Family cuts “undermine justice”

New Law Journal

Family lawyers have voiced concern at a new “uneconomic” fixed fee structure for family legal aid work.

Divorced from reality in the 21st century

Yorkshire Post

WE should all be raising glasses this week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Divorce Reform Act 1969 gaining royal assent.

Scott Schedules

Family Law Week blog

In family cases, Scott schedules can be used to good effect particularly in cases involving domestic violence, injuries to children & the allocation of chattels in ancillary relief or indeed, generally to set out threshold findings sought.

Contact & residence

Family Law Week blog

I was asked by a Judge in Brentford County Court the other day whether it was possible to make a contact order without first making a residence order.

Public Funds for Collaborative Law will help Courts become the Last Resort for more Divorcing Couples

Family Law Collaborative Divorce Blog

"A Collaborative Family Law approach allows separating couples and their lawyers to sit down together to reach an agreement face to face in a much quicker, less traumatic process, that can provide a more satisfactory conclusion for all involved." so said Lord Bach, the justice minister in charge of legal aid, earlier this week.

No formula for a happy marriage

Benussi Blog

The secret of a happy marriage, according to scientists, is for a wife to be smarter and at least five years younger than her husband.

Another blow to marriage?

Wigless

The Daily Mail today reports on the Law Commission’s proposals to change the law to give cohabiting couples inheritance rights should one of them die without a will.

How far should young people in foster care be monitored?

Community Care

With the rise in mobile phone usage and social networking websites, how far should young people in foster care be monitored to thwart manipulative birth parents, asks Jo Stephenson

Solicitors overpaid millions by LSC for legal aid work

Law Society Gazette

Solicitors have been overpaid nearly £25m for legal aid work, public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) reported today.

Lawyers 'exploit' legal aid cash

BBC News

Lawyers received tens of millions of pounds more than they were entitled to in legal aid payments last year, the government auditor has said.

Family lawyers warn intestacy law change may be unworkable

Family Law Newswatch

Family lawyers are warning the Law Commission against unworkable changes following the publication today of its consultation Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death.

LSC proposes introduction of collaborative law from 2010

Family Law Newswatch

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has launched a four-week consultation on the Family Specification for work taking place from 1 October 2010, which includes an option to add collaborative law to the range of work open to family legal aid practitioners.

Alliance created to resist plans to amend the Children Act 1989

Family Law Newswatch

Several children's organisations have come together to express their concerns about government plans to use the forthcoming Schools and Safeguarding Bill as a vehicle to amend key legislation in relation to the protection of children.

Fixed fees rate cuts will drive profession away, say family lawyers

Law Society Gazette

Family law groups have warned that new fixed fees which will slash legal aid rates for some private law cases by up to 50% will drive lawyers away from legal aid and undermine access to justice.

Rights for unmarried couples: on death but not in life?

The Times

Whether the Law Commission proposals to extend inheritance rights to unmarried couples makes its way speedily to the statute book or not, it will certainly fuel the wider case for giving them legal rights generally.

Children’s Minister: New online resources for up to 5 million mums, dads, carers and grandparents

DCSF

Dawn Primarolo, minister for Children, Young People and Families, today announced three new pilot projects to help up to five million mums, dads, carers and grandparents get important parenting information support and guidance.

Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death

Law Commission

On 29 October 2009 we published a Consultation Paper reviewing the law of intestacy and family provision claims on death.

Child maintenance not paid in one-in-four cases

Daily Mail

Child maintenance is still not being paid in more than one in four cases, figures showed today.

Legal Costs

Pink Tape

Short piece on ‘Today’ on Tues morning about costs in civil cases.

Inheritance rights for co-habiting couples: Family campaigners fear another blow to marriage

Daily Mail

Co-habiting couples with children would be given automatic inheritance rights, like a married couple, under controversial new proposals.

Watchdog proposes shake-up of inheritance law for unmarried couples

The Times

Unmarried couples would automatically inherit some of their partner’s estate on his or her death under radical reforms proposed today.

Legal aid for collaborative law?

The Times

The Legal Services Commission is to consult for the first time on whether legal aid clients might have access to collaborative law.

Unmarried partners to get equal rights over inheritance, under proposals

Telegraph

Unmarried couples who live together for just two years will be automatically entitled to half their partner's estate if they die without a will, under proposals from the Government's law advisers.

More single parents back away from CSA

Gingerbread

Gingerbread is concerned that figures out today suggest more single parents are turning away from the Child Support Agency.

New legal rights for grandparents?

Marilyn Stowe Blog

Many grandparents are surprised to discover that they do not have automatic rights of residence or contact with their grandchildren. But could their rights be about to improve?

White v Withers: Not swept under the carpet

Family Lore

TV chef Marco Pierre White has succeeded in his appeal against the striking out of his claim against his wife's solicitors, Withers LLP.

TV chef Marco Pierre White wins appeal against court ruling

Independent

TV chef Marco Pierre White today won his appeal against a High Court ruling which halted his action against the leading divorce lawyers representing his estranged wife.

The Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Regulations 2009

Statutory Instrument

These Regulations amend the Registration of Marriages Regulations 1986 and the Registration of Marriages (Welsh Language) Regulations 1999.

The Registration of Marriages etc. (Electronic Communications and Electronic Storage) Order 2009

Statutory Instrument

This Order amends the Marriage Act 1949 to allow for electronic communications and electronic data storage in a form approved by the Registrar General for Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales.

Marco Pierre White allowed to sue London lawyers over seizure of papers by wife

The Times

Marco Pierre White, the TV chef, can proceed with suing a top London firm of divorce lawyers after senior judges ruled that they had a case to answer over the seizure of his private documents.

Ministers moot changes to named guardians lawl

Community Care

The Department for Children, Schools and families (DCSF) has admitted ministers are considering changing the law around the role of named guardians to represent children in court.

Doubts over councils' commitment to Children Act 1989

Community Care

Exclusive Community Care survey reveals doubts over councils' commitment to Act

Probe of case after baby dies

Wokingham Times

The work of Wokingham’s child protection services in the case of a twin baby who died in April are to be investigated in a serious case review.

Children Act 20 years on: Is the defintion of children in need too restrictive?

Community Care

Despite the good intentions on supporting children defined as 'in need', many practitioners are finding the bar set too high.

Children Act 20 years on: views from sector leaders

Community Care

We asked four senior figures from the children's sector if the Children Act has fulfilled its potential to transform children's lives?

Children Act 20 years on: The Lord Laming verdict

Community Care

Lord Laming: Bad practice undermines aims of the Act

Grandparental Rights

Wigless

The Daily Mail’s front page article today is an exclusive interview with David Willetts MP, the Conservative Party’s spokesman for family policy. Willetts has said that a Tory government would introduce contact rights for grandparents when relationships end between the children’s parents.

Divorce could cost Berezovsky £100m

Independent

Oligarch's wife hires lawyer who represented Princess Diana and Jerry Hall

What price vulnerable children?

Family Lore

The Times today has a series of three articles describing the dire state of the under-resourced family justice system, and its consequences for 'vulnerable children' (a phrase that appears in the headline of each article).

Children: Public Law Update (October 2009)

Family Law Week

John Tughan, of 4 Paper Buildings, reviews the latest public children law cases

Vulnerable children put at risk by plans to cut family legal aid, say lawyers

The Times

Ministers are pressing ahead with huge cuts in legal aid fees for lawyers who handle cases involving vulnerable children and families, despite warnings from the most senior family judge.

Family courts crisis means long waits for vulnerable children

The Times

Children are waiting for more than a year for crucial decisions on where they are to live because of a crisis in the family courts service.

Vulnerable children being failed by crumbling family justice system

The Times

It’s a bad time to be a vulnerable child at risk of abuse and neglect. Social work vacancies are running at record levels — 12 per cent nationally and almost 33 per cent in some London boroughs; and Cafcass — the service charged with looking after the interests of children in family proceedings — is in meltdown.

Grandparents to get new legal rights over family

Telegraph

Grandparents will be given new legal rights to retain access to their grandchildren in the event of a family breakdown under Conservatives plans.

Another Fine Mess

Pink Tape

Yesterday I took a breather between lever arch files to chat with colleagues about the new fee regime that we will be paid under from next October.

Child abuse: The camera doesn’t lie

Sunday Times

In Britain, 40% of all sex crimes are against children, and at least 35,000 attempts to access child-abuse images are blocked every day

Judge slams use of partner instead of wife

Telegraph

Old fashioned chivalry or just old fashioned? A judge has taken the extraordinary step of disrupting a court case to express his exasperation at the modern use of the word partner in place of wife.

Family Legal Aid – The Fat Lady Sings

Pink Tape

The Government announced its decision in respect of the family legal aid fee reforms on Wednesday this week.

Balls clashes with social work leaders

Guardian

The children's secretary, Ed Balls, clashed with social work leaders today as he was accused of stopping professionals getting out to see vulnerable families and wasting their time on paperwork to prop up an "ineffective" inspection regime.

Child protection in Cornwall condemned

Independent

Cornwall County Council has been condemned by Ofsted inspectors for failing to protect the most vulnerable children.

Ed Balls signals end to intervention in Bradford and Hackney

DCSF

Ed Balls today signalled an end to intervention in Bradford and Hackney local authorities and has agreed they will now submit succession plans to drive forward improvements to the quality of education and services in their areas.

Statement from Children's Minister Dawn Primarolo in response to Cornwall's Ofsted report

DCSF

Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo said:

"It is deeply concerning that Ofsted’s report highlights fundamental weaknesses in Cornwall’s children’s services.

Councils not using CAF because of increased referrals

Community Care

Councils are shying away from implementing the common assessment framework (CAF) because in some areas it has resulted in increased referrals to already beleagued care services.

Children Act, 20 years on: Is the defintiion of children in need too restrictive?

Community Care

Despite the good intentions on supporting children defined as 'in need', many practitioners are finding the bar set too high.

Children Act, 20 years on: Care pressures threaten guardian role

Community Care

One of the Children Act's most highly regarded reforms appears in section 41, writes Camilla Pemberton. This introduced the right of children in some family court proceedings to be allocated a guardian ad litem, a qualified social worker appointed by the court "to safeguard the interests of the child"

Children's Act, 20 years on: Fathers' rights under review

Community Care

Campaigners want reforms to the Act to better reflect modern parenting and the growing role of fathers

Cornwall failing to protect children says Ofsted

Community Care

Cornwall's children's services are failing to ensure children and young people are safe and the council has failed to address or make improvements to problems recognised in a 2008 joint area review, according to a report published by Ofsted today.

Itching for a divorce?

Benussi Blog

The “seven-year itch”, made famous by the 1955 film of the same name, is a phenomenon based on the assumption that marital dissatisfaction kicks in after seven years – and the temptation to be unfaithful becomes irresistible.

Legal Aid

Wigless

So Lord Bach has decided to go ahead with the proposed cuts to family legal aid.

Cuts too high for family legal aid?

New Law Journal

Family lawyers have voiced concern at a new “uneconomic” fixed fee structure for family legal aid work.

Reduced legal aid rates will cause 'mass exodus' of law firms

The Times

Vulnerable children and families will bear the brunt of swingeing new cuts that will cause a “mass exodus” of law firms from legal aid, lawyers warned yesterday.

Sir Roger Singleton's views on the 1989 Children Act

Community Care

Why the Children Act came about: by ex Barnardo's head Roger Singleton

Happy birthday to the Children Act

Community Care

Honor Rhodes celebrates the 20th birthday of the Children Act 1989

Child services 'facing criticism'

BBC News

Children's services in Cornwall are expected to be heavily criticised by Ofsted inspectors.

Concern over new family legal aid fixed fees

Family Law Newswatch

Family lawyers have warned that the new fixed fees are likely to mean a mass exodus of lawyers from family legal aid and undermine access to justice for ordinary families. The number of family legal aid practices in the country has already dramatically dropped, from 4,500 in 2000 to 2,800 in 2006.

Children Law: Our Young Client Appears In Court – by guest blogger Eleanor Webster

Marilyn Stowe Blog

Stowe Family Law recently dealt with a complex and interesting case that has served to highlight the evolving place of children in our society, both in terms of their legal status in the eyes of the courts in England and Wales and in terms of the importance, in line with their maturity, of their wishes and feelings.

National recognition for courts’ support for domestic violence victims in Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hounslow and Kirklees

Ministry of Justice

Better facilities and support for victims of domestic violence has led to five courts being newly accredited as Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVCs).

Radical change needed to protect frontline services, says LGA chair

Community Care

There will have to be radical change in the way public services are delivered if frontline provision is to be protected, the chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

DEATH KNELL FOR FAMILY LEGAL AID

Judith's Divorce Blog

Resolution has warned that new fixed fees for family legal aid work published today by the Ministry of Justice are likely to mean a further exodus of lawyers from family legal aid and so undermine access to justice for ordinary families.

NEW CHILDREN’S COMMISSIONER FOR ENGLAND ANNOUNCED

DCSF

The Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls has confirmed the appointment of Dr Maggie Atkinson as the new Children’s Commissioner.

Child welfare expert defiant over Ofsted criticism

Guardian

Simmering resentment erupts in wake of Ofsted's criticism of reports produced by children's services

'They wanted to take away our child'

Telegraph

Since the death of Baby Peter, state applications to put children into care has risen by almost 50%, and innocent families are suffering.

Family fees announced

LAG News Blog

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has today announced the fees for family cases.

Family legal aid reforms put vulnerable families and children first

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice and the Legal Services Commission have today published new fee structures for family legal aid.

Ofsted must rethink how it inspects children's services

Community Care

The man brought in to support Haringey Council in the aftermath of the Baby P case has said Ofsted must rethink how it inspects children’s services.

Why divorce can be good for business

Benussi Blog

According to a survey published this week, being married is more important than education or having a mortgage to service in helping the unemployed get back to work.

The Baby P Effect

Family Lore

The newspapers are full of stories about the substantial increase in care applications.

Divorce and snap decisions do not mix

Marilyn Stowe Blog

As solicitors, one of our most important functions is to supply excellent advice at all times.

Sharp rise in children being taken into care

Guardian

Baby P case has triggered record number of care applications, figures show

Children in care numbers soar

Independent

Record numbers of children are being taken into care because social workers have become frightened of taking risks in the wake of the Baby Peter scandal.

Protection of children 'too reliant on social services'

WalesOnline

Too much reliance is placed on social services to protect vulnerable children in Wales, a report said today.

Child protection applications at record levels

Directgov

Applications to take children into care are at record high levels. Applications are up by nearly 50 per cent on the same period last year, fuelled in part by some agencies referring lower level concerns in case they make a mistake by under-reacting.

Head of BASW to meet with troubled Cornwall Council

Community Care

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, is visiting Cornwall’s troubled social services department next week for a meeting with the council’s deputy director and social workers.

Care applications to Cafcass continue to soar

Community Care

The continuing increase in care applications by England's local authorities following the Baby Peter case could cause a "catastrophe" in children's services unless central and local government put in place joined-up strategies to deal with its impact.

Hedge v Hog

Pink Tape

What odd times we live in. The Guardian reported on Saturday that hedge fund managers are now betting on the outcome of high worth ancillary relief cases by funding the litigation costs of one party in return for a largeish chunk of the prize.

Gordon Brown to recommend civil partnership ceremonies in parliament

Guardian

Gordon Brown will today recommend that civil partnership ceremonies should be allowed to be held in the Palace of Westminster as a symbol of parliament's commitment to gay marriage and tolerance.

Can I have a quickie divorce like Madonna and Guy Richie?

Family Law Matters

There is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce! This is a complete myth perpetrated by the media and trotted out whenever someone famous is going through divorce proceedings.

Couple fight council to keep baby

BBC News

A pregnant woman with what have been described as mild learning difficulties has been told her child could be taken into care when it is born.

Balls overrules committee of MPs to appoint new children's chief

Guardian

Ed Balls gives position to Gateshead's director of children's services Maggie Atkinson

Prenups may not have the force of law, but they work

Independent

New research from financial advice service Unbiased.co.uk reveals that solicitors predict a sharp increase over the next five years in the number of people who plan to draw up prenups before getting married.

Surge in children taken into care as recession stress takes toll on parents

Observer

Fallout from Baby Peter abuse case adds to the pressure on foster care agencies

Barry Sheerman hits out at Balls over children's commissioner appointment

Community Care

The children's secretary Ed Balls has been branded "a bit of a bully" by the chair of the children's, schools and families select committee after appointing Maggie Atkinson as England's new children's commissioner.

MPs wait on Shoesmith verdict before questioning Ofsted

Community Care

MPs have been told they must wait for judgement in the Sharon Shoesmith case before they can question Ofsted over claims it “manipulated” performance data in its report on Haringey’s children’s services.

Cornwall children's director quits over Ofsted probe

Community Care

Cornwall’s director for children, schools and families, Dean Ashton, has resigned in anticipation of a highly critical Ofsted report.

Supreme Court allows grandmother's appeal over residence

Family Law Week

The Supreme Court, in its first decision on a family case, has reportedly overturned the Court of Appeal and the High Court in a case involving residence of a 3 year old child who had lived all his life with his grandmother.

‘HUNDREDS MORE BABY PS’ AS CHILD CRUELTY TOLL SOARS

Daily Express

THE horrific toll of hundreds of “Baby Ps” who have been killed or seriously injured by abuse and neglect was revealed yesterday.

Social services 'to take baby from teenager deemed too stupid to marry'

Telegraph

A mother-to-be, who was banned from marrying after social workers said she is not intelligent enough, is to have her baby taken away immediately after giving birth.

Japan – Leading Haven for International Parental Child Abduction

International Family Law

The firestorm of publicity that we generated concerning the case of my client, Chris Savoie, whose kids were abducted to Japan by their Japanese mother, has now led to an official demand by eight countries that Japan stop its practice of providing a safe haven for international child abduction.

Divorcing Couples can Benefit from Collaborative Law, says Senior Judge

Family Law Collaborative Divorce Blog

Collaborative Law is proving to be successful when used by divorcing couples said one of the UK’s most senior judges last week at a meeting of 200 of London's family lawyers

Letter from Ed Balls regarding appointment of Children's Commissioner

DCSF

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, has today written to the Chair of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, Barry Sheerman, about the appointment of the Children’s Commissioner for England.

MPs snub choice for child supremo

BBC News

MPs have challenged the suitability of a woman picked by the government to be England's next children's commissioner.

Marriage falls to the 11-year itch

Sunday Times

FORGET the seven-year itch. Eleven years is the average time that divorced couples had stayed together before their marriage broke up, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Richard Caring breaks silence over 'vilified' divorce tycoon Scot Young

Telegraph

Richard Caring, the owner of such London landmarks as The Ivy and Annabel's, has raised eyebrows by supporting his friend Scot Young, who is the subject of a highly acrimonious divorce in the High Court. Now, he has decided to explain why.

What can politicians’ wives teach us about marriage?

Marilyn Stowe Blog

I don’t have any strong political views because I don’t like politics, but on Sunday morning in Covent Garden as I cycled on a bike at the gym, I watched Hillary Clinton’s live press conference on the TV monitor.

Judge condemns Jack Straw's 'haste' on media access to family courts

The Times

The most senior family judge in England and Wales urged ministers not to rush ahead with controversial plans to allow greater media access to family court hearings.

Hedge funds, investors and divorce lawyers - it's a match made in heaven

Guardian

Hedge funds are renowned for staking huge amounts of money on esoteric financial instruments, but their latest move is less arcane, if just as imaginative: betting on high-stakes divorces.

The drop in the divorce rate is the fault of the Chav

Divorce-Online Blog

According to conservative commentators the dreadful interweb is causing the breakdown of more marriages than back in the good old days when you had to go to the phone box to call your mistress and letters were the preferred method of communication for errant partners.

Stupefying Legislative Ineptitude

Family Lore

There is an interesting article by Anthony Julius in the Financial Times today, in which he discusses reform of the ancillary relief laws, with reference to the views of Baroness Deech.

We need a wider approach to divorce reform

Financial Times

London needs to shed its reputation as the “divorce capital of the world”. But reform based purely on making pre-nuptial agreements enforceable – as outlined by Baroness Ruth Deech on Tuesday – is not the way forward.

LSCBs are driving improvements and learning lessons

Community Care

Local safeguarding children's boards (LSCBs) are driving improvements in serious case reviews Ofsted's second report, ‘Learning lessons from serious case reviews: Year 2’, has found.

Watchdog finds child protection system is still failing to safeguard children

Guardian

Ofsted's report shows that the same problems and deficiencies still lie behind the failure to protect children

Europe prenup law 'attractive model for reform', says Baroness Deech

The Times

European-style contracts between couples who are marrying should replace the discretion of judges in dividing a couple’s assets on divorce, a leading family lawyer has said.

David Cameron's tax incentives for married couples will not solve family breakdown

Telegraph

The Conservative party policy of enticing unhappy couples with incentives to keep them together overlooks the good that comes from strong, stable families in the first place

Child neglect is rising, children's charity warns

Family Law Newswatch

More than one in 10 professionals working with children have seen an increase in suspected cases of child neglect in the last 12 months, a children's charity has warned.

Online divorces a false economy, solicitor claims

Family Law Newswatch

Cash-strapped couples who have reached the end of the road in their relationship are increasingly turning to divorce websites in an attempt to save money, but family lawyer Angela Davis of Nottingham law firm Berryman, warns such websites could be a simple case of false economy.

Two in three serious child abuse victims 'known to authorities'

Telegraph

More than two thirds of victims of some of the most serious child abuse cases had previous contact with social services, a report has found.

Adoption placements down by 11% this year

Community Care

The number of looked-after children being placed for adoption has fallen by 11% since March 2008, according to statistics published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Selfishness, soap opera lives and infantile emotions: Why so many marriages end in murder trials

Daily Mail

David Wilson, a Professor of Criminology at Birmingham University, explores the disturbing cultural forces at work which have resulted in increased hostility within relationships

DCSF research on adoption & fostering outcomes

Family Law Week blog

The DCSF has published a research briefing looking at how successful adoption and long-term foster care is for children in providing security and permanence, and promoting positive outcomes.

Wife at centre of £400 million divorce claims 'exceptional hardship'

Telegraph

Designer shoes, a £1 million jewellery collection and children at an expensive private school are not usually considered the trappings of a woman suffering "exceptional hardship".

Child abuse reviews 'inadequate'

BBC News

More than a third of official inquiries into the most serious cases of child abuse in England are inadequate, the official watchdog Ofsted has warned.

Thousands say 'I do' in global mass 'Moonie' wedding

The Times

Forty thousand people took marriage vows today in a mass ceremony across four continents, in what may be one the last such spectacle to be presided over by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, ageing leader of the controversial Unification Church.

Indecent proposal wife asks for private divorce hearing

Coventry Telegraph

A 29-YEAR-OLD Slovakian who left her Coventry pensioner husband for a Goldman Sachs managing director yesterday asked for their divorce battle to be heard in private.

Calls for Family Law Reform

Family Law at Lawson West LLP

In a series of lectures at Gresham College in London, Baroness Deech, the Chair of the Bar Standards Board, called for reforms of the current English divorce laws.

Time for Reform

Family Lore

Baroness Deech is back in the news. In a speech today she will apparently say that our divorce laws (at least insofar as they relate to finances) should be remodelled along European lines.

Prenups - could they ensure fairness on divorce?

Pannone Family Blog

Leading family law expert, Baroness Deech is expected to call for a reform of current divorce law in a public speech delivered today. She will argue that both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements should be made legally binding, which will bring the courts of England and Wales in line with the European system.

Review into delivery of legal aid

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice has announced a review into the delivery of legal aid.

Welcome proposed separation of civil and criminal legal aid budgets

LAG News Blog

The government has announced a review of legal aid delivery to be conducted by Sir Ian Magee. The review will look at separating the criminal and civil legal aid budgets.

How to Stop Hating Your Ex

Judith's Divorce Blog

Stop hating your ex must sound like a tall order for many people, but this book by René Ashton seeks to show you how.

DCSF moves to ease adoptions from other countries

Community Care

Prospective adopters of children living overseas may no longer have to travel to the child's country of origin to meet the child before being approved for adoption.

Baby P: Sharon Shoesmith in pension package talks before suspension, court told

Telegraph

Sharon Shoesmith, the social services chief responsible for the care of Baby P was in talks about her pension days before she was suspended from her post after a “devastating” inspection report, a court heard.

Engaged couples 'should see lawyers to discuss prenuptial agreements'

Telegraph

Engaged couples should have to visit lawyers to discuss signing prenuptial agreements, Baroness Deech, a leading family law expert will say.

Collaborative Law

Family Law Week Blog

Family Chambers 29 Bedford Row have been putting on their thinking caps and have formed themselves a collaborative law group.

Coping with divorce, part three. Keep on moving!

Marilyn Stowe Blog

I have previously described how important it is to keep your mind healthy when you are getting divorced, but what about your physical health?

Professionals need more training to recognise the signs

Community Care

Action for Children has warned of an alarming rise in the number of child neglect cases in a survey released today.

Judgement reserved on Baby P boss

BBC News

A judge has reserved his decision in a legal action brought by the dismissed head of Haringey children's services, Sharon Shoesmith.

Warning over child neglect 'rise'

Press Association

Child neglect is continuing to rise despite outrage in the wake of the Baby P scandal, evidence from frontline workers has suggested.

Foster care referrals soar

Community Care

Fostering agencies are under severe pressure to meet referral demands in the wake of the baby Peter case.

Sharon Shoesmith lawyers demand Ofsted documents

Guardian

Call follows Guardian report of whistleblower's claim that Ofsted secretly changed its report on Haringey children's services

The Court of Protection in Action: A Family Lawyer's Primer

Family Law Week

Moira Sofaer looks at the fundamental purpose, procedures and people involved in the Court of Protection. This article is a companion piece to Moira's recent article on the Mental Capacity Act.

In the news...

Family Lore

Some snippets picked up in the news this morning that I thought were worthy of comment...

If anyone's going to make money out of misery, it may as well be us

Telegraph

Divorce capital of the world isn't an honourable, title, but at least it's a lucrative one, says Boris Johnson.

The modern-day judgment of Solomon

Guardian

When parents split, children are all too often separated from their fathers. And it's not simply because mothers block access

Birmingham Council chiefs admit NINETEEN children have died of abuse or neglect in past 5 years

Sunday Mercury

UNDER-FIRE council chiefs have admitted NINETEEN children have died of abuse or neglect in Birmingham in the past five years – with 16 known to social workers.

The Children Act 1989, Care Standards Act 2000 and Adoption and Children Act 2002 (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2009

Statutory Instrument

These Regulations update references to the Police Act 1997 (c. 50) in provisions contained in various sets of regulations made under the Children Act 1989 (c. 41), the Care Standards Act 2000 (c. 14) and the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (c. 38). The Regulations that are amended relate to child minding, day care, adoption agencies, adoption support agencies, children’s homes, fostering agencies, local authority adoption services, residential family centres, adult placement schemes, care homes, domiciliary care agencies, nurses agencies, private and voluntary health care establishments and agencies and private dental services.

‘Don’t you lot EVER think about the kids?’

Pink Tape

No, you are absolutely right. We have spent years acquiring expertise, passed up the opportunity to earn three times as much money in any other area of law you care to choose, regularly work into the night reading graphic details about head injuries and abuse and neglect, and spend 50% of our time telling our feckless clients a few home truths and putting up with tears and swearing and storm outs, all because we don’t give a **** about the children.

Family lawyers (plus US law clerks) celebrate collaborative law

The Times

Some 250 of London's top family lawyers turned out this week for an event at trendy Shoreditch House - to celebrate the advance of collaborative law.

Marriage tax break will keep more women out of work, says thinktank

Guardian

Tory plans to introduce tax breaks on marriage could lead to greater numbers of women choosing not to work, according to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Ofsted are accused of changing Haringey report

Independent

Ofsted is facing accusations that it covertly downgraded an official assessment of Haringey council from "good" to "inadequate" in wake of the findings surrounding the death of Baby P.

Litigation fund backs £400m divorce case

Financial Times

A woman at the centre of a multimillion-pound divorce battle has tapped a new source of funding to pay her legal bills in a development that might exacerbate concerns about London’s reputation as the divorce capital of the world.

Baby P: public confidence in child protection at risk unless Ed Balls acted over Shoesmith, court told

Telegraph

Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, feared public confidence in the child protection system could collapse if he did not take “urgent” steps to remove the social services chief responsible for protecting Baby P, a court heard.

One-third of social workers on anti-depressants in South East

Community Care

More than a third of council social workers in south east England are taking anti-depressants or other medication, according to Unison. The finding emerged from a review of working conditions in children's services departments by Unison’s social care forum for the region.

Divorce Reform on its Way?

Pannone Family Blog

As the country gears itself up for next year's general election, all three main political parties have been talking in terms of reforming family law.

Sharon Shoesmith ‘sent text appeal to Ofsted inspector before dismissal’

The Times

Sharon Shoesmith sent a text message to an Ofsted inspector urging her to include “anything positive” about Haringey children’s services in an emergency report just days before she was dismissed.

Family law and politics

Family Law Blog

Family law has suddenly, it seems, attracted the attention of all the political parties! I will not bore you with their proposals for change (frankly, they don't add up to much except a lot of words) but these are some of mine

Coping with divorce, part two. Fight your demons.

Marilyn Stowe Blog

In the last post about coping with divorce, I wrote about how distressing the divorce process can be and how, to emerge whole at the other side, it is vitally important to do whatever it takes to keep your mind in shape.

Senior judge says 'collaborative' approach can be extended

The Times

Couples are increasingly settling divorce disputes outside court through a new American-style method which could be extended to other litigation, one of Britain's top judges said last night.

Sharon Shoesmith was told of failings, court hears

Guardian

Sharon Shoesmith, the former head of children's services at the centre of the Baby Peter case, was made aware of "very significant professional failings" in her department at Haringey before she was sacked, the high court heard today.

Family policy becomes major election issue

Family Law Newswatch

As the last of the three major political party conferences concludes, it has emerged that family policy will be a major political issue in the forthcoming general election.

Family lawyer fears over guardians’ ‘dangerous’ caseloads

Law Society Gazette

Leading family lawyer Christina Blacklaws has hit out at the ‘dangerous’ workload of employed guardians at the Children and Family Court Advisory Service (Cafcass).

Ofsted says the proportion of inadequate serious case reviews remains too high

Community care

Figures published by Ofsted today revealed an increase in the number of serious case reviews rated as good since January 2008, but a proportion of inadequate serious case reviews which remains "too high".

Money

Pink Tape

Listened yesterday to the Jeremy Vine show on the way back from court (tenuous link with family law). Not my favourite radio show, but yesterday dealt with the novel idea of paying bipolar and schizophrenic patients to receive their medication by way of regular shots.

Abuse case reviews 'inadequate'

BBC News

Nearly a third of reviews of cases where children in England have been abused or killed were "inadequately" carried out, the watchdog Ofsted said.

Tories persist with plan to recognise marriage in the tax system

Guardian

'It's madness not to support marriage', shadow families minister tells Conservative conference

Minister defends Baby P sacking

BBC News

Children's Secretary Ed Balls has denied claims he acted unjustly in dismissing a children's services boss following the death of Baby Peter.

Dismissed Baby P chief 'suicidal'

BBC News

The director of children's services who lost her job over the Baby Peter case has been left financially ruined and suicidal, the High Court has heard.

Too many children being taken into care says social services chief

Birmingham Post

Too many children are being taken into care in Birmingham because social workers lack basic information or the skills to judge whether youngsters are really at risk of abuse or neglect, the man appointed to shake up the city’s social services has claimed.

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (Commencement No. 12) Order 2009

Statutory Instrument

This Order brings into force on 30th September 2009 the provisions of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 listed in article 2 to the extent that they are not already in force.

How to Reduce the Effects of Divorce on Your Health?

Family Law Collaborative Divorce Blog

Those amongst us who are divorced or widowed could suffer 20% more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer than those who are married.

Coping with divorce, part one. Where’s your head at?

Marilyn Stowe Blog

How do I help clients to cope with divorce? Although my remit is legal, I consider my clients’ wellbeing to be extremely important.

BAAF adoption at record levels

Community Care

The number of families adopting hard-to-place children through the British Association for Adoption and Fostering has hit record levels, according to new statistics released this week.

Divorce law needs reforming to reflect life in the 21st Century

Birmingham Post

The recent spate of high profile, celebrity divorces and record-breaking multi-million pound has led to calls for reform in divorce law. Elizabeth Howe looks at why England has become the divorce capital of the world.

Preferred candidate for post of Children’s Commissioner announced

DCSF

The Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls has today written to the Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee to invite him to hold a pre-appointment hearing with Maggie Atkinson, who he has nominated to be the next Children’s Commissioner when Sir Al Aynsley-Green comes to the end of his five year appointment on 28 February 2010.

Sacked Baby P boss seeks review

BBC News

The former director of children's services in Haringey Council is seeking a judicial review of her dismissal in the wake of the Baby P case.

Is My Trust Fund Protected If I Get Divorced? – A Jersey Perspective (Part II)

Family Law Week

Andrew Fox, a barrister and head of family law at Sinels, provides a comprehensive review - in 2 parts - of the interplay between the English and Jersey courts when faced with trust funds on divorce. This second part concentrates on the Jersey court's approach to the relationship with English divorce courts. Part 1 was published in September.

Divorce tycoon's wife given week reprieve over eviction

Evening Standard

The estranged wife of the tycoon in a bitter £400m divorce battle was today given a one-week reprieve from eviction.

Scotland launches the Multi-Agency Resource Service for Children

The Gov Monitor

Scottish social workers have begun receiving advice from a new hub of child protection expertise. The first in the UK – as they work to keep young people safe from neglect or abuse.

Should doctors and nurses screen for domestic violence? UK researchers say no

Australian Divorce Blog

UK researchers, published in the British Medical Journal asked the question about whether health professionals should screen for domestic violence.

Birmingham social work model 'not fit for purpose' says report

Guardian

The social work model in a city where eight children known to social workers have died in the past four years was branded unfit for purpose by a damning official inquiry today.

Social services deemed 'unfit' to protect city's needy children

Independent

A damning report into Birmingham's children's services following a series of child deaths has exposed serious management failings in an organisation hampered by high levels of sick leave and excessive red tape.

Mother Acquitted of Shaking Baby to Apply to Discharge Care Orders

Pink Tape

Fatimah Miah is a mother recently acquitted of the charge of manslaughter in relation to her baby son who died in May 2007. The Telegraph reports here that she is to make an application to the High Court for the return of the baby’s three siblings who are now in care.

Standing up for Social Work

Laws of Love

As yet another Children’s Services Department comes under pressure from a damning report (see BBC story), it’s worth sparing a moment for the Social Work profession.

Social work 'not fit for purpose'

BBC News

The children's social work model used by Birmingham Social Services is not "fit for purpose", a report has found.

Brussels II case first family business for Supreme Court

Family Law Week

Mother seeks to challenge the ambit of the jurisdictional framework of Brussels II Revised and to clarify the ability of the court to stay proceedings

Social workers to check pets and fridges during suspected child abuse cases

Guardian

Social workers are to be instructed to check the contents of families' fridges, take pictures inside the home and ensure pets are healthy when investigating suspected child abuse cases.

A Better Way To Divorce

Judith's Divorce Blog

In September I completed training in collaborative practice. Six solicitors in Tees Valley, along with many others across the North East region and the country nationally, are now offering a new way to divorce.

Child social services report due

BBC News

An independent report into Birmingham's social services department is set to be released later.

John Cleese launches his How to Finance Your Divorce tour

Telegraph

John Cleese has gone back on the road at the age of 70, claiming that his divorce settlement from third wife Alyce Faye Eichelberger has made it necessary.

Sham marriage boom after judges rule Home Office crackdown is illegal

Daily Mail

Sham marriages are booming after judges relaxed laws designed to prevent them, figures show.

Cafcass & Private Children Law Proceedings – by guest blogger Jenny Wilmot

Marilyn Stowe Blog

As a Cafcass volunteer, I used to supervise contact at a contact centre in Sheffield once every four to six weeks at weekends. I saw many families that had been subjected to the court system.

How child protection social workers and police work together

Community Care

The relationship between child protection social workers and local police is key. In Wimbledon better joint working is producing tangible improvements, writes Andrew Mickel

Baby P borough takes on social workers from North America

Guardian

Haringey children's services department at centre of abuse tragedy turns to professionals from outside UK

Offsetting the Value of a Pension on Divorce: Why & By How Much? - by guest blogger Miles Hendy

Family Law Collaborative Divorce Blog

For many people facing divorce, the value of their pension fund may be their biggest asset. The most common way to factor the value of that fund into a divorce financial settlement is for the value of another asset held, such as cash or property, to be offset against the value of the pension fund.

Self-help!

Laws of Love

My attention was drawn today to the recent case of Imerman v Tchenguiz [2009] EWHC 2024 QB, which covers the fraught area of financial disclosure in divorce proceedings.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act comes into force

Family Law Newswatch

The single greatest change to affect the UK fertility sector in nearly two decades will take place today, as the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) comes into force.

Fostering Network campaign seeks more status for carers

Community Care

The Fostering Network today launched a campaign - backed by 12 other children's charities - for more support and recognition for the UK's foster carers to "revive the struggling care system".

Children born from donated sperm or eggs can trace genetic siblings, under new laws

Telegraph

Children conceived by egg or sperm donation will have the chance to find their biological siblings once they turn 18 under new laws which coming into effect, authorities said.

Mother cleared of shaking baby to death fights to get other children back

Telegraph

A mother who was cleared of shaking her baby to death earlier this year will go to the family courts today in an attempt to get her three remaining children returned to her.

Jump in protection register cases

BBC News

The number of youngsters placed on child protection registers increased by almost a third in a year, new figures have shown.

Prenuptial agreements and the High Holy Days: food for thought

Marilyn Stowe Blog

It appears that there has been a huge rise in the number of people entering into prenuptial agreements, and on Thursday the BBC telephoned to ask if I could attend their studios in London for a live chat about prenups on Saturday morning.

The Mystery of the Missing Millions

Judith's Divorce Blog

The press has been following the tragic divorce tale of Mr and Mrs Young. They separated in 2006 when it’s alleged Mr Young was worth some £400 million. It is reported that sadly he now claims that, and partially as result of the credit crunch, he is £23 million in debt and facing potential bankruptcy.