Friday, February 27, 2009

FormsPlus on Family Lore Focus

Family Lore Focus is pleased to offer a pack of over 70 commonly-used Divorce, Civil Partnership Dissolution, Ancillary Relief, Children Act, Adoption and Family Law Act forms, prepared by infolaw and supplied as fillable Microsoft Word forms. Just tab through the forms to fill them in. Then save and print.

Not only is this probably the cheapest family law forms solution, but it also offers other benefits, such as that the forms may be 'personalised' for a particular firm and, as Word documents, they may also be emailed to clients for completion/approval.

Free sample forms are available here.

FormsPlus packs and updates are available online to purchasers on payment, and cost £80 for a single-user licence and £160 for a five-user licence. In each case the price includes updating for 12 months from date of purchase. To purchase the forms go to the Family FormsPlus page on Family Lore Focus.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In and out of Focus

I've done another large daily news update to Family Lore Focus today, including stories about the Child Support Agency, bankers wanting lower divorce settlements and more on the continuing fallout from the Baby P case. Remember, Family Lore Focus does a weekly Newsletter containing a round-up of the most important family law stories of the week. You can sign up to the Newsletter here.

Meanwhile, three blog posts that didn't make today's update:

The Family Law Prof Blog reports that a Bill has been introduced in the state of Washington that would protect animals from domestic violence. The introduction to the Bill states that: "The legislature intends that perpetrators of domestic violence not be allowed to further terrorize and manipulate their victims, or the children of their victims, by using the threat of violence toward pets". The question is, where America leads, will England follow?

Still on the other side of the Atlantic, James J. Gross of the Maryland Divorce Legal Crier suggests a little perspective for clients who think their divorce is the end of the world. I'm not sure it would work with my clients, but an interesting anthropological lesson nevertheless.

Finally, Judith Middleton has an amusing little story from the supermarket aisle. I won't give away the punchline...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Last Clinic?

I did what may be my last session at the Kent Law Clinic last night. It was not the most successful session I've done, with two of the four 'clients' failing to turn up, with the result that we were waiting around for over an hour for the last client to show. Still, the two clients who did have they courtesy to keep their appointments both seemed pleased with the advice that I was able to give them.

Why might this be my last session? Well, I've been doing this for three years now, and along with the free sessions I used to do for the C.A.B. (not to mention nearly 20 years of legal aid work), I think I've 'done my bit'. It's not as if I have become a 'fat cat' from the law and should 'give something back' - nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is often the case that the clients to whom I am giving my free time earn more than I do. Those on low incomes should, of course, be eligible for legal help under the legal aid scheme, although this is often not the case.

The sessions are not, of course, just for the benefit of the public - they are also for the benefit of the students. Hopefully, my sessions have given them some small enlightenment - if we see a fall in the number of former Kent University law students becoming family lawyers, we'll know why! Whether or not I do any more sessions, I wish all of the students the best of luck in their studies, and their future careers.

Big update to Family Lore Focus

Another big update on Family Lore Focus today, including links to news stories, a case, an article and blog posts from around the world. What are you waiting for?

OK, if you're still here, remember you can receive a free weekly update of the most important happenings in the world of family law by signing up to the Family Lore Focus Newsletter.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sin and Sex

I am grateful to the Catholic Church for informing the world that men and women sin in different ways. Apparently, men sin in the order: lust, gluttony, sloth, anger, pride, envy, greed and women sin in the order: pride, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth. The church survey must be correct, as it is based upon a study of confessions carried out by a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar, who surely knows a bit about sinning.

We family lawyers also know a bit about sinning, and I can confirm that there is some truth in the findings. More wives commence divorce proceedings upon the basis of adultery than husbands (18,000 compared to 10,000 in 2005), which tends to support the theory that lust is the sin that husbands find most difficult to avoid. However, far more wives issue divorce proceedings on the basis of their husband's unreasonable behaviour than husbands do on the basis of their wives unreasonable behaviour (in 2005 some 51% of petitions issued by wives were on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, compared to 31% for husbands). Perhaps husbands have more of a problem with all the deadly sins than wives?

Of course, if a husband is Catholic, he can be absolved of the sin by confessing it, so that's all right then.

Family Lore Focus: Something for Everyone

Another large and varied update to Family Lore Focus today, including links to news stories about domestic violence and the Alfie Patten case, two cases, a statutory instrument, two articles and a blog post. Something for everyone?

If you would like to receive a free weekly updater by email, then sign up to the Family Lore Focus Newsletter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kristina Bitenc sings G.Puccini: Quando me'n vò

I've just discovered this on YouTube. I cannot think of even a tenuous link to family law, but I had to share it. Enjoy.

Big News Update on Family Lore Focus

I've done a large news update on Family Lore Focus today, including links to stories about Stuart Bailey, who was cleared of inflicting brain damage on an 11-week-old baby by shaking her, rights for Muslim women, the third anniversary of the introduction of civil partnerships, the Alfie Patten case, the Baby P case and help for victims of domestic violence.

Family Lore Focus welcomes submissions for articles on the site. If you have written an article that you would like me to consider for publication, please email it to me, in Word format. Full accreditation will be given for all articles published.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Get Geeklawyer!

Family Law Focus updated

Another large daily news update to Family Lore Focus today, including links to stories on the legal aid cuts, the Baby P case, the Webster case and blog posts about a study on contact after separation, living together agreements and Resolution's Parenting after Parting initiative.

If you would like to receive a free weekly update containing links to family law news, cases and blogs then sign up to the Family Lore Focus Newsletter.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Podcast Interview #4: Rosemary Slessor

Today I am speaking to Rosemary Slessor, better known in the blawging community as 'Fiona', author of the Divorce Survivor blog which is, to my knowledge, still the only Scottish family law blog. Fiona is not, in fact, a lawyer. However, she writes on the subject of family law with as much authority as many a family lawyer, and has been blogging now for over a year. We talk about everything from divorce in Scotland, in particular the differences between the Scottish and English systems, to 'Munro bagging' - you'll have to listen to the podcast to find out what that is! My thanks to Rosemary for taking the time to do what I hope you will find a very interesting podcast. The podcast can be found on Family Lore Focus, here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Week in View 14th February 2009

My weekly podcast roundup of the top family law news and best family law blog posts:

The Week in View 14th February 2009

Stories/posts referred to in this podcast:

Legal aid changes will focus help on most vulnerable families and children - Ministry of Justice

Family barristers voice concerns over impact on women of cuts in legal help for vulnerable families and children - The Bar Council

Family Justice Under Threat - Pink Tape

Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys - Family Lore

Dash to renegotiate divorce pay-outs - Financial Times

City earners struggle to meet divorce payments - The Guardian

Credit-crunch divorcés appeal over maintenance - The Times

Divorcing couples charged eight pc interest on legal aid loans - Telegraph

Penalties for maintenance defaulters ‘draconian’ - Law Society Gazette

Domestic violence victims shun legal advice - Law Society Gazette

Adoption case couple to fight on - BBC News

Webster (The Parents) v Norfolk County Council & Ors (Rev 1) [2009] EWCA Civ 59

Sharon Shoesmith: the interview - Family Law Week Blog

A TASK FOR CUPID - Judith's Divorce Blog

"Getting divorced is costly and time-consuming, so I decided not to bother" - Family Lore

Family Lore Focus Newsletter Sign-Up

"Getting divorced is costly and time-consuming, so I decided not to bother"

In my search for an appropriate Valentine's Day story, I came across this. Old romantic Oliver Killeen has been arrested in Canada for alleged multiple bigamy. Killeen is married to women in Ontario, Ireland and England, police allege. They won't say exactly how many times Killeen is supposed to have been married, but he was previously the subject of a British documentary entitled 'The Conman with 14 Wives'. At that time, he apparently explained: "I presented myself as a dashing, suave sort of guy and women fell for it. I have a strong personality and an air of total respectability. And, of course, I'm a good lover - that's the sealing factor".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Parenting After Parting News

I've just received an email from Resolution announcing that new parent advice pages are now live on the Resolution website. As the email states: "these pages, developed as part of the Parenting After Parting initiative, are modelled on the Divorce and Separation booklet we produced for parents and are a great tool for clients".

Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys

I wanted to say something about the proposed changes to legal aid funding for barristers. Now, before I begin I should explain that the post title above is not intended to be derogatory in any way to the many talented and hard-working lawyers who still provide a legal aid service (or, indeed, to our primate cousins). Instead, it is meant as a stark warning of the ultimate effect of these changes.

I have already mentioned here the excellent post of Lucy Reed at Pink Tape, in which she estimates that the proposals will result in cuts to barristers remuneration for family work (excluding public law work) "equating to approximate hourly rates of £27 - £35 per hour before expenses, which as a rule of thumb are likely to amount to 30% and tax". So, by my estimation, they will effectively be paid between about £19 and about £25 per hour gross of tax and National Insurance. Now, I don't know how many 'chargeable hours' the average legal aid family law barrister does each year, but I doubt that it would exceed 1000, in which case they would receive a maximum of £25,000 per annum. This, of course, assumes that they do no privately-funded work, as it should - why should private clients subsidise legal aid clients beyond the tax that they pay? So, is £25,000 per annum reasonable remuneration for someone who has gone to enormous effort and great expense (Lucy Reed estimates £40,000 on average) to train as a barrister? No, of course it is not. The inevitable result will be that many highly experienced barristers will stop doing the work, and many talented people entering the profession will look elsewhere for their specialism.

Of course, the LSC expect that much of the advocacy work now done by counsel will be done by solicitors, but there are at least three points against this: Firstly, whilst there are many talented solicitor-advocates, they are surely not, on average, as highly trained or skilled as the 'average' barrister, so quality of representation will inevitably diminish, especially in the more complex cases. Secondly, the LSC assumes that solicitors will want to do this work - this may be so during a time of recession, but surely once the recession is over then there will be a return to the exodus of firms from legal aid work, resulting in far less choice for members of the public. Thirdly, the LSC has long envisioned fewer but larger firms doing legal aid work, taking advantage of economies of scale - this will not just mean less choice but also, as Lucy points out, may actually mean that there are insufficient legal aid firms in a particular area to represent all the parties to a particular matter, meaning that some parties will have to travel large distances to seek representation.

All in all, another disaster for those in most need of high-quality representation.

Bumper Update to Family Lore Focus

Family law news continues to flow at an alarming rate, and I've done another substantial news update, including links to stories about the Webster adoption case, domestic violence and the continuing fallout from the proposed legal aid changes.

You may subscribe to the free Family Lore Focus weekly Newsletter, by clicking here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Large Daily Update to Family Lore Focus

Possibly the biggest daily update to date, including links to news stories, three cases, an article and the latest family law blog posts.

If you would like a weekly roundup of the top stories, you can sign up to the free Family Lore Focus Newsletter, here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Family Justice Under Threat - PLEASE READ

ESSENTIAL READING: Family Justice Under Threat - Pink Tape explains why the proposals to cut back legal aid in family cases will not just hurt lawyers, but will ultimately hurt families up and down the country. As she says: "This is not just a ’save the barrister’ campaign - it runs deeper than that."

Valentine Thoughts

A couple of stories to get readers in the mood for Valentine's Day:

Firstly, my thanks go to Divorce Lawyer for pointing out the "Marriage Bailout '09" competition on the rock radio site '102.1 The X'. To enter, you must explain "why your soulmate ain't got no soul". The lucky winner, to be announced today, will get a free divorce (up to $1000), courtesy of Richmond law firm Cravens & Noll. As '102.1 The X' say: "Happy divorcing!!!"

Secondly, my thanks to Charon QC for drawing my attention to this wonderful article by AA Gill that appeared in The Sunday Times last Sunday. Gill asks: "Being bled dry by a gold-digger is every rich man’s nightmare. But, is it just a fair exchange of assets?" He then goes on to explore Seventy Thirty, "the exclusive matchmaking and partner headhunting company for successful and affluent people", which aims to match men with women who are not just after them for their money. Great stuff.

Daily News Updates to Family Lore Focus

Family Lore Focus has been updated with news stories, the best of the latest family law blog posts and links to articles on Capital Gains Tax liabilities after divorce and men as victims of domestic violence.

You may sign up for the free weekly Family Lore Focus Newsletter here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Canterbury Tale

Today I made my long journie
To the greate cathedral citie,
Through many roadwerks I fought
My waye to Caunterbury Combined Courte.
Before the Distreet Judge I wente

On an ancilery releef First Appointmente.

Thankefullie directiones were agreede
So there was no neede to pleede.

The hearing was shorte

Then I left the courte.
[With apologies to the late G. Chaucer.]

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Podcast Interview #3: Jacqui Gilliatt

For my third podcast interview I talk to Jacqui Gilliatt. Jacqui is a barrister at 4 Brick Court, a leading set of Chambers in family law, she has written articles on family law matters, she is the author of the Bloody Relations blog and she is the General Editor of the Family Law Week Blog. We talk about Jacqui's work at the Bar, supervising pupils, blogging and some of the big issues in family law today, amongst other things. The podcast can be found on Family Lore Focus, here.

Earlier today, Jacqui's pupil, Ella Shaw, did a podcast with Charon QC, and you can find that here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Week in View 7th February 2009

My weekly podcast roundup of the top family law news and best family law blog posts:

The Week in View 7th February 2009

Stories/posts referred to in this podcast:

Holmes-Moorhouse v LB Richmond upon Thames [2009] UKHL 7

A (A Child), Re [2009] EWCA Civ 41

'Reckless' minister has put children at risk – Shoesmith - The Guardian

DNA father to take case to Europe - BBC News

Husband 'ends six-year marriage on Facebook' - Telegraph

Pink Tape: Granny v Gay Adoption

Divorce Manual: INTERVIEW, FEBRUARY 2009 : John Bolch, Winch & Winch

Marilyn Stowe Blog: Was the Observer right to claim divorce makes men significantly richer?

Podcast Interview #2: Lucy Reed

Family Lore Focus Newsletter

Family Lore Search

Love on the rocks

A couple of amusing tidbits for this Saturday morning:

First, from America, we have the story that jazz musician Gregory Royal filed a legal brief comprised of rap lyrics, in a child custody dispute. The brief related to an appeal he was making against a costs order. The appeal was successful. I shall therefore be recommending this technique to fellow family lawyers.

I do not, however, recommend calling the police to a domestic violence dispute when the house is full of cocaine and other drug-smoking paraphernalia. This is what the hapless Yasmin did, according to this story on The Magistrate's Blog. Naturally, the police took more interest in the drugs than the alleged assault...

Friday, February 06, 2009

An Update (or two) to Family Lore Focus

Yesterday I spent a very pleasant lunch hour (or two) in the company of Jacqui Gilliatt, Charon QC and Jacqui's pupil, Ella Shaw. My companions drank a bottle (or three) of the red nectar but I, unfortunately, was driving and could not partake. Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable break of the chains that attach me to this keyboard, and I certainly learnt a thing (or two) along the way.

Now I am again manacled to the keyboard this morning, where I have just completed a comprehensive daily update to Family Lore Focus, with something to interest everyone, including links to news, a case report, an article and blog posts. Have a good day.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Daily Update to Family Lore Focus

I've done a large daily update to Family Lore Focus today, including links to some very interesting blog posts.

If you want to sign up to the free Family Lore Focus weekly Newsletter, click here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Holmes-Moorhouse v LB Richmond upon Thames: Family Courts should deal with the situation as it is

Not for the first time, Nearly Legal has drawn my attention to the case of Holmes-Moorhouse v LB Richmond upon Thames, this time as it reaches the House of Lords. To recap, the case concerns whether a shared residence order meant that a child was ‘reasonably expected’ to be resident with both parents following a divorce, so as to confer priority need in a homeless application. As Nearly Legal states, the Court of Appeal said that, in certain circumstances, it might well mean just that, and that the Local Authority should intervene in the Children Act proceedings if it wished to argue the point. The House of Lords disagreed, and Baroness Hale stated that: "the family court should not use a residence order as a means of putting pressure upon a local housing authority to allocate their resources in a particular way despite all the other considerations which ... they have to take into account".

For further details, I recommend you read Nearly Legal's post.

Advanced Intelligence

"Let's say you suspect your spouse of having an affair. Instead of accusing he/she of the extracurricular activities, you go out and purchase the Q-Phone and give it to him/her as a gift." So begins an article on InventorSpot, detailing the delights of the latest must-give gift. It continues: "Though it looks like a standard mobile phone-and operates like one as well-the Q-Phone includes software that, once activated, allows you to listen in on any conversation held on it-or around it."

The Q-Phone can be purchased at the aptly-named "Advanced Intelligence Spy Shop" for as little as $790. "Know your spouse's behaviour when you are away" they say. Shipments can be made world-wide.

This product is endorsed by the Solicitors Family Law Association and the Family Law Bar Association. A spokesman for the latter said: "We believe that the Q-Phone will be responsible for a huge increase in our work".

[OK, I lied about the endorsement bit.]

Family Lore Focus Newsletter

Commencing this weekend, Family Lore Focus will be producing a weekly email Newsletter, containing links to the most interesting family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts of that week. If you would like to subscribe to the Newsletter, click here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Family Law Focus: Update and New Feature

Apart from the usual daily news update, I've added a new feature to Family Lore Focus. Following the recent problems with Pageflakes (which was back up yesterday but seems to have gone down again today), I have created a Netvibes Directory of Family Law Blogs. The Directory is split into two pages (use the tabs at the top), the first page is for UK family law blogs and the second for US and other family law blogs. As usual, any suggestions for inclusion in the directory are most welcome.

Good News

There has been a lot of speculation as to the effect, if any, of the recession upon divorce. What comes as something of a surprise, however, is the news the other day that the recession seems to have sparked an increase in the number of people getting married. The speculation seems to be that people are seeking stability in these uncertain times. This is, of course, good news, not just for those involved but also for the wedding industry and, ultimately, for us divorce lawyers.

My cynicism suggests that I've been doing this work for too long...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Interviewed by Natasha Phillips

I have been interviewed by Natasha Phillips, on her blog Divorce Manual. We discuss a number of things, including criticisms of the family justice system, child support reforms, collaborative law and reforming the family justice system. The interview can be found on Divorce Manual here (scroll down the page) and also on No 2 Abuse, a site to which Natasha contributes, here.

January Post of the Month

We've all been there. And if you've been doing this work for as long as I have, you've probably been there many times. Communication breakdown. When you're just not on the same wavelength as your client. In her post 'EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS' Judith Middleton reminds us why communication skills are vital...

Accordingly, Judith's Divorce Blog wins my coveted Post of the Month trophy for January. The prize? Well, I have a few virtual bottles of red wine left over from last month, so these are as we speak on their virtual way to Judith, for her to share with Outdoor Man. Enjoy.

(Oh, and Judith - apologies for the missing word 'Divorce' on the bottom line of the trophy. I really should employ a new engraver...)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Podcast Interview #2: Lucy Reed

In my second podcast interview and the first of what I hope will be many podcast interviews with people with something to say about the family justice system I talk to Lucy Reed, barrister and author of the Pink Tape blog. We talk about a number of things, including the role and work of barristers in family law, some of the big issues in family law at the moment and what it's like mixing motherhood with a career at the bar. The podcast can be found on Family Lore Focus, here.