Saturday, December 31, 2016

Old John's Almanac 2017


Without further ado, here are my predictions for 2017:

January - As Donald Trump takes office, Sir James Munby moves his chambers to an underground nuclear bunker. The President (of the Family Division, that is) says the only thing it lacks is a view.

February - Fathers' rights group the Real Families Need Fathers4Justice stage a protest outside the home of Justice Minister Liz Truss. The entire legal profession joins in.

March - The Chancellor of the Exchequer has to amend his entire Spring Budget, when a couple in Rutland become the first to take advantage of the Government's married tax break.

April - The Ministry of Justice decides to raise revenue by charging admission fees to the family courts. All hearings will also have an intermission, when small tubs of ice cream will be sold.

May - The Child Maintenance Service determines that an 'effective' child maintenance arrangement is one in which the non-resident parent pays more than one farthing.

June - The Daily Mail blames an unexpected rise in the divorce rate on "out of touch, unelected judges".

July - The Ministry of Justice responds to the rising divorce rate by increasing the fee on a divorce petition to £5500.

August - Not to be out-done, the Child Maintenance Service trebles all fees for using the service.

September - The Ministry of Justice decides to save costs by closing all family courts save for the Barrow-in-Furness Family Court, which will henceforth be known as the 'Not-So-Central Family Court'.

October - Footballer's wife Chantelle Looney becomes the last ever litigant in the family courts to be represented by a lawyer.

November - At the annual Family Law Awards Eric Snogbottom wins the prestigious award for the family lawyer with the silliest name.

December - The Child Maintenance Service announces a 100% success rate, as it recovers all the maintenance for the last family who can afford to use the service.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The good and the bad...


There were some good bits and some bad bits in my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

The reality of the effect of child maintenance charging - Looking at the latest research documents from the DWP.

English courts can rule on child who will live in Greece - The case L (A Child).

Family law in 2016: The bad bits - Part one of my review of the year.

Family law in 2016: The good bits - You guessed it, part two of my review of the year.

And with that I conclude my Stowe posts for another year. Have an excellent Xmas and New Year break.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mini Book Review: Financial Remedies Practice, 2017 Edition


Financial Remedies Practice, 2017 Edition

The @eGlance Guide

£99.95 - Published by Class Legal: December 2016

I once more find myself receiving a review copy of the latest edition of Financial Remedies Practice at a point when I don't have the time to embark upon a full review (receiving it just a week before Xmas doesn't help!). Accordingly, I will once again limit myself to a a quick 'mini review'.

I confess that when it was first published in 2011 I was not sure that the family law market had room for Financial Remedies Practice, After all, there is at least one other eminent and well-established publication that covers most of the same ground, even if it also covers much else relating to the practice of the Family Court. Despite my misgivings, Financial Remedies Practice has now survived into its sixth edition, carving out a niche for itself as an essential purchase for many practitioners. Perhaps the reason for that is that it goes into greater detail, making itself the most useful one-volume text on the subject of financial remedies.

For those who don't know, Financial Remedies Practice "combines authoritative Commentary on financial remedies practice and procedure together with the full, up-to-date text of the relevant Family Procedure Rules and Practice Directions." The Commentary is written by an illustrious team comprising Sir Peter Singer, Mr Justice Mostyn, Lewis Marks QC and barristers Gavin Smith and Joshua Viney.

Changes for this edition include the usual updates covering amendments to the rules and PDs, despite what the authors describe as a "slackening trend in the pace of revisions to procedure in financial proceedings"over the last year. As they also say, "judicial outpourings have, however, continued unabated, leading to significant revisions to the Commentary". These changes may not seem like much, but they are enough to expand the main text of the volume from 731 pages last year to a whopping 876 this.

All of which is quite enough to justify the investment of the very modest (and unchanged) price of £99.95.

Financial Remedies Practice is available from Class Legal, here. It is supplemented by an online version at www.familyprocedure.com, which includes the full text of the Commentary linked to the primary sources cited. Access to the site is included in the price.

Monday, December 19, 2016

News Essentials: 19th December 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Domestic violence legal aid applications rise
Relaxing time limits for reporting domestic violence may have contributed to the steep increase in legal aid applications from victims this year, latest government figures suggest. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

President's guidance on the allocation of work to section 9 judges
The President of the Family Division has issued new guidance on the allocation of work to section 9 judges. Full story: Family Law.

Latest family court statistics confirm recent surge in public law applications
The Ministry of Justice has released statistics on activity in the family courts of England and Wales for the period of July to September 2016. Full story: Family Law Week.

Law Commission publishes report on enforcement of family financial orders
In a report published today, the Law Commission recommends a package of reforms to make the law governing the enforcement of family financial orders more effective, accessible and fair. Full story: Family Law.

Cafcass private law demand
In November 2016, Cafcass received a total of 3,586 new private law cases. This is a 7% increase on November 2015 levels. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in November 2016
In November 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,262 care applications.  This figure represents a 22% increase compared with those received in November 2015. Full story: Cafcass.

CASES
L (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 1297 (16 December 2016)
Appeal against an order dismissing aunt's application for child arrangements order. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

C (A Child), Re [2016] EWHC 3171 (Fam) (08 December 2016)
Application by Secretary of State for the Home Department for discharge of a disclosure order seeking information about any extremist or radicalised conduct by the adults in the family. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Magiera v Magiera [2016] EWCA Civ 1292 (15 December 2016)
Appeal against refusalto dismiss or stay proceedings brought in relation to a London house under TLATA, on the basis of lack of jurisdiction. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Scatliffe v Scatliffe (British Virgin Islands) [2016] UKPC 36 (12 December 2016)
Appeal by husband against ancillary relief order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Coram International unveils new website showcasing its global work protecting and promoting children’s rights


Coram International, part of Coram Children’s Legal Centre, today launched a new dedicated website: coraminternational.org, to showcase its global work in protecting children’s rights.

Designed with a fresh new look and user-friendly navigation, the new website is updated with the latest information about Coram International’s research and consultancy work around the world with governments, UN bodies, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Coram International has over 18 years of experience working on international consultancies in the field of child rights, having completed projects in over 65 countries worldwide. Its lawyers and social and legal researchers specialise in the following areas: sexual and reproductive rights, armed conflict and counter-terrorism, violence against children, child protection systems, child rights governance, gender equality, justice for children, youth and adolescents, and harmful traditional practice.

The launch of the new website has also provided Coram International opportunity to promote its newest resource, a free training resource for professionals working with children in residential care, detention facilities or in justice settings (for example in court proceedings).

Called Unlocking Children’s Rights, the programme is co-funded by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union and involves partners from ten European countries.

As well as helping professionals and practitioners to strengthen their skills and knowledge of children’s rights and communicate effectively and sensitively with children and young people, the programme also enables children and young people to express their views and participate meaningfully in decisions affecting them.

Unlocking Children’s Rights has been successfully piloted across Europe. The resource comprises four modules: introduction to child rights, introduction to child development and communication, communication skills and the child-friendly justice guidelines.

For more information and to download the training resources, please visit coraminternational.org.

A failing system, a judge's plea and more...


The topics covered by my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog included a damning insight into the realities of our child support system, dealing with the curse of torrential emails from litigants in person, a Privy Council case and preventing a party from defeating a financial claim by disposing of assets:

The reality of our failing child maintenance system - Some home truths from an anonymous caseworker at the CMS.

Getting tough on torrential emails - Lady Justice King's plea in Agarwala v Agarwala.

Husband fails in financial appeal to Privy Council - The opinion of the Board in Scatliffe v Scatliffe.

How do I stop my ex from disposing of property to defeat my claim? - A look at s.37 MCA.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2016

News Essentials: 12th December 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
1.8 million adults said they were victims of domestic violence in last year
There were in England and Wales an estimated 1.8 million adults aged 16 to 59 who said they were a victim of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2016. Full story: Family Law Week.

Men killed 900 women in six years in England and Wales, figures show
Government urged to protect long-term funding for domestic abuse services as study reveals scale of deadly male violence. Full story: The Guardian.

Divorce rate continues to fall in latest ONS figures
The number of people divorcing in England and Wales decreased by 3.1 per cent in 2014, according to the latest statistical bulletin published today (5 December 2016) from Office for National Statistics (ONS). Full story: Family Law.

Claims for financial orders on divorce do not vest in trustee in bankruptcy
The judgment has been published in the dismissal of a claim by the trustee in bankruptcy under sections 23 and 24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 where the bankrupt was deceased. Full story: Family Law Week. See Robert v Woodall.

CASES
A, B, C (Children), Re [2016] EWHC 2700 (Fam) (21 September 2016)
Judgment setting out agreement between parties in case concerning three children brought to this country from Belgium. Full report: Bailii.

T v E (Refusal to Order Return) [2016] EWHC 3148 (Fam) (05 December 2016)
Application by father for return of child to Turkey. Application refused, on basis of Art 13(b) defence. Full report: Bailii.

F (Children), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1253 (07 December 2016)
Appeal against order setting aside orders for the return of three children to Hungary. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

T (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 1210 (06 December 2016)
Contact application by father. Appeal by mother against discharge of an order for a fact-finding hearing in relation to allegations of abuse against the father. Full report: Bailii.

W (Adoption: Contact), Re [2016] EWHC 3118 (Fam) (02 December 2016)
Cross-applications by adopters for an adoption order and by the paternal grandparents for a special guardianship order. Full report: Bailii.

AB (A Child), Re [2016] EWHC 3115 (Fam) (23 August 2016)
Hearing in on-going proceedings regarding father's application for contact, including consideration of whether the mother should be ordered to return the child from Poland and whether an order for a fact-finding hearing should be discharged. Full report: Bailii.

Devon County Council v Kirk [2016] EWCA Civ 1221 (05 December 2016)
Appeal against the imposition of a six month prison sentence for contempt of court imposed by the Court of Protection. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, December 09, 2016

The blame game...


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were dominated by the concept of blame, not just for marriage breakdown but also for courts not making the decisions you want them to make. They included:

Could blame in divorce actually reduce conflict? - As has been suggested recently.

A few thoughts on the election of judges - I chip in to the debate about accountability.

What are we to make of the falling divorce rate? - Looking at the latest ONS figures.

Chancery Division confirms what we already knew: financial claims end on death - The case Robert v Woodall.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Family Law Reduced Fees Scheme Launched To Help People In A “Jam”



A new scheme is being launched this month offering a more affordable legal advice service to people who are “just about managing” financially – or “Jams.”

The hourly rate under this scheme is set at around £125 per hour (plus VAT), and is available to people with income of less than £20,000 per annum and under £20,000 of accessible savings.

The scheme is accessible through the OnlyMums & OnlyDads’ Family Law Panel and operated and delivered by family solicitors who are members of Resolution, the national family law organisation.

OnlyMums & OnlyDads is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company and has been running their Family Law Panel for 3 years. The Panel consists entirely of members of Resolution, who sign up to a service level agreement. This offers individuals coming through OnlyMums & OnlyDads an initial free conversation, with the aim of outlining the options available to best overcome particular legal issues and problems.

Bob Greig, Co-Director of OnlyMums & OnlyDads said:

“The reduced fees scheme is timely; a number of people - the so-called “Jams” - often struggle to pay full commercial rates. We know that many parents are looking to perhaps use professional advisors to take on particular bits of work on their individual cases and a figure in the region of £125 an hour is clearly more manageable than £250 (or more) an hour. We will be encouraging organisations nationwide to signpost to this scheme.”

OnlyMums & OnlyDads CIC was founded nine years ago by Rebecca Giraud and Bob Greig. As the name suggests, it helps and supports both mothers and fathers through the divorce and separation. Rebecca said:

“Getting away from talk of rights and instead providing people with information that is both professional and objective is central to our work. Most people coming through our websites have legal concerns – both before and during court proceedings – and the Family Law Panel is doing a great job in listening and offering suggestions on the options available to people.

“Giving people options and choices to make is, above all, empowering.”

Solicitor Lucy Mead, Partner and Head of Family at David Gray and a member of the Family Law Panel said: “we have signed up to this scheme as we want to make it easier for everyone to be able to access expert advice when they need it. we are delighted to be working with Only Mums and Only Dads to deliver more affordable legal help.”

Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution, said: “We fully support this important initiative and are delighted that the Family Law Panel has chosen to work exclusively with Resolution members, who are all signed up to our Code of Practice. This commits them to working with separating families in a constructive, non-confrontational way.

“In an environment where legal aid is very limited for independent legal advice and representation in family cases, Resolution members across the country have been looking for innovative solutions to help families with limited means. This new scheme is a great way to bring some of these members together and make them easier to find for separating couples.”

Monday, December 05, 2016

ONS divorce stats release: Resolution response

Nigel Shepherd
The Office of National Statistics’ latest figures on divorce in England and Wales show there were 111,169 divorces in England and Wales in 2014, a drop of 3.1% compared to 2013. The divorce rate has also fallen by 5.3% from 2013 to 2014, to 9.3 divorces per thousand men and women.
 
Analysis of the 2014 figures shows that roughly 60% of all divorces in England and Wales cite either adultery or unreasonable behaviour (66,588).
   
Responding to the data, Nigel Shepherd, National Chair of campaigning family law organisation Resolution, said:
 
"The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that both divorce numbers and the divorce rate have fallen. As the ONS highlight, this could be due to both the rise in the number of cohabiting couples, and the reduction in the number of weaker relationships progressing to marriage as a result.
 
"For those 111,169 of couples that did divorce however, we know that nearly two-thirds will have apportioned blame – whether they wanted to or not. At Resolution, we believe in a better way for separating couples that allows them to divorce without blame, conflict or argument. Over 90% of our members support a move to No Fault Divorce, and last week 150 family lawyers gathered in Parliament to meet with MPs and lobby for change.
 
“We are pleased with the positive reception our calls for no fault divorce received among MPs and we will continue our call for this much required, widely supported legislative change.
 
"Other statistics recently released shows that the number of cohabiting couples has also risen - this means it is even more important that they have some basic rights under the law should they separate."

News Essentials: 5th December 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Lawyers overwhelmingly hostile to settlement conferences in care proceedings
Family lawyers have turned overwhelmingly hostile to settlement conferences in public law cases but are equally largely in favour of the process in private law children cases. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Lord Chief Justice concerned by number of LiPs in the family courts
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, has expressed concern over the number of LiPs involved private family law disputes. Full story: Family Law Hub.

150 Resolution members gather in Parliament to call for No Fault Divorce
The Government will come under increasing pressure to introduce ‘No Fault Divorce’ today (Wednesday 30 November), as 150 family lawyers and other professionals come to Parliament to meet with MPs and Peers on the subject. Full story: Resolution.

Court hears rare treatment withdrawal application for minimally conscious patient
Mr Justice Charles criticises Legal Aid Agency for advancing any argument ‘to avoid paying legal aid’. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Cobb J sets out core principles for conducting re-hearings
Court re-hears fact-finding into life-threatening injuries to child. Full story: Family Law Week. See Re AD and AM (Fact-finding: Rehearing).

Resolution introduces new Code
Resolution has launched a new Code of Practice for its members. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
A (A Child : permission to permanently relocate) [2016] EWHC 2691 (Fam) (23 September 2016)
Application by mother for permission to permanently relocate with child to USA. Application granted. Full report: Bailii.

V (A Child), Re [2016] EWFC 58 (01 December 2016)
Private law proceedings regarding arrangements for 7 year old child. Judgment concerning the role and practice of local authorities when involved in allegations of abuse by one parent against another. Full report: Bailii.

RD & Ors (Duties and Powers of Relevant Person's Representatives and Section 39D IMCAS) [2016] EWCOP 49 (04 August 2016)
Five joined cases considering how RPRs and s.39D IMCAs should decide whether to bring an application to the Court of Protection under s.21A of the MCA to challenge a standard authorisation under Schedule A1. Full report: Bailii.

Robert v Woodall [2016] EWHC 2987 (Ch) (25 November 2016)
Trustee in bankruptcy was seeking to renew his application for permission to appeal against an order striking out his claim for a lump sum or a property adjustment order under ss.23 & 24 MCA. Cross-appeal to set aside an order in so far as it gave the Trustee permission to appeal against the decision striking out his claim that the payments were transactions at an undervalue pursuant to s.339 of the Insolvency Act 1986. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Never mind the width, feel the quality...


Or something. Hopefully, you will find my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were of a reasonable quality. They included:

Section 91(14) orders: restricting children applications - Barring orders, and the guidelines for making them,

It’s not the amount of contact it’s the quality - Are some non-custodial parents more concerned with achieving parity of time with their children, rather than the quality of the time they spend with them?

Has the Resolution Code of Practice passed its sell-by date? - A few thoughts...

What is a clean break, and why is it important? - I attempt to answer the questions.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 28, 2016

News Essentials: 28th November 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Litigant in person’s ‘misconceived’ applications an abuse of process
Munby J rejects serial litigant’s ‘scurrilous’ allegations. Full story: Solicitors Journal. See Akester v Fitzgerald, below.

Law Society practice note: Court duty scheme for private law family clients
The Law Society has issued a practice note for family practitioners intending to set up or provide advice at a court duty scheme for private law family cases. Full story: Family Law.

Court of Appeal gives important judgment about witnesses’ rights to appeal in family proceedings
Witnesses subject of adverse judicial findings may challenge judge’s findings on appeal. Full story: Family Law Week. See Re W (A Child).

CASES
Goddard-Watts v Goddard-Watts [2016] EWHC 3000 (Fam) (23 November 2016)
Rehearing of wife's financial remedy application, the previous final order having been set aside by because of the husband's non-disclosure in respect of his interest in two trusts. Full report: Bailii.

P (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 1127 (28 July 2016)
Application for permission to appeal by mother against orders refusing her application for contact and under section 91(14) Children Act 1989. Full report: Family Law Week.

Akester v Fitzgerald [2016] EWHC 2961 (Fam) (21 November 2016)
Judgment dealing with application by litigant in person, seeking to stay execution of an order made in the course of financial remedy proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Resolution introduces new Code


Resolution has launched a new Code of Practice for its members.

The organisation, which represents 6,500 family justice professionals who are committed to supporting couples to reach constructive solutions to family disputes, says it chose to revise the Code of Practice to reflect the changing family justice environment.

Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution, said:

“This is a further significant development in Resolution’s evolution.

“When we first began in the 1980s, the world of family justice was very different. If you were getting divorced, you almost always ended up in court, and it was invariably acrimonious.

“Resolution’s founder, John Cornwell, had the vision to recognise that there had to be a better way, and from those initial meetings that he had with a number of like-minded family lawyers our organisation – and subsequently our Code of Practice – was born.

“Now the environment in which we all work is changing beyond recognition and our Code needed to be updated in order to reflect the way in which all our members support people.

“I’m proud of the way our members have come together to draft and launch this new Code, which for the first time now also explains to the public how the Code helps them.”

Since its inception, Resolution has been at the forefront of promoting best practice, as well as launching and promoting new ways to support people through separation, including mediation, collaborative practice, and more recently, family arbitration.

It has also campaigned on issues such as legal aid – for family and care work - domestic violence, no fault divorce, rights for cohabitants and court closures.

Welcoming the new Code of Practice, Resolution members have today taken to social media with the hashtag #abetterway to share in their own words what being a Resolution member means to them.

Mr Shepherd added:

“The new Code is an important step forward for our organisation, and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting our members, and the clients they help, to promote those values espoused by John Cornwell and others more than 30 years ago.

“The Code also been written to reflect the changing face of our organisation. Although we started as a membership organisation primarily for family lawyers, we’re now proud to have family mediators, financial planners, counsellors and family therapists among our ranks.

“If you subscribe to our principles and are passionate about the work Resolution does, you are welcome in our organisation.”

The new Code of Practice is being launched as part of Resolution’s Good Divorce Week, an annual awareness raising week to promote constructive resolutions to family issues. In addition to the launch of their new Code, Resolution is organising a major lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 30 November that will see 150 of its members meet with MPs in Westminster to promote their campaign for no fault divorce and rights for cohabiting couples.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Don't Believe A Word



OK, I've just broken my rule not to headline a blog post with a song title. Still, there weren't any clich├ęs in my posts this week on the Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

What is a specific issue order, and what is it for? - Two questions I attempt to answer.

Not just another failed contact application - The case Re K.

I may be wonderful*, but the system certainly isn’t - Or, don't believe everything you read in comments.

The phenomenon of the obsessive litigant - As in the case Akester v Fitzgerald.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 21, 2016

News Essentials: 21st November 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Court of Appeal gives important judgment about witnesses’ rights to appeal in family proceedings
Witnesses subject of adverse judicial findings may challenge judge’s findings on appeal. Full story: Family Law Week. See Re W, below.

Orders made to secure 14 year old's wish to be cryo-preserved upon death
Court was not approving or encouraging cryonics: Peter Jackson J. Full story: Family Law Week. See Re JS, below.

English councils confirm they set targets for number of children to be adopted
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Transparency Project to 172 councils, 12 English councils have confirmed, sent or published documents showing that they use numerical targets for adoption. Full story: Family Law Week.

Legal Aid Agency rapped over approach to damages payable to ward of court
A High Court judge has severely criticised the Legal Aid Agency's actions in a case concerning a ward of court to whom a local authority had agreed to pay damages for the unauthorised release of information. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See P v A Local Authority, below.

Shorter care proceedings improving placement stability, research says
A research study into a pilot conducted before the introduction of the 26 week Public Law Outline also found it shortened the time it took for children to find a placement. Full story: Community Care.

London council children's services data breach as court bundle lost
A London council has been warned to strengthen its protection of personal information after a social worker left court documents on the roof of her car and drove off. Full story: Family Law Week.

Pension sharing not available in relation to a foreign pension
Wife's claim for a pension sharing order failed in long-running dispute. Full story: Family Law Week. See Goyal v Goyal.

CASES
JS (Disposal of Body), Re [2016] EWHC 2859 (Fam) (10 November 2016)
Judgment concerning issue of whether the body of a terminally ill 14 year old girl should be cryogenically frozen. Full report: Bailii.

W (A Child), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1140 (17 November 2016)
Appeal concerning issue of whether a witness in Family proceedings, who is the subject of adverse judicial findings and criticism, and who asserts that the process in the lower court was so unfair as to amount to a breach of his/her rights to a personal and private life under ECHR Art 8, can challenge the judge's findings on appeal. Full report: Bailii.

P v A Local Authority [2016] EWHC 2779 (Fam) (04 November 2016)
Human rights claim by 17 year old in local authority accommodation against the authority for disclosing personal information about him. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Posting potpourri


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog may not have been fragrant, but they certainly covered a varied a mixture of topics:

A rare example of a ‘modest means’ appeal - The case C v C.

What exactly is ‘unreasonable behaviour’? - My attempt to answer the question.

An alternate future for the family - I look into my crystal ball...

The welfare checklist, Irish style - A comparison of the Irish and English/Welsh versions of the welfare checklist.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers November/December 2016


The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.

In this issue
  • Legal practice – Jordan Furlong argues for the development of the technology-enabled, "intangible" law firm
  • Digital marketing – Gavin Ward of Moore Legal Technology suggests how firms should use website analytics
  • Copyright – Laurence Kaye explains why EU copyright law will remain central to UK digital business
  • Legal software – Delia Venables provides an overview of her A to Z of legal software suppliers
  • Current awareness – Paul Magrath of the ICLR describes a number of useful legal email alerts for practitioners
  • Internet – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains and illustrates the concept of Net Neutrality
  • CPD – CPD for barristers in 2017
  • Publishers – The IALS Open Book Service for Law
  • Future of law – Nick Holmes on upgrading the law and lawyers

Access the Newsletter online

Monday, November 14, 2016

News Essentials: 14th November 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Court of appeal upholds decision to keep Oxford mother's child in care
Judges heard how the three-year-old ‘Child B’ moved uncontrollably and ran into traffic. Full story: The Guardian. See Re S (Children), below.

New guidance issued on facilitating participation of ‘P’ and vulnerable persons in Court of Protection proceedings
Mr Justice Charles has issued guidance on facilitating participation of ‘P’ and vulnerable persons in Court of Protection proceedings. Full story: Family Law.

Government rejects recommendation that divorce fee rise should be rescinded
The Government has rejected the recommendation of the House of Commons Justice Committee that the increase in the divorce petition fee to £550 should be rescinded. Full story: Family Law Week.

Private law cases received by Cafcass in October up 9% on a year ago
3,505 new private law cases received. Full story: Family Law Week.

Care applications to Cafcass in October 5% up on a year ago
Rate of increase lower than in recent months. Full story: Family Law Week.

Brexit may be final straw for some couples, say divorce lawyers
The stress of Brexit is adding to pressure on couples on the brink of divorce, according to the head of the UK’s largest family law organisation. Full story: The Guardian.

Lord Chief Justice concerned by volume of public and private law cases before the Family Court
Annual report highlights workload problems in the Family Court. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
B (A Child), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1088 (13 September 2016)
Application by father for permission to appeal various orders made in private law children proceedings, including an order allowing publication of judgment in relation to father's contact application. Full report: Bailii.

A & B (Children), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1101 (09 November 2016)
Appeal by parents against care orders in respect of their children, in particular against findings of fact made within the care proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

AS v TH (No 2) (Jurisdiction to Make Final Orders) [2016] EWHC 2825 (Fam) (04 November 2016)
Child arrangements proceedings concerning two children brought to England from Scotland by their mother, including consideration of issue of jurisdiction. Full report: Bailii.

H v H (Maintenance Pending Suit) [2015] EWHC B30 (Fam) (03 December 2015)
Applications by wife for maintenance pending suit and legal services order. Full report: Bailii.

S (Children), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1090 (08 November 2016)
Appeal by mother against care and placement orders in respect of the middle of three children. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

A worrying week



This song seems relevant this worrying week, and not just because of the title.

Albeit on a lower level, there were also some things to worry about referred to in my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

An advert for no-fault divorce - A recently published judgment is a clear reminder of just why we must consign the idea of fault to history.

Encouraging the judicial bias culture - As in the media reaction to the Article 50 judgment.

The end of marriage? - The implications of the statistics showing that cohabiting couple families remain the fastest growing family type in the UK.

The sad case of the parents who totally failed their childRe G (A Child) (Fact Finding).

Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 07, 2016

News Essentials: 7th November 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Compulsory reporting of child abuse concerns 'could deluge social workers'
Eileen Munro, who conducted child protection review in wake of Baby P case, warns against government plans. Full story: The Guardian.

Cohabitation remains fastest growing relationship in UK
Figures released today (4 November 2016) show that the cohabiting couple family continues to be the fastest growing family type in the UK in 2016. Full story: Family Law.

Rise in child protection cases ups pressure on services
Department for Education figures reveal year-on-year rise in child protection demand continues. Full story: Community Care.

Foster care case teenager wins right to own lawyer
The teenager was fighting a local authority request from social workers that she be put into foster care. Full story: Sky News. See W (A Child), below.

UK couple cleared of abuse give up court battle to regain care of child
Man and woman abandon legal fight and say taking child away from adoptive parents would be wrong. Full story: The Guardian. See Re X, below.

UK surrogate vetoes legal parenthood for biological parents despite having no wish to be involved in children’s lives
The High Court has ruled that it cannot award legal parenthood to the biological parents of twins born through a UK surrogacy arrangement, because the surrogate who carried them has refused to give her permission. Full story: Family Law. See Re AB (Surrogacy Consent).

CASES
Goyal v Goyal [2016] EWFC 50 (04 November 2016)
Judgment in long-running ancillary relief proceedings, concerned with whether a pension sharing order can be made in respect of a foreign pension arrangement. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 3), Re [2016] EWHC 2755 (Fam) (02 November 2016)
Care proceedings, in which re-opening of fact-finding hearing was directed, in the light of new evidence. Decision to proceed, notwithstanding withdrawal of parents. Full report: Bailii.

B-C (A Child), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 970 (28 July 2016)
Application by local authority for permission to appeal against refusal to list interim care order application. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

W (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 1051 (01 November 2016)
Appeal by 16 year old against order refusing to permit her to be separately represented in relation to the local authority's application for a recovery order and in relation to her own application to discharge the care order imposed in relation to her. Full report: Bailii.

M (Children), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1059 (01 November 2016)
Appeal by father against order granting permission to mother to relocate with the children to Moscow. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

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To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Cohabitation law is failing 3.3 million families, says Resolution


Figures published today by the Office of National Statistics reveal that there are now 3.3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK, with the number more than doubling over the last twenty years.

Yet should these couples separate, they currently have little or no legal protection - despite the myth of ‘common law marriage.’ The family law group Resolution today said that the high growth in cohabiting couples is further evidence that the law needs to catch up with modern British society.

Nigel Shepherd, Resolution Chair, said:

“These ONS figures are further proof that more and more couples are choosing to live together and bring up their children without marrying. Sadly, some of those relationships will come to an end at some point. This is a feature of our modern society that is here to stay and unfortunately current cohabitation law is failing to provide them with the rights some of them mistakenly think they have.

“Rather than ignoring these 3.3 million families, our lawmakers must respond and introduce safety net legislation that will provide legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple's separation.”

Last year Resolution released its Manifesto for Family Law calling for the introduction of some rights for cohabiting couples when they separate. Research in 2013 from relationships charity One Plus One shows that almost half (47%) of the British public believe in the myth of “common law marriage”, the notion that cohabiting couples have similar legal rights to married people.

Family lawyer Graeme Fraser, Resolution’s spokesman on cohabitation law, said:

“Under current cohabitation law it’s possible to live with someone for decades and even to have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down. This can have a huge impact on women and children, particularly in cases where a mother has given up or reduced her work to raise a family”.

Four cases...


In my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog I looked at four recent cases, on very different topics:

The consequences of failing to cooperate with the court - As experienced by the husband in Parkinson v Daley.

Surrogacy and the calls for reform - Looking, in particular, at the case Re AB (Surrogacy: Consent).

A bad advert for the child support system - The recent case PS v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and LM (CSM) (Child support : other).

Payne is dead; paramountcy is king in relocation cases - The Court of Appeal decision in Re M (Children).

Have a good weekend.

Monday, October 31, 2016

News Essentials: 31st October 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Paper-free Digital Courtroom technology introduced at the Central London Family Court
E-filing local direction introduced for financial remedies applications. Full story: Family Law Week.

Family Justice Council 10th Annual Debate: settlement conferences
The Family Justice Council is holding its 10th Annual Debate and panel discussion in London between 5.30pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, 1 December 2016. Full story: Family Law.

MoJ opts into EU family law proposal over Brexit risk
The Ministry of Justice says it is in the UK’s interests to opt into an EU regulation on cross-border family matters as a result of risks that could arise once the UK has left the European Union. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Single parents owed millions of pounds for child maintenance, study reveals
Single parents in parts of the UK are owed millions of pounds in unpaid child maintenance, a new study shows. Full story: BT.com.

CASES
A (A Child), Re [2016] EWHC 1397 (Fam) (17 May 2016)
Care proceedings concerning child of Czech parentage. Judgment concerning issue of jurisdiction. Full report: Bailii.

M v B [2016] EWHC 1657 (Fam) (10 June 2016)
Appeal by father against orders directing the registration and enforcement of a French residence order regarding the parties' two sons. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

J v U [2016] EWHC 2481 (Fam) (29 September 2016)
Judgment declining jurisdiction in respect of two children habitually resident in Bosnia. Full report: Bailii.

AB (Surrogacy Consent), Re [2016] EWHC 2643 (Fam) (25 October 2016)
Surrogacy. Judgment explaining why applications for parental orders could not be made, i.e. the refusal of the respondents to give their consent. Full report: Bailii.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council v M & Ors [2016] EWHC 2660 (Fam) (25 October 2016)
Judgment concerning applications for orders to protect a child from exploitation and for a reporting restriction order. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Businesses asked to add family dispute resolution to employee benefit schemes

Jane Robey
As a newly-published report studies the impact of work-life balance challenges upon the quality of our relationships, large businesses are being urged to extend employee benefit schemes to include family dispute resolution services.

Today’s report from Relate and Relationships Scotland, The Way We Are Now, calls on employers to provide relationship counselling and support. Welcoming the report, National Family Mediation (NFM) says big firms should go further, providing easy access for staff undergoing family breakdown to mediators who can ease the stress and cost burden that divorcing couples face.

Jane Robey, CEO of NFM, said: “The pressures and stresses of balancing work and home life are amplified when relationships breakdown as life goes into free fall.

“We fully support the report’s calls for employers to be more proactive about providing relationship support, but this needs to extend beyond relationship counselling and into the practicalities of handling the whirlwind of family breakdown, separation and divorce.

“One in two marriages end in divorce. Look at any large employer and you’ll find at any one time significant numbers of staff will be experiencing the upheaval that separation creates.

“Divorce and family breakdown is known to seriously disrupt all aspects of an adult's life for up to two years,” she said, adding that for employers this means:
  • staff absenteeism whilst they tend to private affairs
  • lower productivity as they can't manage their chaotic private and family life
  • depression, anxiety and psychological problems created by the stress of the end of the marriage

“Separating couples are usually either paying expensive legal fees to make settlements through the courts over property, parenting and money, for something that might be relatively straightforward, or trying to manage their divorce themselves.

“It’s time-consuming, complicated and unfamiliar. It leads to greater anxiety as they try to understand for themselves how to file applications at court, prepare the right paperwork and - quite apart from that - psych themselves up to defend their case.

“None of this helps the business’s bottom line,” says Jane Robey.

She said big firms should look to extend employee benefit schemes to provide family mediation, a short, time-limited intervention that helps people resolve all the legal and emotional aspects of a divorce or separation. It is usually cheaper, quicker and less stressful than following the lawyer-courtroom route.

“The benefits to business would be numerous, limiting the impact on the employer of personal upheaval and helping maintain productivity, for example. Importantly, staff morale and wellbeing would be damaged much less than if couples battle it out in a family court. And it would help improve staff retention and loyalty: employees will know that in difficult times their bosses were able to provide constructive and cost effective support.”

Monday, October 24, 2016

News Essentials: 24th October 2016


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Boy 'living life entirely as a girl' removed from mother's care by judge
Mother who was convinced her son perceived himself as a girl caused 7-year-old boy ‘significant emotional harm’. Full story: The Guardian. See Re J, below.

President clarifies status of draft guidance on anonymising judgments
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has issued a statement on the judicial website clarifying the status of draft guidance on anonymising judgments published in August 2016 by the Association of Lawyers for Children and Dr Julia Brophy. Full story: Family Law.

McKenzie friend jailed for ‘deceit in family court’
A paid McKenzie friend has been jailed for perverting the course of justice in a family court. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
Thum v Thum [2016] EWHC 2634 (Fam) (21 October 2016)
Application by husband to dismiss or stay the wife's petition due to delay in service, where the husband subsequently issued a petition in Germany. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

J (A Minor), Re [2016] EWHC 2430 (Fam) (21 October 2016)
Final hearing of care proceedings concerning a 7 year old boy, who the mother was convinced perceived himself as a girl. Full report: Bailii.

London Borough of Redbridge v A, B and E (Failure to Comply with Directions) [2016] EWHC 2627 (Fam) (17 October 2016)
Application by local authority to adjourn final hearing of care proceedings, due to its own failure to comply with the court's directions. Full report: Bailii.

Thakkar v Thakkar [2016] EWHC 2488 (Fam) (08 June 2016)
Application by respondent husband to make decree nisi absolute, notwithstanding that wife's financial remedies application had not been determined. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

R (Final), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1016 (20 October 2016)
Appeal by father against dismissal of application for an order that the mother should return to the family home in Kent with the child, who she took to stay with her family in the North East. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

M & L (Children), Re [2016] EWHC 2535 (Fam) (14 October 2016)
Proceedings concerning two children, one residing with the father in England and the other with the mother in Norway. Judgment concerning submission of a request to the court of Norway to assume jurisdiction under 1996 Hague Convention. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: Court of Protection Made Clear


Court of Protection Made Clear

A User's Guide

Authors: Claire Wills-Goldingham QC, barrister,  Colleton Chambers; Marie Leslie, barrister, Colleton Chambers; Dr Paul Divall

£24.95 - Published by Bath Publishing: August 2016

When I was asked whether I would be interested in reviewing a book on Court of Protection proceedings my first thought was that I was not qualified. I may have read quite a few Court of Protection judgments, and written about a number of them, but I never did any Court of Protection work when I was practising. However, when I saw that Court of Protection Made Clear has been deliberately written (in plain English) to be accessible to non-lawyers (as well as lawyers), I felt that perhaps I was perfectly qualified after all.

When I received the book I was surprised by how substantial it is. For the extremely modest price I was expecting a brief introductory guide, perhaps with pointers as to where more detailed information can be found. This is not a brief introductory guide. It comprises 372 pages, with no fewer than twenty-one chapters, covering in considerable detail everything from making an application to the Court of Protection, to powers of attorney, deprivation of liberty (including a handy flowchart) and statutory wills. To top that off, there is a substantial glossary, a number of precedents and other appendices, including a table of possible applications to the Court, with basic information as to how each application is issued.

The downside, I suppose, of the book being so substantial is that unless it is the reader's intention to make a detailed study of the Court of Protection with a view to becoming an expert upon the subject, then the book is not really one that invites reading from cover to cover. For anyone who is not intending to 'become an expert' that exercise may result in more confusion than insight, as it is all to easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that the book contains.

Instead, I would suggest that for most people the book is best regarded as an introduction to specific topics, and otherwise as a reference. Thus, if the reader requires information on a certain matter, they can limit themselves to reading just the chapter or chapters relevant to that matter. The detail contained by the book on each topic should be sufficient for the purposes of most readers (the authors really seem to have given a lot of consideration to what should be included), although the book does still give pointers as to where more detailed information may be found, in particular the various statutes, rules and Codes of Practice.

Apart from the range of topics, one of the reasons why the book is so substantial, and one of the reasons why I say that the information it contains should be sufficient for the purposes of most readers, is that it covers both the theory and the practice. Thus, for example, you will not just find the legal background to making an application to the Court, but also details of the procedure involved (right up to, and even beyond, the hearing, including such details as how to address the judge) and practical help upon the completion of the myriad forms that are or may be required.

As I said, if you do want more information, then the book contains pointers to where it may be found. The help, though, does not stop there. The book is accompanied by a website, courtofprotectionhub.uk, which includes links to that other information, relevant forms and commentaries on recent cases.

I am not aware of any other book like this, and thus if you have an interest in the work of the Court of Protection, whether as a practitioner (even if you are already one of those 'experts'), someone who works with vulnerable people, or simply as a family member of someone involved in Court of Protection proceedings, then I would say that Court of Protection Made Clear is an essential purchase. The amount of information it contains, all presented in a clear, jargon-free manner, and all at a price that anyone should be able to afford, will surely help you demystify the arcane world of the Court of Protection. Certainly, I now feel I have a greater knowledge and understanding of the subject (even if my brain has only retained a fraction of the book's contents), along with a very useful first point of reference.

Court of Protection Made Clear can be purchased from Bath Publishing, here. It is available in print or digital format or, for an additional £10, both.