Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Charity: Who will consider Brexit’s impact on separating families & children?

The impact of Britain’s exit from the EU on divorced and separating families and children has ‘barely registered at government level’, says a national family charity.

Jane Robey
Whilst lawyers have already had an opportunity to share concerns with the government about the legislative fall out of Brexit, National Family Mediation says no consideration has been given to the perspective of the ‘ordinary citizen’.

Jane Robey, the charity’s CEO, says: “UK residents have come to view the free access to the whole of the EU as simple and straightforward. They can choose to go and live in Europe for work, or for a different lifestyle. Most don’t consider themselves to be emigrating, or being very far from their extended families. Cheap and easy access to flights makes staying in contact easy. But Brexit is set to change all that. 
 
“The Justice Select Committee’s inquiry ‘Implications of Brexit for the justice system’ was right to invite comment from legal professionals. But moving forward it will be crucial to consider the perspective of ‘ordinary’ citizens too. 
 
“Who will get into the minds of the average separating couple to see the impact of Brexit from their perspective? Their first thought when their family disintegrates won’t be “Would I get a better settlement if I were to file for divorce in the UK or Belgium?” They are more concerned with the issues immediately at hand:

“Shall I stay here or return to my country of origin?”
“Can I work where I am to support myself and the children?”
“Will we be able to share our finances until we get this sorted out?”
“Will the rent or mortgage be paid?”
“How will I still be able to see the children when I am in a different country in a disjointed Europe?”
 
“Whilst we’re in the EU, when a relationship breaks down they may make decisions for one person to return home to the UK with the children, viewing the maintenance of good post-separation parental relationships as fairly straightforward.
 
“But what happens after Brexit? Changing boundaries and jurisdictions will create unforeseen obstacles. Will those families still enjoy the simplicity of maintaining their separated relationships and, more importantly, their relationships with their children?

“It’s possible that children living in countries that remain in the EU will face significantly more challenges and barriers to maintaining contact with their UK-based parents as we disentangle from the EU.
 
Setting us back to pre-Children Act days

“Advances in the way British family courts manage applications for contact and residence for children mean there is now more emphasis on the children’s rights to see both parents. But Brexit could set family life back to pre-Children Act days. 

“Will we see 21st century living taking place elsewhere, with UK families plunged back to a 1950s-type insular existence, regretting the loss of our colonial loss of power? 

“Will it narrow and limit the next generation’s opportunities to travel relatively freely to access different cultures and work opportunities?
 
“There’s a genuine danger we could see children thrown back to a time where access to one of their parents is much reduced, with immigration red tape a prohibiting factor to helping those children keep in touch. It could mirror the situation families currently face where the children have been removed to non-EU and non-Hague Convention countries. Absence of legal reciprocity means that too often children effectively lose one of their parents.
 
“Law makers have myriad issues to contend with as the Brexit minefield is negotiated. But on the face of it the impact on separating families, particularly children, seems to have barely registered at government level. It’s time for the government to start considering the impact of Brexit on divorcing and separated families.”

Monday, October 30, 2017

News Essentials: 30th October 2017


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

NEWS
Clampdown on child maintenance cheats
New powers to stop parents avoiding paying child maintenance that they owe have been announced. Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

President invites FJC to consider covert recording of conversations for use in family proceedings
Detailed analysis of the rules of admissibility needed. Full story: Family Law Week.

HMCTS sets course for online financial remedy applications
CEO Susan Acland-Hood outline plans in her latest blog post. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Two useful briefing notes on 2012 child maintenance scheme published
The House of Commons Library has recently published two useful, and free, briefing notes explaining the calculation and rules relating to the 2012 statutory child maintenance scheme. Full story: Family Law Week.

Consultation launched on revised ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’
Guidance changed to reflect Children and Social Work Act 2017. Full story: Family Law Week.

Police recorded domestic abuse continues to rise
4,246 offences of coercive control recorded in year ending March 2017. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Alireza v Radwan & Ors [2017] EWCA Civ 1545 (12 October 2017)
Appeal by W against financial remedies order, considering whether the judge was right to regard her future inheritance from her father as a resource that she was likely to have in the foreseeable future; and whether she had been wrong in making an order granting W an occupational interest in the former matrimonial home rather than ordering H to pay a lump sum to W sufficient to enable her to buy a property of her own. Full report: Family Law Week.

Kent County Council v A,B,C and D (children) (Weight to be attached to evidence of child after flawed ABE interviews) [2017] EWFC B72 (01 March 2017)
Care proceedings concerning 4 children, in which the police had failed to observe ABE guidelines whilst interviewing one of the children. Full report: Bailii.

The Royal Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames v SK (A Child) & Ors [2017] EWHC 2636 (Fam) (31 January 2017)
Application by local authority for, inter alia, a special guardianship order in respect of a child of unknown age and parentage. Full report: Bailii.

The London Borough of Brent v D & Ors (Compliance with Guidelines on Judges Meeting Children) [2017] EWHC 2452 (Fam) (05 July 2017)
Final hearing in care proceedings concerning 3 children, in which the issue of compliance with guidelines on judges meeting children was raised. 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.

Make no fault the default, national family justice organisation urges Government

Nigel Shepherd
Resolution, the national family justice organisation, has welcomed the publication of landmark new research which highlights the inherent problems in our current fault-based divorce system.

Finding Fault, written by Professor Liz Trinder and published by the Nuffield Foundation, is the culmination of a piece of academic research into the state of current divorce law in England & Wales. The research took place over two years and heard from over a thousand divorcees, as well as family lawyers and judges.

Resolution has campaigned for the introduction of no fault divorce for decades, and today hailed the research as “a wake-up call for politicians.”

Speaking ahead of the report’s launch in Parliament tonight (30 October), Resolution’s Chair Nigel Shepherd said:

“This authoritative, academic research should eliminate any doubt from government that the law needs to change. Fault-based divorces don’t reflect the reality of relationship breakdown for the majority of couples and do nothing to help them deal constructively with the consequences – indeed they often have the adverse effect of inciting additional conflict between separating partners.

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

“The current system, which is unchanged since the beginning of the 1970s, encourages a charade at best, and at worst actively drives a wedge between couples who might otherwise be able to remain on good terms during a divorce. This is bad for them and bad for their children. It is also wholly at odds both with government rhetoric, and with the approach Resolution members take under our Code of Practice.

“At present, many divorcing couples are forced to play the ‘blame game’ – citing examples of unreasonable behaviour or adultery, long after the relationship has broken down, simply to satisfy an archaic requirement on the divorce petition which has its roots in laws drawn up more than a generation ago.

“As the report rightly says, this is an often painful, and sometimes destructive, legal ritual with no obvious benefits for the parties or the state.”

The study adds further weight to the recent calls for no fault divorce from senior figures such as the new President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Family Division, the Chair of the Marriage Foundation, and the Family Mediation Task Force.

It also comes almost a year after Resolution’s Lobby Day, which saw 150 family lawyers bring the campaign for no fault divorce to Parliament.

Nigel Shepherd added:

“Last year I joined with Resolution members from across the country to highlight to MPs from all parties the need for change. We were delighted by the almost universal positive response we received.

“It is a source of great pride that so many have joined the clarion call to remove fault from the process. It is also a source of much frustration that we are still here calling for change.

“The question is: in the face of such overwhelming support, what is the government waiting for?

“With tens of thousands of couples divorcing each year, every day the government delays will see hundreds more forced into a conflict-driven and often destructive divorce system.

“Until this changes, there is a real risk of lasting damage being done to those individuals and – crucially – any children they may have.”

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cutting relationship support funding would be folly, hitting taxpayers’ pockets

A leading family charity is urging the Chancellor to boost, not cut, relationship support services, as he prepares for his Autumn Budget next month.

There has been widespread speculation that Phillip Hammond will cut funding for relationship counselling when he outlines his plans to MPs on 22 November.

But National Family Mediation, a network of dispute resolution experts across England and Wales, has set out serious concerns to the Chancellor. The charity’s CEO, Jane Robey, has written to Mr Hammond, pointing out that the annual cost to the UK economy of family breakdown is conservatively estimated at £48 billion, representing a cost to each and every taxpayer of £1,820 a year.

In this context, she says, “Funding to help reduce the cost of family breakdown represents a shrewd investment.

“As the holder of the UK’s purse strings it would be folly for you to brush aside the effect that badly managed family breakdown has on our economy, and taxpayers’ pockets.

“The hidden costs to the public purse of family breakdown include things that often result from divorce, including:
•             Tax credits
•             Lone parent benefits
•             Housing benefit and council tax benefit
•             Emergency housing following domestic violence
•             Physical and mental health
•             Social services and care
•             Children in care
•             Police and prisons
•             Courts, legal services and legal aid
•             Child maintenance
•             Educational provision following disciplinary and behavioural issues
•             Free school meals
•             Educational maintenance allowance
•             Tertiary education drop out
•             Young people not in education, employment or training”

Disproportionate impact on women

She also draws attention a further dynamic: the gender differential: “Women in particular face huge challenges in family breakdown relating to the child’s wellbeing and their own. The average woman’s income falls by more than a fifth post-separation, remaining low for years, whilst a father’s income rises.

“Funding for counselling and marriage guidance is key if we are to limit these costs – helping pay for relationship support both to prevent divorce and, where divorce does occur, to ensure amicable and sustainable settlements through interventions such as family mediation."

She stresses that NFM doesn’t directly benefit from relationship counselling budgets. But her letter includes a request for the Chancellor “to retain and indeed increase them, rather than bow to the temptation to cut them.”

She adds: “Investment is also needed to ensure that families that have definitely decided to separate are able to reach settlements on parenting, money and property in an amicable and constructive way, which puts the futures of the children involved first. Helping these couples shape agreements is vital to everyone’s future prosperity and wellbeing, so that adults and children alike can face a settled future, and flourish.”

Old and older


If you thought a 1999 case was old, then how about one from 1866? Both featured in my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Would no-fault divorce reduce marriage to a ‘tenancy agreement’? - As has been suggested.

Sad story of a young life lost and a clash of cultures - As in the 1999 case Buchanan v Milton.

Victorian definition of marriage does not take us much further - Continuing the debate on marriage.

New case confirms difficulty preventing sale of home following bankruptcy - The case being Pickard & Anor v Constable.

Have a good weekend.

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.