Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mr Justice Ryder’s report on Modernisation of Family Justice published


Mr Justice Ryder's final report on the Family Justice Modernisation Programme has been published today.

Key points:
  • The single Family Court will be the vehicle for a significant change of culture characterised by strong judicial leadership and management and evidence-based good practice
  •  
  • The single Family Court will be a network of Local Family Court Centres judicially led and managed by the Designated Family Judges, where all levels of judge and magistrate will sit as Judges of the Family Court
  •  
  • The effective management of judicial resources will help to reduce delay by better deployment practices which improve continuity and listing
  •  
  • A framework of good practice will highlight materials which are to be used to improve outcomes for children
  •  
  • Robust case management of public law cases is dependent on a timetable based on evidence and compliance with that timetable and the directions given by the court
  •  
  • The immediate challenge is to develop effective methods of assisting self-representing litigants in private law cases, while maintaining fairness to all parties
  •  
  • Self-representing litigants will need to be assisted to understand and comply with the procedures which are necessary to achieve fairness in financial remedy cases
  •  
  • The High Court’s unique jurisdiction will be preserved
  •  
  • Consideration should always be given to how the voice of the child is to be heard in family proceedings
  •  
  • The judiciary have made their proposals for the modernisation of family justice and are working with HMCTS and Government to make arrangements to implement change
The full report can be read here, and there is a news release here. You can also read an article about it in the Law Society Gazette, here. In addition, there is now a summary of the report on Family Law Week.

News Update: 31st July 2012


WELCOME to the Family Lore News Update.

Items already covered in separate posts since the last update:

NEWS
Vulnerable children 'at risk' in new protection system
Some of England's most vulnerable children may lose out under planned changes to the child protection system, new campaign group Every Child in Need has argued. Full story: BBC News.

Thresholds for accepting child protection referrals 'too high'
An analysis of serious case reviews in 2009-11 suggests overall child protection practices have improved, but highlights concerns about a minority of cases that were not investigated by social workers. Full story: Community Care.

Nagalro criticises Government's over-emphasis on adoption when seeking permanence for looked after children
Nagalro has published its evidence to the Select Committee of the House of Lords examining adoption legislation. Full story: Family Law Week. The evidence can be read here.

Cafcass publishes its annual report
Care application have risen by 11% on the previous year. Story: Family Law Week. The report itself can be found here.

Funding to support new social workers
Every newly qualified social worker could benefit from £2,000 to boost their learning and development, under plans announced by Ministers today. Full story: Department for Education.

Local authority’s special guardianship allowance policy ruled illegal
Carer under special guardianship order must be paid at foster carer’s rate. Full story: Family Law Week.

Islamic tradition 'is no defence against divorce ruling'
A Muslim doctor who ignored a judge's order to pay his former wife £60,000 maintenance has been told by the Court of Appeal that he cannot rely on Muslim tradition to absolve him of his financial responsibilities. Full story: The Telegraph.

Solicitors warned of divorce claims
Divorce solicitors could face thousands of compensation claims in cases where pensions were undervalued in a divorce settlement, a pensions consultant has claimed. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Father’s rights breached by mother 'too upset’ to let him see children
A father who was denied access to his children for three years because it upset their mother suffered a breach of his parental rights, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The Re W case (see below) makes the national media. Full story: The Telegraph.

CASES
Re CAH (A Child) [2012] EW Misc 15 (CC) (11 May 2012)
A county court case dealing with an application by a mother for a prohibited steps order forbidding the father from baptising the children as Christians. Her application was dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Re K (A Child: Post Adoption Placement Breakdown) [2012] EWHC B9 (Fam)
Application by local authority for a care order after the breakdown of an adoption placement where the child was beyond parental control. Care order made. Full report: Bailii. Discussed by suesspiciousminds - see below.

HH v BLW [2012] EWHC 2199 (Fam) (28 June 2012)
Application for permission to appeal a costs order in contact proceedings. Application refused: although the proposed appeal had a real prospect of success, it lacked any proportionality to the amount at stake. Full report: Bailii. I analysed this case in this post.

T (Children) [2012] UKSC 36 (25 July 2012)
Care proceedings. Appeal by local authority against order requiring them to pay the interveners' costs of a fact-finding hearing. Appeal allowed. Full report: Supreme Court. Discussed by both Marilyn Stowe and ObiterJ of Law and Lawyers - see below.

Re W (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 999 (24 July 2012)
Appeal by father against dismissal of his application for direct contact. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii. Notable also for LJ McFarlane's postscript on the responsibilities of parents in children disputes, that I set out in this post, and Marilyn Stowe also mentioned - see below. The case was also analysed by suesspiciousminds in his post referred to below.

Re S (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1031 (24 July 2012)
Appeal by father against contact order and residence order in favour of mother, in case involving mother's relocation. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii. Also looked at by Marilyn Stowe, in her post mentioned below.

ARTICLES
Section 38(6) Applications – Further fine-tuning
Sally Gore, barrister, of 14 Gray's Inn Square, examines developments concerning applications for assessment under section 38(6) of the Children Act 1989 culminating in the Court of Appeal's clarification in S (A Child) [2011]. Full article: Family Law Week.

Cohabitation Update
“The law of property, as it applies to cohabiting couples in England and Wales, continues to produce outcomes which many commentators regard as unfair. In the Scottish case of Gow v. Grant, a recent appeal under the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 Lady Hale calls for similar legislation to be introduced in England and Wales.” The full article, by Sarah Greenan and Elizabeth Darlington of Zenith Chambers can be found, in .PDF format, here.

BLOGS
Banging heads together and “a very big ask”
An analysis of the Court of Appeal decision in Re W (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 999 (see above), by suesspiciousminds.

Letter from America: a busy week for family law back in Britain
Marilyn Stowe looks at the cases T (Children), Re W and Re S, all referred to above, and the issue of costs in family cases, in this post on her blog.

Defending allegations made in care proceedings ~ Costs
A discussion of the Supreme Court judgment in T (Children) [2012] UKSC 36 (see above). Full post: Law and Lawyers.

Forensic ferrets (or “Standing in the way of (beyond parental) control”)
A discussion of the little-used limb of the threshold criteria, and the interesting and deeply sad case of Re K (A Child: Post Adoption Breakdown) (above). Another post in his own inimitable style (and spacing) by suesspiciousminds.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Venal & Grabbit launch dating service


Venal & Grabbit have today launched a new dating service. For a modest fee (refundable against any future divorce costs), Find-a-Spouse will match users by reference to a range of factors, including:
  • Their incompatibility;
  • Lack of mutual interests; and
  • Love of the single life.
In a hastily-written press release Partner Ebenezer Grabbit, standing in for senior Partner Edgar Venal, said: "We at Venal & Grabbit are old romantics at heart. In recent years there have been fewer and fewer divorces marriages. Find-a-Spouse will bring together unhappy couples and reverse that trend."

News for the week to the 30th July 2012

 
Monday morning wouldn't be complete without an audio summary of the top family law news stories and cases from the last week. Update yourself in 4 minutes 32 seconds!



(Those without Flash can listen here.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Privacy and Publicity in Family Law: Their Eternal Tension, by Sir Nicholas Wall

I have just come across this (thanks, Current Awareness!). It is the 2012 Gray's Inn Reading lecture, given by Sir Nicholas Wall on the subject Privacy and Publicity in Family Law: Their Eternal Tension. You can also find a transcript of the lecture, complete with linked footnotes, on the Gresham College website, here.

Who shot Edgar Venal?

No, not J.R. - E.V.!
It's the mystery that everyone is talking about: Who shot Edgar Venal? For the answer, stay tuned to Bleak Spouse, coming to a browser near you...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Something for the Weekend: The Clash - London Calling

I was disappointed to hear that this great song has been hijacked by British Airways for an advertising campaign in connection with some sporting event, so I thought I would present it here as it was originally intended, complete with lyrics (which, as you will see, have nothing to do with airlines or sporting events):

Friday, July 27, 2012

HH v BLW: Costs in private law children application

The case of HH v BLW [2012] EWHC 2199 (Fam), reported today on Bailli, deals with the rare instance of a costs order made in private law children proceedings. It is something of a sad case, with the costs awarded against the father when the court made no order on his contact application, after the CAFCASS officer ascertained that the child did not wish to see him. It is also somewhat sad that the order was made in circumstances where the mother's solicitor had been firm to the point of being aggressive, whereas the father's solicitor had been far more conciliatory, proposing mediation to avoid the need for an application.

How, then, did the costs order come to be made?

The mother and father lived together for a number of years, and there was one child of the relationship, a daughter, born in June 1996. The parents' relationship broke down and they separated in 2001, the daughter remaining with the mother. The father had contact with the daughter until June 2011 and during September the mother told the father that the daughter would not be having any further contact with him.

The father instructed solicitors, as did the mother. On the 22nd December 2011 the mother's solicitor wrote to the father's solicitor:
"I am extremely surprised that you have advised your client that he is entitled to make an application to the court for a contact order. As [the child] is almost sixteen I do not think a court would want to be seised of this matter, and would take the view that if [the child] wants to see her father it is up to her to contact him...Kindly inform your client that, if [the child] wishes to contact her father in the future, she will make that decision herself."
[I remember many years ago when I was an articled clerk my Principal telling me that I should never tell anyone that I am 'surprised' - a professional should not be surprised by anything, he said. We will, however, let that pass, particularly as many of the solicitors I dealt with over the years often used to express surprise at the slightest thing.]

As mentioned above, the father's solicitor suggested mediation to avoid an application to the court, but on the 2nd February the mother's solicitor wrote:
"Should you insist upon proceeding, we will treat this as 'litigation conduct' and we will ask the court to make an order for costs against your client, even though we are in Children Act proceedings. We take the view that any application to the court for a child of [the child's] age is not only misplaced, but is a form of harassment as well as an abuse of the court process."
The father did proceed with his application and similar correspondence continued up until the day before the hearing, when the father's solicitor wrote:
"Our client has no intention of asking the court to impose an order against [the child's] wishes. His application to the court has been made as a last resort. He has repeatedly offered to attend a mediation service with your client and it is a matter of great regret that your client has refused all such offers. In the circumstances, our client has no alternative but to seek the court's assistance in this matter at the hearing tomorrow."
A First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment ('FHDRA') took place on the 14th March. A CAFCASS officer met with the child and reported that she firmly expressed an unwillingness to see her father at that stage. In the light of this, and without any resistance by or on behalf of the father, the district judge ordered that there be no order on the father's application as to contact.

At that point the mother's solicitor applied for costs. After hearing further submissions on behalf of each parent, the district judge ordered the father to pay the mother's costs, which were summarily assessed in the amount of the mother's solicitor's schedule, namely £2,468.

The father applied for permission to appeal against the costs order. The application was heard by Mr Justice Holman, who found:

1. That whilst the effect of s.9(6) of the Children Act is that it is only in exceptional cases that a court will make any order as to contact in relation to a child who has reached the age of sixteen, the inter-solicitor correspondence had begun in December 2011 when the child was still some six months before the age of sixteen, and accordingly (referring to the mother's solicitor's letter of the 2nd February):
"It is, in my view, somewhat exaggerated to characterise the making even of an initial application as to contact in relation to a child then aged about fifteen and a half as either "a form of harassment" or as "an abuse of the court process". 
(Paragraph 8.)

2. That, as is very well known, the Family Procedure Rules 2010 disapply that part of the Civil Procedure Rules that provides a starting point that the unsuccessful party pays the costs of the successful party, but that, as the district judge stated in his judgment:
"The court has a broad discretion to make such order as it thinks just, and the court has to consider in the circumstances whether it is right to order the father to pay costs, whether by reason of his litigation conduct or simply because it is the right thing to do."
Mr Justice Holman agreed that that was the correct approach (paragraph 13).

3. That the district judge was wrong to find that it was not appropriate for the father to use the court as a means to ascertain the wishes and feelings of his daughter. He said (at paragraph 13):
"So far as I am aware, there is no mechanism as yet whereby a parent in the position of this father can engage the services of CAFCASS so as to ascertain and report as to the wishes and feelings of his child, save by first taking the step of issuing an application, within which the first significant procedural step is the FHDRA."
He went on (at paragraph 19):
"...it seems to me that this was a perfectly reasonable and justifiable application for this father to have made. It would, of course, rapidly have become very unreasonable, and indeed misconceived, to proceed with it a moment beyond the course and content of that FHDRA on 14th March 2012. If, having heard the report from the CAFCASS officer, the father had nevertheless persisted with his application then he would soon have been acting with folly, but he did not do so."
4. That he was in no doubt that the appeal "would have a real prospect of success", pursuant to rule 30.3(7)(a) Family Procedure Rules 2010 (paragraph 23). [He stated at paragraph 22 that he could not conceive that he would have made any costs order if the hearing had been before him.]

5. That, notwithstanding that, the appeal lacked any proportionality to the amount at stake (taking into account the mother's costs of the appeal (the father's solicitor and counsel had agreed to act on the appeal free of charge) and the amount of court time involved) and there was no other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard (r.30.3(7)(b)). For the reason of proportionality alone, the father's application for permission to appeal was refused (paragraph 36).

Comment: The father is a man of not insignificant means, so I think for him it was a matter of principle rather than money (his counsel said as much - see paragraph 33). In that, I think he was successful, even though his application was refused. If the judgment is to be followed in future cases, then it is quite clear that costs orders should not be made in such circumstances. The case also says something helpful regarding the use of an application to ascertain the wishes of the child.

Research into Munro recommendation published


The Department for Education has published research into the recommendation of the Munro Review to reduce statutory guidance on children’s safeguarding, in order to promote local autonomy and increase the scope for practitioners to exercise their professional judgement. Proposed measures included removing the distinction between initial and core (in-depth) assessments and associated (fixed statutory) timescales for their completion.

The research was carried out by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre (CWRC), which evaluated the impact that the more flexible assessment practices being tested by the eight trial authorities (Westminster, Knowsley, Cumbria, Hackney, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth and Islington) have had on practice and service responses to safeguard children from harm.

The research concluded that:
"The vast majority of social workers and managers were in favour of the single assessment process and perceived that a return to the distinction between initial and core assessments and rigid enforcement of statutory timescales would be a retrograde step. However, delay and drift is an ever present danger in the context of competing demands at the front door. In this context a notional upper time limit for initial visits to see the child and for the completion of single assessments was welcomed by professionals. Early supervisory input is also critical to establish a realistic and child-centred timescale for the completion of a proportionate assessment."
CWRC's report can be found here. There is also a news story on Community Care.

BLEAK SPOUSE: Chapter 22 – Closing Time


AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors, it is a bright, sunny morning. Edgar Venal is sitting at his desk pondering how much it would take to bribe an arbitrator to find in favour of his client, when he is disturbed by a commotion on the roof above.

Edgar goes outside, and is irritated to see most of his staff there, rather than working. When he looks up he see Matt O'Gridley on the roof, naked and unfurling a banner. Matt spies Edgar below and shouts out: "There you are, Venal you bastard! I'm going to stay up here on naked hunger strike until I get my kids! When the court sees what I'm prepared to do to get them, they'll change their mind!"

Edgar does not reply. He watches as Matt unfurls the banner, which reads simply: "Venal & Grabbit - child abuse speshialists".

Edgar sighs. He takes his mobile phone from his pocket and calls Inspector Gormless...

*            *            *

Gormless arrives shortly afterwards, with a squad of men. He takes one look at Matt on the roof and turns to Edgar.

"Sorry, Mr Venal, " he says, "I can't send my men up there. Health and Safety, and all that. We'll have to wait until he comes down."

"I'm not having that!" Replies Edgar.

Edgar goes inside and returns moments later, armed with a fire hose and blanket. He instructs Gormless's men to hold out the blanket. When they have done so, he tells his secretary Brunhilde to turn the hose on, and then trains a powerful stream of cold water up at Matt.

Matt tries to cling on, but quickly loses his footing, and slides helplessly from the roof. He comes tumbling onto the blanket that Gormless's men are holding, and is promptly arrested by them.

As they drag him off to the waiting meat wagon, Matt is heard shouting “I’ll get you, Edgar Venal!”

*            *            *

Later that day, Edgar closes the office (he has been working late, putting the finishing touches to the article he has been writing for Practical Family Lawyer). He makes his way downstairs to the firm's underground car park.

As he enters the car park, Edgar senses there might be someone else there, hiding in the shadows. He calls out: "Who's there?"

No reply.

Edgar thinks he must be imagining things, and walks across to his Bentley. As he does so, a gunshot suddenly rings out, its sound booming around the garage.

Edgar falls to the floor.

Footsteps run from the scene.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

John Hemming's Draft Family Justice Bill published

John Hemming MP
John Hemming MP's Family Justice (Transparency, Accountability and Cost of Living) Draft Private Members bill has now been published for public consultation, complete with explanatory notes, here. It is described as:
"A Bill to make provisions regarding arrangements for children involved in court cases; to make provision about the transparency, administration and accountability of courts and case conferences; to require the promotion of measures to assist families and such other persons as may be specified to reduce the cost of living through lower fuel bills; and for connected purposes."
The objective of the bill "is to improve the quality of decision making relating to care matters and make the state more responsive to the welfare of children and families."

As John says on his Web Log, the version that goes to the second reading is likely to be different. Details of who to respond to and the deadline (which is 20th September) are in the bill.

From the Archives: 23rd July 2006 - Personally, I prefer Marlboro

Charon QCDuring a mercifully quiet period for family law news, I thought I would take the opportunity to recommend a law blog that I recently added to my blogroll (don't you love blog terminology?). The blog is Charon QC, who describes himself as "a lawyer, after a fashion", although he does not practise. As for the title QC, he says he awarded it to himself "when the Lord Chancellor suspended the award for real lawyers". I like him already. I hope he doesn't mind me using his picture here. Not all of the posts on Charon QC are law-related, but who cares? For example, he has a category devoted to 'George Dubya Bush', always a source of amusement, provided you're not on the receiving end of one of his military 'adventures'.

Just one thing Mr Charon: my blog is called 'Family Lore', not 'Family Law Solicitor', as in my URL! (I originally called this blog 'Family Law', but the URL familylaw had already been taken, so I chose familylawsolicitor, although I soon changed the blog name to 'Family Lore' in any event.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In the best possible taste: Advert uses Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce

Edgar Venal would be proud of this advert for P & O Cruises:

[Credit: BuzzFeed.]

T (Children): Appeal allowed

Lord Phillips hands down the judgment
The Supreme Court judgment in T (Children) has been handed down today.

The Issue
The correct approach to be taken to ordering costs against public authorities in fact-finding hearings in care proceedings.

The Facts
The respondents were interveners in a fact-finding hearing in care proceedings brought by the appellant. Having been exonerated at the end of the fact-finding hearing, the respondents’ application for costs was refused by the trial judge. The respondents were granted permission to appeal and succeeded on their appeal on the basis that the judge had misapplied the law.

The Decision
The local authority's appeal was allowed unanimously. The Court held that the general practice of not awarding costs in care proceedings against a party, including a local authority, in the absence of reprehensible behaviour or an unreasonable stance, should not be subject to an exception in the case of discrete fact-finding hearings. In this case it was common ground that the local authority could not be criticised for advancing in the proceedings the allegations against the respondents.

The full judgment can be read here, and a press summary here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Re W (Children): The responsibilities of parents

The case of Re W (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 999, decided today, involved a father's successful appeal against the dismissal of his application for direct contact with his daughters. However, it is the postscript to the judgment of Lord Justice McFarlane (right) to which I wish to refer here. I had intended to summarise what he says, but I think I can do no better than quote the postscript in full:
"Having determined the issues in this appeal, I return briefly to the concept of parental responsibility and the potential for it to be given greater prominence in the resolution of private law disputes as to the arrangements for the welfare of children.

The observations that I now make are part of a wider context in which the family courts seek to encourage parents to see the bigger picture in terms of the harmful impact upon their children of sustained disputes over the contact which is most neatly encapsulated in the words of Black LJ in T v T [2010] EWCA Civ 1366:
"[The parents] must put aside their differences ... if the adults do not manage to resolve things by communicating with each other, the children inevitably suffer and the adults may also pay the price when the children are old enough to be aware of what has been going on. ... It is a tremendous privilege to be involved in bringing up a child. Childhood is over all too quickly and, whilst I appreciate that both sides think that they are motivated only by concern for the children, it is still very sad to see it being allowed to slip away whilst energy is devoted to adult wrangles and to litigation. What is particularly unfair is that the legacy of a childhood tainted in that way is likely to remain with the children into their own adult lives."
In describing the statutory legal context within which decisions as to the private law arrangements for a child are to be made, I have stressed that it is the parents, rather than the court or more generally the state, who are the primary decision makers and actors for determining and delivering the upbringing that the welfare of their child requires. I have stressed that, along with the rights, powers and authority of a parent, come duties and responsibilities which must be discharged in a manner which respects similarly held rights, powers, duties and responsibilities of the other parent where parental responsibility is shared.

In all aspects of life, whilst some duties and responsibilities may be a pleasure to discharge, others may well be unwelcome and a burden. Whilst parenting in many respects brings joy, even in families where life is comparatively harmonious, the responsibility of being a parent can be tough. Where parents separate the burden for each and every member of the family group can be, and probably will be, heavy. It is not easy, indeed it is tough, to be a single parent with the care of a child. Equally, it is tough to be the parent of a child for whom you no longer have the day to day care and with whom you no longer enjoy the ordinary stuff of everyday life because you only spend limited time with your child. Where all contact between a parent and a child is prevented, the burden on that parent will be of the highest order. Equally, for the parent who has the primary care of a child, to send that child off to spend time with the other parent may, in some cases, be itself a significant burden; it may, to use modern parlance, be "a very big ask". Where, however, it is plainly in the best interests of a child to spend time with the other parent then, tough or not, part of the responsibility of the parent with care must be the duty and responsibility to deliver what the child needs, hard though that may be.

Where parental responsibility is shared by a child's parents, the statute is plain (CA 1989, s 3) that each of those parents, and both of them, share 'duties' and 'responsibilities' in relation to the child, as well as 'rights … powers … and authority'. Where all are agreed, as in the present case, that it is in the best interests of a child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, the courts are entitled to look to each parent to use their best endeavours to deliver what their child needs, hard or burdensome or downright tough that may be. The statute places the primary responsibility for delivering a good outcome for a child upon each of his or her parents, rather than upon the courts or some other agency.

Where there are significant difficulties in the way of establishing safe and beneficial contact, the parents share the primary responsibility of addressing those difficulties so that, in time, and maybe with outside help, the child can benefit from being in a full relationship with each parent. In the present case the emotional and psychological make up of the two parents, both separately and in combination, prevented easy contact taking place. [The child psychologist] advised that both parents needed to access support or therapy to enable them to approach matters in a different way. F engaged in the necessary work, but M declined to. It may have been in F's interests to do so, and M may have taken a contrary view; be that as it may, the only interests that either parent should have had in mind were those of each of their two children.

Parents, both those who have primary care and those who seek to spend time with their child, have a responsibility to do their best to meet their child's needs in relation to the provision of contact, just as they do in every other regard. It is not, at face value, acceptable for a parent to shirk that responsibility and simply to say 'no' to reasonable strategies designed to improve the situation in this regard.

The observations that I have made will be, I suspect, very familiar thoughts to family judges, lawyers, mediators and others. My intention in setting them out in this judgment is to give them a degree of prominence so that they may be brought to the attention of parents who have separated at an early stage in the discussion of the arrangements for their child.

Whether or not a parent has parental responsibility is not simply a matter that achieves the ticking of a box on a form. It is a significant matter of status as between parent and child and, just as important, as between each of the parents. By stressing the 'responsibility' which is so clearly given prominence in CA 1989, s 3 and the likely circumstance that that responsibility is shared with the other parent, it is to be hoped that some parents may be encouraged more readily to engage with the difficulties that undoubtedly arise when contemplating post-separation contact than may have hitherto been the case."
I would suggest that the above should be compulsory reading for all parents involved in disputes over the arrangements for their children.

Re S (A Child): Residence and the controlling father

Sir Mark Potter
Re S (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1031, decided today, demonstrates aspects of children disputes with which all family law professionals will be familiar.

The Facts: The parties were unmarried and have one child, B, who was born in February 2010. The parties' relationship broke down and they separated in December 2010.

During the relationship the mother suffered from depression and "was quick to emotional and violent response in the course of arguments or disagreements with the father". In view of her behaviour, the father insisted that the mother leave and go to live locally with her mother while the local child services assessed any risk to B which might be involved. The local authority completed a core assessment and concluded that, the parties' relationship having ended and the mother's depression having lifted, B was at no continuing risk.

The father did not accept the assessment and in February 2011 commenced proceedings seeking a Shared Residence Order on the basis that B should reside with him for two nights a week.

By June 2011 the mother was contemplating moving from her mother's house to live in Norwich where she had previously lived and had good prospects of future employment. The father then made a Without Notice Application to prevent the mother from relocating to Norwich, and a Prohibited Steps Order was granted, restraining the mother from moving B from London.

A welfare report was filed in July 2011, recommending shared residence. It also stated that the mother had put her plan to move to Norwich on hold, and that she would not move without consulting the father.

At a hearing in August the judge, on the father's application, made an order for the assessment of the mother by a suitably qualified psychologist, at the father's expense. The psychologist reported in February 2012, finding no indications that the mother was currently presenting with a mental illness or personality disorder. The father did not accept this assessment, stating that his concerns as to the mother's stability remained unabated and asserting that "in the absence of an identifiable psychological cause for the mother's dangerous conduct in the past his concerns in respect of her deficiencies and irrationality were confirmed". In view of this, he proposed that he be granted sole residency, with contact split equally.

The mother, on the other hand, claimed that the father "was controlling and hostile to her both in respect of contact on handover and the conduct of the proceedings, during which he had followed her about unnecessarily in his car, behaved in an intimidating manner and besieged her with unnecessary and bullying texts". She sought sole residence and indicated that her plans to move to Norwich were no longer on hold.

At the final hearing in March 2012, the judge essentially accepted the case advanced by the mother. She did not consider a Shared Residence Order to be appropriate, as she found that the father would use that to dominate and control the mother. Accordingly, she granted sole residence to the mother. She also made a Contact Order providing for the father to have contact on alternate weekends, rather than every weekend as had been happening, and she discharged the Prohibited Steps Order.

The father appealed. His grounds of appeal included that the judge had misunderstood or misapplied the law, that she had failed to have proper regard to the views of the welfare officer and that she was unfair or displayed bias against the father.

Held: Giving the leading judgment, Sir Mark Potter found:

1. That he did not detect any misreading or misunderstanding of the law on the part of the judge (paragraph 55).

2. That the judge's finding "that the father's motivations were not simply his devotion to B but a determination to dominate and control the mother, such that he would seek to operate a Shared Residential Order (if made) in the pursuit of that goal" was not open to review by the Court of Appeal. Accordingly, "the appropriate order was a Residence Order in favour of the mother, who was and remained the primary carer of B, with a Defined Contact Order in favour of the father" (paragraph 67).

3. That the only substantial criticism to be made of the judgment was the failure of the Judge expressly to allude to, and weigh in the balance, the potentially adverse effect of the move to Norwich upon the desirability of maintaining and developing a close and loving relationship between the father and B (paragraph 69). However, he did not think its omission invalidated the judge's decision when it was viewed in the context of the overall judgment. He said (at paragraph 70):
"As a general principle, the desirability and benefits of such a relationship and the need to encourage it in the long term interests of any growing child by, are a given for any family judge of experience and they were, in any event, urged upon the Judge on the father's behalf. In the context of this case, however, the question for the Judge was whether, and to what extent, the conduct and attitude of the father were such that the institution and maintenance of a "close proximity" shared care regime proposed by the father would jeopardise rather than foster the benefits of such a relationship in the long term. The Judge considered, for the various reasons she gave, that the contact sought by the father would be more likely to encourage rather than reduce parental competition and strife; would provide increased motive and opportunity to the father to seek to prove his superiority as a parent and indulge his controlling instincts; and would as a result increase the potential for emotional harm in a young child torn between two parents and uncertain which household to regard as home. Better, therefore, to provide for a settled, albeit more distant, regime recognising the mother in the role of the primary carer for the two-year-old B with such generous periods of weekend and holiday contact as were practicable in the circumstances."
4. That the judge was justified in regarding the recommendations of the welfare officer as being of limited value, particularly given the events subsequent to the preparation of the welfare report (paragraph 71).

5. That no bias against the father was apparent (paragraph 72).

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed

Mr Justice Norris and Lady Justice Black gave concurring judgments.

News Update: 24th July 2012


WELCOME to the Family Lore News Update.

Items already covered in separate posts since the last update:

NEWS
Domestic violence figures are only the “tip of the ice-berg”
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer announces improved conviction rates but confirms that more needs to be done to protect victims and prosecute offenders. Full story: Family Law Week.

Appointment of the Family Justice Board Chair
The Government has appointed David Norgrove as the Chair of the new Family Justice Board. Mr Norgrove will oversee the Board which is a key part of the reforms announced in the Family Justice Review. Full story: Department for Education.

Controlling partners should face court, says think tank
Bullies who subject their partners to “controlling” mind games should face a new criminal offence, according a report from a leading think tank. An interesting idea from The Centre for Social Justice. Full story: The Telegraph.

Child support changes will impact on '100,000 families'
One in 11 families who currently get child support payments in England will lose out in a major shake-up of the system, government analysis suggests. Full story: BBC News. See also this press release from single parent charity Gingerbread.

Consultation on the review of contact arrangements for children in care and adopted children and on the placement of sibling groups for adoption
The Government has published two discussion papers seeking views on sensitive and important aspects of the care and adoption systems. Full story: Department for Education. Discussed by suesspiciousminds (see below).

Justice Select Committee Chair writes to the Prime Minister with objections to shared parenting changes
The Chair of the Justice Select Committee, the Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP, has written to the Prime Minister in relation to the Government's proposals to change the Children Act 1989 in an attempt to promote shared parenting. He said:
"We have yet to be provided with any evidence or argument that properly counters the evidence we and the Family Justice Review considered before concluding that there should be no changes to the current legislation."
Strong stuff. You can read the full text of the letter here, and the story at Family Law Week.

Inquiry launched into government family justice reforms
A parliamentary inquiry has been launched into the government’s family justice reforms, proposed in the Children and Families Bill. Launched by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Protection, the inquiry is calling for evidence on how the family justice system could be improved and is seeking views on care plans, the six-month limit on care cases and shared parenting legislation. Full story: Community Care.

CASES
A Local Authority v C & Ors [2012] EWHC 1975 (Fam) (01 June 2012)
Application by Local authority for re-hearing concerning findings of fact, after judge had previously concluded that she could not be satisfied that the child's injuries were a result of her being abused by the father. Full report: Bailii. For the earlier judgment, see here.

L-B (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 984 (18 July 2012)
Care proceedings. Appeal by mother against finding by judge that the perpetrator of injuries to the child could not be identified, after the judge had previously stated that the father was the perpetrator. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii. Also discussed by suesspiciousminds (see below).

ARTICLES
Hague Convention mediation guide to good practice
The Hague Conference on Private International Law has just published its long-awaited guide to good practice on mediation in child abduction work, says David Hodson on Family Law.

Expertly done? A look at the use of experts in family proceedings and changes proposed by Mr Justice Ryder prior to the announcement of his final proposals
Leanne Buckley–Thomson, pupil barrister at 1 Crown Office Row Brighton, considers the current problems in relation to the use of expert evidence particularly in care proceedings and the proposals for change thus far highlighted by Mr Justice Ryder in response. Full article: Family Law Week.

Beyond the Nuclear: State and Church – An irreconcilable breakdown
The Church of England published its official response to the Government Consultation on marriage equality last month. Full article: Family Law.

BLOGS
Family Court Cases - Understanding Some Numbers
"In this post, I attempt to explain some of the recurring but often misunderstood numbers that are used in discussions about family law and the family courts of England and Wales. In particular, I show how these various numbers fit together to make sense of the claim that 'about 10% of separating couples have their parenting arrangements decided by a judge'." Legal Liberal finds the truth behind the often-disputed statistic regarding the number of children cases that are settled.

We are family, I’ve got all my sisters with me… (or “Beware of the leopard” )
An analysis of the Government’s consultation on placement of siblings and contact post placement (see above). Full post: suesspiciousminds.

It was Professor Plum, in the kitchen with a candlestick – no, it was Professor Plum AND Miss Scarlett….
Another great post title from suesspiciousminds, as he  discusses the Court of Appeal decision in Re L-B (Children) 2012 (see above).

Scottish adoption law compatible with human right to family life
A discussion of the Supreme Court judgment in ANS v ML [2012] UKSC 30. Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marilyn Stowe Summer Competition

Black and Violet, Kandinsky
Marilyn Stowe has launched her (now annual) summer competition. To enter you simply need to give your views about the next steps for a fictitious family whose marriage has broken down. As Marilyn says, you don’t need to be a lawyer to take part and there are no right or wrong answers. The best answer received before Thursday 9 August 2012 will win a box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne, so head over to the Marilyn Stowe Blog to take part.

Devizes solicitor dies from his injuries

James Ward
Further to this post I have just read with great sadness that solicitor James Ward has died from his injuries.

Mr Ward was shot in the head in his office on the 2nd July. Wiltshire police say that he died in hospital yesterday.

My deepest sympathies go to his family, friends and colleagues.

*            *            *

UPDATE: A tribute to Mr Ward can now be found on his firm's website, here.

Book Review: At A Glance 2012-2013


At A Glance

Essential Tables for Financial Remedies

FLBA

£50 - Published by Class Legal

I almost think that reviewing At A Glance is something of a futile exercise - surely every family lawyer worth their salt already possesses an up-to-date copy? Notwithstanding, for the sake of those few who don't, I shall continue.

The latest edition comes in a shiny gold cover to commemorate the fact that it is the 21st edition. Can it really be twenty-one years since I purchased my first copy? On the other hand, it is difficult to remember a time when At A Glance was not a feature of the family law landscape.

What, apart from the gold cover, is different about this edition?

Well, obviously the tables have been updated where necessary, but there are also some new items, reflecting recent developments. For example, there is a description of the Family Financial Arbitration Scheme and a note on the EU Maintenance Regulation. The list of leading cases has also been brought up-to-date to include the latest judicial wisdom, as colourfully explained in the Preface:
"...the judges have been doing what they can to imbue with (further) clarity and (yet more) certainty the lapidary and lofty principles rained down from on high (and from on Highest) like lava from Popocat├ępetl or (to some this metaphor may seem more apt) like ash clouds from Iceland."
Conversely, certain old items have had to make way for the new, such as the Pre-application Protocol, which the editors believe many know so well anyway that they can recite in their sleep(!).

I suppose for the benefit of the few to whom I referred in my first paragraph I should give some examples of the tables that At A Glance contains. They include: RPI, child support details, house price index, life expectancy, Duxbury tables, tax and national insurance details, procedural tables, extracts from rules and much more. Oh, and I should mention there is a table of useful websites which includes a link to a certain Family Lore (well, Family Law News, to be precise).

Fifty pounds may seem quite a lot for what appears at first glance (pun intended - sorry) to be little more than a magazine (although you can buy six for £250), but the contents of At A Glance are rather more substantial than your average magazine. In fact, they are indispensable - I couldn't count the number of times I referred to my copies over the years, and just once having a particular table to refer to when you need it at court is worth the cost alone.

I do have one thought - perhaps there could be a Kindle or app version, which family lawyers (particularly advocates) could have on their smart phones, thereby ensuring that they always have a copy in their possession, even when they have left the 'hard copy' in the office/chambers.

At A Glance can be purchased from Class Legal, here.

News for the week to the 23rd July 2012

 
A summary of the top family law news stories from the last week. Update yourself in four minutes flat!



(Those without Flash can listen here.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Random Fire*

Photo: Zoelee
The O£ympics torch relay went near to where I live on Friday. I somehow managed to resist the temptation to go and see it, but I did see the pictures, and marvelled at the number of people getting so excited at... well, so little. I was reminded of the above excellent picture that appeared on Boing Boing on Tuesday, which says everything we need to know about the torch relay.

Ever since the German court case which declared male circumcision to be against the child's interests, I have been mulling over writing a post on the subject (particularly after Jewish and Muslim leaders complained that the decision was contrary to their rights!), but I don't think I could do any better than this piece by Catherine Bennett in the Observer today. She concludes:
"Either the mutilation of children is wrong or, as many resentful supporters of [female genital mutilation] would argue, it is every parent's fundamental right to redesign their child's genitals."
The mutilation of children is, of course, wrong and would surely amount to child abuse if it weren't veiled in ancient mumbo-jumbo religious superstitions. After two thousand (or more) years it is really about time that we faced up to this fact.

On the subject of mumbo-jumbo religious superstitions, the UK Human Rights Blog yesterday published a post telling us that:
"Mississippi has officially made it illegal to talk to children about Richard Dawkins, reports the joyously-named website www.laughinginpurgatory.com."
Unfortunately for the UK Human Rights Blog, the story was a hoax, as they have since admitted. Now, anyone can fall for a hoax (and, it is true, little would surprise me when it comes to the antics of the American Christian fundamentalists), but it is particularly amusing when the victim is one of this country's most serious law blogs.

Lastly, good on Lady Steele for having a pink jaguar tattooed on her shoulder as a 70th birthday present to herself, thereby "proving that you’re never too old enough to do mad things". I would have liked to see the looks on the faces of the staid old fuddy-duddies in 'respectable social circles' who apparently took a dim view of it.

Right, now I'm off to have a blast in the sunshine in my Caterham...

*          *          *          *          *

*I've wanted to use this post title before, but haven't done so, as it used to be used by Geeklawyer. Sadly, Geeklawyer's Blog is now no more than a distant memory of a great love affair, so I figured it would be OK to use it now without fear of plagiarism.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Something for the Weekend: Deep Purple - Child in Time | Live 1970

This week I lost another small part of my adolescence, with the untimely passing of Jon Lord, keyboard player with Deep Purple. Here is my small tribute, a song that showcased Lord's skills and was recorded when the band were near the height of their powers with, in my view, their best line-up (and about the time I first got to know of them). I would advise turning the volume up, but listening to this kind of stuff at full volume was what gave me tinnitus...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Powerful interactive advert highlights issue of violence against women

From YouTube:
"As part of the international day against violence towards women in 2011, an iPad advert was inserted within the editorial section of the German VOGUE iPad app. The swiping mechanism and an embedded video were used to demonstrate that one in every four women in Germany experiences violence."


[Found on Brandflakes for Breakfast.]

BLEAK SPOUSE: Chapter 21 – Pursuit


WEDLOCK HOUSE. Since hearing the truth about Lady Virginia, Sir Basildon has been researching high net worth divorce cases on the internet. He does not like what he finds. In particular, talk of wives being awarded huge settlements and of London being the 'divorce capital of the world' because of the amount that wives can receive there have worried him enormously.

Accordingly he has decided that, despite the advice that Edgar gave him, the only way to avoid financial ruin is to effect a reconciliation. He will therefore offer Lady Virginia his forgiveness, and ask her to return to Wedlock.

But he must find her first. He has no idea where she has gone, and she's not answering her mobile phone. Who can find her for him?

He knows there is only one man for the job.

He therefore contacts Inspector Gormless. He tells Gormless what has happened, and that he has decided to ignore Edgar's advice and seek a reconciliation. He instructs Gormless to find Lady Virginia, and tell her that he forgives her.

*            *            *

At the offices of Messrs. Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors, Edgar Venal is working on an article he is writing for Practical Family Lawyer entitled “How to overcharge divorce clients without them realising”. Like all ambitious lawyers, Edgar has always understood the value of writing articles for shameless self-promotion.

To aid his concentration, he is sipping a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee.

He is interrupted by the phone ringing. His secretary Brunhilde tells him that Inspector Gormless wants to speak to him. Curious as to what the Inspector may want, Edgar takes the call.

"Mr Venal?" Asks the Inspector.

"Yes," replies Edgar, "what do you want Gormless?"

"I thought I should tell you that Sir Basildon Wedlock has instructed me to find Lady Virginia." Says the Inspector.

"Oh, why's that Gormless?" Asks Edgar nonchalantly, assuming that Sir Basildon just wants to locate Lady Virginia so that the divorce papers can be served on her. He takes another sip of his coffee.

"He wants a reconciliation." Replies the Inspector.

Edgar leaps forward from his chair, spitting the coffee across his desk. "He what???" He exclaims.

"He wants a reconciliation." Confirms the Inspector. "He says he wants to forgive Lady Virginia."

Edgar's heart sinks. He could be about to lose out on the most lucrative divorce of his career. With a great effort, he regains his composure and thanks Gormless for giving him the unwelcome news.

He puts the phone down and stares once more at the firm's motto on the opposite wall of his room: "The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself."

He must change Sir Basildon's mind.

But how?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Arif v Zar & Anor: Applying to transfer a bankruptcy annulment application

It is the classic scenario: one party, usually the husband, obtains a bankruptcy order apparently in an attempt to defeat the other party's financial claims on divorce. Arif v Zar & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 986, decided yesterday, involved a wife's application for the annulment of the husband's bankruptcy.

The husband had been declared bankrupt on his own petition in October 2011. It was clear that unless the bankruptcy order was annulled, the wife's ancillary relief application would be severely prejudiced. The wife applied for the annulment of the bankruptcy, alleging that many of the husband's debts were a sham.

On the 18th January 2012 at a directions hearing in the Family Division Mostyn J made an order inviting the Bankruptcy Court to transfer the annulment application to the Family Division, to be heard with the wife's application for ancillary relief. The wife then issued her own application for the transfer of the proceedings to the Family Division.

On the 16th March a Registrar in the Bankruptcy Court dismissed the wife's application and sent the annulment application to be determined by a judge of the Chancery Division.

At a further hearing before him on the 23rd March, Mostyn J of his own motion varied the Registrar's order so as to transfer the annulment application to the Family Division with a direction that it be heard together with the Wife's application for ancillary relief.

Both the husband and his trustees in bankruptcy applied for permission to appeal against the order of Mostyn J.

The merits of whether the annulment application should be heard by the Chancery Division or the Family Division were not in issue before the Court of Appeal - the only issue was whether Mostyn J had jurisdiction to make the order he did, or properly exercised such jurisdiction if it exists. After reviewing the court's jurisdiction in bankruptcy, Lord Justice Patten found (at paragraph 26): "that any application to transfer an annulment application should ... be made (as it was in this case) to a registrar in bankruptcy or a judge of the Chancery Division."

Mostyn J had purported to exercise the power to vary or revoke the Registrar's order pursuant to CPR 3.1(7), but Lord Justice Patten held (at paragraph 27) that that power "is ordinarily limited to cases where there has been a material change of circumstances since the order was made or the original order can be shown to have been based on misstated facts or material non-disclosure". Here, there was no change of circumstances or anything akin to material non-disclosure.

The proper way of challenging the Registrar's order, said Lord Justice Patten, was by way of appeal.

Accordingly, he granted permission to appeal to the husband and to the trustees and allowed their appeals.

Lord Justice Rimer and Lord Justice Thorpe gave consenting judgments.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From the Archives: 26th October 2006 - Materialism, Fear and Loathing

The Money ProgrammeThe BBC's Money Programme tomorrow is entitled "The Real Cost of Divorce". I don't yet know whether I'll be able to watch it, but there is a short preview article here. Two things from the article are striking:

Firstly, celebrity lawyer Raymond Tooth is quoted as saying: "A rich man in my view should not marry a poor woman. If he does, then he must have a pre-nuptial agreement". Fair enough, advise a client to enter into a pre-nuptial, but did he really say a rich man should not marry a poor woman? Is he really so materialistic that he considers that wealth, or lack of it, should determine whether two parties marry? I find such a concept as abhorrent as the nonsense that someone from one religious or ethnic background should not marry anyone from a different background.

The second point is the claim in the article that "the average cost of ending a marriage through the British courts is about £13,000 per divorce". Where did this figure come from? I assume the programme will shed some light on this, but it surely cannot take into account the vast majority of divorces that are undefended and where all ancillary matters are resolved by agreement. For the majority of family lawyers who do not represent the rich and famous costs anywhere near this figure are a comparative rarity. Unfortunately, seeing such a figure quoted by as reputable an organisation as the BBC will strike fear into the hearts of many who are contemplating divorce, and add to the general public's loathing of the profession.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inevitable.


Over half of all British married couples regret saying 'I do'
- Daily Mail, 17th July 2012

Lying to the children

Now THAT is how Man was created...
The British Humanist Association reports today that a Free School due to open in September 2012 intends to ‘teach creation as a scientific theory’. As the BHA states, Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland has a 'Creation Policy' on its website. I thought I would dissect it for you (not a very difficult task):
"We will affirm the fact that “God created the world and everything in it”. We will affirm that he did so “ex nihilo” – out of nothing."

Fact? How can something for which there is no evidence whatsoever be a ‘fact’?

"We believe that God, as sovereign Lord of the universe, is capable of creating the world in a few 24-hour days, or over a period of millions of years."

Hedging their bets there – just a small difference between a few days and a period of millions of years. (The Earth is, of course, rather more than millions of years old – it is actually about four and a half billion years old.)

"We do not share the rigid creationist’s insistence on a literalistic interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. We believe it is honouring to, and consistent with a belief in, the inerrant Word of God to accept that the opening chapters of Genesis, as do many other places in Scripture, contain much that appears to be poetic. Thus, to insist on a literalistic interpretation of the passage(s) in question – which most Christians certainly do not feel obliged to do in regard to other instances of poetry and apocalyptic writings in the Bible - might in fact be very mistaken."

The classic theist position of ‘picking and choosing’ what to believe in their holy book. Whenever science disproves something in the holy book so utterly that it is accepted by the general population, the theist will say it was not meant to be literal!

"We are therefore very happy to believe that God could have created the world in six days. But we do not feel that it is helpful to affirm it as an unarguable fact."

Laughable. They believe it, but not enough to press the point!

"We do not believe that the very plain evidence supporting a lengthy process of evolution needs to be challenged by Christians."

Progress...

"However, we vigorously challenge the unscientific certainty often claimed by scientists surrounding the so-called “Big Bang” and origins generally.

"We believe that no scientific theory provides – or ever will provide – a satisfactory explanation of origins, i.e. why the world appeared, and how nothing became something in the first place."

...or perhaps not. The origin of the universe is, of course, something we may never know, but that does not mean it should be replaced by an idea for which there is no evidence at all. On the other hand, we do have a very good idea of how and why the Earth appeared.

We will teach evolution as an established scientific principle, as far as it goes.

“As far as it goes”? Evolution is an established FACT, supported by an enormous body of evidence.

"We will teach creation as a scientific theory and we will always affirm very clearly our position as Christians, i.e. that Christians believe that God’s creation of the world is not just a theory but a fact with eternal consequences for our planet and for every person who has ever lived on it."

“Scientific theory”? “Fact”? In the absence of any evidence whatsoever, creation can be neither.There is no justification at all for teaching creation as a possible alternative.

"We will affirm that to believe in God’s creation of the world is an entirely respectable position scientifically and rationally."

To believe in something for which there is no evidence can be neither scientific nor rational.
It is extremely concerning that our children may be taught such nonsense as if it were truth (other than just a belief system). The BHA urges you to write to your MP and to Michael Gove to oppose the plans for the school.

News Update: 17th July 2012


WELCOME to the Family Lore News Update.

Items already covered in separate posts since the last update:

NEWS
Man appeals against ban on replying to children
A father-of-four has criticised an "absurd" court order that bans him from returning his children's text messages or phone calls. The Independent reports today:
"Under the order the man's children are "free to ring or text him whenever they please" ... However, if he fails to answer in time and misses one of their calls, he is banned from "initiating" contact by responding in any way. The man ... was granted permission to appeal against the order by Lord Justice Thorpe, who expressed the hope that a "middle way" could now be found."
Let us hope that it is.

New President of the Supreme Court
Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, currently Master of the Rolls, has been named as the next President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Full story: The Supreme Court.

Proposals for the joint inspection of multi-agency arrangements for the protection of children
"Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons are committed to the introduction of a new joint inspection of multi-agency arrangements for the protection of children in England." Full story: HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

Reform of the Office of Children’s Commissioner
Children’s Minister Sarah Teather has published draft clauses for forthcoming legislation to strengthen the role of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. The draft legislation would create a new role for the Children’s Commissioner, focused on promoting and protecting the rights of children, in line with the articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Full story: Department for Education.

STATUTORY INSTRUMENT
The International Recovery of Maintenance (Hague Convention 2007) (Rules of Court) Regulations 2012
These Regulations facilitate conclusion of the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other forms of Family Maintenance done at The Hague on 23 November 2007 (“the Convention”) by the European Union, pursuant to Council Decision 2011/432/EU on the approval, on behalf of the European Union, of that Convention. The Convention contains rules on recognition and enforcement of maintenance decisions between Contracting Parties, and administrative co-operation to facilitate the recovery of such maintenance. You can find the regulations here.

CASES
RK v RK [2011] EWHC 3910 (Fam) (21 November 2011)
Ancillary relief application in which the principal issue was the extent to which trustees of a number of trusts, of which the husband and the children of the family are discretionary beneficiaries and of some of which the wife is a discretionary beneficiary, are likely to provide resources to or for the wife direct and/or to the husband to enable him to meet the wife's financial claim. Full report: Family Law Week.

H (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 913 (29 May 2012)
Appeal by father against order made in child abduction proceedings. Appeal allowed as order had been made on the basis of a misunderstanding as to the litigation history. Full report: Family Law Week.

Re L (Children) (Occupation order: absence of domestic violence) [2012] EWCA Civ (4 April 2012)
Appeal by husband against occupation order where there had been no finding of physical violence and against shared residence order which provided that the children should live primarily with the wife. Appeal dismissed. A Court of Appeal case dealing with the sort of 'nitty-gritty' issues that family lawyers have to contend with up and down the country every day, rather than some esoteric point or a big-money case. Report: Law Society Gazette. (I've not found a full report of this case, but will include a link to it on Family Lore Case Digest should I do so.)

A City Council v M [2012] EWHC B6 (Fam) (04 July 2012)
Care proceedings, involving issues of contact with the parents and an application by the local authority for an order under s.91(14). Full report: Bailii. Discussed by suesspiciousminds (see below).

ARTICLES
A Bridge over Tasman waters
David Hodson says: "New bilateral legislation comes into force later this year between Australia and New Zealand to resolve a number of difficult contentious family law issues between the two countries." Full article: Family Law.

BIIR Rules, OK?
"What would your instinct be if a client came to you with a classic case of wrongful retention? A speedy application for a return order under the Hague Convention? A recent judgment of Mostyn J JRG v EB highlights the importance of making the right application at the outset." Says Hayley Trim in Family Law.

Spousal maintenance - part two
The second part of Andrew Newbury's series on spousal maintenance. He says: "In my last article I considered the courts’ approach to the quantum of periodical payments. Recent decisions have seen an increased focus on needs as the prevailing factor when quantifying such payments. In a similar vein, and perhaps reflecting a less generous approach to periodical payments orders, there has been a move towards term orders and away from joint lives orders." Full article: Law Society Gazette.

A Local Authority v DS – An invitation to judicially review the Legal Services Commission?
Chris McWatters and Sharon Love, barristers, of Garden Court Chambers consider the implications of the President’s Guidance on seeking prior approval of the LSC to adduce expert evidence in family proceedings. Full article: Family Law Week.

BLOGS
"Mum is implacably hostile"
"The phrase “implacable hostility” made its judicial debut almost 30 years ago and has been in use ever since." Says guest blogger 'DT', who goes on to discuss this extremely difficult issue. Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog.

An increasing probability gradually increasing to a certainty
A discussion of the judgment in A City Council v M (see above), and how private law proceedings can go really badly wrong. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Justice by gimmick
Instead of developing a ‘divorce by app’ scheme the government should consider allowing ‘no-win, no-fee’ 
in family cases, says 
Marilyn Stowe. Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog. I gave my views on Marilyn's suggestion (and she replied to them) in this post.

Cohabitee disputes and trusts of land
"Today our firm welcomed a talk about Cohabitee Disputes and Trusts of Land, given by Sarah Harrison of Chancery House Chambers in Leeds ... I thought her talk was straightforward and informative – on what is after all a very difficult subject matter." Says Marilyn Stowe. Sarah very kindly agreed to the script of her talk being published on the Marilyn Stowe Blog.

Care system failures breach children’s human rights
A discussion of the recent A & S v. Lancashire County Council case, by Alasdair Henderson on the UK Human Rights Blog.