Friday, October 21, 2011

News Brief: A busy week...

It's been a fairly busy week in family law. Here are some of the highlights:

Firstly, congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Family Law Awards, which took place on Tuesday evening. An account of the evening can be found here, and photos of all the winners can be found here.

Moving on, Community Care reported on Tuesday that the final report of the Family Justice Review is expected to recommend that family court judges should have their powers of scrutiny limited to core decisions, such as whether to take a child into care, kinship arrangements and permanency planning, and that they should not have the power to scrutinise the detail of a council's care plan. The information was given to the National Children and Adult Services Conference by John Coughlan, director of children's services for Hampshire Council and a member of the review panel, who said that it would cut systemic delay and improve trust between courts and local authorities.

The Telegraph today reports that Education secretary Michael Gove is adding his voice to the adoption debate by urging local authorities to "intervene more vigorously" in child protection, to help speed up the adoption process. He apparently "warned that children were spending too long in care or with dysfunctional families when they could be adopted or fostered", and is quite clear where the blame lays:
"At fault is primarily a justice and a family justice system which does not prioritise the needs of the child and takes forever to make critical decisions which matter hugely in ensuring the child is found the right home."
I'm sorry? A justice system that does not prioritise the needs of the child? Does he actually know anything about the family justice system? I'm sure things can be improved, but words such as these are just an insult to the devoted professionals working within the system.

Turning to blogs, Marilyn Stowe has written an excellent post on the 'lottery case', S v AG. She looks at the process used by Mr Justice Mostyn to reach his decision, and asks whether he was right when he held that the lottery winnings were a non-matrimonial asset. She concludes:
"...this case does demonstrate the wide parameters that exist in many cases, even those which at first sight seem straightforward. I would have given the husband a more generous award out of what was ultimately a lucky win 11 years ago."
Such, of course, are the vagaries of a discretionary system, something that many clients find difficult to understand, when they come to us expecting precise answers.

Not exactly news, but Lucy Reed at Pink Tape has posted further about the Narey Report. Lucy mentioned on Twitter this week her propensity for writing a lot of words, and she certainly doesn't let us down here. However, they are all very good words, in an excellent order, making the post very well worth a read. Here is a taster:
"We can never achieve perfect parenting. I can’t achieve it. My clients can’t achieve it. Those members of the judiciary, social work and other professions who have children don’t achieve it. Adoptive parents don’t achieve it. We all bumble along doing our best. Sometimes we fail to put the children first, make a textbook mistake. And some parents really do fail and fail irredeemably. But except at the extremes it is essentially a matter of degree, a spectrum."
One of those "I wish I had said that" moments.

Lastly, on the subject of Twitter, yesterday I had a brief conversation there about blawging with @michaelscutt, in which I expressed a preference (as I have done before) for blawgs that include something personal from their writers - it just seems to me that that is the essence of blogging. Both Marilyn and Lucy put a lot of themselves into their blogs, and hence are certainly on my 'preferred' list.

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