Tuesday, April 30, 2013

News Update: 30th of April 2013


WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

NEWS
Girl, 14, forced to become pregnant with donor sperm bought by mother
A mother forced her 14-year-old adopted daughter to inseminate herself with donor sperm to provide a baby for her after she was prevented from adopting any more children, it can be revealed. The A Council v M & Ors case - see below. Full story: The Guardian.

Second marriages are less likely to end in divorce than first
The Marriage Foundation think-tank has produced a report revealing that second marriages are more stable than first marriages, challenging the widely held belief that couples who remarry are doomed to repeat the mistakes from their first marriage. Full story: The Marriage Foundation.

Tax breaks for married couples 'in force by 2015 election' promises Cameron
Tax breaks for married couples will be introduced within the next two years, David Cameron pledged today following Conservatives accusations that he is failing to support family life. Full story: The Independent.

Short term planning is damaging child protection services, says Action for Children
The early intervention by local authorities to ameliorate acute family problems, such as neglect or family breakdown, with effective support is being compromised by short term planning, according to a new report published by the charity, Action for Children. Full story: Family Law Week.

Major bank dragged into Scot Young divorce battle
A major British bank that received billions of pounds from the taxpayer has been dragged into Britain’s most high-profile and bitter divorce. Full story: London Evening Standard.

Law Society launches surveys on the impact of LASPO
Surveys for ‘complex’ family law cases and domestic violence matters. Full story: Family Law Week.

'Cruelly deceived' father who only learned he had a son when he was four is banned by courts from seeing him after he was adopted
A 'cruelly deceived' father who has never seen his five-year-old son today had his hopes dashed of building a relationship with the boy. The C (A Child) case - see below. Full story: Daily Mail.

Councils praised for 45% rise in children placed for adoption
The number of children placed for adoption in England has nearly doubled over the last year, according to research by the Association of Directors of Children's Services. Full story: Community Care.

Thousands of children in care go missing every year
Nearly 3,000 children placed in care were repeatedly running away last year, with one able to go missing a total of 67 times in twelve months, figures released today reveal. Full story: The Independent.

‘Child Poverty Act framework needs to be supplemented, not replaced’
Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission publishes response to government’s consultation. Full story: Family Law Week.

PRACTICE GUIDANCE
President's Guidance of April 2013: Communicating with the Home Office in Family Proceedings
The 'Communicating with the Home Office in Family Proceedings' protocol enables the family courts to communicate with the Home Office (UK Borders Agency and Identity and Passport Service) to obtain immigration, visa and passport information for family court proceedings. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
A Council v M & Ors (Judgment 1: Fact-Finding) [2012] EWHC 4241 (Fam) (08 March 2012)
Care proceedings in respect of four children, one of whom was the son of the eldest child. Fact-finding hearing. Full report: Bailii. See also the top news story, above.

A Council v M & Ors (Judgment 2: Welfare) [2012] EWHC 4242 (Fam) (17 July 2012)
Care proceedings. Welfare hearing in respect of two of the four children involved. Full report: Bailii.

A Council v M & Ors (Judgment 3: Reporting Restrictions) [2012] EWHC 2038 (Fam) (20 July 2012)
Care proceedings. Judgment in respect of application for reporting restriction. Full report: Bailii.

CR v MZ [2013] EWHC 925 (Fam) (13 February 2013)
Judgment in financial remedies application dealing with preliminary issues relating to the ownership of the former matrimonial home. Full report: Family Law Week.

C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 431 (25 April 2013)
Child placed for adoption. Father then found out that it was his child, and applied to be joined in adoption proceedings. His application was refused, and he appealed. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above, and the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Re T (Contact: Application to Replace Indirect Contact with Supervised Contact)
Appeal by father after court replaced supervised contact with indirect contact. Appeal allowed. Report: Family Law.

Re Y and Z (Minors) [2013] EWHC 953 (Fam) (25 April 2013)
Care proceedings. Judgment concerning question of whether the children should be tested for Huntington's disease. Full report: Family Law Week. See also the two blog posts, below.

MO v Ro & Anor [2013] EWHC 392 (Fam) (01 March 2013)
Application for a declaration of marital status under section 55(1)(a) of the Family Law Act 1986. Held that the parties did not participate in a ceremony of marriage. Full report: Bailii.

Devon County Council v EB & Ors (Minors) [2013] EWHC 968 (Fam) (22 February 2013)
Application for care orders in case involving apparent non-accidental injuries to two of the three children. Held that the threshold conditions were not crossed, and the application was therefore dismissed. Full report: Bailii. See also my post, below.

Semaan v Taktouk [2013] EWCA Civ 378 (27 March 2013)
Applications by husband for permission to appeal against orders made in financial remedy proceedings. Applications adjourned. Full report: Family Law Hub.

M (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 388 (20 March 2013)
Appeal by father against findings of fact in contact proceedings. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Hub.

Curran v Collins [2013] EWCA Civ 382 (22 January 2013)
Application for permission to appeal against finding that the appellant had no interest in either the property where she lived with the respondent, or the business carried on there. Application granted. Full report: Family Law Hub.

ARTICLES
I am suspicious of Jeremy Kyle…
Amy sanders considers the possibility of lie detector tests being used in family proceedings. Full article: Family Law.

Stare decisis does not apply where statute overrides
"Two recent decisions of the Court of Appeal have allowed appeals in family law cases on grounds that the principle of stare decisis did not apply because decisions of the court below were wrong." Says David Burrows in this article on Family Law.

Child Support: Here Comes the New Gross Income Scheme
Jody Atkinson TEP, barrister at St John’s Chambers, Bristol considers the new Child Support Gross Income Scheme, in this article on Family Law Week.

Lord McNally’s Local Family Justice Board speech
Reform of the family justice system. Originally given at The Grange Holborn Hotel, London. Full article: GOV.UK. See also the post by Marilyn Stowe, below.

BLOG POSTS
Genetic testing of children up for adoption
A discussion of Y and Z (Children), 25 April 2013 [2013] EWHC 953 (Fam) [above]. Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.

Justice Minister Lord McNally: cutting costs in family law
"I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read a certain speech by Lord McNally" [above], says Marilyn Stowe, in this post on the Marilyn Stowe Blog.

Devon County Council v EB & Ors (Minors): Final observations of Mr Justice Baker
I do not propose to summarise this case [see above], just to set out the final observations made by Mr Justice Baker at the end of his judgment, which I think are of particular note. Full post: Family Lore.

Huntingdon’s disease and testing children
A heartbreakingly sad, but interesting High Court case (Re Y and Z (Minors) 2013) [above] recently grappled with a very difficult issue. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

In with the in-crowd: the Hague Abduction Convention gang grows...
Duncan Ranton looks at developments in Japan and Pakistan, in this post on Family Matters.

Avoiding catastophes
The peculiar, and desperately sad, case of Re C (A Child) 2013 [above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Stick to the day job
Lucy Reed explains why people who work with children should have a basic knowledge of parental responsibility. Full post: Pink Tape.

Monday, April 29, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 29th of April 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories and cases from the last week, in the usual short, easy-to-listen, format.



(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Something for the Weekend: Biggus Dickus

I realise that I probably post too many Python videos here, but re-watching this was the biggest laugh I had all week, so I thought it only fair to share it:

Friday, April 26, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 10 - Result


AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Ebenezer is overjoyed.

He has just got back from court, where the final hearing of Vic's claim has taken place. The judge found in Vic's favour and awarded him damages of £1 million, of which Amber, Lance & Chaser will get 10%, of which Ebenezer will get 10%, more than enough to repay his loans.

It is the biggest damages award that Amber, Lance & Chaser have ever won for a client.

"Dr Ethical's report did it!" Ebenezer exclaims, hugging Dick.

"Well, I wouldn't get too excited." Says Dick.

"Why not?" Asks Ebenezer, with a frown.

"It looks like we're all out of a job." Says Dick. "The Law Society have got wind of the fact that Sly is no longer here to run the place. They're shutting us down."

"Oh." Says Ebenezer, crestfallen.

The pair look at each other, neither knowing what to say.

The silence is broken by a telephone ringing. Ebenezer picks it up.

It is Edgar Venal. He's heard of Ebenezer's big win (news travels fast, thought Ebenezer), and he's impressed.

"You know," says Edgar, "I could use a lawyer like you here at Venal & Co."

"Oh really?" Says Ebenezer, trying to contain his excitement - a job offer from the country's top family lawyer doesn't come around often.

"Yes." Says Edgar. "In fact, after this, you're going to be hot property. I don't want to lose you, so I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse."

"Oh really!" Exclaims Ebenezer, no longer containing his excitement.

"Yes." Says Edgar. "I'm going to offer you a partnership - after you've qualifed, of course."

Edgar was right: Ebenezer couldn't refuse that offer.

- THE END -

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: Will the court separate siblings?


When separating parents cannot agree with whom their children should live, one or other of them will apply to a court for a residence order. Will the court order that one or more of the children reside with one parent, and the other(s) reside with the other parent?

The answer is that it might.

As a general rule, courts prefer not to separate siblings. Accordingly, if the court has decided that one child should reside with a particular parent, then it will normally follow that the other children should also reside with that parent.

However, the courts will separate siblings if they consider that such an arrangement is in the best interests of the children. Such arrangements are relatively rare, but they do occur, for example where one child has expressed a strong wish to reside with one parent, and another child has expressed a strong wish to reside with the other parent.

Obviously, this is a very brief summary of this topic. If you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Devon County Council v EB & Ors (Minors): Final observations of Mr Justice Baker

Mr Justice Baker
I do not propose to summarise this case, just to set out the final observations made by Mr Justice Baker at the end of his judgment, which I think are of particular note.

Very briefly, the case concerned an application by the local authority for care orders, where there had been apparent non-accidental injuries to two of the three children. Mr Justice Baker held that the threshold conditions were not crossed, and the application was therefore dismissed.

His judgment ended as follows (my emphasis):
"I conclude with a few final observations. This case demonstrates yet again the importance of a full and thorough forensic examination of cases of suspected child abuse. A full and thorough investigation involves a number of elements. First, it requires judges of sufficient experience who are able to manage cases through the course of the proceedings. Judicial continuity is a crucial component of the modern family justice system. This case was due to be managed and heard by Mr Justice Holman but, for reasons set out above, the interim hearing and in due course the final hearing have been conducted by me. The fact that I heard the interim hearing concerning T and then the final hearing has been, I think, of very considerable importance.

Secondly, this case required the involvement of a range of experts from different disciplines. If the case had been decided purely on the basis of the treating doctors, the outcome may have been very different. The perspective brought, in particular, by Dr Halliday, Dr Anslow, Mr Richards, Dr Sunderland and Professor Pope has been very important. Judges will be rigorous in resisting the call for unnecessary use of experts in family proceedings but equally will not hesitate to endorse the instruction of experts where, under the new rules, they are satisfied that they are necessary for the determination of the issues in proceedings.

Thirdly, this case demonstrates that, whilst it will be possible to conclude the vast majority of care cases within 26 weeks, as proposed by the modernisation reforms, there will still be a small minority of cases, exceptional cases, where the investigation takes longer. In this case, the further testing proposed by Professor Pope which led to a series of adjournments was unquestionably necessary. Judges must be vigilant to identify those rare cases which require longer time. It is, of course, important that these cases are identified as soon as possible at the outset of proceedings and that any delay is kept to a minimum.

Finally, this case demonstrates again the crucial role played by the specialist family bar and solicitors. The role played by all of the representatives for all of the parties in this case has been of the utmost importance. All judges are very concerned at the prospect of an increase in self-represented litigants and the consequences for the family justice system. Not enough recognition is given to the contribution to the family justice system made by family lawyers.

The High Sheriff of Devon sat in for one morning of this hearing, as it happened during the evidence of Mr Richards, and afterwards expressed to me his astonishment at the level of specialist knowledge required of counsel, in this instance, Mr Storey, entrusted with the task of cross-examining the expert. This is one small illustration of the indispensable contribution made by family lawyers in this type of case. Without that contribution, it would be impossible to ensure that justice is done."
Let us hope that those who are responsible for the 'modernisation' of the family justice system, and (less likely) those responsible for the emasculation of legal aid, are listening.

Changes...

Original Old Bailey image: mellowynk via Flickr.

News Update: 23rd of April 2013


WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

NEWS
Co-op goes face-to-face with nationwide family legal aid service
Co-operative Legal Services has today made its major move into family law services by unveiling a telephone advice service for those people still able to claim legal aid help and a network of 78 face-to-face locations across England and Wales. Full story: Legal Futures.

ADCS calls for greater use of kinship care
The Association of Directors of Children's Services has launched new research into the care system. Full story: Family Law Week.

Parents attack Haringey over investigation into false abuse claims
Couple say there is 'culture of bad practice' at north London council children's services. Full story: The Guardian.

Cafcass commits to “doing more with less”
Cafcass has launched its Strategic Plan for 2013-15. Full story: Family Law Week.

High Court upholds separation agreement 22 years later
Mrs Justice Parker has granted a husband's application that a separation agreement signed by the parties in 1991 should be made an order of court. The T v T case. Full story: Family Law Week.

Wife’s fury as husband in £400m divorce battle is freed from prison
The wife in Britain’s most high-profile, bitter divorce reacted with fury today after her husband was freed from jail and pictured partying with his model girlfriend in Soho. The continuing saga of Young v Young. Full story: Evening Standard.

Judge criticises social workers for not challenging police
Social workers have been forced to re-assess a case after the appeal court found they were at fault for not challenging police officers enough. The ET BT and CT (Children) v Islington case. Full story: Community Care.

MoJ seeks to streamline fee remission
New consultation published with a view to a single system for all courts as part of the Government’s strategy 'to protect access to justice'. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Council faces £210k costs bill after "blatantly unlawful" conduct over freeing orders
A High Court judge has ordered a county council to pay up to £210,000 in costs after a freeing orders case where the authority’s conduct was “blatantly unlawful and unreasonable” to the boys affected over many years. The A and S (Children) v Lancashire County Council case - see below. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Thousands of children abused in their own homes are not being protected by local authorities, damning NSPCC report warns
Hundreds of thousands of children abused in their own homes are slipping through the net as local authorities are unable to protect them, a children's charity has warned today. Full story: Daily Mail. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Taxpayer saved at least £23,000 per year for each child in informal kinship care
New study examines experiences of children in informal kinship care. Full story: Family Law Week.

Pension advice essential during divorce, research finds
A fifth of women abandon paying into a pension after divorce and a quarter reduce their general savings, according to research from Phoenix Group. Full story: IFAonline.

PRACTICE NOTE
Official Solicitor's Practice Note of March 2013
In March 2013, the Official Solicitor published a Practice Note entitled: The Official Solicitor to the Senior Courts: Appointment in Family Proceedings and Proceedings under the Inherent Jurisdiction in Relation to Adults. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
W (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 335 (20 February 2013)
Appeal from order refusing applications for direct contact and parental responsibility. Full report: Family Law Week.

H (A Child: Summary Return: Child's Objections), Re [2012] EWHC B32 (Fam) (05 November 2012)
Application by father for summary return of child to USA, where the child objected to the return. Application refused. Full report: Bailii.

Stoke City Council v Maddocks & Ors [2012 EWHC B31 (COP) (31 August 2012)
Court of Protection. Contempt proceedings against daughter of elderly man suffering from Alzheimers. Full report: Bailii.

G (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 330 (14 March 2013)
Application by mother for permission to appeal against care order. Application granted. Full report: Family Law Week.

A and S (Children) v Lancashire County Council [2013] EWHC 851 (Fam) (17 April 2013)
Application for costs on behalf of two children who were subject to freeing orders but never adopted, after declarations were made that their human rights had been breached. Costs order made. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above, and the blog post, below.

B (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 166 (14 February 2013)
Appeal by father in relation to committal proceedings for breach of injunctions made in care proceedings. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

ARTICLES
The LASPO Changes - In Practical Terms
"On 1 April 2013, the reforms from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 ("LASPO") took effect and changed the scope of Legal Aid as we knew it." Says Amy Sanders, in this article on Family Law.

Three points from the funding jungle
"What follows is not said to bolster any lawyer's union or to bleat about hard times: it is to warn how slender is the thread of the rule of law." Says David Burrows, in this article on Family Law.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 19 April 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Children: Public Law Update (April 2013)
John Tughan, barrister of 4 Paper Buildings, examines two important recent judgments: the Supreme Court's decision in J (Children) and the Court of Appeal's in M (A Child). Full article: Family Law Week.

Private Trusts and the Court of Protection
Claire Van Overdijk looks at recent cases in this area. Full article: No5 Chambers.

BLOG POSTS
Local authority ordered to pay substantial costs in family human rights case
A & S v. Lancashire County Council [2013] EWHC 851 (Fam) [above] was a costs application arising from an extremely important decision by Peter Jackson J in June 2012. Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.

“How safe are our children?”
The NSPCC report on child abuse and neglect. [See News, above.] Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Local authorities and the duty to consult with parents
An examination of R (on the application of H) v Kingston Upon Hull City Council & KS, AS, SS, TS and FS (Interested Parties) [2013] EWHC 388 (Admin). Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.

Monday, April 22, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 22nd of April 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories and cases from the last week, in a particularly short, easy-to-listen, format.



(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 9 - In Too Deep


AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Ebenezer is downcast.

"What's the problem?" Asks Dick, cheerily.

"Vic's just been on the phone." Says Ebenezer.

"Oh yes?" Says Dick happily.

"Yes," says Ebenezer with a sigh, "and he's admitted he didn't suffer brain damage."

"Oh dear." Says Dick with a grin.

"You don't seem too bothered about it." Says Enenezer. "Don't you understand? I won't get the money to repay my loans. I'll be made bankrupt. My career will be over before it even started."

"Well," says Dick, "I may just have the answer to all your problems."

"How's that?" Asks Ebenezer dubiously.

"I've spoken to a neurosurgeon I know, Dr Ethical." Says Dick. "He's prepared to provide us with a report saying that Vic definitely suffered brain damage."

"But he's not even seen Vic." Says Ebenezer.

"Minor point." Says Dick reassuringly. "Dr Ethical will say just what we want him to say."

Ebenezer pauses for a moment. What is left of his conscience after a few months in the legal profession tells him that it's not right, but that thought is quickly swept aside - he needs the money: he's in too deep to pull out of this now.

"OK." He says. "Get the report."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Houston, we have a problem...

Ever since I wrote this post the other day, I just don't seem to be able to get this image out of my head...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: Can a contact order be enforced?


A contact order requires the person with whom the child lives, normally one of the child's parents, to allow the person named in the order, usually the other parent, to have contact with the child. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the person with whom the child lives to fail to comply with the order. If this happens, can the order be enforced?

A contact order certainly can be enforced, but the court will not normally take enforcement action without investigating why the order has not been complied with. There may be good reasons for the non-compliance, or the contact that was ordered previously may simply no longer be appropriate for that child. In this case, the court will usually re-define the contact to try to deal with these issues, rather than take enforcement action.

If, on the other hand, there has been a clear breach of a contact order for no good reason, then the court can take enforcement action. I will not go into the detail of the types of enforcement action that the court can take, but these can include imposing an ‘unpaid work requirement’ on the person in breach of the contact order, fining that person and even, in extreme cases (usually after repeated breaches), imprisoning them.

Obviously, this is only a very brief summary of a complex subject. If you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

News Update: 16th of April 2013


WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

NEWS
Reforms must work, family division head warns
‘Revolutionary’ reforms to the family justice system to speed up cases and cut costs must be made to work, the head of the Family Division has warned practitioners. Full story: Law Society Gazette, see also my post.

High Court emphasises the local authority’s duty to consult appropriately before removing children subject to ICO
Court finds for mother in judicial review proceedings against council. The Kingston Upon Hull case - see below. Full story: Family Law Week.

Court terminates father’s parental responsibility
First reported case on issue since 1995 determines child’s needs justify termination of PR. The DW v SG case (alternatively CW v SG) - see below. Full story: Family Law Week.

Lord Justice Ryder talks of “revolutionary culture of change” in family justice
Speaking at Resolution's national conference in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the outgoing Judge in Charge of the Modernisation of Family Justice talked of a "revolutionary culture of change" within the family justice system. Full story: Family Law.

Ofsted derails joint child protection inspection plans
Plans for joint child protection inspections involving regulators across social care, health and youth justice are in disarray. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Pilot scheme to help separating parents reach own agreements launched
Chair of Resolution, Liz Edwards, today announced the launch of a new scheme, ‘Family Matters’, at the largest annual conference of family law practitioners. Full story: Resolution.

Expert witness ruling a blow to children, Society warns
Children involved in family law cases will face extra uncertainty following a High Court ruling on the funding of expert witnesses, the Law Society has warned. The JG v LSC case - see also the article and blog post below. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Lead children's councillor resigns over poor Ofsted rating
Sandwell’s cabinet member for children’s services, Bob Badham, has resigned after Ofsted rated the council’s services for safeguarding children as inadequate. Full story: Community Care.

Government funds new innovative support for separated parents
Over a quarter of a million separated parents in Britain are set to benefit from £6.5m of pioneering and innovative support to help them to work together for the sake of their children, the Government said today (10 April). Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

'Transforming Legal Aid': Consultation published
The Ministry of Justice has published a consultation on proposed further cut backs to legal aid aimed at saving £220m by 2018/19. Full story: Family Law Hub. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Research into impact of legal aid cuts published
‘Advice deserts’ predicted as result of legal aid changes. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass reports private law applications reaching record highs ahead of legal aid changes
Cafcass has continued to see high levels of private law cases in March, with 4,001 new applications passed to Cafcass. Full story: Family Law Week.

Care applications reach new record high
The number of care applications has risen by eight per cent in the past year, according to latest statistics from Cafcass. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2013
This Order amends Schedule 1 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which sets out the scope of civil legal aid.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Commencement No. 7) Order 2013
This Order commences sections 49 to 54 of the Act on 1st April 2013. Sections 49 to 51 of the Act make provision for a general power, not limited to maintenance pending suit, for a court in divorce, nullity of marriage or judicial separation proceedings to order payment by one party to the other for the purpose of securing legal services; and sections 52 to 54 of the Act make corresponding provision in relation to proceedings for a dissolution, nullity or separation order in respect of a civil partnership.

CASES
T v T [2013] EWHC B3 (Fam) (28 January 2013)
Application by husband to show cause why a financial agreement should not be made an order of the court. Application granted. Full report: Bailii. See also my post, below.

H, R (on the application of) v Kingston Upon Hull City Council [2013] EWHC 388 (Admin) (08 April 2013)
Application for judicial review by mother of children in care of decision by local authority to remove children from the care of a family member into foster care without (as she alleges) any consultation or judicial approval for that course. Application granted. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above and the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

DW (A Minor) & Anor v SG [2013] EWHC 854 (Fam) (12 April 2013)
Applications by mother for an order terminating father's parental responsibility, and by father for a specific issues order requiring the mother to supply annual reports on child's progress. Mother's application granted, but father's refused. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above, and the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

FT and NT (Children), Re [2013] EWHC 850 (Fam) (11 April 2013)
Application by mother for summary return of children to Canada. Application granted. Full report: Bailii.

W (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 314 (21 February 2013)
Care proceedings. Appeal against s.34(4) order refusing contact. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

G-C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 30 (27 February 2013)
Appeal by mother against order for staying contact, where she was concerned that the child be protected from risks deriving from her allergies. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week. See also my post, below.

A Primary Care Trust v LDV & Ors [2013] EWHC 272 (Fam) (18 February 2013)
Court of Protection proceedings concerning a 33-year-old woman suffering from a learning disability. Judgment dealing with preliminary issues relating to her accommodation at a private hospital. Full report: Bailii.

R v A [2013] EWHC 692 (Fam) (27 March 2013)
Hague Convention application involving issue of whether the children moved from the USA on a conditional or time-limited basis. Full report: Bailii.

Lim v Walia [2012] EWHC 4187 (Ch) (26 September 2012)
Judgment concerning issue of whether the deceased was, immediately before her death, entitled to a joint tenancy of lump sum life cover for the purposes of section 9 of the Inheritance Act. Full report: Family Law Hub.

Elliott v Ratcliffe [2013] EWHC 806 (Fam) (01 February 2013)
Application for a declaration of parentage, pursuant to section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986. Application adjourned for DNA tester to provide further information, in order to satisfy the court that the samples that were actually tested are samples from each of the respective named people. Full report: Bailii.

ET BT and CT (Children) v Islington [2013] EWCA Civ 323 (10 April 2013)
Appeal against dismissal of application for judicial review in respect of local authority risk assessment of three children. Full report: Bailii.

ARTICLES
The UK Care System - Does it conflict with the Government’s drive for a faster Adoption process?
Kirsty Richards is concerned that the current pressures from the Government to find suitable adopters quickly conflicts with the care process, in some cases. Full article: Family Law.

Legal services orders (per LASPOA 2012)
With effect from 1 April 2013, Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Act 2012 s 49(2) introduced a new Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 s 22ZA, whilst s 49(1) symbolically made unlawful orders for maintenance pending suit orders to make any provision for legal services. Full article: Family Law.

JG v LSC
The High Court has handed down judgment on a claim for judicial review following a refusal by the Legal Services Commission to fund the full cost of an expert report in Children Act proceedings relating to a 10-year-old girl, JG. Full article: Family Law. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Court of Protection Update (April 2013)
Sally Bradley and Michael Edwards, barristers at 4 Paper Buildings, look at recent decisions on capacity in the Court of Protection. Full article: Family Law Week.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 12 April 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Pre- and post-nuptial agreements – what you need to know
Anna Heenan, solicitor at Mills & Reeve, provides a quick guide to the courts' treatment of pre and post nuptial agreements following the Supreme Court decision in Radmacher. Full article: Family Law Hub.

“Bring it back” – Courts and care plans that are not working
Andrew Pack, care lawyer with Brighton & Hove City Council, examines the routes available to a local authority to return a case to court if the care plan goes awry. Full article: Family Law Week.

BLOG POSTS
“The driver cannot ignore the passengers”
The judicial review case of H R v Kingston Upon Hull 2013 [above] – where the Court found that a failure to consult with parents BEFORE making a decision to move children under an ICO was unlawful. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

T v T: The separation agreement that was never made into an order
A quick look at T v T [2013] EWHC B3 (Fam) (28 January 2013) [above], which concerned a husband's application to show cause why a financial agreement should not be made an order of the court. Full post: Family Lore.

Terminating parental responsibility
The High Court decision of DW (A Minor) & Another v SG 2013 [above] and the possible revival of applications to terminate a father’s parental responsibility. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

G-C (A Child): Moving contact on, or not
A short note on G-C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 30 [above]. Full post: Family Lore.

“Not with a bang, but a whimper”
Possible fallout from R (JG) v the Legal Services Commission 2013. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Transformers…. Cutting robots in disguise
Suesspiciousminds looks at the new consultation “Transforming Legal Aid”.

Family Justice Modernisation Programme: The President's Update

Sir James Munby
I thought I should do a post about the President's update on the Family Justice Modernisation Programme, that appeared on the Judiciary of England and Wales website yesterday.

The first thing to note is that the format of the update differs from that of the previous updates issued by Mr Justice Ryder. Gone are the snazzy graphics, to be replaced by a six-paragraph summary and a nine-page PDF entitled View From The President's Chambers. I shall concentrate on the latter.

The View is not literally from the President's Chambers, as Sir James begins by telling us that since becoming President in January he has embarked upon a tour of every care centre in the country. He happily reports that wherever he has gone he has "been immensely cheered by the enthusiasm with which they [i.e. judges, court staff etc.] are all working collaboratively, determined to make a reality of reforms which they have eagerly embraced."

All very nice, but Sir James then sets out his message for the benefit of those who have not yet been graced by his presence, under a number of headings, including:

The reforms
These are divided into three parts: firstly, the creation of the new single Family Court (Sir James emphasises that the Magistracy "will play a vitally important part" in both public and private law work), secondly, the product of the work done for the Family Justice Review and thirdly transparency, of which he says:
"I am determined that the new Family Court should not be saddled, as the family courts are at present, with the charge that we are a system of secret and unaccountable justice. Work, commenced by my predecessor, is well underway. I hope to be in a position to make important announcements in the near future."
The challenge
I.e., the task of improving the system in the face of continued government cuts.

26 weeks
He says that, save for a few exceptional cases, "we can and must meet the 26 week time limit", which "is a deadline, not a target". He says this requires a change of culture in the way cases are managed and points out for the benefit of sceptics (in his conclusion) that the architects of the Children Act thought that care cases should take no longer than 12 weeks.

Experts
He says that three things are needed to get to grips with the 'expert problem': a reduction in the use of experts, a more focussed approach in the cases where experts are still needed and a reduction in the length of expert reports. The new approach will "be robustly enforced by case management judges".

A revised PLO
Sir James concentrates on the first hearing, which is to be given a new name and, no doubt, a new acronym. He sums up his thoughts by repeating what he said to Parliament:
"...the key to this, at the end of the day, is robust judicial case management in cases where at the first hearing, because both the local authority and CAFCASS have delivered, the judge is able to understand what the case is about and timetable the case at that stage right through to the end."
The price of reform?
Sir James makes it clear that he does not accept that either of the two key reforms (the 26 week limit and the new approach to expert evidence) "will prejudice the quality of justice or the interests of those who appear before us".

Finally, Sir James concludes with the Apollo 13 (the film, not reality) quote he gave to the FLBA earlier this year:
"Failure is not an option; I am confident that, with your assistance, we will be successful."

Monday, April 15, 2013

T v T: The separation agreement that was never made into an order

Watford County Court  Image: Bencherlite
A quick look at T v T [2013] EWHC B3 (Fam) (28 January 2013), which concerned a husband's application to show cause why a financial agreement should not be made an order of the court.

The Facts
The parties entered into a separation agreement in 1991. Both parties were represented, and full disclosure had been made. The agreement essentially provided for the husband to transfer his interest in two properties to the wife, in return for a lump sum of £175,000, in full and final settlement. The agreement included the usual provisions for divorce after two years separation, and for the parties to invite the court to make an order dismissing all financial claims by either party against the other.

The parties were divorced in 1995, but the agreement was never made an order of the court.

The husband subsequently prospered, but the wife's financial circumstances deteriorated, to the extent that she "says that she is now in need". In 2012 she issued a financial remedy application, and in response the husband made an application to show cause why the agreement should not be made an order of the court.

The Judgment
The husband's application was heard by Mrs Justice Parker in the High Court, sitting at Watford County Court. Her approach was to ask herself the following:
(i) Had the parties reached an accord by which they intended to resolve the matrimonial affairs?

(ii) How have they conducted themselves?
She found (at paragraph 61):
"This was an agreement which was entered into, intended to be acted upon and acted upon. No doubt there were advantages to both sides. The wife wanted to preserve her capital (and income), the husband wanted a fresh start and a modest home. The parties have acted upon it, relied on it, and gained peace of mind from it, or certainly were entitled to gain peace of mind from it, for over 20 years. In those circumstances the existence of the agreement must be regarded of magnetic importance..."
She continued (at paragraph 65):
"This is a paradigm case for the court to conclude that the agreement, having been freely entered into at the time, when both parties considered it appropriate, is the most important, indeed, the overriding factor. The length of time which has occurred since the agreement has been made secures the agreement rather than undermining it, since it was never treated as a nullity or as redundant."
Accordingly, she rejected the wife's application for financial provision, and granted the husband's application for the agreement to be made an order of the court.

Further to this, Mrs Justice Parker took the view that the proceedings were not financial remedy proceedings 'of the normal nature', to which the no order as to costs rule would apply, and she therefore ordered the wife to pay the husband's costs.

News Podcast: For the week to the 15th of April 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories and cases from the last week, in the usual short, easy-to-listen, format.



(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

30 years transforming the face of family law

"Marking 30 years of Resolution. With contributions from founder members and past and present Chairs, this video highlights the contributions the organisation has made over the past three decades."

Something for the Weekend: The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar

It is forty-two years to the day that the Stones released Brown Sugar (where the heck did all those years go?). To celebrate, here they are performing the song in front of 1.5 million people, apparently the biggest concert of all time, at Copacabana Beach, in February 2006:

Friday, April 12, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 8 - The Case Proceeds


AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Ebenezer is worried.

"What's the problem?" Asks Dick.

"Look at this." Says Ebenezer. "I've just received it from Jaws Shark." He passes a document to Dick.

"What is this?" Asks Dick.

"A report from a private investigator instructed by Jaws." Replies Ebenezer. "He's taken testimony from various witnesses that say Vic hasn't suffered brain damage - he's always been this stupid."

"Oh." Says Dick.

"You realise what this means?" Asks Ebenezer.

Dick does realise, but Ebenezer continues anyway: "If Vic hasn't suffered brain damage, then his claim is only worth a few hundred quid, rather than a few hundred thousand!"

"That's tough." Says Dick.

"Tough??" Exclaims Ebenezer. "It's a bloody disaster! If we don't win big, then I'm never going to repay my loans!"

"That's tough." Says Dick.

"Tough??" Exclaims Ebenezer. "I'll be made bankrupt!"

"That's tough." Says Dick.

"Tough???" Exclaims Ebenezer. "We've got to do something about it!"

Dick ponders for a moment, as an idea strikes him. "I think I may have the answer." He says.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

G-C (A Child): Moving contact on, or not

Lord Justice Thorpe
A short note on G-C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 30.

Any practising family lawyer will have come across the scenario: father applies for contact, he gets visiting contact, which should naturally move on to staying contact, but the mother resists.

In this case, the mother had a genuine concern: that the child be protected from risks deriving from her allergies. However, is she being too protective? The father had trained himself to deal with the risks posed by the allergies, and the judge "had become increasingly impatient with the mother's inability to move, and with her tendency to introduce a defensive position at a relatively late stage in each preparation for hearing".

And so it was. At the last moment before the final hearing, the mother filed a statement "in which she set out her strong anxiety, persisting anxiety, that to expose [the child] to staying contact was to expose her to risk, since very, very strict protective measures are necessary to ensure that she is not unnecessarily exposed to any substance that could excite or exacerbate her allergies". In the light of this statement, the Court Welfare Officer changed his recommendation, that had been in favour of moving on to staying contact.

The judge, HHJ Oliver, took a no-nonsense position: "This has been going long enough, and staying contact is now due or overdue, and accordingly he directed that there would be periods of staying contact". In so doing, he made adverse findings against the mother, without hearing from her, and did not address the welfare officer's concern that the mother's anxieties might feed into the child, and have a detrimental impact upon her.

The mother appealed. The Court of Appeal unanimously allowed her appeal. Giving the leading judgment, Lord Justice Thorpe said:
"I have considerable sympathy for the respondent to this appeal. What he aspires to is only normality ... Sadly, the reality is that the order is vulnerable to attack on procedural grounds. The judge was faced with a difficult position [having] only the afternoon to give to the case. The decision to hear only the Cafcass Officer was pragmatic and sensible, but it did restrict the judge's capacity to move the case on. He had to recognise the importance of the Cafcass Officer's shift in his oral evidence and he had to state in plain terms why he was rejecting that recommendation. It is by no means clear that he recognised that the Cafcass Officer was saying that the progress to staying contact would ignite anxieties in the mother which would risk harm to the child. That is the crucial element upon which he had to focus, which had its genesis the shift in the Cafcass Officer's position."
Accordingly, the order was set aside, and the matter re-listed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sticking Plaster

Government funds new innovative support for separated parents - DWP, 10th April 2013

Family Lore Clinic: Can my ex go to the CSA if a payment agreement is in place?


When parents separate, they often come to an agreement between themselves regarding child maintenance, rather than ask the Child Support Agency ('CSA') to deal with it, and the amount of maintenance agreed may be different from the amount that the CSA would assess. However, does an agreement prevent either party from applying to the CSA?

The simple answer to this is: no (i.e. the answer to the original question is: yes, your ex can go to the CSA if a payment agreement is in place). An agreement does not prevent either party from making an application to the Child Support Agency, even if the payer is still paying the maintenance, and any agreement purporting to prevent either party from applying to the CSA would be void.

There is one exception to the above rule: where the agreement has been incorporated into a consent court order. In this case, neither party can apply to the CSA until twelve months have elapsed from the date of the order.

For the sake of completeness, I should say that there is a way to set up a contract that would compensate one party to an agreement, should the other party apply to the CSA. However, such contracts really need to be drawn up by a lawyer.

As usual, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

News Update: 9th of April 2013


WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

NEWS
Project set to look at the bright side of care
Children’s advocacy charity Voice and the University of Bristol have begun a study to identify the ingredients of a "good care journey" for children. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Government risks the well-being of vulnerable children
"Today welfare reform measures take effect that cap benefits at 1 per cent increase per year until 2015 for families who are in and out of work, breaking the historic link between benefits and inflation." Full story: Barnardo's.

Proposed amendments to same-sex legislation would separate state and religious marriage
Greg Mulholland MP has tabled amendments to the Marriage (Same-sex Couples) Bill which would effect a separation of state and religious marriages. Full story: Family Law Week.

Sharia courts putting women at risk, CPS warns
Sharia courts are putting women at risk of violence from abusive husbands, the Crown Prosecution Service has warned. Something we have known about for years... Full story: The Telegraph.

High Court agrees to transfer of care proceedings from Ireland to England
A recent case in the High Court - Re LM (A Child) [2013] EWHC 646 (Fam) - has demonstrated the effective use of Brussels IIR to effect a transfer of jurisdiction, with the approval of parties, from the Republic of Ireland to England. Full story: Family Law Week.

Councils set out their own plans to speed up adoption
Local authorities propose to work together to match adopters with children. Full story: Family Law Week.

Online adoption gateway opens
The government today launched an online portal that will act as a national “gateway” for prospective adopters. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

NICE publishes quality standard to improve the wellbeing of looked after children
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a quality standard for social care which contains eight statements intended to improve the health and social, educational and emotional wellbeing of looked-after children and young people in care. Full story: Family Law Week.

Jailed property man hid his assets in offshore network during divorce
Jailed British property developer Scot Young, an associate of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, constructed a secret network of offshore companies to hold his assets during a multimillion-pound divorce battle, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists research. Full story: The Guardian.

Council leaders challenge government on adoption
Councils should be allowed to work together to improve the adoption system rather than being removed from it, local authority leaders have claimed. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Ofsted finds safeguarding improvements in West Sussex
Child protection in West Sussex has been rated as adequate by inspectors, four years after it was first identified as performing poorly. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Rising number of divorces blamed on women’s drinking
The number of divorces blamed on the women’s drinking habits has risen by 70 per cent in five years, a family lawyer has claimed. Full story: The Telegraph.

Co-op calls on solicitors to ‘stop the clock’ on divorce work
More than four out of five divorcees want family law services provided by fixed fees, according to research carried out by Co-operative Legal Services to launch a campaign against hourly rates in light of this week’s legal aid cuts. Full story: Legal Futures.

Extended definition of domestic violence takes effect
From the 31st March a wider definition of domestic violence, including 16 and 17 year olds and controlling behaviour took effect. Full story: Home Office.

STATUTORY INSTRUMENT
The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013
These Regulations amend the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 which make provision about care planning for looked after children.

CASES
R (on the application of ES) v LB of Barking & Dagenham [2013] EWHC 691 (Admin) (27 March 2013)
Claim for judicial review of local authority's failure to assess child's needs for the purposes of providing accommodation and support under section 17 of the Children Act. Claim allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

A-H (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 282-1 (30 January 2013)
Care proceedings. Appeal by father, focussing upon paediatric examination of the child in relation to allegations of sexual abuse. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

Re N (Placement Order: Alternative Option to Adoption) [2013] EWCA (25 March 2013)
Care and placement orders made where there was a possibility that the maternal grandmother could care for the child, but further investigations were required before she could be considered appropriate. Appeal allowed. Report: Family Law.

GB (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 164 (07 February 2013)
Care proceedings. Application by mother for permission to appeal refusal of adjournment so that she could seek alternative representation. Application granted, but appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

OC & OE (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 162 (14 February 2013)
Appeal by mother against interim care orders in respect of two youngest children, where she had removed the children to Ireland. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

ARTICLES
Finance and Divorce April 2013 update
Anna Heenan, solicitor and David Salter, Joint Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve LLP analyse the March financial remedies and divorce news and cases. Full article: Family Law Week.

International Children Law Update: April 2013
Jacqueline Renton, Barrister of 4 Paper Buildings, reviews the latest key decisions in international children law. Full article: Family Law Week.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 5 April 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Working together - hearing and safe-guarding children
"Working Together - now Working Together to Safeguard Children - has a long history, both as a document and as an imperative for protection of children." Says David Burrows, in this article on Family Law.

Fancy having a Judge in your living room?
"Thanks to the English High Court, state policing of personal relationships in Britain is on the rise." Says Barbara Hewson, in this article from Hardwicke Chambers.

BLOG POSTS
“It is not down on any map, true places never are”
The DFE Adoption maps and what we can learn from them, if anything. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

“How’s that?”
"When does judicial intervention cross the line into being improper and showing bias?" Asks suesspiciousminds, in this post.

Enforcement of custody in the face of children’s dissent: should law prevail?
"Raw and others v France – This complicated inter-jurisdictional battle between estranged parents is a stark illustration of how difficult it can be in these sorts of cases to apply the law in the fog of family warfare." Says Rosalind English in this post on the UK Human Rights Blog.

“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland”
A discussion of two cases dealing with parents who fled to Ireland to avoid pending care proceedings. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

“You’re fired! Now, can I have an adjournment?”
Suesspiciousminds looks at Re L (A Child) 2013, where the decision to refuse an adjournment was overturned, and Re GB (Children) 2013 [above], where the refusal of the adjournment was approved, in this post.

Monday, April 08, 2013

News Podcast: For the two weeks to the 8th of April 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories from the last two weeks, in the usual short, easy-to-listen, format.



(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Something for the Weekend: Lumberjack Song

For no reason other than that I thought about it this week, and it always makes me laugh. This is a version of the sketch with Eric Idle in the 'lead', rather than Michael Palin, recorded live at the Hollywood Bowl. Enjoy:

Friday, April 05, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 7 - Thrown Out


AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Dick Shifty is in a state of some excitement.

"Have you heard the news?" He asks.

"No - what news?" Replies Ebenezer.

"Judge Dodgy has been arrested!" Exclaims Dick.

"Arrested?" Asks Ebenezer. "What for?"

"Receiving bribes!" Announces Dick.

"Wow!" Says Ebenezer.

"Yeah," says Dick, "it seems the police got an anonymous tip-off, from a foreign phone number."

"Where?" Asks Ebenezer.

"Oh, Mustique, or some such place." Says Dick. "And do you want to hear the best bit?" He asks.

"What?" Asks Ebenezer.

"Guess who has taken over Judge Dodgy's cases?" Asks Dick.

"Who?" Asks Ebenezer.

"Only Judge Scrupulous, the straightest, most honest judge on the bench!" Exclaims Dick.

"Wow!" Says Ebenezer.

"Yeah, and it's well known that he hates Jaws Shark - he won't let Jaws get away with any of his usual tricks!"

"Wow!" Says Ebenezer.

£            £            £

Sure enough, Jaws Shark makes no headway with Judge Scrupulous at the hearing of his striking out application, which is promptly thrown out.

Ebenezer is jubilant. Now he just has to win the case and he can repay his loans...

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: Can a decree nisi expire?


A divorce proceeds in two stages: the decree nisi, when the court pronounces that the party applying for the divorce (usually the petitioner) is entitled to it, and the decree absolute, which finalises the divorce. There has to be at least six weeks between the two, but sometimes the gap can be considerably longer - the court won't make the decree absolute until someone applies for it, and neither party may want to apply for some particular reason, most often because they are waiting for the financial/property settlement to be finalised.

So, does the decree nisi have an 'expiry date'? The answer is that it does not, but there is a proviso.

Where the application for the decree absolute is made more than twelve months after the making of the decree nisi, the court will want an explanation for the delay. It will also want to know whether the parties have lived together since the decree nisi, and whether any children have been born since the decree nisi. The most important point here is that if the parties have lived together for more than six months during that period, then the court may take the view that the marriage has not broken down irretrievably, in which case it may refuse the decree absolute and cancel the decree nisi.

Of course, if the parties have not lived together since the decree nisi then there should not usually be a problem, and the court should make the decree absolute.

As always, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

News Update: 2nd of April 2013


WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

NEWS
Legal aid changes spark solicitor warnings
Solicitors have warned that people may start "taking the law into their own hands" as a result of changes made to legal aid in England and Wales. Full story: BBC News. The cuts to legal aid are a recurring theme in this week's News Update...

reunite reports rise in calls to its advice line
Latest figures released by reunite International Child Abduction Centre show a 9 per cent increase in the number of calls to their advice line. Full story: Family Law Week.

Unhappy couples rushing to divorce lawyers ahead of legal aid cuts
Unhappy couples have been rushing to file for divorce before legal funding is cut next week, law firms claim. Full story: The Telegraph.

Coalition 'faffing around with gay marriage’
The Government is “faffing around with gay marriage” instead of addressing major injustices in marital law, one of Britain’s leading lawyers has said. Full story: The Telegraph. Personally, I don't see why the Government can't 'faff around' with gay marriage and address injustices in marital law...

Number of online divorces to rise due to legal aid cuts, lawyers claim
Legal aid cuts being imposed from next week could spark a rise in “online divorces”, lawyers have claimed. More of the 'bleedin obvious', as Basil Fawlty would say. Full story: The Telegraph.

PSE reports paints a picture of growing deprivation for UK children
In its first published report 'The Impoverishment of the UK' Poverty and Social Exclusion finds that a growing number of British children are not being properly fed and are living in damp housing which their parents cannot afford to heat. Full story: Family Law Week.

Two new family Justices of Appeal
Downing Street has announced the appointment of two new family judges to the Court of Appeal. Full story: Family Law.

Average time for disposal of a care or supervision application is now 45 weeks
Nearly 30,000 children were involved in public law proceedings in 2012. The latest quarterly release of court statistics by the Ministry of Justice. Full story: Family Law Week.

Labour council tells families to take in a foster child to avoid benefit cuts
A Labour council has [unsurprisingly] been attacked after it advised families faced with a cut in their housing benefits to foster a child to get around the rules. Full story: The Telegraph.

Guidance for applicants requiring evidence of domestic violence now available
Guidance and template letters for applicants requiring evidence of domestic abuse to obtain legal aid post-1 April 2013 has now been published by the Ministry of Justice. Full story: Resolution.

Cuts to legal aid leave 200,000 people at risk of marital purgatory
Ahead of the legal aid cuts family law practitioners have reiterated concerns that vulnerable people will be left without legal advice and support during divorce. Full story: Resolution.

Appeal judge makes blistering attack on ‘emasculating’ legal aid cuts
A retired judge has used one of his final cases to launch an attack on the government’s ‘emasculation’ of legal aid. Full story: Law Society Gazette. Fine words, but they will fall on deaf ears...

Gravely ill woman who ran away from home should not be reunited with family, court rules
Court of Protection rules 64-year-old's decision must be respected, 'terribly sad though that be'. Full story: The Independent.

Top district judge warns on burdens caused by rise in litigants in person
A rise in the number of litigants in person means many more hearings are having to become inquisitorial in nature rather than adversarial, the new President of the Association of Her Majesty’s District Judges has warned. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Guidance on deciding applications for Legal Aid in private family law matters
Two guidance documents have been published on the MoJ website concerning the provision of legal aid in private family law matters. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Michael Gove threatens to strip Doncaster council of children's services
Education secretary says council has failed to overcome 'serious and long-standing failures' in child protection. Full story: The Guardian.

Hampshire to take control of Isle of Wight children’s services
Hampshire County Council is set to take over children’s services on the Isle of Wight after its lead member for children backed the proposals. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

STATUTORY INSTRUMENT
The Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2013
This Order is the third Commencement Order made by the Secretary of State for Education under the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 and brings into force section 8 of the Act on 15th April 2013.

CASES
B (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1933 (12 December 2012)
Appeal by local authority against refusal of application for interim care orders. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week. See also the post by Suesspiciousminds, below.

Howell v Howell [2013] EWCA Civ 268 (21 February 2013)
Application for permission to appeal against, inter alia, granting of decree nisi. Application refused. Full report: Family Law Hub.

Mulcahy v Castles Solicitors & Hextalls Solicitors [2013] EWCA Civ 242 (23 January 2013)
Application for permission to appeal against dismissal of claim for negligence against divorce solicitors. Application allowed in part. Full report: Family Law Hub.

I (A Child) & J (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 259 (5 February 2013)
Linked applications for permission to appeal involving the issue of whether the only people with parental responsibility can remove the child from the jurisdiction even if the child is, at the point of removal, habitually resident here. Applications granted. Full report: Family Law Hub.

LA v DG & Ors [2013] EWHC 734 (Fam) (01 February 2013)
Care proceedings involving six children of a family of Roma Slovakian origin. Care and placement orders made. Full report: Bailii.

W (A Child), Re [2013] EWHC 653 (Fam) (21 March 2013)
Care proceedings opposed by the child's mother and grandmother, with whom he lived before being placed in foster care. Care and placement orders made. Full report: Bailii.

LM (A Child), Re [2013] EWHC 646 (Fam) (27 March 2013)
Judgment dealing with the issue of transferring Irish care proceedings to the English court. Full report: Bailii.

NT v FS & Ors [2013] EWHC 684 (COP) (26 March 2013)
Application for authority to execute a statutory will on behalf of a party that lacks the capacity to make a will. Full report: Bailii.

ARTICLES
Welfare Reform Act 2012
Nicola Rowlings, PSL at Mills & Reeve, explains the changes that are happening to the benefits system as a result of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, in this article on the Family Law Hub.

Funding Family Proceedings: The New Law
Legal Services Order applications under s.22ZA and s.22ZB Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Full article: Family Law Week.

Rule of children law, and of control in children proceedings
David Burrows considers the application of legal principles in children proceedings, in this article on Family Law.

Samantha Bangham's Week in Cases
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Before the Flood? The 1996 Hague Convention in the English Courts
Duncan Ranton, Solicitor and Consultant with Bishop & Sewell LLP, considers the impact of the 1996 Hague Convention and the first judgment in the English courts to consider the treaty, in this article on Family Law Week.

Legal Aid Update 2013 - what you need to know
"As from 1 April 2013, legal aid will be reformed and it is important that all family practitioners know the extent to which legal aid will be available after that date for family work. This note is intended to provide a quick guide to private law family lawyers and does not deal with the process after legal aid eligibility has been determined." Full article: Family Law Hub.

What social workers need to know about new child protection guidance
"The revised Working Together guidance will not reduce the bureaucratic burden, despite claims to the contrary." Full article: The Guardian.

BLOG POSTS
Absolutely Transparent
"Transparency in family justice is an issue that cannot be swept under the carpet – it ain’t going away." Says Lucy Reed, discussing her hobby-horse specialisation, in this post on Pink Tape.

What to do in the interim?
Interlocutory orders when the Court is faced with disputed allegations of non-accidental injury. Suesspiciousminds looks at Re B [above] in this post.

Government to review child protection thresholds
"The government is set to review child protection thresholds and whether there should be nationally set “triggers” for taking a child into care." Full post: The Children's Services Blog.