Monday, November 11, 2019

News Essentials: 11th November 2019


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

NEWS
Russian billionaire succeeds in having wife’s MFPA Pt III claim dismissed
If claim allowed, there would be 'no limit to divorce tourism'. Full story: Family Law Week. See Potanin v Potanina, below.

First registrations of opposite-sex civil partnerships set for New Year’s Eve
Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 approved by Lords. Full story: Family Law Week. You can find the Regulations here.

Concerns raised about Calderbank offers being used to assess litigation conduct
Reservations have been expressed about plans to change the rules for determining costs at the end of family proceedings. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
Potanin v Potanina [2019] EWHC 2956 (Fam) (08 November 2019)
Application by husband to set aside grant of leave to wife to apply for financial relief pursuant to Part III MFPA 1984. Application granted. Full report: Bailii.

H (Children: Relocation), Re [2019] EWHC 2881 (Fam) (30 October 2019)
Application by father for permission to relocate children to the Netherlands. Full report: Bailii.

TY (Preliminaries To Intercountry Adoption) [2019] EWHC 2979 (Fam) (07 November 2019)
Application by maternal aunt to adopt nephew, issued three days before his 18th birthday. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
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Thursday, November 07, 2019

When Do I Know It’s Time to Contact an Insolvency Practitioner?

When Do I Know It’s Time to Contact an Insolvency Practitioner?

An insolvency practitioner can provide essential support, guidance and advice when you are facing financial issues, whether as a business or an individual.

However, what might not be clear, is when the right time is to contact an insolvency practitioner.

It is important to understand that an insolvency practitioner is not simply a financial emergency service, that you call in only when all other avenues appear closed to you.

The common misconception surrounding this service is that is only applies as a last resort.

Insolvency Practitioner Advice Has Value

The role of an insolvency practitioner includes giving expert advice. This advice can be helpful at various stages, not just when a company is considering liquidation, or an individual is facing difficult debts.

Advice has value.

Consequently, there are certain situations where an insolvency practitioner can offer advice where companies are still solvent.

For example, where a business is facing temporary cash flow problems, or where a creditor is threatening it with legal action, an insolvency practitioner may provide professional advice which can make a difference to the outcome.

Serious financial situations do not all need to end in liquidation.

The lesson is to act earlier rather than later.

A proactive, approach to seeking professional advice early on can mean a wider range of potential options to help a business find the best possible solution given the circumstances.

These options may include:

  • Company restructure
  • Sale of assets to help bring in cash
  • Selling the business as a going concern.

These may ensure the business’s survival. However, even if these options are not explorable, then having the support of an insolvency practitioner is still essential if the business goes into voluntary liquidation.

Issues can suddenly arise that put you on the back foot financially, such as an unexpected bill, or a key customer or supplier themselves becoming insolvent.

Other issues can affect businesses, such as market downturns or wider economic changes.

Practical Support from an Insolvency Practitioner

Whatever solution a business or individual requires, whether it is some form of corporate recovery or business insolvency, or a personal insolvency, the insolvency practitioner is there to provide practical support and help.

An insolvency practitioner can negotiate with creditors professionally, to help restore confidence in the company.

They can also intervene on a client’s behalf in dealing with HMRC and navigating the often complex paths of rules and regulations.

A Question of Timing and Protection

Should a company need to go into liquidation, the question of timing is crucial. It can make a huge difference to directors, employees and creditors.

An insolvency practitioner will look at this strategically. The swifter the action, the more likely it is that there can be a more positive outcome.

They can provide advice on the best time to wind down a business, which will work for the individuals involved but also help satisfy creditors by maximising the available funds for them.

An insolvency practitioner is there to help protect you and your business when you face financial issues, obstacles and difficulties.

You do not need to wait until these things seem too colossal or overwhelming. If something financial is gnawing away at you, get in touch now.

Irwin Insolvency have been established for many years as insolvency practitioners, delivering expert advice on both personal and corporate insolvency. For more information, call 0800 009 3173 or send an email to mail@irwinuk.net.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Grant award will improve support for separating families


Increasing demand for family mediation is recognised this week with a grant award to England and Wales’ leading provider of the service.

National Family Mediation (NFM), a registered charity which delivers mediation services in over 500 community locations, has received the award from Therium Access, the not-for-profit arm of Therium Group Holdings Limited, one of the world’s leading providers of litigation, arbitration and specialty legal finance. (www.theriumaccess.org).

The grant will enable NFM to employ an additional call handler to provide early advice and arrange mediation for families going through divorce or separation.

NFM’s CEO, Jane Robey, said: “Demand for our call handlers has increased significantly over the past year. They do a fantastic job, and each call to our office represents a family needing assistance to manage their separation.

“We are delighted with this grant award, which will help us provide an even more responsive service to support separating families through our telephone helplines. 

“NFM is grateful to Therium Access for recognising the value of early advice, good quality information, and mediated agreements.

“The work we do impacts upon the whole of the family legal process. It keeps people out of the court system in a pre-emptive way by providing them alternative means to resolve disputes. This enables them to reach settlements in a more streamlined, simpler, non-confrontational way.

“Legal aid cuts mean we support many more people who are self-funding, with no access to professional legal advice.  Early support and guidance can transform the separation journey undertaken by these people, helping them reach just and fair settlements.”

Monday, November 04, 2019

News Essentials: 4th November 2019


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

NEWS
Judge criticises council for breaching duty of disclosure when making streamlined application for authorisation of deprivation of liberty
A council has been criticised by a Court of Protection judge for breaching the duty of full and frank disclosure when it made an application under the streamlined procedure for authorisation of a deprivation of liberty. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

President of the Family Division: Guidance as to reporting in the Family Courts
The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has issued the latest guidance for reporting in the Family Courts. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

CASES
S (A Child: Adequacy of Reasoning), Re [2019] EWCA Civ 1845 (31 October 2019)
Appeal following fact finding hearing in care proceedings. Appeal allowed, on the basis that the judge's conclusions as eventually expressed were inadequately reasoned. Full report: Bailii.

NY (A Child), Re [2019] UKSC 49 (30 October 2019)
Appeal by mother against order made under inherent jurisdiction requiring her to return child to Israel. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

FRB v DCA [2019] EWHC 2816 (Fam) (28 October 2019)
Application by wife to strike out husband's claim for damages in respect of W's deceit in maintaining that he was the father of W's child. Full report: Bailii.

Begum v Ahmed [2019] EWCA Civ 1794 (28 October 2019)
Appeal against refusal of application to make inheritance claim out of time. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Re NY (A Child): Appeal allowed


Lord Wilson gives the judgment of the Supreme Court

BACKGROUND TO THE APPEAL

This appeal concerns a father’s application for an order for the immediate return of his daughter from England and Wales to Israel. The issue raised is whether the Court of Appeal, having determined that such an order could not be granted under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 (‘the Convention’), was nonetheless entitled to grant it under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to make orders in relation to children (‘the inherent jurisdiction’).

The child’s parents are Israeli nationals who married in 2013. She is their only child and is now aged almost three. Her parents lived at first in Israel but moved to London in November 2018. There the marriage broke down. The father returned to Israel, but the mother refused to do so, and remained in London with the child. The father applied under the Convention, which is set out in Schedule 1 to the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 (‘1985 Act’), for a summary order for the child’s immediate return to Israel. The allegation underpinning his application was that, on 10 January 2019, when the marriage broke down, the mother had wrongfully retained the child in England.

The High Court granted the father’s application. On appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that it had not been open to the judge to make an order under the Convention and set his order aside. It held that there had been no grounds for concluding that the mother’s retention of the child in England had been wrongful, and so the Convention had not been engaged. However, it then referred to passing observations made by the High Court judge to the effect that, if he had found that the child had been habitually resident in England, he would have reached the same decision to order the child’s immediate return under the inherent jurisdiction as he had under the Convention. Relying on those observations, the Court of Appeal made a summary order for the child’s return under the inherent jurisdiction. The mother appealed to the Supreme Court.

JUDGMENT

On 14 August 2019, the Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal and set aside the Court of Appeal’s order. Owing to the urgency of the decision, a judgment giving reasons was not issued at that time. Lord Wilson now gives the unanimous judgment of the court setting out its reasons.

REASONS FOR THE JUDGMENT

The appeal raises two questions. First, was the inherent jurisdiction available to the Court of Appeal in principle? Second, if so, was the exercise of it flawed? The answer to both questions is “yes” [2-3].

Inherent Jurisdiction Available
The mother argued that the inherent jurisdiction had not been available to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that a summary order (i.e. an order made without a full, conventional, investigation) for the child’s return outside the Convention could only have been made as a ‘specific issue order’ under the Children Act 1989 (‘the 1989 Act’) [26]. A specific issue order is an order made to decide a question connected with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child: had it been appropriate on the facts to make such an order here, it would have been open to the Court of Appeal to do so [27-28].

Before the introduction by the 1989 Act of specific issue orders, summary orders for the return of a child abroad could be made under the inherent jurisdiction [29-30]. Such orders continued to exist alongside orders under the Convention after it was introduced into domestic law by the 1985 Act, since differences between the inherent jurisdiction and the Convention mean that an order for a child’s return may, in some circumstances, be required under the former, but not the latter, legal framework [31]. But did the 1989 Act do away with the inherent jurisdiction to order a child’s return [32]?

The mother argued that para 1.1 of Practice Direction 12D, supplementing the Family Procedure Rules 2010, showed that the 1989 Act did have that effect: for it instructs that the inherent jurisdiction should only be invoked where the issues ‘cannot be resolved under the 1989 Act’ [33-36]. However, practice directions have no legal authority to the extent that they state the law incorrectly [37-38]. There is no statutory basis for the instruction in para 1.1, and the case-law indicates that an order can be made under the inherent jurisdiction even where a specific issue order would also have been available [39-43]. Therefore the instruction in para 1.1 goes too far. However, if an order is available by both routes and a party chooses to invoke the inherent jurisdiction, the judge will need to be persuaded early in the proceedings that that choice was reasonable [44]. Nor does the court accept the mother’s argument that an application for a summary specific issue order requires a different inquiry from an analogous application under the inherent jurisdiction. The same approach is required under both frameworks, as both are based on the principle that the child’s welfare is paramount [45-50].

Exercise of Inherent Jurisdiction Flawed
The Court of Appeal did not inquire into whether the child’s welfare required a summary order for her return, as it considered that the High Court had made that determination and had not erred in doing so [51]. Yet the judge had not made a determination under the inherent jurisdiction [52]. Nor could his determination under the Convention stand as one under the inherent jurisdiction: for the Convention, unlike the inherent jurisdiction, is not based on the paramountcy of the child’s welfare [53].

The fact that the father had not invoked the inherent jurisdiction did not prevent the Court of Appeal from making an order under it. But it did place a duty on the Court of Appeal to ask whether the mother had had sufficient notice of its intention to use the inherent jurisdiction to allow her to seek to oppose it [54]. The Court of Appeal should also have considered eight further questions before making its order under the inherent jurisdiction, including whether the evidence before it was sufficiently up to date, and whether the High Court judge had made findings sufficient to justify the order [55-63]. Its failure to consider any of these questions is what led the Supreme Court to uphold the appeal [64].

References in square brackets are to paragraphs in the judgment, which can be found here.

Monday, October 28, 2019

News Essentials: 28th October 2019


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

NEWS
District judge ‘sarcastic and shaking with rage’ in flawed family hearing
The Family Court has overturned a district judge’s care ruling after finding she ‘crossed the line’ during the hearing, creating a hostile atmosphere and alienating everyone appearing before her. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See C (A Child) (Judicial Conduct), below.

Children in care warning from justice commission in Wales
Children's interests are being neglected in court cases that decide who looks after them, a major report has warned. Full story: BBC News.

Assessing risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases
Progress update on the public call for evidence on how the family courts protect children and parents in private law children cases concerning domestic abuse and other serious offences. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Government confirms councils' duty to support domestic abuse victims
Councils will have a statutory duty to provide safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse and their children from 2021, the government has confirmed. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

CASES
C (A Child) (Judicial Conduct) [2019] EWFC B53 (16 October 2019)
Appeal against care and placement orders. Appeal allowed. Conduct of district judge in court below criticised. Full report: Bailii.

G (Children) [2019] EWCA Civ 1779 (09 October 2019)
Appeal by local authority against an order discharging a care order in respect of six children. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

C (A Child) [2019] EWCA Civ 1777 (22 October 2019)
Care proceedings. Appeal by mother from an order reversing a decision to reopen a finding of fact. Appeal allowed. 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, October 21, 2019

News Essentials: 21st October 2019


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

NEWS
The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Civil and Family) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
These Regulations are made in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively and other deficiencies in retained EU law arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. Statutory Instrument.

Queen’s Speech: Johnson puts law and order issues at forefront
Crime and justice policies [including divorce reform] were placed at the centre of the government’s agenda today as the Queen’s Speech set out its legislative priorities. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

‘One lawyer is enough’: family judge issues court guidance
Solicitors with cases being heard at Central Family Court have been told they do not always have to turn up with their barristers. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
C (A Child) (Schedule 2, Paragraph 19, Children Act 1989) [2019] EWCA Civ 1714 (17 October 2019)
Appeal by Local Authority against refusal to give the court's "approval" to the Local Authority arranging for child to live in Scotland in a residential home in which he had been placed. Full report: Bailii.

O (Committal: Legal Representation) [2019] EWCA Civ 1721 (17 October 2019)
Appeal against committal, following breach of order made in family proceedings. Appeal allowed, on basis that appellant wished to be represented, but was not. Full report: Bailii.

RH (Parental Alienation) [2019] EWHC 2723 (Fam) (03 October 2019)
Application by father to transfer care of 12 year old child to him. Application granted, following finding that mother had alienated child from his father. 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, October 15, 2019

Legal aid reforms trigger huge increase in parents seeking help from child contact centres


The number of parents self-referring directly to child contact centres has drastically risen in the last ten years, according to new figures released by the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC).

Self-referrals from separating parents have risen astronomically from 3.7% of total referrals in 2009/10 to 35.8% in 2018/19, in the same period, referrals from solicitors have reduced from 67.8% to 21.9%. [1]

The stats released today are a clear indication of the consequences of legal aid reforms for families experiencing separation. 

The consultation process for legal aid reforms started in 2011 and came into force in 2013. Since then, legal aid for family law has only been available for a limited range of cases including domestic violence and international child abduction.[2]  

The NACCC accredits 350 centres nationwide run by around 4,000 volunteers and 1,000 staff. Over 17,000 children benefited from accredited services in the past year.

NACCC collected referral data from centres nationwide and found that in 2018/19, 3,879 self referrals were made out of a total referral number of 10,825 (35.8%) while solicitor referrals accounted for 2,375 (21.9%). This compares to 372 (3.7%) self referrals and 6,729 (67.8%) solicitor referrals in 2009/10 from a total of 9,925. [3]

Elizabeth Coe, Chief Executive, National Association of Child Contact Centres
said: 

“Parenting shouldn’t end when relationships do and we know many parents who separate feel the same way, which explains why the assistance from child contact centres is in such demand.

“We have noticed a huge change in source of referrals since legal aid reforms led to a reduction in provision for most family cases. Families who are going through a separation now often need to negotiate the family law system without the support of a legal professional. 

“Our centre staff and volunteers are trained to support families through this process but the potential of increased stress and anxiety for parents is significant and the implications of reduced support is having an impact beyond child arrangements.”

Sarah Avery, Cheltenham Child Contact Centre Manager added: 

Child contact centres enable parenting to continue after a relationship ends, ensuring children feel supported and are safe. Our role is to work with families to help them build trust and resolve issues so that children can continue to have contact with both their parents.

“We know that family separation is stressful for everyone involved and many parents now have the additional challenge of managing legal processes without support from a solicitor. The emotional strain this puts on individuals can be huge.” 

As well as providing safe spaces where children can meet the parents they don't live with, NACCC centres support families by promoting the use of mediation and other services so that separating parents don’t need to go to court to arrange contact with their children.

Monday, October 14, 2019

News Essentials: 14th October 2019


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

NEWS
Cafcass backs renewed focus on pre-proceedings work in public law children cases - but rejects direct role
Cafcass has said it supports a renewed focus on pre-proceedings work and managing risk in public law children cases, with more emphasis on gaining and recording the wishes and feelings of children at that stage. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Welsh council criticised after couples became embroiled in ‘nightmare’ adoption case
Social services bosses at a Welsh council have come under fire from a High Court judge after two couples became embroiled in “nightmare” litigation when a woman changed her mind about giving up a baby daughter for adoption. Full story: Care Appointments. See report, below.

CASES
Dorset Council v A (Residential Placement: Lack of Resources) [2019] EWFC B53 (10 October 2019)
Judgment in care proceedings concerning 15 year old girl, highlighting the resource issues that local authorities face looking after young vulnerable people at risk of harm. Full report: Bailii.

B v A [2019] EWHC 2613 (Fam) (07 October 2019)
Appeal by father against dismissal of application for a prohibited steps order prohibiting child's removal from this jurisdiction, in case where mother had sought permission to temporarily remove the child to Iraq. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Foster carers v A, B & A Welsh Local Authority [2019] EWFC B52 (27 June 2019)
Applications by foster carers for wardship and permission to make an adoption application. 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, October 07, 2019

News Essentials: 7th October 2019


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

NEWS
Tafida Raqeeb: Brain-damaged girl can go abroad for treatment
The parents of a brain-damaged girl will be allowed to take her abroad to continue her treatment, the High Court has ruled. Full story: BBC News. See report, below.

Court has no power to require Cafcass to undertake work with non-subject child, judge rules
A court has no power to require Cafcass to appoint one of its officers, whether a children's guardian or otherwise, to undertake any work with or play any role with a non-subject child, a High Court judge has concluded. Full story: Local Government Lawyer. See report, below.

Survey finds hundreds of children in care being forced to see abusive parents
Hundreds of children in care are being “marched back” to visit their abusive parents and a majority of foster families want to see the practice made illegal, research suggests. Full story: Care Appointments.

CASES
Tafida Raqeeb -v- Barts NHS Foundation Trust and others [2019] EWHC 2531 (Admin) and [2019] EWHC 2530 (Fam) (3 October 2019)
Judgment upon applications by parents for judicial review of decision of NHS Trust not to agree to child being transferred to a hospital in Italy for continued medical treatment and by Trust regarding the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Full report: Bailii.

A County Council v Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) [2019] EWHC 2369 (Fam) (20 September 2019)
Care proceedings. Judgment considering issue of whether court has power to to request Cafcass to undertake an assessment of a child not the subject of the proceedings. 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, October 01, 2019

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers September/October 2019

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.
In this issue:
  • Surveillance – Chrysilla de Vere of Clarkslegal explains the issues surrounding use of facial recognition in public spaces
  • Regulation – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words looks at the debates around the regulation of big data companies
  • Cryptocurrencies – Alex Haffner of Fladgate explains Facebook's Libra and considers the legal issues arising
  • Legal practice – Andrew Thornton of Erskine Chambers introduces Juriosity, the new online platform for lawyers
  • Websites – David Kerr and Chris Davidson of Moore Legal Technology provide the ultimate checklist for websites
  • Regulation – Updates from Alex Heshmaty on digital services tax, Privacy Shield and GDPR fines

Monday, September 30, 2019

News Essentials: 30th September 2019


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

NEWS
Supreme Court considers parental responsibility and deprivation of liberty
Majority decide parental responsibility cannot authorise a violation of a child’s fundamental human right. Full story: Family Law Week. See D (A Child), below.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly: April to June 2019
Quarterly data on the volume of cases dealt with by family courts over time, with statistics also broken down for the main types of case involved. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Transgender man loses court battle to be registered as father
Ruling in Freddy McConnell case is first legal definition of a mother in English common law. Full story: The Guardian. See R (on the application of TT) -v- The Registrar General for England and Wales and others, below.

Family judges must justify delaying final decisions – Court of Appeal
Judges have been warned by the Court of Appeal not to adjourn final decisions in family cases simply to 'press the pause button'. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
D (A Child) [2019] UKSC 42 (26 September 2019)
Appeal considering whether it is within the scope of parental responsibility to consent to living arrangements for a 16 or 17-year-old child which would otherwise amount to a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of article 5 ECHR, in particular where the child lacks the mental capacity to make the decision for himself. Full report: Bailii.

R (on the application of TT) -v- The Registrar General for England and Wales and others [2019] EWHC 2384 (Fam) (25 September 2019)
Judgment in case considering the issue: where a person, who was born female, but who has subsequently undergone gender transition and acquired full legal recognition as male, becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child, is that person to be registered as their child’s ‘mother’ or ‘father’? Full report: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary (PDF).

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Kinship carers left in the dark - without legal advice and representation


Three in four kinship carers say they:

  • Did not have enough information about their legal options when taking on the children to make an informed decision;
  • Are facing financial hardship as a result of doing right by the children

Family Rights Group has carried out an extensive survey of kinship carers - family and friends who take on the care of a child, who cannot remain at home due to tragedy or trauma. 845 kinship carers raising at least 1252 kinship children filled in the survey. The survey report - ‘The highs and lows of kinship care: analysis of a comprehensive survey of kinship carers 2019’ is published today.

The legal status of the kinship child has significant and lasting ramifications as to whether or not the child is entitled to support and the kinship carer to a financial allowance. However, the survey results reveal:

  • Three-quarters of kinship carers who completed the survey said they felt that they did not have enough information about legal options when they took on the care of the kinship child/children to make an informed decision
  • Four in ten kinship carers who have incurred legal costs, for example, to secure a legal order to provide the child with permanence, had to pay the costs entirely themselves. The survey found that kinship carers who paid out their own monies for part or all of the legal costs spent on average £5446.

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group said:

“There are now more children in the care system than at any time since 1985. The system has been described as being in crisis. A Care Crisis Review we facilitated in 2018 found that a culture of blame, shame and fear has permeated the child welfare and family justice system. This inhibits partnership working between the state and families, yet partnership working is in the interests of children. Today’s report illustrates how many kinship carers experience an environment in which they feel done to, cajoled and put upon, despite trying to do their best for the children.

The survey found, for example, that many kinship carers felt pressurised by local authorities into giving up work, even though this pushed them into poverty, or they felt coerced into agreeing to a particular legal order for the child, even though it led to a loss in support.

Whilst the children are often doing well in their care, this can be at the expense of kinship carers’ own finances, relationships and even health. However, kinship carers feel this is too rarely recognised by children’s services, public agencies or government. They love their kinship child or kinship children and they put their needs first, and in doing so they save the state significant amounts of monies, but the public agencies that should be there to help, too often make life more stressful.“

  • 54% of kinship carers, who had been in work, had to give up their job to take on the child, and a further 24% had to reduce their working hours.
  • Three-quarters of kinship carers stated that they were facing financial hardship as a result of taking on the children. A small but notable number had been affected by the bedroom tax (the under-occupation penalty), benefit cap or benefits sanctions, which had a very harsh impact, leading in some cases to debt and even homelessness.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of kinship carers rated the help they had received from children’s services as poor or very poor. Only 15% rated it as good or excellent.
  • More than one in three (37%) kinship carers said they had received no help of any kind from children’s services.
  • 93% of kinship carers said additional support would have made/would make a difference, with only 7% stating that no additional support was needed. Examples of support that would make a difference included emotional support for them and the child, counselling or therapeutic support for the child, respite care, life story work for the child, help with managing family contact, and training courses. 

The kinship carers described the love they felt for the children they were raising but also the battles they face to get help and support for the children:

  • Half the kinship carers who completed the survey said that one or more of the kinship children they are raising have special needs or disabilities. Four-fifths of these children are described as having emotional and behaviour problems and four in ten having learning disabilities.
  • 20% of kinship children of school age have been temporarily excluded from school and 5% permanently excluded.
  • 70% of the kinship children have a sibling who is not living with them.

A quarter of the kinship children had been placed with an unrelated foster carer (i.e. a foster carer who is neither their family member nor friend of the family) before going to live with the kinship carer. Some kinship carers commented that the children could have avoided multiple placements, including with strangers, if the local authority had started working with the child’s family earlier to identify and support the kinship placement where the child was now living.

The report sets out a series of recommendations aimed at:

  • Enabling more children, who cannot live safely with their parents, to be raised by loving family and friends rather than be removed from their family network.
  • Ensuring that kinship children and their carers have the support they need for the children to thrive.

The recommendations include a call on the Government to:

  • Introduce a new legal duty on local authorities to ensure that potential placements with kinship carers are always explored and assessed for suitability before a child becomes looked after in the care system, unless there is an emergency.
  • As a matter of urgency, adequately fund Family Rights Group’s specialist legal advice service for kinship carers post-March 2020.
  • Implement the Care Crisis Review’s Options for Change, including a new Government ring-fenced fund for local authorities to help them work with their partner agencies, young people and families to safely avert children having to enter or remain in the care system.
  • Introduce a period of paid employment leave and protection to kinship carers, equivalent to paid adoption leave, to enable the child to settle in with them and help avoid the carer having to give up work.
  • Exempt kinship carer households from the benefit cap and bedroom tax.
  • Introduce a new Kinship Care Bill that includes a duty on local authorities to establish and commission kinship support services (and provide adequate funding to local authorities to deliver this).
  • Provide automatic settled status to children being raised in kinship care under a legal order and those who are in the care system or are care leavers, whose ability to remain in the UK could be at risk following Brexit.

News Essentials: 23rd September 2019


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

NEWS
First domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales revealed
The first domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales is "relieved" the prime minister has pledged to re-introduce a new law on the issue. Full story: BBC News.

Paralegal’s contempt conviction found to be ‘manifestly unfair’
Judges in the Court of Appeal have quashed a paralegal’s conviction for contempt after finding significant procedural mistakes in how the case was handled. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
S-L (Children : Adjournment) [2019] EWCA Civ 1571 (19 September 2019)
Appeal by local authority against decision to adjourn applications for care and placement orders in respect of two young children. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

Ogunware v Ogunware [2019] EWHC 2428 (Fam) (25 July 2019)
Application for declaration that purported marriage entered into in Nigeria was not valid. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

R-B (A Child) [2019] EWCA Civ 1560 (02 July 2019)
Appeal by mother against care and placement orders made in relation to a 13 month old child. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

E (Through Her Children's Guardian) & Anor v A Mother & Anor [2019] EWCA Civ 1557 (12 September 2019)
Appeal by local authority and children's guardian against an order refusing an application for a placement order in respect of a 10 month old child. Appeal allowed. 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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Divorce reform in ‘freeze-frame’ mode, says campaigning family charity


Dispute resolution experts have expressed frustration at the ‘freeze-frame’ status of long-awaited divorce reform.

Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, likens the suspension of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, due to Parliament being prorogued, to football’s VAR.

In a new article for Family Law, Jane Robey says: “With the decision to prorogue Parliament, the Prime Minister halted a Bill that would have made life so much easier for couples who just want to get on with their divorce, making a fresh start as quickly and painlessly as possible.

“Having passed its second reading in the House of Commons it moved to Report Stage.

“But its further progress has been put into ‘freeze-frame’ mode by the Prime Minister’s controversial and contentious decision. And so the waiting goes on.

“The impact on this new law of Parliament’s prorogation - and the associated court cases questioning legality of the PM’s decision - is like the effect of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) upon Premier League football matches.

“The joy of a goal being scored is muted when the VAR call is made. TV freeze frames are deployed. Nobody knows for sure whether the goal is going to be allowed to stand - until the ultimate VAR arbiters have cast judgement. And so it is that at the time of nobody knows when, or if, divorce reform will finally come into play. What a frustrating time.”

She pledges that after years campaigning for the change, NFM and others “will continue to press for these important reforms to be introduced as soon as possible, so that divorcing couples will at last be able to settle their divorce or separation in a more mature and adult fashion than the current arcane system allows.”

National Family Mediation (NFM) was the original provider of family mediation, and its network of accredited services now delivers in over 500 locations across England and Wales. The charity helps families resolve all the practical, legal, emotional and financial issues that arise from separation, helping families make long-lasting arrangements that benefit everyone in the family, especially their children.

Monday, September 16, 2019

News Essentials: 16th September 2019


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

NEWS
6,000 became homeless in three months following domestic abuse
Women’s Aid publishes No Woman Turned Away report 2019. Full story: Family Law Week.

Johnson pledges to reintroduce domestic abuse legislation
Boris Johnson has responded to pressure from women's groups and confirmed that he will reintroduce legislation to protect the estimated two million people who suffer domestic abuse a year. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements, England and Wales: 2018
Annual estimates of population by legal marital status and cohabitation status by age and sex for England and Wales. Full story: Office for National Statistics.

Justice bills fall overnight as parliament shuts down
Legislation covering divorce and domestic abuse was killed off in the early hours of this morning as parliament was closed for five weeks. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

CASES
Nasrullah Mursalin, Re [2019] EWCA Civ 1559 (03 September 2019)
Appeal by paralegal against suspended committal order imposed after he erroneously placed a number of documents relating to a client’s family case in the bundle which went to an immigration judge. Appeal allowed. 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, September 09, 2019

News Essentials: 9th September 2019


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

NEWS
Domestic abuse proposals expected to be revived in Queen’s Speech, MPs hear
New proposals to protect domestic abuse survivors are expected to be “revived very quickly” in the new parliamentary session, a Cabinet minister has said. Full story: Care Appointments.

Nagalro raises concern about Cafcass undermining the role of Children’s Guardians
Nagalro is concerned that Cafcass public statements have disseminated inaccurate information on its website, which appear to dilute the role of the Children's Guardian and minimise their legal obligations. Full story: Family Law Week.

Civil Justice Council launches consultation on vulnerable witnesses and parties in civil proceedings
The Civil Justice Council has launched a consultation on its report and recommendations for change in respect of vulnerable witnesses and parties in civil proceedings. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Wakefield Metropolitan District Council & Anor v DN & Anor [2019] EWHC 2306 (Fam) (05 September 2019)
Case concerning capacity and accommodation of 25 year old man suffering from various mental disorders. Full report: Bailii.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council v PR & Ors [2019] EWHC 2305 (Fam) (05 September 2019)
Final judgment in proceedings relating to a capacitous but apparently vulnerable adult, further examining the circumstances in which interim orders under the inherent jurisdiction were made, and whether injunctive-type orders could and/or should have been made against the adult for whom protection was sought. 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.