Monday, October 23, 2017

News Essentials: 23rd October 2017


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

NEWS
Council vicariously liable for abuse perpetrated by foster parents
Local authority has no non-delegable duty to ensure reasonable care of fostered children. Full story: Family Law Week.

Family Drug and Alcohol Court and councils to receive £6m+ from social impact bond
The Family Drug and Alcohol Court and partner local authorities are to receive £6.2m over seven years through a social impact bond to support its work within the family court system, the Government has announced. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Divorces in England and Wales: 2016
Dissolutions and annulments of marriage, by previous marital status, sex and age of divorcees. Includes number of children and fact proven at divorce. Full story: Office for National Statistics.

'Clumsy' lawyers risk appeals after judge clarifies family court powers
A broad interpretation of the family court's powers risks creating a surge in appeals if 'clumsy' lawyers delve into areas beyond their specialism. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See CH v WH.

Mr Justice Baker appointed as the Senior Family Liaison Judge
Appointment has immediate effect. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
CL v AL [2017] EWHC 2154 (Fam) (11 August 2017)
Judgment concerning issue of whether two children should live with the father in this country or with the mother in Australia. Full report: Bailii.

B (A Child), Re [2017] EWCA Civ 1579 (18 October 2017)
Appeal by father against order allowing publication of judgment in relation to his contact application, in case where he had covertly recorded conversations he had had with a social worker, a Cafcass officer and a solicitor. Full report: Bailii.

Pickard & Anor v Constable [2017] EWHC 2475 (Ch) (06 October 2017)
Appeal by the trustee in bankruptcy against an order that the sale of the matrimonial home be delayed until the death or earlier permanent vacation of the property by the husband. The appeal was allowed and order for sale was made for 12 months time with permission for the husband to apply for a further postponement. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

Mazhar v The Lord Chancellor [2017] EWFC 65 (12 October 2017)
HRA claim in relation to an order authorising the removal of the claimant to a hospital for medical treatment. Full report: Bailii.

R v R & Anor [2017] EWCA Civ 1588 (17 October 2017)
Appeal by husband against dismissal of application to extend reporting restrictions order made in proceedings under Part III MFPA 1984. 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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Software review: Capitalise


Any family lawyer dealing with high net worth cases will frequently need to calculate what capital sum will be required to generate a given income. The conventional way of doing this is to consult Duxbury tables, and do the calculation manually. However, there is a software-based option: the program Capitalise. Capitalise has been around for some time, but it has recently been revamped into a new-look version two, which is available on PC, on Mac and online.

Capitalise was devised by Class Legal, with the help of Mr Justice Mostyn and Sir Peter Singer. With a pedigree like that, I think we can be assured of the quality of the product.

Once installed, Capitalise must be activated by registering with the user's name, email, password and registration key, or by logging in if you have already registered. Registered users can also access Capitalise online via a browser, which very handily means that they can use the software anywhere that has an internet connection, on any device.

On first logging in the first thing I noticed was the extremely clean user interface, giving the software a very 'modern' look. In fact, so clean was the interface that I initially struggled for a moment to work out what to do next, but that was probably just me being slow. I soon realised that the first step was to set up your case, with the client's name, sex and date of birth. You must then set up your 'calculation parameters' (for life or a specified duration, whether you wish to preserve capital, inflation rate, whether the client will get a full basic rate pension, etc.) and then input the required income. You can then ask the program to do the calculation, whereupon you will be greeted with the results, something like this:

(Note this is only a partial screenshot)

Once you have done the calculation you can then of course print out a report, in pdf format. You can also, as the screenshot indicates, export the results to Excel.

If you should require any assistance, there is a help system included in the program, which includes the figures used in the calculations and legal and methodological explanations. If you get really stuck, Class Legal has a helpdesk that you can call or email.

And that, in a nutshell, is Capitalise. Of course, it has a lot more to it (I haven't mentioned, for example, that it can very usefully do a 'reverse' calculation, working out the income a specific capital sum will provide), but it would take a much longer review to do justice to its considerable capabilities. However, if you want more information Class Legal have made a detailed (63 minute!) video introduction to the software, which you can view here.

If that is not enough, a free 35 day trial is available, on request. And if you are one of the aforementioned lawyers then I very much doubt that you will want to return to the old manual calculation methods after trying Capitalise.

Capitalise can be purchased from Class Legal, here. A site licence costs £250.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New divorce stats show laws on cohabitation & fault-based divorce need to change, say family lawyers


Today’s official statistics on the number of divorces in England and Wales show there were 106,959 divorces among opposite-sex couples in 2016 – up 5.8% from 2015.

Commenting on the rise, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of the family justice campaign group Resolution, said:

“Although the numbers of divorces, and the divorce rate, are up on 2015, both are still far lower than their recent peak of 2003. As the ONS recognises, this is almost certainly due, in part, to the rise in the number of cohabiting couples - the fastest growing family type in the UK.

“Yet despite this, there is still little or no legal protection for cohabitants should they separate. What’s more, many are living together while still believing there is such a thing as common-law marriage in this country and that as a result they have rights – there isn’t and they don't. Action needs to be taken to change this.

“It’s also important to recognise that behind these statistics, there are tens of thousands of couples who are currently discouraged by the current system from taking a non-confrontational approach to divorce. For many separating couples, the need to apportion blame on the divorce petition can introduce unnecessary conflict, which adds to the stress and heartache for the couple themselves and, crucially, any children they may have.

“For decades, 'unreasonable behaviour' has been the most common reason for divorce among opposite-sex couples, yet many are forced into playing this ‘blame game’ by our archaic divorce laws.

“That’s why we have repeatedly called on government to legislate for no-fault divorce, and will continue to do so. This call is echoed by senior legal figures, such as Baroness Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, and Sir Paul Coleridge, the Chair of the Marriage Foundation.

“In the face of such overwhelming support, and with the Supreme Court due next Spring to hear the appeal of Mrs Owens, whose divorce has been denied because of the current law, the government needs to listen and take action.

“It’s time to make no-fault the default.”

Monday, October 16, 2017

News Essentials: 16th October 2017


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

NEWS
Guidance given in important hair strand testing judgment
Practices of testers affirmed and suggestions made for report writing. Full story: Family Law Week. See report, below.

Cafcass Chief Executive addresses the rising number of children in care
LGA Conference hears that number of looked after children has reached a new high of 72,670. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In September 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,637 new private law cases. This is a 4% increase compared with those received in September 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in September 2017
In September 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,109 care applications. This figure represents a 10% decrease compared with those received in September 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Fifth of CPS cases are alleged sex crimes or domestic abuse
Report says 19.3% of prosecutors’ caseload involves such alleged offences, compared with 7.1% a decade ago. Full story: The Guardian.

Boys with ‘narcissistic cult’ mindset removed from mother’s care
Three teenage brothers, who believed they were intellectually superior, had suffered physical and emotional harm, judge told. Full story: The Guardian. See report, below.

CASES
FE v MR & Ors [2017] EWHC 2298 (Fam) (14 September 2017)
Judgment dealing with issue of whether the court should submit a request to the courts of Spain for the transfer of proceedings concerning two children. Full report: Bailii.

DP v PC [2017] EWHC 2387 (Fam) (01 September 2017)
Appeal by father against summary dismissal of contact application. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

P & Ors (Human Fertilisation And Embryology Act 2008) (No 2) [2017] EWHC 2532 (Fam) (13 October 2017)
Further judgment in cases where there had been administrative failures by clinic providing IVF treatment, concerning the need for the failures to be resolved by obtaining an order of the court. Full report: Bailii.

L-S (Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 1551 (12 October 2017)
Application by mother for permission to appeal against decisions made in 2016 concerning arrangements for a 12 year old child, focusing on whether the judge was wrong to refuse to re-open his original findings in the light of new material. Full report: Bailii.

Northumberland County Council v S (Mother) & Ors [2017] EWHC 2432 (Fam) (23 June 2017)
Application by local authority for permission to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to a 14 year old boy in care, in order to place him at a residential school in Scotland. Full report: Bailii.

S v S (Relocation) [2017] EWHC 2345 (Fam) (14 September 2017)
Application by father to remove his two sons, to live with him in Switzerland. Application granted, but father and lawyers for children criticised by judge. Full report: Bailii.

H (A Child : Hair Strand Testing) [2017] EWFC 64 (29 September 2017)
Judgment in care proceedings considering the science of hair-strand testing for cocaine, and the way in which expert reports on the test results are presented. Full report: Bailii.

The London Borough of Wandsworth v M & Ors (Rev 2) [2017] EWHC 2435 (Fam) (03 October 2017)
Care proceedings concerning three boys with ‘narcissistic cult’ mindset. 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, October 13, 2017

Twitter, a case, and a report...


...were the inspiration sources for my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Flawed Twitter poll still indicates support for no-fault divorce - As many as 9 out of 10 people agree with it.

A second bite of the financial cherry after an overseas divorce - Or: Just what is Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 for?

Courts deal with invisible children - How can judges make life-changing decisions for children without even knowing what they look like?

Criminal justice system takes over the burden of dealing with domestic abuse - As confirmed by the latest figures from the CPS.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, October 09, 2017

In denial - Ministers’ flagship family policy withering on the vine

Jane Robey
New figures show slump in family mediation starts 

Commenting on news that the number of couples starting family mediation has slumped by a quarter, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said:

“Ministers need to wake up and understand their own flagship family policy is withering on the vine.

“The government made it a legal requirement in 2014 for separating couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) before applying for a court order. Yet the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency’s latest statistics show that ‘family mediation starts’ were 24 per cent lower in the April to June 2017 quarter, compared the same period in 2016.

“The number of MIAMs was down by a tenth on 2016, and the 1,600 mediation starts recorded is the lowest number since the 2014 Act that supposedly made the MIAM compulsory.

“Figures we at National Family Mediation obtained recently from a FOI request show that over 60 per cent of couples ignored the new law last year. Of nearly 90,000 applications for private law proceedings to a family court in 2016, only 35,627 had followed the supposedly ‘compulsory’ process.

“It’s meant to be compulsory for divorcing couples to seriously consider mediation to help them find amicable and constructive ways to resolve parenting, money and property disputes.

“Professional family mediators want to do what the government are going to do about the fact that most people are somehow sidestepping the law.

“By making the consideration of mediated settlements compulsory, the government’s aim was help tens of thousands of couples who separate each year save money, time and stress in making post-divorce arrangements.

“Ministers need to explain how they intend to address this. Until they do so the government is in denial on divorce.”

News Essentials: 9th October 2017


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

NEWS
MFPA 1984 Part III award overturned by Court of Appeal
Agreement by the parties was Radmacher fair. Full story: Family Law Week. See Zimina v Zimin, below.

Billionaire property developer says he was never married to 'wife' in bid to protect fortune, court hears
A billionaire London property developer has claimed that he was never married to his "wife" of 14 years in a bid to protect his £1.1bn fortune, the High Court heard. Full story: The Telegraph.

Study reveals link between childhood in care and mothers who have babies removed by the courts
A study launched today has found a high number of women, who repeatedly appear before the family courts and lose many children into public care or adoption because of child protection concerns, have been in care themselves. Full story: Family Law.

Solicitor disclosed wife's new address to violent ex-husband
A firm and its solicitor have been fined a total of £35,000 after disclosing a woman’s new address to her ex-husband, who was subject to a restraining order. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
A Child (no approved secure accommodation available; deprivation of liberty) [2017] EWHC 2458 (Fam) (14 September 2017)
Judgment in proceedings concerning the accommodation of a 13 year old boy with a history of seriously uncontrolled behaviour. Full report: Bailii.

Zimina v Zimin [2017] EWCA Civ 1429 (05 October 2017)
Appeal against lump sum order made under Part III MFPA 1984, where a foreign order had already been made. Appeal allowed.  Full report: Bailii.

Egeneonu v Egeneonu [2017] EWHC 2336 (Fam) (19 September 2017)
Application by mother for father's committal to prison for breaches of orders made in connection with the retention of the parties' children in Nigeria. Full report: Bailii.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust v YZ & Ors [2017] EWHC 2211 (Fam) (27 July 2017)
Application by NHS Trust for an order declaring, inter alia, that it was in the best interests of a 14 year old child to receive as a matter of urgency treatment for a suspected overdose of paracetamol. Full report: Bailii.

M v G [2017] EWHC 1712 (Fam) (22 June 2017)
Application by father for summary return of children to Romania. Return ordered. 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.

Obsolete divorce laws provoke the deliberate picking of fights

The re-emergence on the political agenda of “no-fault divorce” has been welcomed by England and Wales’ largest provider of post-divorce solutions on parenting, money and property.

National Family Mediation (NFM) Chief Executive Jane Robey says the appearance of leading divorce lawyer, Ayesha Vardag, at the recent Conservative Party Conference, throws a welcome spotlight on outdated laws that provoke separating couples to pick a fight with their ex.

Ms Vardag was at the Manchester conference to add her voice to those, including NFM, which have lobbied the government over law changes to make it easier for couples to split in a supportive and amicable way. Her appearance created widespread media attention and support from sources including controversial columnist and broadcaster Katie Hopkins. The Labour Party’s 2017 election manifesto committed to introducing no-fault divorce, but the Tories’ one did not.

Jane Robey said: “Outdated divorce laws which mean someone has to be proved ‘at fault’ - even when a couple agrees on the need to separate - creates a bidding war which then often escalates to a full-blown courtroom battle brimming with resentment and anger.

“The current legal need to prove a spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ fuels bad feeling between a couple. Very often we find that couples who, for whatever reason, have decided to separate just want to get on with it, and make a fresh start.

“These archaic laws deliberately provoke separating couples to pick a fight with their ex, to the detriment of the future of everyone in the family.”

Previous attempts to reform divorce law have failed because legislation has been introduced privately, without the weight of government backing that would see it reach the Statute Book.

Jane Robey said: “If the government took the opportunity to bring forward its own legislation for no-fault divorce, time would be allocated and the Bill would be passed.

“For Ministers it’s not a question of the volume of people affected, or the impact of legislative change. That’s undeniable. It’s one of will. It’s high time for Ministers to take long-awaited steps to divorce reform.”

Monday, October 02, 2017

News Essentials: 2nd October 2017


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

NEWS
Mostyn J confirms that family court has power to order indemnity in respect of mortgage liability
Such orders have been made ‘routinely’ over last three years. Full story: Family Law Week. See CH v WH, below.

Important overview of Court of Protection’s welfare jurisdiction published
Cardiff University uses ground breaking empirical research. Full story: Family Law Week.

Children in care numbers rise at fastest rate in five years
The number of children in care has risen at its fastest rate in five years while the number of children being adopted continues to fall, official figures have revealed. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

MIAMs in April to June 2017 down 11% on a year ago
1,600 mediation starts was the lowest number since LASPO Act was introduced. Full story: Family Law Week.

Family court statistics quarterly: April to June 2017
This report presents the latest statistics on type and volume of cases that are received and processed through the family court system of England and Wales in the second quarter of 2017 (April to June). Full story: Ministry of Justice.

CASES

E-R (Child Arrangements)(No.2) [2017] EWHC 2382 (Fam) (11 September 2017)
Judgment varying terms of child arrangements order providing for the child to live with family friends, following the death of the mother. Full report: Bailii.

CH v WH [2017] EWHC 2379 (Fam) (28 September 2017)
Judgment concerning the power of the court to order an indemnity, in respect of liability under a mortgage. 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, September 29, 2017

Resolution comment on Family Court Statistics Quarterly

Nigel Shepherd
Commenting on the ONS’s Family Court Statistics Quarterly Nigel Shepherd, National Chair, Resolution, said:

“The latest Family Court and Legal Aid statistics, released today, contain a number of notable points.

“Firstly, the number of divorce petitions is down 10% from the equivalent point last year. This is in line with the general trends seen in recent years, and suggests that the next set of divorce statistics, due later this year, will show the total number of divorces will dip below 100,000 for the first time since the early 1970s.

“It’s also a symptom of the fact that fewer people are getting married – which in turn reflects the growing number of cohabiting couples, the fastest growing family type in the UK. Yet, bizarrely, there is still little or no legal protection for cohabitants should they separate. This needs to change.

“With regards to legal aid, despite the availability of funding for mediation, we’ve seen family mediation starts drop by nearly a quarter year on year. This is because fewer people are able to benefit from early advice from lawyers who, particularly in the case of Resolution members, will be able to provide information on mediation and other out of court options to help separating couples decide the best approach for their circumstances.

“We’ve also seen levels of legal representation continue their downward trend since the abolition of legal aid for the majority of family law, with the proportion of private cases where neither side is represented at 36% - up by 19% since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came in.

“As the government prepares to review the impact of LASPO, we hope they will note these figures with concern, and also the report of the Bach Commission, which recommended that legal aid for early legal help is restored to pre-LASPO levels for family law, to help separating families identify their options.”

Baching up the wrong tree


Horrendous though the pun is (not to mention unoriginal), the above title could apply to all of my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Bach to the future? - Another poor pun about the Bach Commission report on legal aid.

The devastating effect of non-disclosure - As in LFL v LSL.

Is the call for no-fault divorce just about speed? - Responding to recent comments by Baroness Deech.

Home-made separation agreements are a bad idea - Also as in LFL v LSL.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 25, 2017

News Essentials: 25th September 2017


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

NEWS
Labour-backed report calls for more generous legal aid system
Review criticises coalition government’s cuts and calls for new law enshrining right to justice. Full story: The Guardian. See report here.

Flexible court hours pilot is postponed
Now due to start in February 2018. Full story: Family Law Week.

Children and Social Work Act 2017 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2017
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2017 bring specified provisions of the Children and Social Work Act into force on 31 October 2017. Full story: Family Law Week.

Legal proceedings not needed in treatment withdrawal case, says judge
A Court of Protection judge has concluded that legal proceedings were not necessary when there was agreement between the family of a sufferer from Huntington’s disease and her clinicians that clinically assisted nutrition and hydration was no longer in her best interests and should be withdrawn with the consequence that she would die. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See report, below.

Judge throws McKenzie Friend out of court over “tirade” against him and solicitors
A district judge has explained how he had to throw a McKenzie Friend out of his court after she disrupted proceedings and threatened complaints against him and the other side’s solicitors. Full story: Legal Futures. See report, below.

Judge blasts lack of therapy for mother faced with losing second child
A Family Court judge has questioned the spending of money on the issuing of legal proceedings and on psychological evidence when this expenditure is incurred before attempts have been made at therapeutic support, in a case where a vulnerable mother was faced with the loss of a second child to adoption. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See A Local Authority v The Mother & Anor.

CASES
LFL v LSL (McKenzie Friends : breach of court orders) [2017] EWFC B62 (18 August 2017)
Final hearing of wife's application for financial remedies, including explanation of refusal of application for rights of audience by McKenzie friend for husband. Full report: Bailii.

M v A Hospital [2017] EWCOP 19 (20 September 2017)
Application, in effect, for the court to determine that it would be in best interests of a woman suffering from Huntington's disease not to continue to receive clinically assisted nutrition and hydration, with the consequence that she would die. 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, September 22, 2017

Common sense R.I.P.


Well, hopefully there was some common sense in my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Common sense drowns in a sea of guidance - Thoughts that occurred whilst reading the new PD12J...

Welcoming our new High Court judges - And looking at one of (each of) their cases.

The father that took his life: was he pushed, or did he jump? - Examining whether the law report of the case throws any light on the matter.

Lord Thomas discusses family justice with House of Commons Justice Committee - Some interesting matters were raised...

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

President of Family Division tells new family lawyers: “We have to embrace technology.”


Over 200 family lawyers and other family justice professionals at the start of their careers gathered today (Thursday) in Central London, to take part in Resolution’s inaugural national YRes conference.

The conference, aimed at those with up to ten years’ Post-Qualified Experience (PQE), heard from a range of speakers.

Among those speaking was the President of the Family Division, Rt Hon Sir James Munby, who spoke of the need for the family justice system to recognise that people increasingly expect to access services online.

Whilst acknowledging that not every case was suitable for online hearings (particularly care cases), the President said that more cases would be resolved using digital technology in the future, saying:

“When faced with the choice of opening a laptop in the kitchen, and talking to a judge via Skype; or running the gauntlet of travelling to a crumbling court building which may be many miles away – what do you think the litigant would prefer?”

He also spoke of the need to embrace electronic file management, warning the audience: “If we lose the current opportunity we will still be on paper files when you’re coming up to your retirement.”

Members also heard from about the changing nature of family justice; how to incorporate dispute resolution into practices; negotiation and communication; as well as a panel discussion looking at what family law will look like in 2025.

YRes was launched by Resolution to support members who are at the beginning of their careers, and plays a prominent role in the organisation – with YRes members sitting on committees (including National Committee). There are also more than 24 active local YRes groups around the country.

National YRes Chair, Sarah Green, said:
“When you’re starting out in the world of family justice, it can be really daunting and intimidating, particularly as you rely so much on building networks with others who are far further on and more established in their practices.

“That’s why YRes is here, to provide a network for those starting out in their careers, sharing best practice and expertise, supporting each other, and strengthening professional relationships locally and across the country.

Resolution’s Vice-Chair, Margaret Heathcote, said:

“The attendance here today is testament to the appeal of YRes and the need for this tailored support for those at the start of their career. I’m proud of the role Resolution has played in promoting the next generation of family justice professionals.

“Under Sarah’s leadership, and with the support of so many brilliant members she works with, I know YRes will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Monday, September 18, 2017

News Essentials: 18th September 2017


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

NEWS
E-working in the family jurisdiction and our plans for reform
The attached paper has been produced to provide judiciary and operational colleagues with a much needed update about our plans for the future in relation to e-working in the family jurisdiction. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Cafcass private law demand
In August 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,718 new private law cases. This is an 8% increase compared with those received in August 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in August 2017
In August 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,241 care applications. This figure represents a 1.5% decrease compared with those received in August 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

President issues new PD12J - Child Arrangements and Contact Orders: Domestic Abuse and Harm
The President of the Family Division has issued a circular dealing with domestic abuse and containing a new PD12J, which comes into force on 2 October 2017. Full story: Family Law.

Settlement Conferences pilot and evaluation
Some Designated Family Judge areas are piloting ‘settlement conferences’. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Social worker criticised for ‘factually impoverished’ evidence in court
Judge Moradifar said the social worker's evidence was some of the most "unhelpful" he'd ever heard. Full story: Community Care. See Re E & N (No. 3).

CASES
FE v YE [2017] EWHC 2165 (Fam) (25 August 2017)
Application by father for summary return of children to Israel, where mother was seeking asylum for herself and children. Full report: Bailii.

Re J (Care Proceedings: Apportionment of Experts' Fees) [2017] EWFC (8 August 2017)
Costs – Care proceedings – Experts’ fees – Apportionment of cost. The court ordered that the cost of expert reports should be apportioned equally between the local authority and the guardian. Full report: Family Law.

*      *      *
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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

News Essentials: 11th September 2017


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

NEWS
Returning jihadis will end up in family courts, Lord Chief Justice warns
British jihadis returning from Syria will put pressure on the family courts over the next year, the Lord Chief Justice has said. Full story: The Telegraph.

Welsh Government launches consultation on cross-border secure accommodation placements
Consultation focuses on local authorities’ duties. Full story: Family Law Week.

Serious case review questions ‘value’ of supervision orders
Review says murder of Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith by her mother could not have been predicted, but criticises ‘lack of professional curiosity’. Full story: Community Care.

London borough finds interim placement for teenager after judicial criticism
Southwark Council has now said it has found an interim placement for a troubled teenager after criticism from a judge. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See F (A Minor : secure accommodation resources).

Welsh Government consults on SGOs
New code of practice to come into force in July 2018. Full story: Family Law Week.

Launch of IFLAS – International Family Law Arbitration Scheme
New innovative arbitration scheme launched. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Hart v Hart [2017] EWCA 1306 Civ (31 August 2017)
Appeal by wife against financial award, concerns the approach which the court should take to non-matrimonial property, in this case pre-acquired assets. Full report: Bailii.

Elatawna v Elatawna and the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 2165 (Fam) (25 August 2017)
Abduction – Immigration – Hague Convention application – Pending asylum appeal – Whether a return order could be made. The return order was stayed until 15 days after the determination of the mother’s asylum appeal. Full report: Family Law.

*      *      *
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, September 08, 2017

Misbehavin'


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were mostly, but not exclusively, about parties behaving unreasonably. They included:

Behaviour of parties and the limits of the court’s power - There are limits to the court’s power to make parties behave in a reasonable fashion.

Should there be a cut-off for pre-acquired assets? - Some thoughts following the Hart case.

Father committed to prison for breach of contact order in ‘tit-for-tat’ case - The recent case Richards v Martin.

Some comments on dealing with parental alienation - As the title says.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 04, 2017

News Essentials: 4th September 2017


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

NEWS
Final Report on litigants who lack litigation capacity in Care proceedings published
Key recommendations published. Full story: Family Law Week.

Divorce ruling 'leaves law in state of flux'
Family lawyers predict a rise in the number of couples seeking prenuptial agreements after the Court of Appeal dismissed a woman's bid for an equal share of her and her ex-husband's assets. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Munby P: Government support for LiPs ‘sadly inadequate’
Family court procedures and rules are unintelligible to litigants in person. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Girl at centre of fostering row should live with grandmother, says judge
Judge Khatun Sapnara ends placement of five-year-old with Muslim family in case seized on by far-right activists. Full story: The Guardian. See report, below.

CASES
F (A Minor : secure accommodation resources) [2017] EWHC 2189 (Fam) (24 August 2017)
Judgment concerning the accommodation of a 14 year old boy with conduct disorder. Full report: Bailii.

The Child AB: Case Management Order – No. 7 [2017] EWFC B53 (30 August 2017)
Judgment in proceedings relating to placement of Christian child with Muslim foster parents. Full report: Bailii.

SR v NM [2017] EWHC 2187 (Fam) (11 August 2017)
Application for committal of father for failure to comply with contact order. Full report: Bailii.

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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, September 01, 2017

Listen to me - I know best


It may have been a short week, but I still had plenty of time to demonstrate my expertise on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, in the following posts:

What we are all really thinking about children disputes - Hard truths for parents.

Basic advice for litigants - As the title says.

Expertise and the arrogance trap - Why experts could do with being a little more humble.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

News Essentials: 29th August 2017


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

NEWS
No secure care place available for 'dangerous' teenager, UK judge told
Interim judgment sent to education secretary as search continues for secure accommodation for 14-year-old boy. Full story: The Guardian.

Brexit: Government wants continuing judicial relationship
A continuing formal reciprocal judicial relationship with the EU will be essential after March 2019, the government conceded today. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Court approves £10k settlement over delays in providing sex education
The Court of Protection has approved a £10,000 damages settlement plus costs to a man with Down's Syndrome and an associated learning difficulty over delays in the provision of sex education. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See CH v A Metropolitan Council, below.

New victim and witness rooms to improve court experience
Victims and witnesses will have their experience of going to court made easier through a number of new waiting rooms. Full story: Family Law.

Heterosexual couple take civil partnership case to Supreme Court
A heterosexual couple who want to enter a civil partnership instead of getting married have been granted the right to take their case to the Supreme Court. Full story: BBC News.

CASES
S (A Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 249 (24 February 2017)
Appeal by mother against care and placement orders in relation to 16 month old child. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

M v F & SM (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008) [2017] EWHC 2176 (Fam) (23 August 2017)
Application for parental order in relation to child born as a result of a gestational surrogacy arrangement between the applicant and her former partner, where the child was born to a surrogate mother. Wardship continued until law changed to permit applications for parental orders by a single applicant. Full report: Bailii.

CH v A Metropolitan Council [2017] EWCOP 12 (28 July 2017)
Application on behalf of claimant for approval of a proposed settlement of his claim for damages against Local Authority pursuant to HRA 1998. Full report: Bailii.

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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, August 25, 2017

Bias, law reports and a little light relief,,,


... were amongst the topics covered by my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Is the family justice system biased against women? - Demonstrating that it is quite easy to construct an argument either way in the debate as to whether the family justice system is biased.

Honeymoons, rings and birds: a little light relief - Family law does have its amusing moments...

If you want to know what really happened, read the report - Basic advice, particularly for those struggling to research their case without the help of a lawyer.

An even better law report database - The Australian version of Bailii.

Have a good weekend and Summer Bank Holiday.

Monday, August 21, 2017

News Essentials: 21st August 2017


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

NEWS
Gwynneth Knowles QC appointed to High Court Family Bench
Appointment with effect from 2nd October 2017. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Report calls for young children to have an independent right to privacy
The rise of ‘sharenting’, YouTube families and ‘science entertainment’ television programmes adversely affects the privacy of children, according to a new report. Full story: Family Law.

Children: surrogacy, and single people and parental orders: House of Commons Briefing Paper
Published in anticipation of changes expected in new session of Parliament. Full story: Family Law Hub.

'Unlawful' family court agreement axed
A joint agreement aimed at tackling delays in care proceedings has been ditched amid concerns it is unlawful and could lead to collusion between social workers and family court guardians. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Counselling domestic abusers cuts offending by third, say researchers
A radical counselling scheme for some domestic abusers cuts offending by a third, researchers say. Full story: BBC News.

CASES
X (A Child) (No 5) [2017] EWHC 2141 (Fam) (17 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. Full report: Bailii.

Gaspar v Zaleski & Ors [2017] EWHC 1770 (Ch) (12 July 2017)
Wife was seeking a declaration that she was part owner of a property and an order for sale pursuant to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 so that she could realise her interest. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

G (Children) (Habitual Resident), Re [2017] EWHC 2111 (Fam) (19 June 2017)
Judgment concerning issue of whether the court has jurisdiction in relation to proceedings issued by the mother under the inherent jurisdiction concerning two children currently staying in Abu Dhabi. Full report: Bailii.

R v P [2017] EWHC 1804 (Fam) (03 March 2017)
Application by father for summary return of child to Lithuania. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

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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, August 18, 2017

Absurdities and misconceptions


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were mostly about dealing with absurdities and putting right misconceptions. They included:

The absurd notion that I’m biased against fathers - Putting right this misconception.

Lessons for family litigants from a neighbour dispute - As in Dickinson & Anor v Cassillas.

Is the concern about the new divorce form a storm in a teacup? - The real reason why more adulterers may be named.

Bias against fathers: exercising my right to reply - Putting right further misconceptions.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, August 14, 2017

News Essentials: 14th August 2017


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

NEWS
Supreme Court to consider applications to vary periodical payments orders under MCA s31(7)
Permission given to husband to appeal by Mills v Mills. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In July 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,709 new private law cases. This is a 10% increase compared with those received in July 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in July 2017
In July 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,238 care applications. This figure represents a 5% decrease compared with those received in July 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Supreme Court to hear argument that 'unreasonable behaviour' in divorce is a 'linguistic trap'
Supreme Court grants permission to appeal in Owens case. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Judge approves suicidal girl care plan
A judge who said society should be "ashamed" for not protecting a suicidal girl has approved a care plan for her. Full story: BBC News. See X (A Child) (No 4), below.

Family Procedure Rules amended as of today
New divorce form D8 may be used from today. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Joy-Morancho v Joy (Dismissal of Variation Application) [2017] EWHC 2086 (Fam) (11 August 2017)
Judgment dismissing husband's application for downward variation of spousal maintenance order. Full report: Bailii.

S v S [2017] EWHC 1298 (Fam) (28 May 2017)
Interim judgment in application by father for return of child to Iran, dealing with issue of expert evidence as to Iranian law and practice. Full report: Bailii.

K and P (Children : Discharge of care order) [2017] EWFC B51 (23 March 2017)
Application by local authority for discharge of care order in respect of two children. Full report: Bailii.

J (A Child : Care Proceedings : Apportionment of Experts' fees) [2017] EWFC B49 (3 August 2017)
Care proceedings involving possible non-accidental injuries to child. Judgment concerning how medical experts' fees should be apportioned between the parties. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 4) [2017] EWHC 2084 (Fam) (07 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. 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.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

‘Digital Divorce’ Pilot to be Extended this Summer

The forms needed for couples in England and Wales to file for divorce are set to change. In paper and digital format, the new forms are designed to gather more information from both divorcees. Whilst the paper forms are yet to be released by the Ministry of Justice, a pilot for the digital equivalent is to be extended.

Being used on a trial basis in the East Midlands, the forms have a few key differences from the old one. Whereas all was needed for the current forms was a signature from both parties, for the new ones, a statement of truth is needed. This is to help give the authorities an idea of why couples are filing for divorce.

The statement requires the person(s) filling in the form to explain why they want a separation, being as descriptive and honest as possible. This could cause some confusion for those couples who have different versions of events leading up to divorce. It isn’t the only big change being introduced to the way in which couples can divorce.

Civil Partnerships

A version of the new divorce form will be introduced for couples in civil partnerships. As with married couples, their form will also have a statement of truth section, which needs to be filled in before it gets signed off. This step recognises that couples are looking to alternatives to marriage as a means of expressing their love for one another.

As for the pilot electronic form, this needs to be printed off before it can be agreed by the relevant bodies. Expert family law solicitors can assist with filling in the new divorce form. The pilot, which started towards the end of July, will gauge whether or not paperless divorces and separations are set to become the norm.

The most recent amendment to Form D8 was made this month, but other aspects of divorce or dissolution remain unchanged for now. Whilst one change may not seem like that much, knowing how to write the statement of truth may require plenty of thought from both divorcees.

Divorce by Phone

With the modified divorce form now available online, in theory, would-be divorcees could fill it in via their smartphones. This could cause some confusion, particularly if predictive text is used. Seeking specialist divorce law advice should help anyone choosing the electronic pilot over the paper form will be the best course of action.

However the form is filled in, if the electronic pilot succeeds, it should be rolled out across England and Wales at some point in 2018. The early signs thus far look promising for this shift towards digital divorces. Until then, divorce lawyers and offices nationwide will need to keep stocking up on paper forms and have pens at the ready.

Published on behalf of withersworldwide.

Monday, August 07, 2017

News Essentials: 7th August 2017


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

NEWS
Senior judge: Fathers with valuable homes should pay more child support
Estranged fathers with expensive homes should be forced to pay more towards the upbringing of their children, one of Britain's most senior family judges has said. Full story: The Telegraph. See Green v Adams, below.

Judge warns of 'blood on our hands' if suicidal girl is forced out of secure care
Sir James Munby, head of high court’s family division, says he is ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ that no hospital place has been found for 17-year-old. Full story: The Guardian. See X (A Child) (No 3), below.

Government updates child maintenance application fee guidance
The Department for Work and Pensions has updated its guidance which sets out how it will decide if a victim of domestic violence or abuse is exempt from the Child Maintenance Service application fee. Full story: Family Law.

Judge dismisses council’s bid to block parents’ adoption petition
Parents' right to campaign outweighs risk to children, court finds. Full story: Community Care. See Southend Borough Council v CO & Anor.

Digital divorce update
Legal stationers are stocking up on new family law forms which will need to be used by the end of the summer. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
Green v Adams [2017] EWFC 52 (03 August 2017)
Applications arising from order requiring the father to pay a lump sum to the mother, under Schedule 1 CA 1989. Full report: Bailii.

AM v DF [2017] EWHC 2034 (Fam) (01 August 2017)
Appeal by father against order allowing mother to take children to Iraq for four weeks. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 3) [2017] EWHC 2036 (Fam) (03 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. 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, August 04, 2017

Divorce judges must use imagination in a different way, says family charity

Family court judges need to extend their imaginations beyond writing verdicts in the form of ‘personable’ letters to family members, says a leading family charity.

Mr Peter Justice Jackson made headlines in late July when he sent a 14 year-old boy a personalised letter, outlining his reasons for denying the teenager the outcome he sought – to be allowed to move abroad with his dad.

But National Family Mediation says we should not be deceived by the novel approach.

“Make no mistake, it’s going to be very hard for Sam to digest the way the court saw his father,” says Jane Robey, the charity’s CEO.

“The language and delivery of the verdict may be worlds away from what we expect. Yet the basic fact that again here is a judge handing down a life-changing verdict to a young person based on evidence he accrued during a long and expensive court case.”

She added that it “doesn’t alter the fact that as ever in divorce and separation cases that go to a court, parents’ and children’s futures get determined by a judge: the one person on the scene who knows least about the family.

“I say it’s high time for the judiciary to become more creative and vocal in its efforts to avoid court battles that expose the dirty laundry of a separating family, often in the full glare of the people most affected: the children.

“Judges already have powers to direct people who come before them towards alternatives.”

In an article for Huffington Post, Jane Robey explains there is capacity within the Children and Families Act to order couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, and explains how the charity was awarded a grant by the Department for Work and Pensions to develop an in-court mediation pilot programme.

“Our dispute resolution experts, based on hand in a sample of family courts, managed to settle cases just like this one in a much more constructive and amicable way.

“Crucially they avoided families involved having all their lives laid bare before a court. Many had already suffered years of court room squabbles but mediation helped them reach dignified agreements: settlements that were fully supported by the judges concerned.”
 
“We still await word from the DWP about a national roll-out of that in-court mediation programme that could transform the lives of thousands of separated families. And think of the money it could save the taxpayer.

“Transformative change could be a few heartbeats away, as long as the will exists. Judges and courts could manage their parenting, property and money dispute cases in a fresh way, using their existing powers to better effect, whilst seriously protecting the families’ right to a private life.

“A novel approach to writing a verdict is one thing: but it’s time for judges to use their imaginations in a completely different way.”

The article can be read in full here.

Nothing really matters


Damn, just broke my rule not to use a song lyric for the title of a blog post. Again. Still, that lyric did seem particularly apposite, at least in respect of the first of my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

In this post-truth world, does it matter what the public believes? - Just putting some ideas out there...

OK, so what child names would a court find unacceptable? - Thoughts on Re C.

The legal aid scandal that wasn’t - (Over) reaction to Re C.

Determining whether care is shared for child support purposes - The Upper Tribunal case JS v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and another.

Have a good weekend.