News Update: 17th of December 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

MASH having a positive impact on child protection in London
The turnaround time for child protection cases judged as high or complex needs has almost halved in some areas since the London multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) programme began in 2011, according to a new academic report from the University of Greenwich. Full story: London Councils.

English courts still top the league for generous divorce payouts
English courts have more flexibility in granting settlements than courts in most other countries, leading to higher awards. Full story: The Telegraph.

Serious case reviews ‘politically abused’ since death of Baby P, claims expert
Safeguarding expert claims serious case review authors face ministerial disapproval if they don't criticise the local authority. Full story: Community Care.

No less than 'good' for children's homes demands Ofsted
Ofsted has published proposals for a new framework to improve standards in children's homes and drive up quality for the country's most vulnerable children. Full story: Family Law Week.

Women behaving badly: cuckolded and downtrodden husbands filling divorce courts
A new analysis of official divorce figures, dating back 40 years, shows a dramatic rise in the number of separations in which “unreasonable behaviour” by women has been recognised by the courts as the main cause. Full story: The Telegraph.

Divorcing couples regret the impact on children but don’t tend to seek help, survey finds
Divorced couples significantly regret the impact that their split had on their children but tend not to seek help with their relationship, according to a survey conducted by Seddons in conjunction with The Marriage Foundation. Full story: Family Law Week.

Birmingham reforms children's services after damning reports
Council damned over Keanu Williams case will invest extra £9m as part of 'radical' strategy, but admits service for vulnerable children still not consistent. Full story: The Guardian.

Ofsted publishes new framework for inspecting Cafcass
Unannounced inspections will treat Cafcass as one organisation, according to a new framework document. Full story: Family Law Week.

Attainment gap between looked after children and others narrows slightly but remains large
Statistics on outcomes for children looked after by local authorities in England, released by the Department for Education, show that the attainment gap between such children and their peer group is diminishing but is still great. Full story: Family Law Week.

New FCO figures show parental child abduction cases on the rise
The number of parental child abduction and custody cases has more than doubled over the last decade, with almost two children being abducted abroad each day, according to new figures released today by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and charity, Reunite. Full story: Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Pregnant woman with 'very severe' mental health problems could be forced to have Caesarean
A pregnant woman with “very severe” mental health problems could be forcibly sedated and have her baby delivered via Caesarean section against her will if the need arose, a High Court Judge has ruled. Full story: The Independent.

Marriages can be performed at Scientologists’ churches, decides Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has decided that Scientology is a religion and since the church of the Church of Scientology was a "place of meeting for religious worship", then it could be registered for the solemnisation of marriages under the Marriage Act 1949. The Hodkin case - see below. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In November 2013, Cafcass received a total of 3,524 new private law cases. This is a 15% decrease on November 2012 levels. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in November 2013
In November 2013, Cafcass received a total of 816 applications. This figure represents a 15% decrease compared to those received in November 2012. Full story: Cafcass.

Government u-turn on plans to remove councils from adoption recruitment process
'Common sense' amendment to the children and families bill has been hailed a triumph by local authorities. Full story: Community Care.

New cuts to experts’ fees compromises care cases
New cuts to the civil legal aid remuneration rates that came into force on 2 December 2013 are deterring a significant number of professionals from acting as expert witnesses in the family courts. Full story: Family Law.

Same-sex weddings to begin in March
The first same-sex weddings can take place from 29 March 2014, equalities minister Maria Miller says. Full story: BBC News.

Top reasons high cost family cases are rejected
The Ministry of Justice has analysed the top reasons why high cost family case plans are being rejected. Full story: Family Law.

A (A Child), Re [2013] EWHC 3502 (Fam) (01 July 2013)
Care proceedings. Fact-finding hearing to ascertain cause of injuries to the child. Full report: Bailii.

HA (A Child) , Re [2013] EWHC 3634 (Fam) (28 November 2013)
Care proceedings in respect of 7 month old child. Care and placement orders made. Full report: Bailii.

P (A Child), Re [2012] EWCC 6 (Fam) (15 November 2012)
Care proceedings. Appeal by grandparents against refusal of permission to apply for a residence order. Full report: Bailii.

JO v GO & Ors [2013] EWHC 3932 (COP) (13 December 2013)
Court of Protection judgment concerning application by daughter of 88 year old woman lacking capacity for order that she be returned to England from Scotland. Full report: Bailii.

A (Children), Re [2013] EWCA Civ 1611 (13 December 2013)
Appeal by local authority against placement order with conditions attached and cross-appeal by mother seeking the discharge of the placement order if the local authority's appeal is successful. Both appeals allowed and placement order set aside. Full report: Bailii.

An NHS Trust v R (a child) and Mr & Mrs R (Parents) [2013] EWHC 2340 (Fam) (19 September 2013)
Judgment in dispute regarding medical treatment for a child, in particular as to whether ventilation should be withdrawn. Full report: Judiciary of England and Wales (PDF). HTML version: Bailii.

LRP (A Child) (Care Proceedings: Placement Order) [2013] EWHC 3974 (Fam) (12 December 2013)
Final hearing of local authority's application for care and placement orders in relation to a 10 week old infant. Full report: Bailii.

Muema v Muema [2013] EWHC 3864 (Fam) (10 June 2013)
Application by husband for an order under section 37(2)(b) MCA to set aside a notice to quit that was signed by his estranged wife. Application dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

Re H, R and E (Children) [2013] EWHC 3857 (Fam) (2 September 2013)
Application under the Hague Convention for the summary return of three children from this country to the Netherlands. Return ordered. Full report: Family Law Week.

Walker v Walker [2013] EWHC 3973 (Fam) (28 October 2013)
Application by a husband for permission to appeal financial remedies order. Permission granted. Full report: Bailii.

R (Hodkin & Anor) v Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages [2013] UKSC 77 (11 December 2013)
Appeal concerning the question whether a church of the Church of Scientology was recordable as a "place of meeting for religious worship", with the effect that a valid ceremony of marriage could be performed there. Full report: Supreme Court (PDF). See also the news story above.

Re P [2013] EWHC (4 December 2013)
Application for reporting restriction in 'forced caesarean' case. Full report: Judiciary of England and Wales (PDF).

No conflicts please; we are English and we are regulated
"Recent guidance from the English solicitors' regulatory authority has caused a review of practice on issues of conflicts of interest which may be particularly pertinent in international cases." Says David Hodson in this article on Family Law.

Local Authority Focus - December 2013
Sally Gore, barrister of 14 Gray’s Inn Square, in the first of a series of updates for children lawyers and professionals, considers recent developments affecting the decision-making and procedures of local authority children’s services. Full article: Family Law Week.

Young v Young: can “eye-watering” divorce costs be justified?
"In the aftermath of Young v Young, what should be done by the judiciary and practitioners to make fees in family proceedings proportionate?" Asks Pamela Collis in this post on Halsbury's Law Exchange.

When will the court exercise its inherent jurisdiction?
The Supreme Court’s use of its inherent jurisdiction to order the return of a child to another country is analysed [in Re KL] by David Williams QC, of 4 Paper Buildings in this post on the Family Law Blog.

Now its a trilogy…
"I felt that in the interests of completeness I ought to update my two previous posts on the C-section case, which I can now refer to as the case involving Italian mother Alessandra Pacchieri." Full post: Pink Tape.

Children in small ads
Another day, another scandal. The Telegraph reports this case where an Adoption Agency, “Adoptionplus” placed adverts in local newspapers saying that two children needed an adoptive placement and seeking adopters to care for them. Full post: suesspiciousminds.