Maggie Atkinson welcomes proposals for a stronger, independent, rights-based Children's Commissioner for England

The Government's proposals for a stronger, independent, rights-based Children's Commissioner for England have been welcomed by Dr Maggie Atkinson, the Children's Commissioner.

Full story: Family Law Week

Family law-related applications to the courts decline in latest figures released

The Ministry of Justice has released statistics for court business in the period of October to December 2010. The figures show a sharp decline in most areas of family-related work.

Full story: Family Law Week

Serious case reviews adding to paperwork overload study finds

Serious case reviews are adding to the overload of paperwork and bureaucracy surrounding social workers and other professionals involved in child protection according to a study published today.

Full story: Community Care

Judges to hear applications to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in public

Cases concerned with the withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment from patients in a minimally conscious or vegetative state should all be heard by the Court of Protection and should be heard in public, a senior judge ruled this morning as he refused an application by the family of a woman who has been in this condition since February 2003.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Ofsted brands one in four councils inadequate on safeguarding

One in four councils has "inadequate" safeguarding children's services, according to latest figures from Ofsted.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Serious case review recommendations too confusing, claims study

Local safeguarding children boards have been criticised for the poor quality of their serious case reviews into child deaths and abuse.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Almost half of fostered children in Kent 'not from county'

Almost half of the children in care and foster homes in Kent are from outside the county, according to council figures.

Full story: BBC News

Social workers to be quizzed on media ethics

Social workers are being called on to submit their stories of questionable media ethics to the government's two inquiries to arise from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Looked after children statistics 2011

65,520 children were looked after at 31 March 2011, an increase of two per cent on 2010 and the highest number since 1987.

Full story: Department for Education

More children on protection plans

The number of children on child protecton plans in England has risen by 8% since last year, while the number of children in care has gone up by 2%.

Full story: Community Care

Adoptions continue to fall as children in care rise

The number of adoptions has again plummeted in England, according to figures from the Department for Education.

Full story: Community Care

Brain-damaged woman should not be allowed to die, high court rules

Relatives lose bid to withdraw life-supporting treatment from woman known as M, who is in a minimally-conscious state.

Full story: The Guardian

Reform of kidnap law could hit warring parents

Parents who run off with their children in custody battles could face kidnap charges under proposals to reform abduction laws.

Full story: The Telegraph

Children's spending on special guardianship orders rises sharply

Council spending on special guardianship orders is set to increase massively this year, sparking concerns it is at the expense of adoption support.

Full story: Community Care

Spending on child death reviews set to double

Spending on serious case reviews and child death overviews will more than double over the next year, according to council budget data.

Full story: Community Care

Atkinson welcomes proposed changes to children's commissioner role

Children's commissioner for England Maggie Atkinson has backed government plans to bolster her role.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Councils' foster carer recruitment drive garners more than 3,000 responses

A fostering campaign run jointly by 23 councils across the north west of England has attracted more than 3,000 enquiries, according to latest figures.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Kent children services 'making progress', report finds

Kent County Council is making "significant progress" in improving its heavily criticised children's services, a report has found.

Full story: BBC News

Cohabitants should have scope for financial redress in the event of a relationship breakdown, warns Law Society

Commenting on the government’s refusal to enact legislation on cohabitation in this Parliament the Law Society says reform of cohabitation law is badly needed as cohabitants should have proper redress in the event of a relationship breakdown, when their financial and property rights need to be adjusted.

Full story: The Law Society

Attorney General: cuts to legal aid will force people to represent themselves in court

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, is to raise concerns about cuts in legal aid with the Cabinet. Mr Grieve has said he will pass on the fears of family lawyers that the Coalition’s cuts will force many people to try to represent themselves in court.

Full story: The Telegraph

Children’s rights coalition announces a year of action for greater recognition of children’s rights

A groundbreaking coalition of children and young people's charities, voluntary organisations and statutory bodies will join forces for a year of action to see greater recognition of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and to press for its systematic use and implementation across all areas of children's lives.

Full story: Family Law Week

New interim board appointed to advise Office of the Children’s Commissioner

Board will work towards the creation of new Office of the Children's Commissioner for England.

Full story: Family Law Week

Four-year-old girl known to social services murdered at home

A serious case review is to be carried out after a four-year-old girl known to social services was murdered while at her home in Manchester.

Full story: The Telegraph

MoJ pushes for increased take-up of mediation with £10m budget injection

The Ministry of Justice will add £10m to the UK's publicly funded mediation budget next year as part of an effort to promote the use of mediation over litigation.

Full story: Legalweek

Civil partners less likely than married couples to 'divorce'

More than 500 children have been born to lesbian couples since a change in fertility laws two years ago, government figures suggest.

Full story: The Telegraph

One in six adults now 'living in sin'

The rapid rise in couples who choose to live together without being married may be acting as a “firewall” to stop unstable relationships from ending years later in divorce, according to research.

Full story: The Telegraph

The Community Legal Service (Funding) (Amendment No 2) Order 2011 (SI 2066/2011)

This Order amends the Community Legal Service (Funding) Order 2007 (S.I.2007/2441) ("the 2007 Order"). It reduces the cap on the level of enhancements to hourly rates that can be paid to 100% for civil non-family proceedings in the higher courts and 50% for all other proceedings.

Statutory Instrument

The Allocation and Transfer of Proceedings (Amendment No 2) Order 2011 (SI 2064/2011)

This Order amends the Allocation and Transfer of Proceedings Order 2008 (S.I. 2008/2836) so that Chorley County Court, Rawtenstall County Court and Shrewsbury County Court cease to be family hearing centres.

Statutory Instrument

The Supreme Court Fees (Amendment) Order 2011 (SI 1737(L 16)/2011)

This Order amends the Supreme Courts Fees Order 2009 (S.I. 2009/2131) to increase the fee for an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court from £800 to £1,000.

Statutory Instrument

Recruitment problems hamper bid to remodel social work

Attempts to remodel social work in several councils across England were hampered by difficulties in recruiting and retaining social workers and limited resources.

Full story: Community Care

Siblings-in-care charity struggles to find council support

A charity running a free service giving brothers and sisters living apart in care the opportunity to stay in touch is struggling to find local authorities willing to refer children to the scheme.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Legal aid bill ‘contravenes UN convention’

The government’s plans to remove legal aid in private law family cases will place the UK in breach of its obligations under a United Nations convention to prevent discrimination against women, the Gazette has been told.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

College of social work talks break down

A bitter dispute between the British Association of Social Workers and the College of Social Work has been reignited.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Conduct and retention concerns over children's homes staff

Residential child care in Wales has experienced "significant turnover" and a disproportionate number of conduct referrals since the introduction of mandatory registration, the Care Council for Wales reveals in its annual review.

Full story: Community Care

Family bar warns of ‘bleak’ future at national meeting

Family barristers have warned of a ‘bleak’ future for family justice if the government’s legal aid cuts are implemented as planned.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Ministers step in over Pembrokeshire child failings

A ministerial board is being set up to help Pembrokeshire council overcome failings in its child protection procedures.

Full story: BBC News

Women face cash crisis in break-ups as banks tighten purse strings on 'divorce loans'

Women stuck in unhappy marriages face a cash crisis with 'divorce loans' at banks drying up in the financial squeeze.

Full story: This is Money

Head of 1 Hare Court joins High Court bench

Family set 1 Hare Court’s chambers head Philip Moor QC has been appointed to the High Court bench, the Ministry of Justice announced this morning.

Full story: The Lawyer

Children want to participate in care home inspections

Children living in residential care want to be more involved in inspections, according to a survey by the children's rights director for England.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Humanists call for equal marriage laws for all

‘Government proposals for same-sex marriage are welcome, but must not entrench new forms of discrimination’, the British Humanist Association has commented in response to the government’s announcement of a consultation into the reform of civil marriage.

Full story: British Humanist Association

Ofsted lauds South Yorkshire and Humberside Cafcass

Ofsted inspectors have praised the South Yorkshire and Humberside operation of family court advisory service Cafcass.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Government's legal aid cuts will harm women and children, says national meeting of family barristers

The Bar Council and the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) hosted a national meeting of the family Bar on Saturday, 17th September, to warn of the effects of the Government's intended justice cuts.

Full story: Family Law Week

Children hit hardest by legal aid reform, says study

More than 200,000 children and young adults will be hit by heavy cuts to the legal aid budget, according to research.

Full story: The Independent

Hope for new law to allow gay marriage

Gay marriage moved a stepped closer to becoming a reality today as the Government announced a long-awaited consultation on changing the law on same-sex civil unions.

Full story: The Independent

Single parents 'cannot afford' coalition's child maintenance fees

Gingerbread charity says nearly 300,000 families could go without child maintenance under proposals in welfare reform bill.

Full story: The Guardian

Wales halts downward adoption trend

A decline in the adoption rate in Wales has been halted, according to latest figures.

Full story: Community Care

Lexcel accreditation for LSC family contract providers

New providers for Legal Services Commission's (LSC) family contracts can now choose to be Lexcel accredited instead of the obtaining the LSC's Specialist Quality Mark.

Full story: The Law Society

Legal aid cuts: the fight goes on

Campaign groups have vowed to continue their fight against the government’s legal aid cuts, following the rejection of opposition amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill by a committee of MPs.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

LSCB good practice not dependent on resources, says Ofsted

Good practice at local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) is not dependent on having plentiful resources, according to a report published by Ofsted today (15 September).

Full story: Community Care

Half of vulnerable girls face abusive relationships

More than half of vulnerable teenage girls have been victims of violence in at least one of their relationships, an NSPCC study has revealed.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Family Intervention Projects and Services

Official statistics on families receiving support from family intervention services in England up to March 2011 are published today.

Full story: Department for Education

Forced marriage crime ruled out by ministers

Ministers have ruled out creating a forced marriage crime, despite pressure from MPs to do so.

Full story: BBC News

Third of councils no longer run children's homes

More than one-third of English councils no longer own or run any mainstream children's homes, a Community Care investigation has found, raising doubts about the future of local authority provision.

Full story: Community Care

Local authorities enthusiastic about Family Courts Information Pilot, review finds

Local authorities were enthusiastic about the Family Courts Information Pilot (FCIP), a Ministry of Justice review has found.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

Plan to publish family court judgments online may be reviewed amid cost-benefit concerns

The Ministry of Justice may scale back plans to publish family court judgments online, after a review of the pilot project questioned whether there was any ‘real benefit’ in reporting every case.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Five children sent back to ‘horrific’ family home after judge duped by parents

Mr Justice Mostyn admitted he was ‘comprehensively and deliberately misled’ last summer, when he returned the children to their abusive family in Birmingham.

Full story: Daily Mail

MoJ publishes review of Family Courts Information Pilot

Review considers feasibility of producing written judgments in county courts and magistrates’ courts and publishing anonymised versions on BAILII.

Full story: Family Law Week

Liberty secures equal pension benefits in company scheme for civil partners

Following legal action brought by Liberty, a multi-national company has agreed to give the civil partners of its employees the same pension benefits as spouses.

Full story: Family Law Week

Interim DCS for failing council straddles two jobs

The interim director of children's services appointed to failing city council Peterborough will be juggling two jobs while trying to turn safeguarding services around.

Full story: Community Care

Statement on the Government’s response to the Law Commission report “Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown”

We note the Government’s cautious response to our recommendations, and that reform will not be implemented during the current Parliament.

Full story: Law Commission

£8.5m boost to implement Munro review

The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has allocated £8.5m to implementing the findings of Eileen Munro's review of child protection.

Full story: Community Care

MoJ launches new online mediation directory

The Ministry of Justice has announced its new online mediation directory, which will go live on 1 October 2011. It will replace the National Mediation Helpline, which is due to close on 30 September.

Full story: Family Law

Live-in couples can still have rights despite Government U-turn, says Law Society

Couples who live together but do not marry can still have similar rights to married couples, despite the Government’s U-turn on giving cohabiting couples more rights, says the Law Society.

Full story: Law Society

Cafcass releases care statistics for August

The numbers of children subject to an application to be taken into care have reached record levels every month in 2011 bar one.

Full story: Cafcass

Legal aid bill committee rejects all amendments

The legal aid bill committee yesterday rejected all the amendments tabled by Labour MPs to the government’s programme of cuts.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Couple banned from fostering due to two cigars

A couple have been left heartbroken after "politically correct" council bosses banned them from fostering a child because the husband had smoked two celebratory cigars in 18 months.

Full story: The Telegraph

Boys with absent fathers likely to have children earlier

Boys with absent fathers are likely to have their first child earlier than those who grow up with two parents, a study found.

Full story: The Telegraph

Legal Aid Bill 'could leave thousands of children at risk'

The Legal Aid Bill, if approved, would exclude at least 6,000 children from receiving legal support, according to The Children's Society.

Full story: Community Care

File Reduction Trial

His Honour Judge Altman, designated family judge for London, has issued Guidance in relation to a trial at the Principal Registry of the Family Division regarding the filing and service of documentation within public law cases.

Full story: Family Law

Proposed cuts to legal aid threaten coalition unity

MPs will tomorrow reconvene to resume their examination of the controversial Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

Full story: Family Law

LSC offers interim family contracts to all firms meeting minimum standards

The tender process opens today for the family contracts which will run until the cuts outlined in the legal aid bill come into force.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Hedge fund boss faces £160m divorce settlement after leaving wife for male fashion designer

One of Britain’s wealthiest men is facing a huge divorce settlement after separating from his wife and starting a relationship with a flamboyant male fashion designer.

Full story: The Telegraph

Obese children to be put up for adoption

A couple may have heir obese children removed after social services ruled they had not lost enough weight.

Full story: The Telegraph

Hampshire foster children 'sent up to 250 miles away'

Some children in Hampshire are being fostered up to 250 miles (400km) from their homes, a children's trust said.

Full story: BBC News

Government announces further £6m provision for children in care and families in need of support

The Children's Minister Tim Loughton has announced an extra £6 million a year to provide additional support for foster carers and vulnerable families.

Full story: Family Law Week

Elizabeth Watson purges contempt and is freed from Holloway

Elizabeth Watson, who was last week sentenced to a nine month prison term for her part in the naming of parties in care proceedings, has been released after purging her contempt.

Full story: Family Law Week

Number of children accommodated in secure children’s homes falls by 15 per cent

Latest figures released by the Department for Education show that at 31 March 2011 there were 221 children accommodated in secure children's homes in England and Wales.

Full story: Family Law Week

International conference discusses national approaches to surrogacy

The Hague Conference is currently debating the development of an international convention on international surrogacy, similar to the Child Abduction and Adoption conventions.

Full story: Family Law Week

Children’s Legal Centre has joined children’s charity Coram

The Children's Legal Centre and children's charity Coram have amalgamated as from 1 September.

Full story: Family Law Week

Child maintenance excuses revealed

A hardcore of parents are trying to avoid paying child maintenance using "ridiculous" excuses - including a footballer earning £4,000 a week who said he could not pay off arrears because of the cost of keeping his Ferrari on the road, a Government report has revealed.

Full story: Press Association

Ministerial adviser faces hostility over adoption reform report

The UK ministerial adviser on adoption has this week spoken about the passionate responses provoked by his report into the adoption system, which was published on 5 July 2011.

Full story: Family Law

Expert witnesses elusive as pay falls

Reduced legal aid fees for expert witnesses are making it ‘almost impossible’ to find experts and in some cases leaving law firms out of pocket by thousands of pounds, a leading family lawyer has warned.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Woman's hour psychologist's autism evidence 'used as weapon' in divorce case

A child psychologist who has appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour tried to stop a father winning custody of his teenage daughter by claiming they both had a form of autism, a hearing was told.

Full story: The Telegraph