Child support body's accounts rejected over payment errors

National Audit Office questions data reliability and claims accounts contain over £50m in erroneous payments.

Full story: The Guardian

Sharp fall in number of serious case reviews carried out

Cost, the difficulties around anonymity and the prospect of the Munro Review changing the system have prompted a fall in the number of serious case reviews being carried out, according to sector experts.

Full story: Community Care

Loughton: Courts should ask for more foster carer evidence

Foster carers should be called more often as expert witnesses on family court care applications, children's minister Tim Loughton has said.

Full story: Community Care

Ministers likely to accept Cafcass move to justice ministry

The government is likely to accept proposals that Cafcass should come under the control of the Ministry of Justice as part of a family justice service.

Full story: Community Care

Catholic charity appeal dismissed

A Catholic charity which wants exemption from equality laws which would force it to provide its adoption services to gay couples has had its latest appeal rejected.

Full story: Press Association

Charity opposes review of fostering regulations

The Fostering Network has joined forces with other voluntary organisations working with children in care to oppose any changes at this time to the new framework for fostering services and regulations on care planning, placement and review.

Full story: Family Law Week

High Court judge 'sits' in Tenerife: Sensitive child protection cases will be heard by telephone in hotel room

A High Court judge responsible for handling Britain’s most sensitive emergency court cases over Easter will be conducting hearings by phone from his holiday 1,800 miles away in Tenerife.

Full story: Mail on Sunday

'Tragic decision' by Kent county council let sex abuser foster girl aged 14

High court judge reveals how failures of social services exposed children to paedophile David Mason's 'vile acts'.

Full story: The Guardian

High Court judge criticises social workers, police and Ann Widdecombe

A High Court judge has criticised social workers, the police and former MP Ann Widdecombe for failing to protect a vulnerable family against a paedophile.

Full story: The Telegraph

NSPCC says child abuse referrals at all-time high

The number of serious child abuse cases referred to police or social services by the NSPCC reached an all-time high last year, the children's charity says.

Full story: BBC News

Court hearings should not be private, says Lord Neuberger

Court proceedings should be in public and freely reported, and any restrictions should be kept to the minimum necessary to enable justice to be done, the Court of Appeal said last week.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Cafcass Cheshire and Merseyside rated ‘good’ by Ofsted

Cafcass has made "outstanding" progress in providing a timely service to children and families in Cheshire and Merseyside, according to an Ofsted report published last week.

Full story: Family Law

Mother drops legal bid to sterilise daughter with learning difficulties

Her decision was announced at a preliminary hearing at the court of protection before the president of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall.

Full story: The Guardian

Failed adoption plans study reveals age and ethnic divisions

The number of looked-after children left in limbo as their adoption plans fall through has been revealed for the first time by the Department for Education.

Full story: Community Care

New President's Guidance on listing and hearing care cases

The President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, has issued new guidance that outlines best practice to ensure judicial continuity and proactive judicial case management for listing and hearing care cases.

Full story: Family Law

Domestic violence cuts put 200,000 children at risk

Budget cuts could leave up to 200,000 child victims of domestic violence at risk of long-term mental health problems and some at risk of death, sector leaders have warned.

Full story: Community Care

Social workers urged to team up to resist threshold rises

Children's social workers have been urged to blow the whistle on rising child protection thresholds in teams rather than individually.

Full story: Community Care

Brothers divided by Atlantic in custody court ruling

Two brothers will be separated by thousands of miles after a judge ruled one could live with his father in America, while the other should stay with his mother in the UK.

Full story: The Telegraph

Rise in West Midlands children in local authority care

More children are being taken into care across the West Midlands, according to latest figures.

Full story: BBC News

Secrecy fears after court bans contact with 65 people

Fresh fears have been raised about secrecy in court cases after a judge banned journalists approaching 65 different people in a new gagging order.

Full story: The Telegraph

Child protection thresholds could spark legal challenges

Councils that knowingly leave children in abusive situations leave themselves open to expensive legal challenges, say lawyers.

Full story: Community Care

Legal aid cuts will harm children, says champion of justice for the poor

Tireless Pauline McIntyre, who works in one of the UK's most deprived areas, says family law is unfairly seen as a soft target.

Full story: The Guardian

Teen domestic violence not child abuse, say police chiefs

Teenage girls suffering domestic violence should receive adult victim support rather than child protection services, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Full story: Community Care

Nearly half of all children see parents divorce by 16

Nearly half of all children will go through the trauma of seeing their parents divorce before they are 16, according to a new report.

Full story: The Telegraph

Minister decries adoption 'age bar'

Tim Loughton says few children taken in care at five or older are placed with a family, due to 'informal age limit' by local authorities.

Full story: The Guardian

Court of Appeal reiterates the importance of Payne v Payne in leave to remove cases

In the Court of Appeal case of W (Children), Sir Nicholas Wall made clear his view that undue prominence had been accorded to his own words in the case of Re D (Children), in which he had appeared to support criticism of Payne v Payne.

Full story: Family Law Week

Lawyers claim £645 million family breakdown legal aid bill

Legal aid lawyers are making £645 million from taxpayers over family breakdowns each year - £28 for every household in England and Wales.

Full story: The Telegraph

Couple told to cool off in £400m divorce battle

In what has become one of Britain's most acrimonious and high-profile divorce battles, including walk-on roles for Simon Cowell and Sir Philip Green, a couple at war over a £400m "missing fortune" has been given six months to "cool off" after a week of bitter exchanges in the High Court.

Full story: The Independent

High Court hears claim that aspects of Adoption and Children Act 2002 are incompatible with ECHR

Parents seek redress where local authority ends placement before adoption hearing.

Full story: Family Law Week

The Child Abduction and Custody (Parties to Conventions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2011

Substitutes a new Schedule 1 to the Child Abduction and Custody (Parties to Conventions) Order 1986. Includes San Marino and Ukraine in the list of Contracting States to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Statutory Instrument

Growing riches of 'penniless' husband's best friend

A secretive multi-millionaire property dealer was dragged into Britain's most acrimonious divorce battle yesterday as a court heard that his riches had flourished while his business partner had become penniless.

Full story: The Telegraph

Liverpool children's care praised by Ofsted

Liverpool has been ranked by Ofsted as among the best two cities in England for its care of vulnerable children.

Full story: BBC News

Divorce app could help couples decide if their marriage has a future

The makers of the £9.99 app say it provides a practical view of the legal process, while critics say it trivialises divorce.

Full story: The Guardian

Simon Cowell denies helping friend hide £2 billion in divorce case

Simon Cowell has described allegations that he helped a friend hide up to £2 billion worth of assets as “scandalous” as he sought to distance himself from Britain’s highest profile divorce case.

Full story: The Telegraph

Government says social workers must blow the whistle

The Department for Education has urged social workers to blow the whistle on local authorities that prevent professionals from protecting children.

Full story: Community Care

All domestic abuse deaths to have multi-agency review

Every domestic abuse death is to be automatically reviewed in England and Wales in an effort to make sure lessons about violence in the home are learned.

Full story: BBC News

Ofsted finds vulnerable children's views 'overlooked'

Social workers and other professionals in England must do more to listen to the views of vulnerable children, Ofsted inspectors say.

Full story: BBC News

Social workers 'scared' cuts put children in danger

Social workers are effectively being pressurised to ignore child abuse as a result of budget cuts, an exclusive Community Care survey has revealed.

Full story: Community Care

CAF can save councils more than £150,000 per child

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) can save councils more than £150,000 in some cases, research has found.

Full story: Community Care

Couple are ordered to pay surrogate mother £568 a month for the baby they will never see

A couple who lost custody of their baby daughter to her surrogate mother have been ordered to hand over more than £500 a month maintenance for the child.

Full story: Daily Mail

Charities slam dearth of adoption support

Adoption charities have hit out at the government for failing to fund and resource adoption support, which they claim is "conspicuous by its absence" from the political agenda.

Full story: Community Care

Michelle Young claims Sir Philip Green and Simon Cowell are helping estranged husband hide £2bn fortune

Michelle Young, the wife at the centre of a £400 million divorce battle, has claimed in court that her estranged husband was now worth £2 billion and relying on friends such as Sir Philip Green and Simon Cowell to help conceal his money.

Full story: The Telegraph

Kent tackles 1,000 child cases without social worker

A team of more than 30 social workers is starting to investigate a backlog of 1,000 child protection cases in Kent which have no dedicated case worker.

Full story: BBC News

March 2011 sees the most ever care applications for a single month

Care application demand for 2010-11 was 3.5% higher than the previous year.

Full story: Family Law Week

More fathers jailed over child support

Prison terms increasingly given for maintenance debts, but critics say policy is counterproductive.

Full story: The Independent on Sunday

Eliassen abduction case: Supreme Court grants permission to appeal

The Supreme Court is to hear the appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision in Eliassen and Baldock v Eliasson and others [2011] EWCA Civ 361. Permission to appeal has been granted by the Supreme Court and the hearing will commence on the 23rd May.

Full story: Family Law Week

Family lawyers welcome 'ambitious' Justice Review Panel plans

Family lawyers have welcomed the ‘ambitious’ proposals published by the Family Justice Review Panel last week, but warned that the changes will not work unless there is adequate funding.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Use of Hair Testing in Family Cases defended at international SoHT meeting

At the recent annual meeting of the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) held in Chamonix, the recent criticism of hair strand testing was discussed by society members.

Full report: Family Law Week

Government reviews director of children's services role

The government is reviewing the current statutory guidance which makes directors of children's services and lead members accountable for the protection of children in their area.

Full story: Community Care

WHSmith offers in-store divorce advice for customers

The store is to install ‘legal access points’, where lawyers will be on hand for consultations.

Full story: Daily Mail

Directors of Children’s Services must be champions for children and families, says new President of ADCS

Directors of Children's Services in local authorities have a key role to play in ensuring that the needs and voices of children are not lost in the structural changes to education and health, the incoming president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services has said.

Full story: Family Law Week

Calls for shake-up of family justice system

Children can wait “well over a year” for the family justice system to determine their future, an independent review panel has found.

Full story: New Law Journal

Tim Loughton: social workers must be debriefed

Employers must "debrief" social workers after particularly traumatic child protection cases to avoid burnout, children's minister Tim Loughton has said.

Full story: Community Care

The Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2011

This Order provides for modifications and amendments to primary and secondary legislation in relation to provisions made in Family Procedure Rules.

Statutory Instrument

Separation mediation plan 'rushed and flawed'

The government has chosen not to wait for its review of family justice, instead introducing one-size-fits-all rules for separating couples..

Full story: The Guardian

New Family Procedure Rules come into force

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 come into force today along with the various Practice Directions and Forms.

Full story: Family Law

Child maintenance changes will penalise single mothers, warn charities

Charities urge Theresa May to rethink child maintenance proposals in a letter saying women will suffer most from new charges.

Full story: The Guardian

Mediation plan ‘could add to divorce stress’

Divorcing couples will from today be required to undergo a mediation assessment before entering a courtroom, in a bid to make the difficult process more efficient and cost-effective.

Full story: WalesOnline

New mediation rules a flawed step in the right direction

New rules on mediation for separating couples that come into force today (6 April) are broadly welcome, but contain worrying flaws because the Government has acted in indecent haste, said family law association Resolution.

Full story: Resolution

Public backs compulsory mediation assessments

Two-thirds of the public support the new enforced mediation assessments being introduced for divorcing and separating couples tomorrow, according to research published by City firm Charles Russell.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Family Justice Review under fire over plan to cut scrutiny

Moves to stop judges scrutinising local authority care plans, outlined by the Family Justice Review, have been described as "dangerous" and "backwards".

Full story: Community Care

Supreme Court abolishes immunity of expert witnesses from civil action

Majority decides that adequate supply of expert witnesses does not require immunity.

Full story: Family Law Week

Ruling on expert witnesses worries child-abuse lawyers

Vital expert witnesses may be too afraid to testify because of the "chilling effect" of a Supreme Court ruling that leaves them open to being sued, lawyers warned yesterday.

Full story: The Independent

Law Society issues new practice note on Family Mediation Information Assessment Meetings

The Law Society has issued a new practice note in anticipation of the implementation on the 6th April of FPR Practice Direction 3A and its accompanying pre-application protocol for Family Mediation Information Assessment Meetings.

Full story: Family Law Week

Stop CSA Charges campaign gathers momentum

Letter to The Times calls on Government to reconsider charging for access to child support service.

Full story: Family Law Week

Children's Commissioner recommends new research on children's and young people's views of child protection to Munro

Children and young people talk about their experience of the child protection system.

Full story: Family Law Week

Children’s views are still not being heard, says Children’s Rights Director

Children's Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, has published the third annual Children's care monitor report, giving children's assessment of social care in England in 2010.

Full story: Family Law Week

Foster carers to get more authority

New fostering regulations in England stipulate that foster carers must be seen as core members of the child care team, with the authority to make more everyday decisions on behalf of the children in their care.

Full story: Family Law

Moving Cafcass to MoJ could dilute social care focus, says College

Proposals to integrate family courts body Cafcass into a new family justice service have sparked concern that guardians will miss out on the supervision and continuing professional development they need.

Full story: Community Care

Family Justice Review: Resolution response to interim report

Family law association Resolution welcomes the interim report on the family justice system in England and Wales published by the UK Government’s Family Justice Review Panel.

Full story: Resolution

Family justice reforms win backing of lawyers and magistrates

Lawyers and magistrates have welcomed proposals to streamline the family justice system, including faster settlements to minimise stress to children, the encouragement of mediation for separating parents and improved access for grandparents.

Full story: The Guardian

Russian wife's £2.85m divorce in Britain will 'open floodgates'

A Russian student has been awarded £2.8 million after an 18-month marriage in a settlement that her ex-husband’s lawyer claimed could turn Britain into the “divorce capital of the world”.

Full story: The Telegraph