Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Review: The not-entirely silly season

Notable things this week:

Mercifully, it has been a light week for family law happenings, as most of those responsible happen to be on holiday...

I may start a regular 'Tweet of the Week' feature for these Friday Review posts. This week, my choice is this from Marilyn Stowe (who was on holiday, but obviously couldn't manage to 'switch off' from law):
When indeed? Whilst every other aspect of family law reform seems to be 'up for grabs', much-needed change in this area seems as far away as ever.

I mentioned last week Lucy Reed's views on the help being provided to litigants in person by the MoJ (and HMCTS). She has now written a post reviewing a new guidance leaflet for separated parents produced by HMCTS, and the MoJ's video guides for separated parents. She describes the latter as "only a tiny sticking plaster on a very big problem". As she says, the videos appear to have had only 182 views, although quite where YouTube gets this figure from I'm not sure, as it doesn't seem to change and is a lot less than the total for each individual video. Even so, the take-up dosn't seem to be Earth-shattering.

Sir Paul
The stream of surveys about marriage continues unabated, and it seems that each one must bring a tear to the cheek of Sir Paul Coleridge and his fellow lamenters of times long past at the Marriage Foundation. The latest, echoing the one I mentioned last week, comes from America and suggests that: "Marriage is becoming the preserve of middle-class couples as growing job insecurity leaves blue-collar workers reluctant to commit to long-term relationships". Still, I suppose such a change could justify the abolition of legal aid for divorce...

I have already posted about the M v M case. I'm not sure there is any new law in there, but at least it satisfied the media's seemingly insatiable desire for record-breaking divorce settlements, although quite how much of the £53 million Mrs M will be able to recover from Mr M is a different matter...

Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions announced a new ‘Help and support for separated families’ (initialism: 'HSSF') mark, which is "designed to help parents navigate the range of support available to them and choose, with confidence, a high-quality outlet to help". Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: "We thought this would be another great ruse to cover up the fact that many deserving people are being denied proper legal help via legal aid". OK, perhaps he didn't quite say that...

Lastly, someone who doesn't appear to be on holiday is our esteemed President, who has produced the fifth View from his chambers (at least on the FLBA website). This one deals with the reform of the Family Court in London. The President comments: "We have a wonderful opportunity to make the family justice system in London something we can all be proud of". Amen to that.

Have a good weekend.

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