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.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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

Monday, 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.

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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.

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).

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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

Monday, 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.