Monday, December 18, 2017

News Essentials: 18th December 2017


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

NEWS
Law Commission to consider the law of surrogacy
The UK law ‘is outdated and unclear and requires comprehensive reform’. Full story: Family Law Week.

MIAMs between July and September down 5% on a year ago
Mediation starts down 14%. Full story: Family Law Week.

Child maintenance consultation launched
Tough new powers to help tackle child maintenance arrears are being proposed in a consultation that launched today (14 December 2017). Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

Care applications in November 2017
In November 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,228 care applications. This figure represents a 5% decrease compared with those received in November 2016 but is the second-highest monthly total for a November on record. Full story: Cafcass.

Cafcass private law demand
In November 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,811 new private law cases. This is a 9% increase compared with those received in November 2016 and is the highest demand for the month of November since 2012. Full story: Cafcass.

Family court statistics quarterly: July to September 2017
Statistics relating to family courts. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

CASES
B and C (Change of Names: Parental Responsibility: Evidence) [2017] EWHC 3250 (Fam) (12 December 2017)
Proceedings concerning 2 children, whose father is believed to be living in Iran.
Application by mother, who fears father may attempt to remove the children to Iran, for leave to change their names and restrict father's parental responsibility. Full report: Bailii.

HC v FW [2017] EWHC 3162 (Fam) (29 November 2017)
Financial remedies claim by wife, in which the issues included her capacity to litigate and the wealth of the couple was pre-acquired and/or inherited by the husband. Full report: Bailii.

W - C (Children) [2017] EWCA Civ 250 (28 February 2017)
Appeal by guardian against order authorising local authority to place child for adoption, as against long-term fostering. Appeal allowed. 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, December 15, 2017

Covering the bases


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog covered many of the bases of family law, including finances, children, domestic abuse and legal aid:

Just within bounds: global maintenance orders and child support - The High Court case AB v CD (Jurisdiction Global Maintenance Orders).

The reality of domestic abuse - A picture of life on the ‘front line’.

Inequality of arms in a post-legal aid world - Welcome to family law in the 21st century.

Is equal parenting time the next big thing from America? - Possibly...

Have a good weekend.

Monday, December 11, 2017

News Essentials: 11th December 2017


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

NEWS
Law Soc publishes behavioural research of consumers choosing divorce services
Price comparison particularly difficult in respect of family law disputes. Full story: Family Law Week.

Select Committee examines proposed HFEA order to remedy discrimination against single parents
Call for submissions on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial Order) 2018. Full story: Family Law Week.

Concern over adopter numbers as figures show ‘no continued decline’ in adoptions
Adoption decisions and placement orders have stabilised since landmark court judgements caused a slump, the Adoption Leadership Board has said. Full story: Community Care.

Financial Remedies Courts should lead to ‘greater predictability’
Legal experts believe new Financial Remedies Courts should provide claimants and respondents with greater predictability, when resolving financial claims on relationship breakdown. Full story: Family Law.

Justice minister pours cold water on growing calls to fund early legal advice
The government yesterday damped down hopes that it would consider funding greater access to early legal advice. Full story: Legal Futures.

MoJ scraps legal aid restrictions for victims of domestic violence
New rules removing time limit and allowing admission of fresh categories of evidence will come into force in January. Full story: The Guardian.

CASES
S v S [2017] EWHC 3184 (Fam) (12 July 2017)
Judgment in proceedings arising from the mother's removal of the child from Iran. Full report: Bailii.

AB v CD (Jurisdiction Global Maintenance Orders) [2017] EWHC 3164 (Fam) (06 December 2017)
Appeal by husband against financial remedies order considering, inter alia, whether the court had jurisdiction to make a global maintenance order for the benefit of the wife and the children. Full report: Bailii.

HRS Louis Xavier Marie Guillaume Prince of Luxembourg, Prince of Nassau and Prince of Bourbon-Parma v HRH Tessy Princess of Luxembourg, Princess of Nassau and Princess of Bourbon-Parma & Anor [2017] EWHC 3095 (Fam) (05 December 2017)
Application to vary reporting restriction order in ongoing financial remedy proceedings. 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, December 08, 2017

Past and future


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog touched upon both the past and the future of family law. They included:

Attorney fails to have gift to wife ratified - The Court of Protection case Re PP.

Is divorce a sign of failure? - Short answer: no.

On the road again: divorce in the 21st century - With particular reference to the new Financial Remedy Courts.

Memories of family cases at Somerset House - A post with a (very slight) seasonal touch.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, December 04, 2017

News Essentials: 4th December 2017


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

NEWS
President's circular: Financial Remedies Courts
Circular released by the President on 1 December 2017 in which he proposes to pilot the FRC in three places starting in February 2018. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Children removed from family home over parents’ 'open' relationship
West Midlands social workers told court the parents each saw other people and found it hard to supervise their children. Full story: The Guardian. See Re PQR, below.

Practice Guidance: Standard Financial and Enforcement Orders
President ‘strongly encourages’ use of standard forms. Full story: Family Law Week.

30% of private law cases have been to court before: Cafcass research
Research investigates reasons for cases returning. Full story: Family Law Week.

Age limit of children attending FHDRAs at CFC
HHJ Tolson QC has agreed for this Note to be shared with practitioners. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Judge highlights 'wholly inadequate' care provision for troubled teen
Another High Court judge has used a ruling to highlight inadequacies in state provision for a troubled and dangerous teenager. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
D (A Child), Re [2017] EWHC 3075 (Fam) (29 November 2017)
Re-hearing of fact-finding in relation to the cause of injuries to a child then aged four months. Held that the injuries were non-accidental in origin and are likely to have been inflicted by the father in a momentary loss of self-control. Full report: Bailii.

PQR (Children), Re [2017] EWFC B86 (13 October 2017)
Care and placement proceedings in respect of three children. Full report: Bailii.

PW & Ors v Luton Borough Council [2017] EWHC 3028 (Fam) (06 September 2017)
Judgment concerning issue of whether costs were increased by the Legal Aid Agency failing to state whether the statutory charge relating to the costs of care proceedings will apply to the recovery of damages in claim arising from those proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

M (A Child : secure accommodation order) [2017] EWHC 3021 (Fam) (23 November 2017)
Application by local authority for a secure accommodation order in respect of a 15 year old child. 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.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Millions of couples at severe financial risk due to ‘common-law marriage’ myth


Millions of unmarried couples living together are unaware that they are at severe financial risk as a result of the current legal system, national family justice organisation Resolution has warned.

As the fastest growing family type in the UK, the number of unmarried couples living together – or cohabiting – has more than doubled from 1.5m in 1996 to 3.3m in 2017.

However, a new ComRes poll reveals a significant lack of understanding about the rights available to these couples should their relationship end.

The poll of over 2,000 British adults was commissioned by Resolution, which represents 6,500 family practitioners and campaigns for a fairer family justice system.

The ComRes poll found that:

  • Two-thirds of people in cohabiting relationships are unaware that there is no such as thing as ‘common-law marriage’ in this country;
  • Four in five cohabitants agree that the legal rights of cohabiting couples who separate are unclear;
  • Seventy-nine per cent of the public agree that there is a need for greater legal protection for unmarried couples upon separation;
  • Eighty-four per cent of the public agree that the Government should take steps to ensure unmarried cohabiting couples are aware that they don’t have the same legal protection as married couples.

Resolution chair Nigel Shepherd says the law needs to change, as these result show it “is falling desperately behind the times”.

“Today’s poll shows that many still believe in the myth that they will get financial rights through ‘common-law marriage’. This means millions of cohabiting couples are unaware that they don’t have automatic claims, for example on the property they live in, if they split up. This makes it less likely they’ll take steps to protect themselves.

“In many cases, this lack of protection affects women more than men, as they are still more likely to have taken time off work to raise children.

“The Government must listen to the public, legal professionals and a growing number of politicians who all agree that we need reform to provide basic rights to cohabiting couples should they separate.

“Society has changed – it’s time for our laws to catch up.”

Under current law it’s possible to live with someone for decades and even have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner if the relationship breaks down.

This call for reform to extend rights to cohabiting couples is backed by a number of influential individuals and organisations, including Lord Hope of Craighead (former Deputy President of the Supreme Court), Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, the Law Society, Relate, OnePlusOne and the Family Law Bar Association.

Nigel Shepherd added:

“Family lawyers across the country are witnessing an increase in the number of cases involving cohabiting couples, and 98% of Resolution members report having worked with a couple who they have been unable to help due to the lack of legal protection.

“This is frustrating for us as professionals, but that frustration is nothing compared to the potential pain and heartache experienced by someone who thought they were protected by the mythical common-law marriage.”

Yvonne had five children with her partner of 17 years. She said:

“I was shocked to find out, that after five kids together and being with my partner for more than a decade that I was entitled to nothing when the relationship broke down. I was no longer just dealing with a break up – but with the fallout of not being legally entitled to share in any of what I thought were our joint assets.

“I had given up work to raise our children and fill the “traditional” role of mother and wife, as many do, but didn’t know that without being married or having a cohabitation agreement I was completely unprotected. Now, when my youngest finishes university I will have to move out of the family home, but I have no independent funds and no pension.

“I’m devastated to have been left in this situation, and think it’s wrong that the law is unable to provide people like me with any support whatsoever.

“I know lots of other women are in similar situations, but for some reason no one is talking about this. Yet tragically, so many people who may one day be affected are completely unaware.”
Nigel Shepherd said:

“Unfortunately, Yvonne’s story is just one of thousands that family lawyers see every year. The sad truth is that, unless they’re prepared to go through a lengthy and potentially expensive court process, many people are simply unable to access a fair settlement. Even if they’re emotionally or financially strong enough to do this, they may still be entitled to nothing.”

Until the law is updated, Resolution is urging anyone in a cohabiting relationship to take steps to protect themselves. These steps could include drawing up a cohabitation agreement which sets out intentions for finances, property and care of any children if the relationship breaks down. They also advise couples to consider taking out life insurance, and drawing up a will.

“The most important thing is to be aware that you might not have the automatic rights you think you have,” added Mr Shepherd. “Look at the information out there, know your rights, and get yourself protected.”

News Essentials: 27th November 2017


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

NEWS
Millions of couples at severe financial risk due to ‘common-law marriage' myth
Millions of unmarried couples living together are unaware that they are at severe financial risk as a result of the current legal system, national family justice organisation Resolution has warned. Full story: Resolution.

Ten years since the 2007 Child Support Convention
There are now 38 Contracting Parties. Full story: Family Law Week.

Domestic abuse: 10% of young women affected - ONS
More than 10% of women aged between 16 and 19 in England and Wales say they have experienced domestic abuse in the past year, research suggests. Full story: BBC News.

Budget gives divorced couples exemption on stamp duty surcharge
Divorcing couples who faced paying higher stamp duty rates will be given reprieve in a moved which reversed one of the unintended consequences of previous legislation. Full story: The Telegraph.

MoJ warns on reliability of old forensic tests in family cases and issues guidance for concerned clients
Warning concerns cases carried out by Trimega between 2010 and 2014. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Man who murdered adopted daughter was 'Jekyll and Hyde' character
Family court judge raises concerns about how injuries sustained by Elsie Scully-Hicks were dealt with. Full story: The Guardian. See report, below.

CASES
T (A Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 1889 (23 November 2017)
Appeal concerning the extent to which a family court may exercise its jurisdiction to grant a non-molestation injunction under FLA 1996 to protect a child who is the subject of a care order. Full report: Bailii.

NA (A Child), Re [2017] EWHC 2902 (Fam) (03 October 2017)
Application by mother for permission to appeal against an order that child should continue to live with her father. Permission refused. Full report: Bailii.

DO & BO (Temprorary Relocation to China), Re [2017] EWHC 858 (Fam) (12 April 2017)
Application by mother for permission to take children to China for a holiday. Permission refused. Full report: Bailii.

B (Children) [2017] EWCA Civ 1635 (23 August 2017)
Care proceedings. Appeal by local authority against the making of an interim child arrangement order for one child, placing her in the care of her paternal grandmother, under an interim supervision order. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

The County Council of the City and County of Cardiff -v- Scully-Hicks & Ors [2016] EWFC B (16 December 2016)
Fact-finding hearing in care proceedings, relating to the death of the child's sibling. Full report: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

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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.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Process Servers Reduce Delays To Family Law Cases

The UK legal system has a myriad of processes and legal procedures – many of these processes require physical documentation to become legally binding or to start the process. Legal procedures such as divorces, subpoenas, witness summons, court orders and injunctions must all have accompanying documentation before the process can commence. This documentation is vital to the procedure, as all involved parties must be fully aware of what is proposed, and what they are expected to do.

A process server facilitates the delivery of these documents. It is the duty of a process server to ensure that the required legal documents involved in a court case reach their intended recipient. Furthermore, it is their duty to obtain proof of delivery to ensure that the served party cannot claim ignorance on non-receipt of the court order etc. Proof of receipt is vital and an important part of a process servers role. If you are filing for a divorce petition, for example, you can use a process server, and be 100% sure that your spouse has received notification of the petition – there is no way they can deny receipt of the divorce documents.

Can You Post Court and Legal Documents? 

Is it not possible to simply post your documents and pay for a recorded delivery? Many people think that this would suffice, but in reality, this is not a sure-fire or safe way of delivering an important legal docu-ment.

What if the served party has changed address? What if the documents are lost in transit? What if the served party simply denies that they have ever received the documents through the post? How can you prove they have? In short, you can’t – hence the need for a process server if you want to reduce unnecessary hold ups to a family law case! If your legal documents are delivered by hand and physically handed over to the served party, there is no possible way that they can claim ignorance.

A Process Server Can Prove Successful Service

A successful process server must be persistent, cunning and creative – they will have at their disposal a range of methods, tricks and procedures that help them effectively and quickly deliver your documents to the intended recipient.

They will perform research using the information you have given them, and figure out the best way to make face to face contact with the served party. They will in most cases deliver the documents by hand and then obtain proof of delivery such as a photograph, video or telephone call – they may also have a proof of delivery receipt which they will get the served party to sign. A witness statement or affidavit is provided by the process server to guarantee proof of service in court. In short, the investigative skills and persistence of a process server will ensure your documents are delivered promptly and correctly.