Friday, July 22, 2016

Reform, a new idea and child contact...


After a look at the possible future of family law, my posts on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog  this week were mostly about resolving children disputes:

Law Commission seeks ideas for law reform - The Commission is asking for suggestions to include in its 13th Programme of Law Reform.

Father refused contact despite abuse allegation not being proved - The Scottish Court of Session case J v M.

Children arbitration scheme is good, but only scratches the surface - A few thoughts about the new Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme.

Court’s delay in Hague Convention case breaches father’s human rights - The ECHR case G.N. v. Poland.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Arbitration Children Scheme launched


The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) has today (18 July) launched the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme (‘the Children Scheme’), set to bolster the use of arbitration relating to family disputes.

Since its launch in 2012, family law arbitration has been available to deal with financial matters. The new scheme now offers the opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of parental responsibility and other private law issues about the welfare of children by arbitration.

This form of arbitration will cover issues relating to where children should live, how much time they should spend with each parent and relocation in England & Wales. The scheme has been developed by a multi-disciplinary team of leading Family Lawyers.

More information about the scheme is available at www.ifla.org.uk.

Commenting on the scheme’s launch, which took place at Inner Temple, the Chair of IFLA, Rt Hon Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said:

“The new children arbitration scheme will enable couples to resolve disputes concerning parental responsibility of children more quickly, cheaply and in a more flexible, less formal setting than a court room. It will also guarantee confidentiality where that is required or necessary. These are all important ingredients to minimising conflict and supporting the best interests of children.

“At a time when our courts are under significant pressures, the availability of arbitration for children matters builds on the long and proud tradition arbitration has in other areas, and gives parents and practitioners another tool with which to resolve family disputes”.

Tom Cadman, Director of Governance and Legal Services at CIArb added:

“The new scheme will have a vast impact on the arbitration landscape as we know it and CIArb’s training will ensure that arbitrators are trained to the highest professional standards before engaging in arbitrations under the scheme.”

Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution (and family arbitrator), said:

"Resolution is committed to helping separating families find the best approach to resolving issues. Since its launch, arbitration has provided couples with a speedy, flexible and cost-effective way to sort out their finances where they cannot reach agreement. I'm delighted that this new scheme has been established to extend these benefits to those families needing a decision on the arrangements for their children."

James Roberts, Treasurer of the FLBA, board member of IFLA and arbitrator said:

“The extension of the financial arbitration scheme, which is already successful, to deal with issues surrounding children will give parties the ability to use arbitration to resolve all of their family issues in circumstances where they cannot reach an agreement.

“The IFLA scheme of arbitration provides a valuable and tailor made solution in times of increasing pressure upon the court system. Choice of arbitrator, continuity of tribunal, confidentiality and speed of decision making are the hallmarks of the financial scheme, and it’s great that all are now available now in children disputes too."

News Essentials: 18th July 2016


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

NEWS
Law Commission opens consultation on its next programme of law reform
Commission proposes reviews of laws relating to surrogacy and to children’s social care. Full story: Family Law Week.

Resolution welcomes new Justice Secretary
Resolution today welcomed Rt Hon Liz Truss MP in her role as the new Secretary of State for Justice. Full story: Resolution.

Legal aid residence test was ultra vires, Supreme Court says in full judgment
Nearly three months after taking the unprecedented step of allowing an appeal to the government’s plans to introduce a civil legal aid residence test midway through its hearing, the Supreme Court today handed down its full judgment in the case. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Marriage continues decline and cohabitation increases since 2002
Latest ONS figures show that just over half the adult population are married. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In June 2016, Cafcass received a total of 3,599 new private law cases.  This is a 6% increase on June 2015 levels. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in June 2016
In June 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,265 care applications.  This figure represents a 13% increase compared to those received in June 2015. Full story: Cafcass.

CASES
London Borough Tower Hamlets v B [2016] EWHC 1707 (Fam) (13 July 2016)
Judgment following application by local authority to remove children from household, in case where it was feared that child will seek to join ISIS. Full report: Bailii.

A (A Child), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 759 (13 July 2016)
Appeal against the making of a declaration that it was lawful to remove respiratory support from tetraplegic child. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Re N (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 656 (19 April 2016)
Appeal by brother of girl subject to pending care proceedings against refusal of permission to apply for contact. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

Rodwell, Re [2016] EWHC 1731 (Fam) (10 June 2016)
Hague Convention proceedings concerning children removed from Portugal by mother. Order requiring mother's solicitor to attend court to give such evidence as they may have as to the whereabouts of the mother or the children. 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, July 15, 2016

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers July/August 2016


The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.


In this issue

  • Practice – Allan Carton explains how firms can introduce more effective training using e-learning tools and blended learning
  • Marketing – Susan Hallam of Hallam Internet tells us about the recent changes to Google AdWords results
  • Workplace – Chris Bryden and Michael Salter analyse the "snoopers' charter" regarding employee communications
  • ODR – Graham Ross of Modria alerts us to the new ADR regulations being ignored by online retailers
  • Office applications – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains how Google Apps for Work can benefit office productivity
  • Legal practice – Delia Venables considers the emergence of the new breed of "dispersed" law firms
  • Social media – Nick Holmes walks us through how Twitter works

Well, fairly new...


My posts on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog over the last week or so included the following:

Would deduction of child maintenance from joint accounts open a can of worms? - The DWP's consultation on plans to make deduction orders to recover child maintenance arrears from joint bank accounts held by a non-resident parent.

Doesn’t it strike anyone as strange that the judiciary should be provided with guidance on needs? - The Family Justice Council's Guidance on “Financial Needs” on Divorce.

Father must be served with statutory will papers -  The Court of Protection case Re D.

MCJ v MAJ: financial remedy principles in action - Roberts J's judgment in MCJ v MAJ (Financial Provision: Treatment of Non-Matrimonial Property).

Calculating income under the current child support scheme - The case IW v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and DW (CSM) (Child support : calculation of income).

Are child contact centres to become a thing of the past? - Some thoughts following the news that another centre is to close, as a result of the legal aid cuts.

Denial of contact does not breach Russian father’s right to family life - The ECHR case Krapivin v Russia.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Resolution welcomes new Justice Secretary

Liz Truss
Resolution today welcomed Rt Hon Liz Truss MP in her role as the new Secretary of State for Justice.

 Resolution Chair, Nigel Shepherd, said:

“I’d like to congratulate Ms Truss on her appointment, and look forward to building on the strong relationship Resolution has with Ministers and officials within her new department.

“Resolution will continue our work to convince the new Lord Chancellor and her colleagues at the Ministry of Justice of the need for reform to family law, to help improve the lives of separating and separated families across England and Wales.

“This includes removing the legal need for divorcing couples to blame each other, which is currently a major roadblock in helping resolve matters amicably, and often acts as a barrier to people keeping their disputes away from the courtroom.

“And, in light of yesterday’s ONS statistics showing cohabiting couples now make up nearly 10% of the population, we will continue to press for the law to catch up to this rapidly growing trend. Regardless of one’s views on marriage, some legal protection needs to be offered to people when these relationships break down to ensure the lack of awareness over their rights does not unfairly penalise them.

“In keeping with the approach our members take to divorce and separation, we have always tried to offer constructive advice and feedback to government, even when faced with difficult decisions that put access to justice at risk. But we have never shied from speaking out when we believe the government is wrong, and I promise we will continue to act as a critical friend to the new Lord Chancellor when the circumstances call for it.

“As former Minister at the Department for Education, we hope Ms Truss will also have a positive view of our work to encourage separating parents to put the best interests of their children first. We look forward to working with her on these and other issues, and wish her well in her new role.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New statistics show laws need to catch up with modern families, says family justice group


Today’s statistics, showing cohabiting couples represent nearly 10% of the population, are further proof that the law on cohabitation needs to catch up with modern British society, says family law organisation Resolution.
Cohabiting couples currently have little legal protection when they separate. Lawyer Graeme Fraser, Resolution’s spokesman on cohabitation law, explains:
Under current cohabitation law it’s possible to live with someone for decades and even to have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down. This can have a huge impact on women and children, particularly in cases where a mother has given up or reduced her work to raise a family.”
According to the ONS, people who were “cohabiting: never married or civil partnered” represented 6.8% of the population in 2002. This had increased to to 9.5% by 2015. The ONS say this may be explained by an increasing trend to cohabit instead of marry, or to cohabit before marriage, particularly at younger ages. According to Families and Households: 2015, cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK (2004 to 2015).
Graeme Fraser comments:
"These statistics should be regarded by policymakers as a wake-up call that cohabitation is a trend of modern society that is not going to go away. As family lawyers who see the damage caused by the lack of protection for cohabiting couples when they separate, Resolution calls for the urgent introduction of safety net legislation providing legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple's separation, particularly for children and mothers left vulnerable under the existing law.
He continues: “In light of the latest ONS data, reform of the law for cohabiting couples should be one of the top priorities for whoever the new Prime Minister appoints as Justice Secretary.”
Last year Resolution released its Manifesto for Family Law calling for the introduction of some rights for cohabiting couples when they separate. Research in 2013 from relationships charity One Plus One shows that almost half (47%) of the British public believe in the myth of “common law marriage”, the notion that cohabiting couples have similar legal rights to married people. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

School summer holiday threatens breaking point for many couples

With the long school summer holiday days away, the country’s leading provider of family mediation is gearing up for an increase in demand from divorcing and separating couples.

National Family Mediation’s (NFM) Chief Executive, Jane Robey, says: “The summer holiday often proves the final straw for strained relationships, and the next six weeks will be a breaking point for many couples.

“Many couples who are on the edge of separation work through the tensions for the sake of their children, taking a day at a time,” she adds.

But she identifies three factors that shift many of them from an uneasy relationship to an unworkable one during the summer:
·         more family time together in close proximity
·         changes in established daily routines, and
·         the expense of going away, and keeping family members entertained

“The long school summer holiday will be the final straw for many couples whose relationships have been strained for some time. It’s not just the week away somewhere warm, but the time at home when stressed-out families are spending more time together,” Jane Robey says.

She says the recent BBC Two TV series ‘Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator’, which featured NFM mediators had raised the profile of mediation and that increasing number of people understand that when a relationship breaks down and property, finance and parenting arrangements need to be sorted, there are alternatives to a court room battle.

“Family mediation is four times quicker and more cost effective than going to court to settle a divorce. Professional mediators believe it is the families affected by separation that are best placed to explore and agree the key details of their separation, rather than handing these judgements to a family court.

“As the summer holiday goes on, NFM’s mediators will expect to see more and more couples who have already separated or divorced seeking to change the arrangements imposed on them by a family court.

“Separated families often find the summer holiday is when they discover agreements that were imposed on them by courts are simply not workable. Arrangements for picking up and dropping off the children that might work in term-time are exposed as impractical by changes in established routines. Resentments resurface, hostilities accelerate, and the child can be caught helplessly in the middle,” she adds.

Parents who want to find their nearest family mediator can type their postcode at www.nfm.org.uk/local or call 0300 4000 636.

Legal Aid for a mediated separation is still available.

Monday, July 11, 2016

News Essentials: 11th July 2016


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

NEWS
Ex-model wins £75m divorce settlement from Saudi billionaire
Christina Estrada awarded sum, including £53m cash payment, at high court from former husband Sheikh Walid Juffali. Full story: The Guardian. See Juffali v Juffali, below.

Family justice review: how care applications vary in different LAs
Research looking at care applications in 21 local authorities (LAs) and how long they take. Full story: Department for Education.

Strategy for helping care leavers published
State will support care leavers to achieve specified key outcomes. Full story: Family Law Week.

ALC publishes guidance on settlement conferences pilot
Association expresses concern about parties’ right to a fair hearing. Full story: Family Law Week.

Post-adoption support interventions: independent evidence review
Review of evidence relating to 15 post-adoption support therapeutic interventions for children and families. Full story: Department for Education.

Civil partner takes dissolution battle to Court of Appeal
Woman fighting for fair settlement after ex-partner hid £6m assets in business. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
X (A Child) (No 2), Re [2016] EWHC 1668 (Fam) (08 July 2016)
Care proceedings. Application for reporting restriction order to keep the identities of the adult parties confidential. Full report: Bailii.

Juffali v Juffali [2016] EWHC 1684 (Fam) (30 June 2016)
Application for financial relief under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 where the judge had to consider needs in a context of an extremely opulent lifestyle. Full report: Family Law Hub.

MCJ v MAJ (Financial Provision: Treatment of Non-Matrimonial Property) [2016] EWHC 1672 (Fam) (6 July 2016)
Judgment in financial remedy proceedings where Roberts J had to factor in a pre-acquired property portfolio of the husband. The wife was award over 50% of the marital acquest as her needs required it. Full report: Family Law Hub.

K (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 462 (14 April 2016)
Appeal by mother against dismissal of application for permission to oppose adoption application. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

London Borough of Sutton v Gray & Ors v Guardian News and Media Ltd [2016] EWHC 1608 (Fam) (22 June 2016)
Application for the publication of the judgment of Eleanor King J in the Ellie Butler case. 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, July 08, 2016

Resolution members celebrated at LALYs

Baljit Bains and Tracy Winstanley recognised for work to support vulnerable people

Members of family law organisation Resolution were celebrated in the 2016 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards (LALYs) last night.

Resolution members Baljit Bains and Tracy Winstanley were awarded the LALY for their work as legal aid family lawyers and family mediators.

The LALYs, run by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) are legal aid’s most prestigious event and exist to honour the often unsung champions of the legal profession who do so much to support some of society’s most vulnerable people.

The awards are now in their fourteenth year. Resolution has once again sponsored the Family Legal Aid Lawyer and Family Mediation categories.

Resolution chair Nigel Shepherd said:

“I’d like to extend warm congratulations to all of the winners and finalists at last night’s LALY awards and in particular Resolution’s Baljit and Tracy for their fantastic achievement. They are both great ambassadors for the values that Resolution promotes.

“The work legal aid practitioners do is vital to ensuring that our society remains just and fair. The cuts to legal aid funding have had a profound impact on the profession, but it’s people like those recognised at the LALYs who work tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged people continue to have access to justice.”

Legal Aid Practitioners Group director Carol Storer said:

“LAPG is proud to organise the LALY awards on behalf of the entire profession. Like Resolution, we are committed to recognising and inspiring excellence among legal aid lawyers. This is our 14th year, and the calibre of 2016 entrants remains impressively high, and a tribute to the vital and life-changing work that legal aid lawyers do every day of their working lives.

“Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in the two family categories, where the commitment of the finalists to protecting children and families is quite outstanding. This is difficult, demanding and important work, and LAPG is pleased to be able to give family legal aid lawyers and mediators the recognition they deserve.”