Monday, January 30, 2017

News Essentials: 30th January 2017


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

NEWS
Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill receives its second reading
Baroness Deech’s private member’s bill seeks to replace section 25(2) of the MCA 1973. Full story: Family Law Week.

DfE evaluation of the family drug and alcohol court (FDAC) national unit published
National Unit perceived to have had critical role in the set-up of new FDACs. Full story: Family Law Week.

Divorce order set aside after ‘procedurally unfair’ mistakes
The Court of Appeal has overturned remedy orders in a divorce case after finding a string of procedural errors with how the matter was handled. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See Iqbal v Iqbal, below.

Former banker ordered to hand over foreign pension income to ex-wife in landmark divorce ruling
A former banker who blew his fortune on spread-betting was yesterday ordered to hand over income from a foreign pension to his ex-wife, in what lawyers said was a landmark ruling stopping divorcing spouses concealing assets offshore. Full story: The Telegraph. See Goyal v Goyal, below.

Mr Justice Bodey departs from equality on basis of unmatched contributions
Judgment gives wife 37.5% of £36.95 million. Full story: Family Law Week.

Judge criticises local authority practice in 148 week care proceedings
A total of six social workers were involved in the case leading to failures in working with the family. Full story: Community Care.

CASES
London Borough of Hackney v Williams & Anor [2017] EWCA Civ 26 (26 January 2017)
Appeal by local authority against finding of breach of Art 8 rights of parents in care proceedings. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

X v X (anonymisation) [2016] EWHC 3512 (Fam) (16 December 2016)
Judgment concerns an issue about the anonymisation, or not, of a financial remedy judgment. Full report: Bailii.

Iqbal v Iqbal [2017] EWCA Civ 19 (25 January 2017)
Appeals by husband against various orders made in financial remedy proceedings, including interim periodical payments, judgment summonses and final order. Full report: Bailii.

Briers v Briers [2017] EWCA Civ 15 (25 January 2017)
Appeal by husband against financial remedies order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

DB v PB [2016] EWHC 3431 (Fam) (22 December 2016)
Final hearing of applications for ancillary relief, for provision pursuant to Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, and for an order for sale of the former matrimonial home pursuant to section 17 of the Married Women's Property Act 1882. Full report: Bailii.

Bezeliansky v Bezelianskaya [2016] EWCA Civ 76 (24 January 2017)
Applications by husband for permission to appeal against variation of capital provision in consent order and to appeal against three committal orders. Full report: Bailii.

N (Hague Convention: Habitual Residence), Re [2017] EWHC 63 (Fam) (24 January 2017)
Application by mother, seeking return of 3 year old daughter to Canada. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Goyal v Goyal (No. 3) [2017] EWFC 1 (16 January 2017)
Further judgment in long-running ancillary relief proceedings, dealing with outstanding issues, including the variation of a periodical payments 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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Family Mediation Week highlights £48 billion cost of family breakdown to the taxpayer as charity calls for mediation


  • 2% of marriages now expected to end in divorce, which is costing the taxpayer billions
  • The charity Family Mediators Association is calling on parents to put children first and try to avoid lengthy legal battles, as research reveals that despite a change in law just 14% were aware of family mediation alternatives when splitting up
  • Family Mediation Week is running from Monday 23rd-Friday 27th January and aims to raise awareness of the benefits of and law behind family mediation

LONDON - The “Cost of Family Failure Index” 2016 has revealed that the cost of family breakdowns to the taxpayer had risen by £1 billion to £48 billion, and is still going up. Meanwhile, despite mediation being a legal requirement for separating couples before they can apply for an expensive court order, just 14% of parents were aware of family mediation when they were separating.

At the start of Family Mediation Week (23-27 January 2017), the Family Mediation Association is calling for greater public understanding of the divorce process to better protect children and other at-risk parties, as well as reduce the burden on the taxpayer.

There is a legal requirement to speak to a mediator before applying to the family courts, which was introduced in 2014, because the government and the courts believe that mediation and other forms of dispute resolution can help many more families resolve their differences in a constructive and more cost effective way than bitter court battles.

However, every year thousands of families are still torn apart by expensive and emotionally charged courtroom showdowns, with parents often agreeing on major financial decisions, but arguing over relatively trivial matters. This spirals the costs and increases the damage to any children affected.

Family Mediation Association spokesperson, Beverley Sayers added: “Family Mediation Week helps raise awareness amongst separating couples that lawyers and courts aren’t their only divorce option. If both parties can stay patient and open minded, there are much better and cheaper alternatives to going to court, including mediation, and collaborative family law and arbitration. These are usually quicker, cheaper and less confrontational than the traditional court process, making a big difference to any kids involved in what is a hurtful time for everyone in the family.”

Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Sir Oliver Heald said: "I am a strong supporter of mediation and the way in which it can help couples reach agreements and reduce the stress of separation.

“In many circumstances Family Mediation has great benefits for those seeking to resolve disputes away from court. I am very keen to see improved information and signposting, so that more people are aware of how mediation can help dispute resolution.”

Day 2 – Mediation: A Safer Space
FMC Code of Conduct 2.3: family mediators have a special duty to try to help couples end their marriage or relationship in a way that minimises their distress, and the distress of any children involved, and in a way that promotes as good a relationship between parents and children as possible.

Day 3 – Mediation: Please Listen 
FMC Code of Conduct 5.7.1: family mediators have a special duty to encourage parents to consider the children’s wishes and feelings and that all children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard directly during the mediation.

Day 4 – Mediation: Put Your Children First 
FMC Code of Conduct 5.7.2: mediators have a special duty to pay particular attention to the welfare of any children involved and to encourage all parents to focus on the needs and interests of the children.

Day 5 – Mediation: The Positive Choice
FMC Code of Conduct 2.1 and 6.19: mediators have a special duty to help families work together to reach decisions the family considers appropriate to their own particular circumstances, decisions that are fully informed and freely made, and to help families understand the consequences of those decisions for themselves, their children and other relevant family members.

To find out more about Family Mediation Week, visit www.thefma.co.uk.

News Essentials: 23rd January 2017


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

NEWS
Proposed changes to Practice Direction 12J – Child Arrangement and Contact Orders: Domestic Violence and Harm
Women’s Aid welcomes recommendations of Cobb Review. Full story: Family Law Week.

Sir Oliver Heald QC outlines LASPO review timetable
Justice minister working ‘within straitjacket’ of UK’s finances. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Practice Direction: Family Court – Duration of Ex Parte (Without Notice) Orders
This Guidance was originally issued on 13 October 2014. This revised Guidance, issued on 18 January 2017, supersedes the previous Guidance. Full story: Family Law Week.

Children unnecessarily removed from parents, report claims
Dossier indicates drive to increase adoptions is punitive for low-income families and alternatives exist. Full story: The Guardian.

MOJ publishes report on implementation of Law Commission proposals
The Ministry of Justice has published their 2015-2016 Report on the implementation of Law Commission proposals. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
A v B (jurisdiction : Brussels II) [2016] EWHC 2982 (Fam) (16 August 2016)
Application for a s.8 order by mother, in respect of a child living in Dubai. Judgment dealing with issue of jurisdiction. Full report: Bailii.

Egeneonu v Egeneonu [2017] EWHC 43 (Fam) (18 January 2017)
Application by mother for declaration that father's contempts in relation to his failure to return children from Nigeria were criminal, so that she could seek father's extradition. Full report: Bailii.

A & Ors (Children : Scottish adoptions) [2017] EWHC 35 (Fam) (17 January 2017)
Judgment dealing with procedural points in cases involving English adoption of Scottish children. 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, January 20, 2017

Marcia Mediation are ready for Family Mediation Week 2017

Family Mediation Week on January 23rd-27th is a chance to find out more about family mediation - what it is, how it works, and why it is better for every member of the family than simply going to court to decide on issues like divorce and child custody.

Organised by the Family Mediators Association, the week-long awareness campaign aims to help families to decide if mediation is the right route for them, as well as to put separating couples in touch with a mediator who can help them to proceed.

Marcia Mediation are accredited with senior status mediators under the FMA's definition of the role, so you can be assured of an empathetic and effective service from any member of our team - part of our Five Es promise along with easy, efficient and economic service.

Marcia Lister
Company founder Marcia Lister has been an independent mediator since 2004 and is now a Resolution-qualified Professional Practice Consultant, guiding newly qualified mediators towards this senior status as both a mentor and a sounding board to provide the second opinions they need to make personal professional development.

Mediators play a growing role in all kinds of family law cases, and especially in divorces where it has proven difficult to make progress due to emotions running high or seemingly impassable disagreements between the separating couple.

The role of a mediator is to speak to each party separately, without putting pressure on them, and then to find a way forwards that represents as closely as possible what the parties want to achieve as the outcome.

Marcia Mediation offer ongoing support for all concerned and can provide summaries to pass on to your solicitor to keep them informed too, with flexibility to tackle issues as they arise so forward momentum is not lost.

Initial contact is via telephone or email, with no obligation to proceed to in-person meetings, and we will always aim to provide a full, costed timetable during which we believe we will be able to resolve the specific issues you raise at the outset.

In cases where children are involved, the mediator is also there to make sure the children's interests are taken into account at every stage, so that an acrimonious divorce does not lead to the welfare of dependants being neglected.

Mediators help troubled waters to run smooth, while making sure the interests of all concerned - including both of the separating couple and any dependants - are equally represented for the best possible mutual outcome overall.

This keeps things moving forwards with less stress and argument, and frees up family court time for the cases that cannot be resolved through mediation, typically leading to the completion of divorces faster and cheaper than would be the case in court.

Ultimately, Marcia Mediation want to see you make progress quickly and painlessly, with nobody's needs neglected - an outcome that is often achieved through mediation when it seemed impossible through direct negotiation.

Wise words...


Well, on this day when we welcome a new leader of the free world, we could surely use a few. Hopefully, my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog include some:

Breaking out of the bubble - President Obama was right about so many things. His last speech included a lesson relevant to the family law debate.

ECHR case demonstrates why it is pointless having a law that prevents anyone from getting divorced - The ECHR case being Babiarz v. Poland.

Towards a virtual divorce system at last? - Could online divorce finally be coming? (And how it might be improved.)

Orders made in his absence breach father’s right to a fair hearing - Another ECHR case, Gakharia v Georgia.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers January/February 2017


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

In this issue
  • Intellectual property – Shireen Smith of Azrights explains why IP is relevant to every business and how to protect it
  • Law publishers – Nick Holmes reports on recent developments from online law publishers
  • Virtual practice – Chris Hadrill of Redmans brings us up to date on his practice and the pros and cons of the virtual law firm
  • Investigatory powers – Graham Smith of Bird & Bird analyses the distinction between content and metadata in the new IPA
  • Digital marketing – Delia Venables reviews the many companies offering digital marketing services to lawyers
  • Privacy – Eduardo Ustaran of Hogan Lovells surveys the privacy landscape as we move into 2017
  • Technology – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words on how virtual reality is developing and the legal issues arising
  • Case law – In an online Feature, Robin Chesterman explains the importance of unreported judgments

Access the Newsletter online

Monday, January 16, 2017

News Essentials: 16th January 2017


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

NEWS
Three-quarters of social workers oppose ‘power to innovate’ provisions
LAs should not be permitted to opt out of statutory duties to children and families. Full story: Family Law Week.

Sixteen new family law silks appointed
Sixteen family lawyers have been included among the new Queen's Counsel appointed today (12 January 2017). Full story: Family Law.

Civil partnership for only same-sex couples is ‘discriminatory’
Private members bill receives cross-party support ahead of Commons debate. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Care applications in December 2016
In December 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,068 care applications.  This figure represents a 3% decrease compared with those received in December 2015. Full story: Cafcass.

Cafcass private law demand
In December 2016, Cafcass received a total of 2,938 new private law cases. This is a 1% increase on December 2015 levels. Full story: Cafcass.

Foster carer left with no support for 6 years following dispute with local authority over placement
A family and friends foster carer who took on three vulnerable children after their mother was unable to care for them, failed to get council support for the arrangement for 6 years. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
MB v GK & Ors (No 2) Wardship (Welfare) [2017] EWHC 16 (Fam) (17 November 2016)
Wardship proceedings concerning 4 year old child currently living in Singapore in the care of his paternal grandparents. Full report: Bailii.

N (Deprivation of Liberty Challenge) [2016] EWCOP 47 (21 November 2016)
Deprivation of liberty challenge by man in his 40s under continuous supervision and control. 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, January 13, 2017

Old and...


My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were mainly about the past and the future. They included:

Response and responsibility - Newly qualified lawyers must be nurtured.

Dowry: the problem that won’t go away - The subject of an old House of Lords judgment is not as archaic as some might think.

A lot of progress, and none - Looking at some more old House of Lords judgments.

A system that does not unnecessarily pry into private lives - A plea to modernise our family justice system.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, January 09, 2017

New website helps children and young people access and understand their rights


A new website from Coram’s Child Law Advice Service which helps children and young people to find out about their rights, goes live today, January 9th 2017.

Called www.lawstuff.org.uk and funded by The Queen’s Trust, the website provides information about children’s rights in the following areas:

  • Online safety
  • Police and Law
  • Children’s Services
  • Education
  • Not from the UK
  • Home and Family
  • At what age can I
  • Abuse and bullying
  • Sex health and drugs
  • My rights

LawStuff.org has been designed to enable visitors to find out their legal rights in a way which is easy to navigate and understand.  It will be updated regularly to ensure that all information reflects any changes to the law affecting children’s rights.  For optimum accessibility a pop up glossary has also been added to the website to help explain complex legal terms.

The website also hosts the popular publication At what age can I? Here, young people can find out what activities they can do at certain ages such as, “when can I learn to drive?”, “when can I babysit?” and “when can I leave home?”  The website will be updated regularly and information will be added to ensure that any changes to the law relating to children’s rights are addressed.

Young people who have specific enquiries which are not covered on the LawStuff site can go to www.childlawadvice.org.uk to find relevant contact details.

Gemma Smith Manager of the Child Law Advice Service (CLAS) said: "it is extremely important that children and young people know that they have rights which are respected and protected in law.  Knowing that they have rights can boost a child or young person’s confidence. It lets them know that they are valued whilst also helping them to respect the rights of others."

News Essentials: 9th January 2017


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

NEWS
Cafcass request regarding Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme referrals
A letter from Cafcass has been circulated today (5 January 2017) with a view to clarifying best practice arrangements where referral to a Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme is intended. Full story: Family Law.

Judge lambasts council and police for flaws in investigation and care case
A High Court judge has strongly criticised a council and a police force for serious breaches of the Human Rights Act, after two children were retained in care despite their mother not being charged with an offence following her arrest. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See GD & BD, below.

Truss orders review to ban abusers tormenting victims in family courts
Justice secretary intervenes after Guardian investigation revealed women often cross-examined by violent ex-partners in private hearings. Full story: The Guardian.

Full digital divorce process ‘won’t happen any time soon’
Online divorce petition expected to be completed by end of summer 2017. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Statement from the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby: Cross-examination of vulnerable people
I am currently considering the review of Practice Direction 12J undertaken by Mr Justice Cobb, who met with Women’s Aid during the course of his review. I expect to make decisions on the review early in the New Year. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Certain family court hearings to take place in public in radical trial
James Munby, head of high court’s family division, to continue far-reaching reforms to bring more transparency to the system. Full story: The Guardian.

Pakistan joins 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention
In force from 1 March 2017. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Justice Committee considers family law implications of Brexit
Key figures in the legal sector have today been giving evidence at the Justice Committee's inquiry on the implications of Brexit on the justice system. Full story: Family Law Week.

PC Paul Briggs: Coma treatment 'should stop'
Doctors should stop providing life-support treatment to a police officer who has been in a coma since July 2015, a judge has ruled. Full story: BBC News. See Briggs v Briggs, below.

Millionaire seeks greater share in divorce because he is a 'genius', prompting court to examine the meaning of the word
Randy Work, an American financier, is seeking to overturn as order at the High Court last year awarding his estranged wife, Mandy Gray, half of a fortune, totalling more than £140 million. Full story: The Telegraph.

Privy Council clarifies treatment of non-matrimonial property in AR applications
Appeal dismissed in Scatliffe v Scatliffe. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Briggs v Briggs & Ors [2016] EWCOP 53 (20 December 2016)
Judgment considering whether life-preserving treatment should be withdrawn from patient in a minimally conscious state. Full report: Bailii.

GD & BD (Children) [2016] EWHC 3312 (Fam) (20 December 2016)
Two linked applications brought under the Human Rights Act seeking awards of damages and declarations arising from the conduct of two public authorities in the context of public law proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

AB v FC [2016] EWHC 3285 (Fam) (19 December 2016)
Application by wife for financial remedy orders after a short marriage which lasted 19 months to the date of the parties' separation. 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, January 06, 2017

New Exhibition - Respected and Protected: The Rights of Children


A new free exhibition focusing on the rights of the child is being launched at London’s Central Family Court. Opening on January 19th, the exhibition is the first of its kind, and provides a powerful and moving visual context for the work of the Central Family Court, illuminating the child-centred nature of the proceedings which are held there.

Highlighting the importance of children’s rights and their slow but steady historical evolution, the exhibition examines four key strands of children’s rights and how they have evolved. These are Identity, Education, Work and Military Service. Using a rich blend of quotes, images and artefacts to illustrate a historic timeline, the exhibition transforms this public space in a way that brings the building to life with perspective and insight into its work.

Exhibits will illustrate children’s experiences from tying threads in a mill to firing guns on a battleship and the work of the progressive activists that brought them into the comparative safety of the Victorian school room and then the era of human rights. To keep children engaged, there will be an interactive nineteenth century classroom complete with a speaking schools mistress, as well as mock trials for school groups.

This ambitious venture brings together knowledge, expertise and resources from a wide range of institutions, including Coram children’s charity, the Foundling Museum, the Museum of Childhood, Save the Children, and the support of Thomson Reuters. The universal issue of children’s rights offers strong motivation for diverse organisations, including businesses, social enterprises and leaders in law, to come together in support of access to justice. The vision behind the exhibition is to inform the wider public about the history and significance of children’s rights up to the present day and the role of the Central Family Court, and to encourage the development of new cross-sector relationships and the resolve to bring about lasting change.

HH Judge Robin Tolson QC, Designated Family Judge at the Central Family Court, said:

"The Central Family Court is the largest family court in this country, and is dedicated to the rights of children, so it’s the perfect home for this exhibition. We’ve been delighted that so many different organisations have come on board and offered their time, expertise and resources to make the exhibition happen and to tell the story of children’s rights.  I’m proud of what we have achieved."

Three important issues...

It may have been a short week, but my posts on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog dealt with some important issues, including:

Festive cheer from The Guardian - The Guardian rudely interrupts the Christmas and New Year break, in particular to raise the issue of alleged domestic abuse victims being cross-examined by their alleged perpetrators.

The effect of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights - Some initial thoughts on this important issue.

The importance of the refuge - Another reminder, following the news that Sunderland may be the first major city in the country to be left without a women's refuge.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Couples missing out on vital help during 'divorce month'

Alternative approaches to making settlements save time, money and stress

Thousands of couples who are looking to separate this January will miss out on the help they desperately need because they don’t know which way to turn, a leading family charity has warned.

Over 100,000 marriages end each year, and January sees a traditional rise in divorce and separation as families emerge from the festive season having been battered by pressures on finances and relationships that have been highlighted during the holiday.

So staff at family dispute specialists, National Family Mediation (NFM), are on new year alert, gearing up for a huge increase in calls, emails and website visits.

“At a time of crisis, you need to know where you can turn for help,” says Jane Robey, CEO of NFM.

“There will be many couples who’ve decided for sure in the last couple of weeks to separate, but they’ll need more information about their options as they look to make arrangements for parenting, property and finance.  

“Many will think they must head off to a solicitor to prepare for a very expensive and protracted court room confrontation in which they can achieve a ‘victory’ over their ex. But there are alternative approaches that are quicker, much cheaper and much less stressful.

“There is no need to leave it to a court to make vital life-changing decisions,” she says.

“You can instead choose to talk with a professional family mediator who will help you agree on the vital things that need to be sorted for the future.  Family mediation is a much, much quicker process, allowing you to remain in control of all the decisions affecting your family’s future,” she added.

“Professional mediators are highly skilled third party negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their particular circumstances. Rather than leaving it to a court to decide who will live where, what happens to the money, debts and pensions, and arrangements for the children, mediation empowers families themselves to decide these things.”
 
NFM’s professionally accredited family mediators can help families resolve all the practical, legal, emotional and financial issues that arise from separation. Most importantly, they can help families make long lasting arrangements that benefit their children.

Legal Aid remains available for family mediation.

Anyone wanting to know more can call 0300 4000 636 to find their nearest professional non-profit family mediator or type in their postcode at www.nfm.org.uk/local.