WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.
Major reforms to support children and families
The Children and Families Bill, published today, includes reforms to adoption, family justice, an overhaul of Special Educational Needs, reinforcing the role of the Children’s Commissioner and plans to introduce childminders agencies. Full story: Department for Education.
Brain-damaged groom was 'mentally incapable' of understanding commitment
A man who married his childhood sweetheart in his fifties after the pair rekindled their young love has had his marriage declared invalid by a judge as he was not capable of understanding the meaning of a lifelong commitment. Full story: Daily Mail.
Second reading of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill this week
Conservative activists urge Prime Minister to delay the Bill. Full story: Family Law Week.
Budget 2013: No tax break for married couples
The government will not introduce a tax break for married couples in next month's Budget, it has emerged. Full story: BBC News.
Children’s Commissioner calls for comprehensive impact assessments of Government’s judicial review proposals
The Office of the Children's Commissioner for England has published its response to the proposals of the Ministry of Justice for reform of judicial review. Full story: Family Law Week.
Mental health services must involve patients in their care decisions, says CQC annual report
The Care Quality Commission's Mental Health Act Annual Report reveals that 15 per cent of people receiving care under the Act are not being involved in the decisions made about their care. Full story: Family Law Week.
Sharia divorces could be allowed after legal ruling
Divorces settled by religious courts including Sharia are a step closer to being allowed under British law after a landmark legal decision [the AI v MT case - see below]. Full story: The Telegraph. See, however, the UK Human Rights Blog post, below.
New approach to expert evidence in family proceedings
New rules have come into force which will mean judges can streamline proceedings in family courts by reducing the number of expert witnesses who have to give evidence. Full story: Judicial Office. The new FPR 2010, Part 25 - see also the Family Law article and the post by suesspiciousminds, both below.
Sperm donors given leave to apply for contact with children
In the High Court Mr Justice Baker has ordered that known sperm donors can apply for Children Act 1989 section 8 orders in respect of children, despite having no legal relationship with them under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. The S v D & E case - see below. Full story: Family Law Week.
Butler-Sloss condemns advice cuts
Removing funding for a service that helps litigants in person on the day wide-ranging legal aid cuts take effect will create ‘absolute disarray’ in the courts, a former head of the family division has warned. Full story: Law Society Gazette.
UK residents (under 65) living in married households have declined by 6% in last ten years
The latest statistical bulletin, published by the Office for National Statistics and derived from the 2011 census, focuses on the structure of households. Full story: Family Law Week.
Social workers to gain powers to enter homes in abuse cases
Social workers in Wales would gain powers to enter homes where abuse is suspected to assess adults at risk under legislation to overhaul social services in Wales. Full story: Community Care.
Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Overseas Relationships) Order 2012
This Order amends Schedule 20 to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
New Practice Direction 25A
This Practice Direction and Practice Directions 25B to E relate to expert evidence and supplement FPR.
New Practice Direction 25B
This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 25 and relates to the duties of an expert, the expert's report and arrangements for an expert to attend court.
New Practice Direction 25C
This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 25 and relates to Children Proceedings - The Use of Single Joint Experts and the Process Leading to an Expert Being Instructed or Expert Evidence Being Put Before the Court.
New Practice Direction 25D
This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 25 and relates to Financial Remedy Proceedings and Other Family Proceedings (Except Children Proceedings) - The Use of Single Joint Experts and the Process Leading to Expert Evidence Being Put Before the Court.
New Practice Direction 25E
This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 25 and relates to discussions between experts in family proceedings.
New Practice Direction 25F
This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 25 and relates to assessors in family proceedings.
FPR PD15B - adults who may be protected parties and children who may become protected parties in family proceedings
Coming into force on 31 January 2013 is FPR Practice Direction 15B - adults who may be protected parties and children who may become protected parties in family proceedings, which supplements FPR Part 15 (representation of protected parties).
W v W  EWHC 2469 (Fam) (3 September 2012)
Application for financial relief and application by the Crown to vary a restraint order imposed by the Crown Court. Full report: Family Law Week.
S v D & E  EWHC 134 (Fam) (31 January 2013)
Applications by two sperm donors for leave to apply for contact with children. Leave granted. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above, and the post by suesspiciousminds, below.
Re M (Contact)  EWCA (17 January 2013)
Appeal against dismissal of parents' application for contact with children in care. Appeal dismissed. Report: Family Law.
W (A Child)  EWCA Civ 1828 (12 December 2012)
Appeal by parents against care and placement orders. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.
AI v MT  EWHC 100 (Fam) (30 January 2013)
Financial remedy judgment after consent order agreed in arbitration carried out by rabbinical authorities. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above, and the UK Human Rights Blog post, below.
Re YM (Father’s Contact: Anger Management Issues)  EWCA (22 January 2013)
Appeal by mother against contact order made after the judge accepted a report from the father's GP stating he suffered from no anger problems. Appeal allowed. Report: Family Law.
Re C (Abduction: Consent Order: Appeal)  EWCA (24 January 2013)
Appeal by father against revocation of return order made by consent, on the basis that the mother had been subjected to extreme pressure by her barrister. Appeal allowed. Report: Family Law.
Re H (United Mexican States Intervening)  EWCA (23 January 2013)
Appeal by mother against refusal of her application for summary return of the child to Mexico. Appeal dismissed. Report: Family Law.
Re Y (Abduction: Undertakings Given For Return of Child)  EWCA (22 January 2013)
Mother ordered to return child to Cyprus. She appealed on the basis that the father's undertakings would not be recognised by Cypriot court. Appeal dismissed. Report: Family Law.
Jurisdiction of same-sex marriages
"On Friday the government published its draft legislation for the debate on redefining marriage by introducing same-sex marriage. It is the Marriage (Same-sex Couples) Bill 2013." David Hodson looks at the implications, in this article on Family Law.
Undue Influence in the Family - A 2013 Update
Luke Barnes, barrister at Three Dr Johnson’s Buildings, examines the issue of undue influence in family matters. Full article: Family Law Week.
David Burrows warns of an assault on family law, in this article in New Law Journal.
The new FPR 2010, Part 25 (Experts and Assessors) and accompanying practice directions come in to force today. What changes do they make?
On 31 January 2013, the new FPR 2010, Part 25 and accompanying practice directions come into force. Full article: Family Law.
Confidentiality and children being heard – privately?
"Privilege and confidentiality are topical", says David Burrows in this article on Family Law.
Is there a meaningful right to silence in care cases?
Suesspiciousminds asks the question in this post.
“A Judge too far”
A quick discussion on the Court of Appeal decision in Re J-L (Children) 2012. Full post: suesspiciousminds.
Court opens way to divorces by Sharia? Hold on a minute…
The Times (amongst others) today deserves a spell on the legal naughty step. Its headline announces that a judge’s decision “opens way to divorces by Sharia“. The AI v MT case - see above. Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.
“Biological parent versus legal parents – OR Judge Fudge is far too busy being delicious”
A discussion of the High Court decision in Re S v D &E 2013 [above], in which the High Court determined that a man who had donated sperm which led to the birth of a child could make an application under the Children Act 1989, although leave would be required. Full post: suesspiciousminds.
Letters of Destruction
"You may well have heard that the new guidance on the instruction of experts came into force today. If it is actually enforced, it will significantly reduce the number of experts and at the same time significantly increase the amount of preparatory work prior to requesting the involvement of an expert." Says suesspiciousminds (who else?) in this post.
Case Preview: In the Matter of L-B (Children)
Re L-B (Children), heard in the Supreme Court last week, concerns a judge’s power to change her decision where oral judgment has been given but no order has yet been perfected. Full post: UKSC blog.