal maintenance order. Full report: Bailii.

S v S [2017] EWHC 1298 (Fam) (28 May 2017)
Interim judgment in application by father for return of child to Iran, dealing with issue of expert evidence as to Iranian law and practice. Full report: Bailii.

K and P (Children : Discharge of care order) [2017] EWFC B51 (23 March 2017)
Application by local authority for discharge of care order in respect of two children. Full report: Bailii.

J (A Child : Care Proceedings : Apportionment of Experts' fees) [2017] EWFC B49 (3 August 2017)
Care proceedings involving possible non-accidental injuries to child. Judgment concerning how medical experts' fees should be apportioned between the parties. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 4) [2017] EWHC 2084 (Fam) (07 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

‘Digital Divorce’ Pilot to be Extended this Summer

The forms needed for couples in England and Wales to file for divorce are set to change. In paper and digital format, the new forms are designed to gather more information from both divorcees. Whilst the paper forms are yet to be released by the Ministry of Justice, a pilot for the digital equivalent is to be extended.

Being used on a trial basis in the East Midlands, the forms have a few key differences from the old one. Whereas all was needed for the current forms was a signature from both parties, for the new ones, a statement of truth is needed. This is to help give the authorities an idea of why couples are filing for divorce.

The statement requires the person(s) filling in the form to explain why they want a separation, being as descriptive and honest as possible. This could cause some confusion for those couples who have different versions of events leading up to divorce. It isn’t the only big change being introduced to the way in which couples can divorce.

Civil Partnerships

A version of the new divorce form will be introduced for couples in civil partnerships. As with married couples, their form will also have a statement of truth section, which needs to be filled in before it gets signed off. This step recognises that couples are looking to alternatives to marriage as a means of expressing their love for one another.

As for the pilot electronic form, this needs to be printed off before it can be agreed by the relevant bodies. Expert family law solicitors can assist with filling in the new divorce form. The pilot, which started towards the end of July, will gauge whether or not paperless divorces and separations are set to become the norm.

The most recent amendment to Form D8 was made this month, but other aspects of divorce or dissolution remain unchanged for now. Whilst one change may not seem like that much, knowing how to write the statement of truth may require plenty of thought from both divorcees.

Divorce by Phone

With the modified divorce form now available online, in theory, would-be divorcees could fill it in via their smartphones. This could cause some confusion, particularly if predictive text is used. Seeking specialist divorce law advice should help anyone choosing the electronic pilot over the paper form will be the best course of action.

However the form is filled in, if the electronic pilot succeeds, it should be rolled out across England and Wales at some point in 2018. The early signs thus far look promising for this shift towards digital divorces. Until then, divorce lawyers and offices nationwide will need to keep stocking up on paper forms and have pens at the ready.

Published on behalf of withersworldwide.

Monday, August 07, 2017

News Essentials: 7th August 2017


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Senior judge: Fathers with valuable homes should pay more child support
Estranged fathers with expensive homes should be forced to pay more towards the upbringing of their children, one of Britain's most senior family judges has said. Full story: The Telegraph. See Green v Adams, below.

Judge warns of 'blood on our hands' if suicidal girl is forced out of secure care
Sir James Munby, head of high court’s family division, says he is ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ that no hospital place has been found for 17-year-old. Full story: The Guardian. See X (A Child) (No 3), below.

Government updates child maintenance application fee guidance
The Department for Work and Pensions has updated its guidance which sets out how it will decide if a victim of domestic violence or abuse is exempt from the Child Maintenance Service application fee. Full story: Family Law.

Judge dismisses council’s bid to block parents’ adoption petition
Parents' right to campaign outweighs risk to children, court finds. Full story: Community Care. See Southend Borough Council v CO & Anor.

Digital divorce update
Legal stationers are stocking up on new family law forms which will need to be used by the end of the summer. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
Green v Adams [2017] EWFC 52 (03 August 2017)
Applications arising from order requiring the father to pay a lump sum to the mother, under Schedule 1 CA 1989. Full report: Bailii.

AM v DF [2017] EWHC 2034 (Fam) (01 August 2017)
Appeal by father against order allowing mother to take children to Iraq for four weeks. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 3) [2017] EWHC 2036 (Fam) (03 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Divorce judges must use imagination in a different way, says family charity

Family court judges need to extend their imaginations beyond writing verdicts in the form of ‘personable’ letters to family members, says a leading family charity.

Mr Peter Justice Jackson made headlines in late July when he sent a 14 year-old boy a personalised letter, outlining his reasons for denying the teenager the outcome he sought – to be allowed to move abroad with his dad.

But National Family Mediation says we should not be deceived by the novel approach.

“Make no mistake, it’s going to be very hard for Sam to digest the way the court saw his father,” says Jane Robey, the charity’s CEO.

“The language and delivery of the verdict may be worlds away from what we expect. Yet the basic fact that again here is a judge handing down a life-changing verdict to a young person based on evidence he accrued during a long and expensive court case.”

She added that it “doesn’t alter the fact that as ever in divorce and separation cases that go to a court, parents’ and children’s futures get determined by a judge: the one person on the scene who knows least about the family.

“I say it’s high time for the judiciary to become more creative and vocal in its efforts to avoid court battles that expose the dirty laundry of a separating family, often in the full glare of the people most affected: the children.

“Judges already have powers to direct people who come before them towards alternatives.”

In an article for Huffington Post, Jane Robey explains there is capacity within the Children and Families Act to order couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, and explains how the charity was awarded a grant by the Department for Work and Pensions to develop an in-court mediation pilot programme.

“Our dispute resolution experts, based on hand in a sample of family courts, managed to settle cases just like this one in a much more constructive and amicable way.

“Crucially they avoided families involved having all their lives laid bare before a court. Many had already suffered years of court room squabbles but mediation helped them reach dignified agreements: settlements that were fully supported by the judges concerned.”
 
“We still await word from the DWP about a national roll-out of that in-court mediation programme that could transform the lives of thousands of separated families. And think of the money it could save the taxpayer.

“Transformative change could be a few heartbeats away, as long as the will exists. Judges and courts could manage their parenting, property and money dispute cases in a fresh way, using their existing powers to better effect, whilst seriously protecting the families’ right to a private life.

“A novel approach to writing a verdict is one thing: but it’s time for judges to use their imaginations in a completely different way.”

The article can be read in full here.

Nothing really matters


Damn, just broke my rule not to use a song lyric for the title of a blog post. Again. Still, that lyric did seem particularly apposite, at least in respect of the first of my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

In this post-truth world, does it matter what the public believes? - Just putting some ideas out there...

OK, so what child names would a court find unacceptable? - Thoughts on Re C.

The legal aid scandal that wasn’t - (Over) reaction to Re C.

Determining whether care is shared for child support purposes - The Upper Tribunal case JS v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and another.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, July 31, 2017

News Essentials: 31st July 2017


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Mother wins court battle to change child's 'tainted' middle name
A mother who no longer liked her child's middle name has won the right to have it removed in a legal challenge costing thousands of pounds in legal aid. Full report: The Telegraph. See Re C, below.

Judge writes personal letter to teen after High Court battle
A judge has written a personal letter to a 14-year-old boy explaining why he has rejected his request to move with his father to Scandinavia. Full story: BBC News. See report, below.

Domestic violence a factor in majority of child contact applications, research finds
Nearly two-thirds of applications heard in the family courts for contact with a child feature some kind of domestic violence allegation, a study has found. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Supreme Court allows wife’s appeal in Birch v Birch
Court may hear wife’s application to be released from undertaking to sell former matrimonial home. Full story: Family Law Week. See report, below.

High Court affirms declaration that Charlie Gard’s life support may be withdrawn
Parents withdraw objection to GOSH’s application. Full story: Family Law Week. See report, below.

CASES
Amin v Amin [2017] EWCA Civ 1114 (25 July 2017)
Appeal by husband against order made pursuant to Part III MFPA 1984. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

D (Appeal : Failure of Case Management) [2017] EWHC 1907 (Fam) (24 July 2017)
Appeal by mother in proceedings relating to contact, against decision that allegedly abusive father could cross-examine the mother. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

L (Children) [2017] EWCA Civ 1137 (27 July 2017)
Appeal against care orders in relation to two children. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

A (Letter to a Young Person), Re [2017] EWFC 48 (26 July 2017)
Application by father to remove child to a Scandinavian country. Judgment in form of letter to the child. Full report: Bailii.

C (A Child : Removal of forename). ), Re [2017] EWFC B44 (26 July 2017)
Appeal by father against order giving mother permission to remove child's middle name. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Birch v Birch [2017] UKSC 53 (26 July 2017)
Appeal by wife against decision that the court had no jurisdiction to hear an application to be released from undertaking to sell former matrimonial home. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

N-S (Children), Re [2017] EWCA Civ 1121 (25 July 2017)
Appeal by father against care and placement orders in respect of four children, complaining of lack of adequate judicial reasoning for the orders. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Great Ormond Street Hospital -v- Yates and Gard [2017] EWHC 1909 (Fam) (24 July 2017)
Application by NHS Trust for an order that it is lawful and in best interests of child with brain damage for artificial ventilation to be withdrawn. Further hearing to consider fresh evidence. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.