News Essentials: 27th June 2020

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


"Blame game" to end as Divorce Bill receives Royal Assent
New laws to spare divorcing couples having to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage took a step closer this week. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Major overhaul of family courts to protect domestic abuse victims
Survivors of domestic abuse and their children will receive greater protections after the government today (25 June 2020) announced an overhaul of how the family courts deal with the horrific crime. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

£22 million emergency coronavirus funding for more than 540 sexual violence and domestic abuse charities
Victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are benefiting from £22 million of emergency funding to help organisations providing support during the pandemic. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Updated version of the Remote Family Access Court released
The latest updated version of the Remote Family Access Court has been published. Full story: Family Law Week.

Forced marriages fell 10% in past year, UK unit reports
Government advice body handled 1,355 cases in 2019, close to average of past decade. Full report: The Guardian.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly: January to March 2020
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.

Legal aid statistics: January to March 2020
Activity in the legal aid system for England and Wales, including criminal and civil legal aid, family mediation, providers of legal aid, client characteristics and Central Funds payments. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Assessing risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases
This is the final report of the expert panel, which reflects the findings from the call for evidence, following over 1,200 responses from individuals and organisations across England and Wales, together with roundtables and focus groups held with professionals, parents and children with experience of the family courts. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Child Maintenance Service statistics: data to March 2020 (experimental)
Quarterly experimental statistics on the Child Maintenance Service, data to March 2020. Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

Gingerbread supports legal action against the DWP to address critical failings of the Child Maintenance Service
Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families, is partnering with Mumsnet and the Good Law Project to support four women who have sent a Letter Before Claim to notify the DWP of their intention to seek a Judicial Review due to: “…the persistent failure by the Child Maintenance Service to collect child maintenance payments from absent parents leaving the parent with primary care of the children in financial difficulty and in some cases in poverty.” Full story: Gingerbread. See here for my thoughts on this.

Judge refuses application by father to adjourn final hearing so it can be held in Preston and not Manchester
A Family Court judge has refused a father’s application for an adjournment of a part-heard final hearing so the proceedings could continue to be heard in Preston rather than moved to Manchester. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.


FI v. (1) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2) MC (CSM) (error on a point of law) [2020] UKUT 173 (AAC) (22 May 2020)
Appeal against decision to allow withdrawal of an appeal against a departure decision. Appeal allowed and matter remitted to a differently constituted tribunal, to consider and make relevant findings as to the correctness of the departure decision. Full report: Bailii.

W, X, Y and Z (children : welfare) [2020] EWFC 29 (25 January 2020)
Application for public law orders in relation to four children, the youngest of which has Downs’ Syndrome. Full report: Bailii.

AZ v BZ (financial remedies appeal) [2020] EWFC 28 (22 May 2020)
Appeal by husband against financial remedies award which gave the wife 99% of the assets, excluding pensions. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii. My summary can be found here.

A (A Child : Surrogacy: S.54 Criteria) [2020] EWHC 1426 (Fam) (18 June 2020)
Application for parental order following surrogacy arrangement, considering 3 issues: i) the application was made outside of the 6-month time limit (s.54(3)); ii) the child's home at the time of the application and upon the making of any parental order will not be the same home as both parents because they are separated (s.54(4)(a)); and iii) whether, at the time of the application, the mother and the father could be found to be "two persons who are living as partners in an enduring family relationship". Full report: Bailii.

LC (A Child - Placement Order) [2020] EWCA Civ 787 (23 June 2020)
Appeal by local authority against decision to refuse the authority's application for a placement order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

G v T [2020] EWHC 1613 (Fam) (02 April 2020)
Final hearing of financial remedies application, in which the single most important dispute between the parties revolved around the value to be ascribed to the husband's interest in his business. Full report: Bailii.

Z (A Child) [2019] EWFC B90 (20 November 2019)
Final hearing of care proceedings concerning 10 year old child who was brought to the UK by her paternal grandmother. Threshold not met. Full report: Bailii.

V and W (ToLATA- -schedule 1 - whether to defer sale of jointly owned property) [2020] EWFC 25 (03 June 2020)
Cross-applications under s.14 TOLATA for order for sale and under Sch 1 Children Act for the Applicant’s share of the property to be held on trust for the benefit of the parties’ son until such time as he finishes education. Full report: Bailii. For my summary, see here.