News Update: 3rd July 2012

WELCOME to the latest Family Lore News Update. Save for the items I've already posted about (such as the suggestion by Nicholas Cusworth QC that there be a community of marital property regime), here are some of the things that have caught my eye since the last update:


Child maintenance payments made by benefit claimants to double
Parents on income-related benefits who live apart from their children are to have the amount of child maintenance they must pay increased from £5 to £10 per week. That'll sort out all those feckless fathers! Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

Court of Appeal decides that CAFCASS is not under a statutory duty to appoint a guardian immediately
In R (R and Others (Minors)) v CAFCASS [2012] EWCA Civ 853 (see below), the Court of Appeal has determined that CAFCASS does not have a statutory duty to each individual child to make an officer available immediately or within a short time. Full story: Family Law Week.

New legislation to close child abuse loophole
People accused of seriously abusing children or vulnerable adults who try to escape justice by staying silent or blaming someone else will face up to 10 years in prison from last Monday, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has announced. Full story: Family Law. The closure of the loophole was welcomed by the NSPCC.

Talking About Reform
Speech by Mr Justice Ryder, Judge in Charge of the Modernisation of Family Justice: Public Child Care Law Conference. Full speech: Judiciary of England and Wales. Mr Justice Ryder has indicated that judges will adopt an inquisitorial approach to family cases, limiting cross-examination by the parties themselves, to deal with the increasing number of litigants-in-person, as mentioned in this article in the Law Society Gazette.


The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (Commencement No. 8) Order 2012
This Order brings into force sub-paragraphs (22)(b) and (23) of paragraph 1 of Schedule 7 (minor and consequential amendments) to the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (c. 6) on 27th June 2012. You can find the Order here.


R & Ors (Minors), R (on the application of) v The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service [2012] EWCA Civ 853 (29 June 2012)
Appeal against dismissal of a claim for judicial review brought on behalf of 4 children against CAFCASS on the basis that failure to appoint a children's guardian in a timely manner, or in one of the cases at all, in care proceedings constituted a breach of statutory duty and/or a breach of the ECHR rights of the children. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii. This case has been discussed both by Family Law Week (see above) and by suesspiciousminds (see below).

Re C [2012] EWHC 907 (Fam) (22 March 2012)
Application by father to enforce Belgian order granting him custody of the child and requiring her return to Belgium. Application refused. Full report: Family Law Week.

B (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 858 (3 May 2012)
Appeal against residence order in favour of the paternal grandmother. Appeal allowed and re-trial directed. Full report: Family Law Week.


The Family Court: “Be careful what you wish for”
Michael Horton, barrister, of Coram Chambers examines the proposed creation of a single family court, the reasons for its establishment, how it might work and whether it is necessary at all. He says:
"The family court is a 'good thing'. Surely no one can be against it? It is to be the culmination of an aspiration of family practitioners since the 1970s. A once in a lifetime opportunity to create and fashion a court as we would want it to be. It will be the vehicle for a radical change of culture. It will be a new court with a new structure where the work of the court will be directly managed by the judiciary.

Nevertheless, it is worth standing back from the zeal, and asking why this is being done, and being done now."
An interesting and different point of view - well worth reading. Full article: Family Law Week.

June 2012 Finance Divorce Update
Anna Heenan, solicitor and David Salter, Joint Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve LLP analyse the latest financial remedies and divorce news and cases. The usual monthly update from Family Law Week.


When is a duty not a duty ? (when it falls on CAFCASS, of course)
A brief analysis of the Court of Appeal decision in R & Others and CAFCASS 2012 [see above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Definition of chutzpah
An analysis of the High Court decision in A, S and Others v Lancashire County Council 2012 [mentioned in last week's News Update], and the human rights breaches identified therein. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Stalking Napo
Lucy Reed re-visits an issue that she highlighted in December last year: The publication by NAPO of a “dossier” of family court cases said to support the proposition that family court processes were being abused by convicted stalkers. Full post: Pink Tape.


Right of Access to Court File
Lucy is asked "One of those [questions] which at first blush seems as if it must have a straightforward answer, but on further enquiry proves tricky." The kind of question every lawyer loves... Full post: Pink Tape.