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.

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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.

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.

*      *      *
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.