Monday, June 11, 2018

News Essentials: 11th June 2018


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

NEWS
Practice Guidance: Standard children and other orders
This Guidance brings to a close, at least for the time being, the Family Orders Project which I established and which has been driven forward with his usual tenacity and skill by Mr Justice Mostyn. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Children’s Commissioner calls for protection of children’s rights post-Brexit
Ministers asked to reconsider withdrawal from EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. Full story: Family Law Week.

Revised Forms A, A1 and D50C released
Form A and Form A1 have been amended in discussion with members of the Financial Proceedings Working Party of the Family Procedure Rule Committee. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
M-Y (Children), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 1306 (07 June 2018)
Appeals by parents from findings of fact, a final care order in respect of a 15 year old girl, and interim supervision orders in respect of 3 younger children. Full report: Bailii.

L (a child) Abduction Turkey Protective Measures under Hague 96 [2017] EWHC 3797 (Fam) (01 September 2017)
Application by father for summary return of child to turkey. Consideration of sufficiency of protective measures in Turkey under Hague 96. Full report: Bailii.

S & H-S (Children), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 1282 (06 June 2018)
Appeal by mother against care order, on the ground that the threshold criteria had not been met. Appeal dismissed. Guidance given on setting out court's findings on threshold. Full report: Bailii.

Thompson v Thompson [2018] EWHC 1338 (Ch) (01 June 2018)
The question in this case was whether a proprietory estoppel operated in favour of the claimant son such as to give him an interest in the family farm and, if so, what interest. The judge held that the son made out his case. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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

Friday, June 08, 2018

New by me on the Stowe Family Law Blog


My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog included:

ONS examines data on partner abuse in the UK - Looking at the recent ONS article examining the characteristics of women who have been victims of partner abuse.

A new dawn for family law – Sir James Munby makes a call for reform - Looking at his recent speech, in which he suggested that family courts should be a ‘one-stop shop’, dealing with all of a family’s problems.

Left-behind parents: children to return home to Canada - The recent Court of Appeal case Y (Children), in which a mother failed to have an order requiring the return of her children to Ontario set aside.

A worrying picture of court modernisation - Resolution's submission to the Public Accounts Committee's inquiry into the benefits of the court modernisation programme.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Divorcing parents urged to avoid extra time as World Cup arguments set to rage!


Making the right decisions for the children should be your first goal, says family charity 

 As the 2018 World Cup kick-off approaches, parents looking to divorce or separate are being advised by a specialist family charity they can easily avoid the extra time it takes to settle a separation in a family court.

“Wall-to-wall World Cup football will provoke arguments that prove the final straw for some severely strained relationships,” says Jane Robey, Chief Executive of National Family Mediation.

“There are huge delays at family courts, and when the courtroom settlement full-time whistle blows, nobody wins. You’ll be waiting for a settlement that usually suits neither parent nor children.

“You can avoid extra time by finding a professional mediator who will help you both agree arrangements for your finances, family and future, away from the heat of the court.

“Making the right decisions for the children has to be your first goal. Mediation is four times quicker than settling a divorce through a court, and it’s cost-effective and much less stressful too.

“The scale of the issue is such that you could fill Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, the venue for the World Cup Final, almost twice over with under-16s in England and Wales who are newly affected by divorce each and every year.

“To find a professional expert mediator in your area call 0300 4000 636 or go to nfm.org.uk/local.“

Family mediation is a voluntary and confidential process which helps people reach joint decisions without use of court. It does not try to keep people together but offers a safe, neutral place where couples no longer in a relationship can meet with a trained mediator to work out plans for the future.

(Image of Luzhniki Stadium: Mos.ru [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Monday, June 04, 2018

News Essentials: 4th June 2018


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

NEWS
We should applaud the end of the nuclear family, says top judge
Britain should "welcome and applaud" the collapse of the nuclear family, the most senior family judge in England and Wales has said. Full story: The Telegraph.

Mother denied chance to take her case to 'court of public opinion'
Family Division president Sir James Munby, who has long argued for allowing the ‘glare of publicity’ in to family courts, says some cases should not be debated under the public gaze, as he denied a mother the chance to take her case to the 'court of public opinion'. Full article: Law Society Gazette. See G (A Child), below.

Domestic abusers still able to cross-examine victims in court
Survey finds 24% of survivors have faced ordeal in year since government promised to end it. Full story: The Guardian.

CASES
G (A Child : transparency in the family courts) [2018] EWHC 1301 (Fam) (18 May 2018)
Judgment regarding applications concerning the publication of information relating to a judgment made in private law children proceedings in 2002. 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, May 29, 2018

News Essentials: 29th May 2018


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

NEWS
Research review on parental alienation published
Cafcass Cymru publication provides an evidence base to guide practice. Full story: Family Law Week.

New legislation will modernise the courts
The first step in legislation to modernise courts and tribunals across the country will today be introduced in the House of Lords. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

CASES
S (Abduction: Hague Convention Or BIIa) [2018] EWCA Civ 1226 (25 May 2018)
Appeal dealing with issue of whether, after child removed to/retained in another EU Member State, English court should order summary return, or wait until determination of proceedings under the 1980 Convention in the other Member State. Full report: Bailii.

Y (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 1208 (25 May 2018)
Appeal by mother against refusal to set aside order made in September 2017 requiring the children to be returned to Ontario, from where she had wrongly removed them in October 2016. 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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers May/June 2018


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

In this issue
  • Access to justice – Graham Ross of The Mediation Room reviews developments in ODR and the online court
  • Data protection – Phil Lee of Fieldfisher looks at whether fresh marketing consent is needed under the GDPR
  • Chambers IT – Delia Venables and guest authors look at practice management tech for barristers chambers
  • Cryptocurrencies – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains cryptocurrencies and their relevance to legal practice
  • Websites – Ed Ryan of Hallam Internet explains when and how to use 301 redirects when changing your website
  • Tech law – Nick Holmes reviews recent analyses of the developing law relating to the application of algorithms

Access the Newsletter online

Monday, May 21, 2018

News Essentials: 21st May 2018


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

NEWS
Tandem model of child representation in pubic law proceedings is working well, finds study
Guidance as to the respective roles of solicitor and guardian may be beneficial. Full story: Family Law Week.

Family Justice Research Bulletin 7
A summary of the findings of recent research relevant to family justice. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

President of the Family Division agrees protocol on communicating with UK Visas and Immigration in Family Proceedings
Protocol agreed between the President of the Family Division and the Home Office issued on 16 May 2018. Full story: Family Law.

Practice Guidance: Standard financial and enforcement orders (addendum no 2)
On 30 November 2017 I issued ‘Practice Guidance: Standard financial and enforcement orders’. Since then I have received a handful of representations about some of the paragraphs in these orders. In the light of them I have decided to issue the following amendments. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
LKH v TQA AL Z (Interim maintenance and costs funding) [2018] EWHC 1214 (Fam) (19 April 2018)
Application by a wife and mother for interim periodical payments in the context of proceedings under Part III of the 1984 Act after a foreign divorce. Full report: Bailii.

Villiers v Villiers [2018] EWCA Civ 1120 (17 May 2018)
Appeal by husband against order made on wife's s27 MCA 1973 application, considering issue of whether England or Scotland has jurisdiction. Full report: Bailii.

G v G & Anor [2018] EWHC 1100 (Fam) (04 May 2018)
Application by the police to delay service of a Cafcass report in a child abduction case, pending investigation of allegations that father had abused one of the children. Full report: Bailii.

Ahmad v Wood & Anor [2018] EWHC 996 (QB) (11 May 2018)
In this financial remedy case, the Claimant showed that there was sufficient evidence to show that further material should have been before the District Judge and that there was a substantial chance that such material would have led to a materially different order. In respect of his damages claim, the court ruled that the alleged consequential losses set out in the Particulars of Claim were outside the scope of the Defendants' duty and as such are irrecoverable; the damages claim would therefore need to be reformulated. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

Tish & Ors v Olley & Ors [2018] EWHC 1069 (Ch) (09 May 2018)
The Claimants brought a claim under the Inheritance Act against the executors of their late father that their father, who had remarried since divorcing their mother, intended that following his death his estate should take over responsibility for making payments to them equivalent to those set out in the ancillary relief Order in 2007. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Words of wisdom from the family law Twitterati


A quick snapshot of the latest Tweets from the family law Twitterati.

Today it is all about Owens v Owens. Firstly from two of today's Supreme Court protagonists:
And:
Resolution, of course, are pressing hard for no-fault divorce:
And they are hardly alone:
And:
But, contrary to what some might say, the legal profession is not presenting a united front:
Interesting times!

Monday, May 14, 2018

News Essentials: 14th May 2018


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

NEWS
Wife fails in attempt to increase award of £51.4 million plus share of business assets
CoA gives weight to pre-marital agreement. Full story: Family Law Week. See Versteegh v Versteegh, below.

Court of Appeal upholds decision to imprison husband in serious contempt of court
‘Disregard of the orders was motivated by resentment’. Full story: Family Law Week. See Hart v Hart, below.

Owens v Owens Supreme Court hearing begins 17 May
Hearing scheduled to last one day. Full story: Family Law Week.

Reform for the Family jurisdiction
A message to family judges from the President of the Family Division. Full story: Family Law.

Revised forms A & A1 in use from 4 June
Changes made to allow for fast track procedure. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Family Division judge refuses council permission to withdraw care proceedings
A Family Division judge has refused an application by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to have care proceedings for child C either dismissed or withdrawn. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

CASES
Hart v Hart [2018] EWCA Civ 1053 (11 May 2018)
Appeal by husband from committal order made for contempt in relation to implementation of financial remedies order. Full report: Bailii.

Dobson v Griffey [2018] EWHC 1117 (Ch) (10 May 2018)
Claim by former cohabitee for share of property, based on doctrines of constructive trust and/or proprietary estoppel. Claim dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

A, Re (Wardship: 17 year old: s.20 accommodation) [2018] EWHC 1121 (Fam) (07 March 2018)
Applications for a care order and secure accommodation order in respect of a 17 year old said to be beyond parental control, and to engage the inherent jurisdiction in order to seek a deprivation of liberty order. Full report: Bailii.

A v B [2018] EWFC 4 (26 January 2018)
Application by a former wife to strike out a claim for financial remedies made by her former husband, from whom she was divorced twenty-five years previously. Full report: Bailii.

Versteegh v Versteegh [2018] EWCA Civ 1050 (10 May 2018)
Appeal by wife against financial remedies orders, alleging "profound deficiencies and errors which permeate the evaluations and exercise of discretion in the judgments". 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.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

News Essentials: 8th May 2018


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

NEWS
MPs seek to guarantee grandparents' rights to see children
Cross-party support to enshrine children’s rights to a relationship with members of extended family. Full story: The Guardian.

Log in, break up – new ‘easy’ way to get a divorce online
Ministry of Justice website will allow couples to avoid stress of appearing in court, but worries persist over ‘trial by Skype’. Full story: The Observer.

Surrogacy laws set for reform as Law Commissions get Government backing
The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have started work on a review of the laws around surrogacy after Government funding was agreed. Full story: Law Commission.

6,500 jobs to be lost in modernisation of UK courts
Number of staff to be cut to around 10,000 by 2022 as part of £1bn overhaul of system. Full story: The Guardian.

Mother alleging abuse left alone in court after failing legal aid test
A family judge has publicly criticised the lack of funding for a woman alleging rape and sexual assault against her ex-husband, suggesting it may have resulted in a miscarriage of justice. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See JY v RY, below.

CASES
Y (A Child) (S.38(6) Assessment) [2018] EWCA Civ 992 (26 March 2018)
Appeal by local authority against a direction that they finance the placement of a child, together with her mother and father, in a residential unit. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

M (A Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 2356 (13 December 2017)
Appeal by father against order giving permission to mother to relocate with child to her native Columbia. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

S (A Child), Re (Article 16 and 18 BIIa and Article 19 EU Service Regulation [2017] EWHC 3768 (Fam) (18 October 2017)
Application by father seeking return of child from Spain. Judgment dealing with jurisdiction issue. Full report: Bailii.

Juszkiewicz v Juszkiewicz [2018] EWHC 997 (Fam) (20 April 2018)
Application by father for summary return of daughter to Poland. Return ordered. Full report: Bailii.

Wall v Munday [2018] EWHC 879 (Ch) (27 April 2018)
Appeal against a finding that the divorced ex-partner of the deceased and the estate of the deceased himself were entitled to half each of the beneficial interest in a property. Appeal also against a costs order. First appeal dismissed and the costs order allowed. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

JY v RY [2018] EWFC B16 (27 April 2018)
Fact-finding hearing to consider allegations by mother in private law proceedings, in which neither parent was represented. Concerns expressed about unsatisfactory procedural history, preparation, process and outcome. 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.

Monday, April 30, 2018

News Essentials: 30th April 2018


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

NEWS
Revised protocol published for referrals of families to child contact centres by judges and magistrates
Protocol endorsed by the President of the Family Division. Full story: Family Law Week.

Guidance on the Capacity to Litigate in Proceedings Involving Children – April 2018
This guidance has been produced to assist judges in the Family Court to resolve mental capacity issues concerning parties to family law proceedings. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Guidance on Financial Needs on Divorce: Edition 2 – April 2018
The FJC has now published the second edition of this useful guide for the family judiciary, courts and legal advisers. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Divorce blame game leads to futile court battles, new study finds
Nuffield Foundation says outdated law needs a no-fault divorce option. Full story: The Guardian.

Queen approves appointment of President of the Family Division
HM The Queen has approved the appointment of The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane as the President of the Family Division. Full story: Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street.

President’s interim guidance: defective divorce petitions/decrees
On 23 April 2018 the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, issued interim guidance in respect of defective divorce petitions/decrees. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
M-A (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 896 (25 April 2018)
Appeal by mother against order that child should live with his father, who lives in Canada, and spend holidays with his mother, who lives in England. Full report: Bailii.

Akhmedova v Akhmedov [2018] EWFC 23 (Fam) (19 April 2018)
The wife was seeking to enforce financial provision orders totalling over £450million in a case where the husband had taken elaborate steps to conceal his wealth and evade enforcement of the judgment. Full report and press summary: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, via Family Law Hub.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mini Book Review: At A Glance 2018-2019


At A Glance

Essential Tables for Financial Remedies

FLBA

£70 - Published by Class Legal: April 2018

As I've explained here previously, I don't have time these days to do full book reviews, so this will be short. Still, that is not such a problem, as At A Glance must surely already be well known to pretty well all family lawyers, most of whom no doubt already have at least one previous edition in their library.

For those few who are not familiar with it, here is my previous description: "At A Glance is an annual publication, comprising a number of tables which contain, as the subtitle says, essential information for financial remedies practitioners, ranging from interest rates, to Duxbury calculations, to statutory materials, and much more. The book is A4 sized and of modest length, making it easy to slip into the briefcase on the way to court."

This year's edition is of course fully updated. Unusually, there are no new tables this year, but the blurb on the back intriguingly tells us: "New this year - Winds of Change". If you want to find out what that is about, you will have to purchase a copy from Class Legal, here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

News Essentials: 23rd April 2018


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

NEWS
Pensions Advisory Group publishes long-awaited reports
Two reports published for consultation covering the legal issues of pensions on divorce and the use of valuation and experts. Full story: Family Law Hub.

LASPO review unlikely to be released this year
The government’s long-awaited review into its controversial legal aid reforms is unlikely to be published this year, the Ministry of Justice has suggested - despite lord chancellor David Gauke stressing that he does not want the review to slip into 2019. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Controlling girlfriend 'first woman convicted' of new domestic abuse offence
A university graduate is believed to be the first woman convicted under new domestic abuse laws after scalding her boyfriend with boiling water, stabbing him and keeping food from him. Full story: The Telegraph.

Alfie Evans case: Court rules against parents again
Court of Appeal judges have rejected an bid by the parents of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans to overturn a decision over who has control of his life support. Full story: BBC News. See reports, below.

CASES
KA v MA (Prenuptial Agreement: Needs) [2018] EWHC 499 (Fam) (13 March 2018)
Application by wife for financial remedies, and cross-application by husband seeking an order reflecting the terms of a prenuptial agreement. Full report: Bailii.

Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust v Evans & Ors [2018] EWHC 818 (Fam) (11 April 2018)
Judgment endorsing care plan constructed by NHS Trust, setting out the provisions for the end of child's life. Full report: Bailii.

Proles v Kohli [2018] EWHC 767 (Ch) (17 April 2018)
Judgment in Inheritance act claim, dealing with preliminary issue of whether the deceased was domiciled in England at the date of his death. Full report: Bailii.

S v S [2018] EWHC 627 (Fam) (23 March 2018)
Appeal by husband against orders made in financial remedy proceedings, in which the judge had declined to re-open findings made against the husband, after the husband had produced new evidence. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Hermens v Hermens & Anor [2017] EWHC 3742 (Fam) (15 December 2017)
Application by the Queen's Proctor to dismiss a divorce petition and set aside a decree of divorce. Full report: Bailii.

Evans & Anor v Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust & Anor [2018] EWCA Civ 805 (16 April 2018)
Appeal by parents against order declaring that it would be lawful for artificial ventilation, which is currently being provided to child, to be withdrawn at the date and time specified in the order. Full report: Bailii.

M (Children), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 607 (28 March 2018)
Applications by mother for permission to appeal against a finding of fact in private law proceedings and, in care proceedings, against refusal to admit expert evidence and to re-open fact-finding hearing. 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, April 20, 2018

The ‘mystical quality’ of the divorce process confuses and defeats people in crisis

Jane Robey
There is an inbuilt ‘resistance’ in our legal system to separating couples having an informed liberty to manage their own affairs, says a leading family charity.

 Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, says couples need to be trusted to shape their own futures unfettered by jargon, so-called legal expertise, and outdated divorce laws.

In a new article focusing on the need to modernise divorce legislation, she says: “Getting a divorce should be far, far simpler than it currently is.

 “It’s much too tangled up in legal processes, acquiring a mystical quality that serves to confuse and defeat those who are, after all, undergoing the biggest crisis of their lives.”

 She says that from a family mediator’s perspective “the huge majority of people going through private law proceedings find it over-complicated and much too time-consuming. It feels like that’s an inbuilt and endemic characteristic of the system.

 “Those who come to mediation quickly realise they are perfectly capable of managing the process themselves. Yet it feels like there is a resistance in our legal system to people having an informed liberty to manage their own affairs, to being trusted to shape their own futures unfettered by jargon and so-called legal expertise.

 “Our expert mediators play an important role, working with both parents, recognising they play an equal part in future arrangements over parenting, money and property – often helping them successfully move from being warring exes to equal players in a post-divorce ‘business relationship’.

 “But the true power and ability to shape the future lies with the individuals involved, not with professionals sitting outside the process. Legal processes drain these individuals.”

 The full article is below.

Modernising divorce means trusting separating families to shape their own futures

Not for the first time, the President of the Family Division made waves last month when, in a wide-ranging speech, he argued for the modernisation of a number of areas of family law.

Sir James Munby is due to retire later this year and, typically, didn’t mince his words when speaking to the Edinburgh Law School. Divorce is ‘very badly in need of reform’, he said, drawing renewed attention to the notorious case of Owens- v – Owens, whose Court of Appeal case he oversaw, repeating his assertion that “the law which the judges have to apply and the procedures which they have to follow are based on hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty,” and that “the law is badly out-of-date, indeed antediluvian.”

Like Sir James, National Family Mediation has long argued for the modernisation of divorce laws.

Getting a divorce should be far, far simpler than it currently is. It’s much too tangled up in legal processes, acquiring a mystical quality that serves to confuse and defeat those who are, after all, undergoing the biggest crisis of their lives.

Our experience tells us that the huge majority of people going through private law proceedings find it over-complicated and much too time-consuming. It feels like that’s an inbuilt and endemic characteristic of the system.

As family mediators we see time and time again that those who come to mediation quickly realise they are perfectly capable of managing the process themselves. Yet it feels like there is a resistance in our legal system to people having an informed liberty to manage their own affairs, to being trusted to shape their own futures unfettered by jargon and so-called legal expertise.

Our expert mediators play an important role, working with both parents, recognising they play an equal part in future arrangements over parenting, money and property – often helping them successfully move from being warring exes to equal players in a post-divorce ‘business relationship’. But the true power and ability to shape the future lies with the individuals involved, not with professionals sitting outside the process.

Legal processes drain these individuals. Mediation empowers them. That’s why the numbers of separating couples attending family mediation need to be boosted.

Instead, they’re falling fast. New MOJ / LAA figures this month showed the number of MIAMS in the last quarter of 2017 were down by an eighth on 2016. And mediation starts dropped by 15 per cent. Currently standing at around 1,500, these figures represent the lowest quarterly number of starts since the implementation of the LASPO Act.

That’s worth reflecting on for a moment, given increasing mediation numbers was supposed to be a strategic priority for the UK government. In a 2014 speech, the then-Family Justice Minister, said “What we really want to see is more people progressing on to mediation and agreeing their own way forward, resolving disputes away from court,” and outlined a number of commitments to promote the process. But it’s gone the other way.

I don’t like the phrase ‘We told you so’, but we warned the Legal Aid Agency and others repeatedly in the run up to the 2014 changes that this would not be effective in increasing take-up.

It would actually not be difficult, or complicated, or expensive to tackle this slump, even with our current outdated divorce laws in place. The powers exist. They need to be enforced, and Ministers should be leading the way, leading the judiciary to maximise the powers they already have. Whatever cases come before the family courts should be adjourned by the judge as part of the contact activity, to meet a mediator who will help the families affected take it from there.

If it was made much easier for people to have their first appointment with a mediator, they would be in a stronger position to then make an informed choice about taking things forward, and take control of their own futures.

If – and when – it finally comes, modernising divorce law will be a multi-faceted task, but honouring Ministers’ long-held commitments to family mediation must play a significant part in the process.

Published by Family Law, April 2018

Scare stories


My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog:

ECJ case illustrates family law issues raised by Brexit - The case being Valcheva (Concept of ‘rights of access’ – Applicability to grandparents – Opinion).

Mother wins human rights case after Chechen court grants father residence - The ECHR case Magomadova v Russia.

Refusal to grant him residence did not breach father’s human rights - Another ECHR case, also involving Russia and the issue of a child’s residence, but with a very different outcome: Leonov v Russia.

Definitely not how to deal with a children dispute! - A bad idea from a father, prompted by too many scare stories about the family justice system.

Have a good weekend.

Time to end the divorce blame game, say hundreds of legal professionals


Hundreds of family lawyers are gathering to highlight the urgent need to introduce no-fault divorce. The call for change takes place at the annual conference of Resolution, the national family justice organisation.

This comes less than one month ahead of the controversial Owens v Owens hearing at the Supreme Court, where Mrs Owens is appealing the decision not to grant her a divorce. Her divorce was originally rejected because the examples of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ she provided – required under current law – were deemed not ‘unreasonable’ enough.

Founded to promote a non-confrontational approach to family issues, Resolution says now is the time for no-fault divorce to be introduced. This would allow couples to divorce without one partner having to blame the other for the relationship’s breakdown, which Resolution says would help separating families minimise arguments and conflict.

Resolution has long campaigned for no-fault divorce, which it says would bring us in line with countries like Australia and the US and go a long way in reducing the acrimony from divorce and its subsequent impact on children. Wider support has been steadily growing, including from successive Presidents of the Family Division, Supreme Court Judge Lord Wilson of Culworth and President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale.

Margaret Heathcote, National Chair of Resolution, said “It is ridiculous that, in the twenty-first century, Mrs Owens has had to go to the highest court in the land in order to try to get her divorce.

“Resolution will be at the Supreme Court next month as interveners, showing our support for Mrs Owens and countless others like her who are either trapped in a loveless marriage and unable to get on with their lives; or forced to assign blame in order to do so. It’s outdated, it’s unfair and it’s time for things to change.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

News Essentials: 16th April 2018


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

NEWS
Sir Ernest Ryder speaks on the Role of the Justice System in Decision-making for Children
Sir Ernest addresses the principles underpinning judicial decision-making and the evidential requirements in a changing environment. Full story: Family Law Week.

Care applications received by Cafcass in March 2018 down by 4%
Annual total of care applications falls slightly. Full story: Family Law Week.

New private law cases received by Cafcass in March 2018 down 5% on a year ago
Annual rate running at 3% above previous twelve months. Full story: Family Law Week.

'Meal ticket for life' bid backfires as divorcee loses £175,000 a year from ex-husband
An attempt by a divorcee to have a “meal ticket for life” backfired after a High Court Judge ruled her maintenance payments should cease after just three years. Full story: The Telegraph. See Waggott v Waggott, below.

Plaudits for judge's plain speaking in adoption case
A judge has been praised for the way she has explained her decision to allow a baby boy to be adopted so that the child's father, who has a learning disability, can understand. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See Jack (A Child : care and placement orders), below.

Listing Final Hearings in Adoption cases
This Guidance is issued with the purpose of clarifying the legal requirements and practical arrangements for final hearings in adoption applications and adoption visits. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

President’s Guidance: Family proceedings: Parents with a learning disability
"My primary purpose in issuing this Guidance is to bring to the attention of practitioners and judges, and to commend for careful consideration and application by everyone, the very important “Good practice guidance on working with parents with a learning disability” issued by the Working Together with Parents Network and the Norah Fry Centre in September 2016." Full story: Family Law.

Average time for disposal of care cases continues to creep upwards
Little change in overall number of new cases started in family courts in 2017. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
L (A Child), Re [2017] EWHC 3707 (Fam) (22 December 2017)
Care proceedings. Fact-finding hearing to ascertain cause of death of child. Suggested guidance given relating to future police disclosure in cases involving a death of a child or children and/or an alleged serious assault against a child or children. Full report: Bailii.

Leicestershire County Council v AB & Ors [2018] EWHC 539 (Fam) (16 March 2018)
Care proceedings concerning three children, in which both the father and the mother of two of the children were convicted of offences of Modern Day Slavery. Full report: Bailii.

Waggott v Waggott [2018] EWCA Civ 727 (11 April 2018)
Appeal by wife against financial remedies order, on the basis that the judge failed to award her a fair share of the husband's post-separation earned income. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

P (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 720 (11 April 2018)
Appeal against care order, arguing that the process had been fatally compromised by the court's inability to produce adequately precise findings. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

Jack (A Child : care and placement orders) [2018] EWFC B12 (27 March 2018)
Judgment in care and placement proceedings, written to be understandable by parents. 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, April 13, 2018

Fork Aces*


My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog were all about four cases:

Bulgarian man wins ECHR paternity case - The case Doktorov v Bulgaria.

A judgment written to be understood by non-lawyers - The excellent judgment in Jack (A Child : care and placement orders).

Man fails with 1959 property claim - The case Constandas v Lysandrou & Ors.

Children to remain with mother despite finding that she had emotionally abused them - The case P v C & Ors.

*Oh, and for anyone mystified about the title to this post, I would refer you to one of the funniest sketches the Two Ronnies ever did (I love Corbett's expression):



Have a good weekend.

Monday, April 09, 2018

News Essentials: 9th April 2018


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

NEWS
Mediation starts at their lowest since LASPO introduction
Quarterly legal aid statistics published. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cohabitant entitled to slice of partner’s £1.5m estate, judge rules
The High Court has ruled in favour of a woman who received nothing from her late partner’s £1.5 million estate, in a judgment that will again spark debate about the law on inheritance. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See Thompson v Ragget, below.

The Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2018
These Rules amend the Family Procedure Rules 2010, in particular making provision in relation to the “fast-track” and “standard” procedures for resolution of certain applications for a financial remedy. Statutory Instrument.

FPR Practice Direction 36G: Pilot Scheme, Procedure for Using an Online System to Generate Applications in Certain Private Law Proceedings Relating to Children
The FPR Committee has issued a new Family Procedure Rules Practice Direction 36G (Pilot Scheme, Procedure for Using an Online System to Generate Applications in Certain Private Law Proceedings Relating to Children). Full story: Family Law.

Family court statistics quarterly: October to December 2017
A statistical bulletin presenting statistics relating to the family courts in the fourth quarter of 2017, October to December. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

High Court hears how squabbling barristers turned family hearing into “shouting match”
There is a “concerning tendency on the part of the advocates simply to interrupt each other in an effort to advance their competing submissions”, a High Court judge has said as he reviewed a hearing that turned into a “shouting match”. Full story: Legal Futures.

CASES
Constandas v Lysandrou & Ors [2018] EWCA Civ 613 (27 March 2018)
Appeal against dismissal of TOLATA claim to a half share in a property on the grounds that when it was bought in 1959 the claimant paid a deposit of £100 and a further £500 as a down payment, which comprised half the purchase price. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

Thompson v Ragget & Ors (Rev 1) [2018] EWHC 688 (Ch) (29 March 2018)
The claimant claimed reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 out of the estate of her late partner, who had left her nothing. An order was made which transferred one of the properties to her. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

W, Re [2018] EWCA Civ 664 (27 March 2018)
Appeal by mother against provision requiring return of children to USA even if she is refused a visa. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

B (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 614 (27 March 2018)
Appeal against dismissal of application by mother for summary return of children to Spain. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

T (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 650 (28 March 2018)
Appeal by paternal grandmother against order placing child for adoption. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

Lukjanenko v Medway Council [2018] EWCA Civ 612 (27 March 2018)
Appeal by father of child taken into care against committal order for breach of RRO and POHA order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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

Friday, April 06, 2018

Easter Funday


I hope readers appreciate that I gave up my Easter Monday to write the first two of my posts on the Stowe Family Law Blog this week, which included:

Delving a little deeper into the latest Family Court statistics - As the title says.

Mother succeeds on visa point in Hague abduction appeal - The Court of Appeal decision in Re W.

A quick look at the new “fast-track” financial remedies procedure - Again, as the title says.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers March/April 2018


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

In this issue
  • Client relationships – Allan Carton of InPractice makes the case for the automation of CRM data acquisition
  • SEO – Gavin Ward of Moore Legal Technology on link building best practices and strategies
  • Digital marketing – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words looks at how to use Facebook as a marketing platform
  • Legal practice – Jordan Furlong of Law21 considers the future of alternative legal services providers (ALSPs)
  • Bar practice – Delia Venables and guests assess how direct access for barristers is developing
  • Websites – Nick Holmes discusses the question whether and where we need to use the www in URLs

Access the Newsletter online

News Essentials: 26th March 2018


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

NEWS
Lord Justice McFarlane speaks out for change to adoption contact system
Lord Justice Andrew McFarlane has delivered a speech on present practices surrounding contact and adoption. Full story: Family Law.

Take the blame out of divorce to help those trapped in 'loveless' marriages, says top family judge
No-fault divorce should be introduced to help women who are "trapped in a loveless marriage", Britain's top family judge has suggested. Full story: The Telegraph.

Flawed legal aid system leaves ‘poorer and vulnerable clients denied assistance’
The Law Society has revealed that lower income families in England and Wales are being denied legal aid, meaning that they are excluded from funded aid to help fight eviction, severe housing disrepair and other legal issues. Full story: Family Law.

Alfie Evans parents refused permission for Supreme Court appeal
Couple hoped to overturn decision to switch off seriously ill toddler’s life support. Full story: The Guardian.

CASES
SR v HR [2018] EWHC 606 (Fam) (23 March 2018)
Appeal by husband against financial remedies order made in 2017, to replace orders made in 2012 and 2013, which were not implemented. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

A v R & Anor (Appeal of Summary Determination) [2018] EWHC 521 (Fam) (21 March 2018)
Appeal by father against child arrangements order. Appeal allowed in part. Full report: Bailii.

EA v NA [2018] EWHC 583 (Fam) (02 March 2018)
Claim by wife seeking a declaration that her husband had either died or, alternatively, had not been known to be alive for a period of at least seven years. Full report: Bailii.

Rothschild v Rothschild [2017] EWHC 3709 (Fam) (28 November 2017)
Application by mother for summary return of children to America. Return ordered. Full report: Bailii.

Borg v El Zubaidy [2018] EWHC 432 (Fam) (26 February 2018)
Judgment on the mother's application to commit the father to prison for breach of an order requiring him to cause the return of three children to the jurisdiction. 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.