Cuts force domestic violence refuges to turn victims away

Charities say funding cuts mean it is increasingly difficult to find beds for vulnerable women.

Full story: The Guardian

Child protection services face unannounced inspections

Inspections of child protection services in England are to be unannounced, more intensive and child-focused, the inspecting body, Ofsted has announced.

Full story: BBC News

Child Support Agency charge backed

Iain Duncan Smith has defended proposals to charge single parents for using the Child Support Agency, stating "we're not asking for much".

Full story: The Press Association

Fostering services in need of radical reform, says Policy Exchange

Fostering services in England and Wales are in need of radical reform, according to a report published by Policy Exchange, the independent educational charity.

Full report: Family Law Week

Vitamin D deficiency linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The BBC Radio 4 programme Today has reported that two senior paediatric pathologists claim to have discovered Vitamin D deficiency in a significant number of children who have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Full story: Family Law Week

Birmingham recruits Lincolnshire children's services chief

Birmingham's embattled children's services department has appointed a director from an Ofsted-rated outstanding authority to turn around its fortunes.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Welsh Govt consults on practitioner guidance for new Child Practice Review framework

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on draft practitioner guidance for its new Child Practice Review (CPR) framework.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

Welfare bill suffers Lords defeat over child support

The coalition has suffered its biggest defeat in the Lords since being elected over plans to charge single parents to use the Child Support Agency.

Full story: BBC News

Latest CSA performance statistics released

In the last quarter ending December 2011, 78.0% of all cases in which maintenance was due had either received maintenance via the CSA collection service, or had a maintenance direct arrangement in place.

Full story: Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

Putting children first – £20 million to help separating families

An extra £20 million will be made available to support separated and separating families as part of the radical overhaul of the Child Maintenance system, Ministers announced today.

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

Tory peer threatens to lead revolt over Child Support Agency charging fees

Lord Mackay, who served as lord chancellor under Thatcher and Major, opposes the agency charging single parents 12%.

Full story: The Guardian

LSC agrees to extra family tender round

The LSC has agreed to an additional tender round for the final family contracts to be awarded before the legal aid cuts take effect.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Ex-husband to pay £6 million legal bill in acrimonious divorce

A business tycoon is facing up to £6m in lawyers' bills after an epic million court struggle during which he was ordered to pay a total of £15 million to his ex-wife.

Full story: The Telegraph

New online tool in transparency drive

The Ministry of Justice has published a new online tool that lets people see the length of time cases take in courts across England and Wales. Visitors to the Open Justice website can now view detailed court-by-court data relating to criminal, civil and family court proceedings.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Foster system held back by council fear of criticism

A culture of fear has led some councils to protect themselves more than the children in their care, according to the government's child protection adviser.

Full story: BBC News

Ken Clarke: 'use mediation over courts'

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has urged separating couples to consider mediation when they separate or divorce, instead of turning to the courts.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Department for Education confirms new Chair of Cafcass

Education Secretary Michael Gove has appointed Baroness Tyler as the new Chair of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

Full story: Department for Education

Unaccompanied children arriving in UK continue to be detained in contravention of UNCRC standards

Children’s prospects of gaining permission to remain are prejudiced by premature interviewing, says the Children's Commissioner.

Full story: Family Law Week

Social workers feel powerless to protect neglected children

Report warns of unduly high thresholds and inadequate resources to support needy families.

Full story: The Independent

Council pays £1m damages to four siblings for child abuse failings

Essex County Council has paid damages of almost £1m to four siblings who suffered years of parental abuse, Community Care has reported.

Full story: Family Law Week

Guidelines for the instruction of medical experts from overseas in family cases

These guidelines provide instruction of medical experts from overseas in family cases and have been produced by the Experts Committee of the Family Justice Council.

Practice Guidance: Family Law

NYAS appeal to Justice Secretary to overturn LSC decision

The National Youth Advocacy Service is challenging a decision by the Legal Services Commission that would result in them being unable to continue providing representation for children in family courts from 1 February 2012.

Full story: Family Law

Russian oligarch's ex-wife wins £12.5m after 'unfair' post-nup

The former wife of a Russian oligarch has won a divorce payout of £12.5 million after a judge ruled the postnuptial agreement she signed was "grossly unfair".

Full story: The Telegraph

Number of UK families rises by about 1 million in last decade

In 2011 there were 17.9 million families in the UK, according to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Full story: Family Law Week

reunite sees a sharp increase in the number of children parentally abducted

Latest figures released by reunite International Child Abduction Centre show a 47 per cent increase in the number of child abduction cases reported to their advice line.

Full story: Family Law Week

11% rise in divorcing couples sharing pensions

Increasing numbers of couples are resorting to raiding their retirement funds when they divorce, research suggests, as they have few other assets.

Full story: The Telegraph

Study ponders benefits of marriage

Marriage may be overrated, according to researchers who compared the pros and cons of wedlock and cohabitation.

Full story: The Press Association

Legal aid cuts will put domestic violence victims at risk, report warns

Research by women's groups says nearly half of victims will not be eligible for help under restrictions proposed in bill.

Full story: The Guardian

Clegg: We will defy anti-gay marriage rebellion

Nick Clegg has pledged the Government will not backslide on its promise to legalise gay marriage despite a revolt by Conservative MPs who oppose the plan.

Full story: The Independent

Association launches revised code of ethics with warning to employers

Unmanageable caseloads are making it impossible for social workers to practice ethically, the British Association of Social Workers warned today as it issued a revised version of its code of ethics.

Full story: Community Care

Family reform judge calls for culture change

A ‘strong consensus’ and a ‘commitment to a change in culture’ is needed to improve the efficiency of the family justice system, according to the senior judge charged with reform.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Cameron faces Tory backbench revolt over gay marriage plans

Tory MPs hope to rally more than 100 backbenchers to oppose Cameron's attempt to legalise gay marriage.

Full story: The Guardian


A pioneering scheme is aiming to transform the role of guardians by involving them in family proceedings at an earlier stage to prevent cases from going to court and reduce delays.

Full story: National Family Mediation

Going into care early reduces risk of offending, study finds

Early entry into care, stable placements and purposeful activity can significantly reduce a child’s risk of turning to crime, research published today has found.

Full story: Community Care

Children's Commissioner for England highlights risks to children's rights of Welfare Reform Bill

The Office of the Children's Commissioner for England has issued an assessment of the impact of the Welfare Reform Bill which highlights the risks to children's rights.

Full story: Family Law Week

LSC faces action on family law contracts

The Legal Services Commission faces the threat of litigation from legal aid firms refused new family law contracts.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

New court statistics show average length of family proceedings at every county court

A new set of court statistics is claimed by the Ministry of Justice to support the case for a comprehensive reform programme across the justice system.

Full story: Family Law Week

Tycoon's ex-wife to continue case

The London ex-wife of a property tycoon has "secured funding" which will allow her to continue a fight for maintenance from her former husband, a High Court judge has heard.

Full story: The Press Association

The Family Justice Modernisation Programme

First update from Mr Justice Ryder.

Full story: Judiciary of England and Wales

Law Society wary on shared parenting possibility

The Law Society’s family law committee has cautioned against introducing a legal presumption of shared parenting after divorce, following indications that the government may seek to change the law.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Ofsted inspections of adoption providers to be simplified

Inspection of adoption agencies is to be simplified in another part of the Government’s drive to improve the care children receive.

Full story: The Telegraph

MPs to question three major children's charities on child protection in England

The Commons Education Committee takes oral evidence today from Barnardo's, the NSPCC and The Children's Society.

Full story: UK Parliament

Ten days' notice on adoption inspections mooted

Adoption support agencies could be given just 10 days’ notice before an Ofsted inspection, rather than the current eight-week period, under proposals outlined today.

Full story: Community Care

Barnardo's reveals desperate need of older children in care

New statistics out today to mark the start of Barnardo's Fostering and Adoption Week suggest that urgent attention needs to be paid to the care of older, vulnerable, children.

Full story: Barnardo's

Legal aid cuts are false economy, says study

Planned cuts to legal aid in private family work, social welfare law and clinical negligence will save less than half the sum predicted by the government, according to an independent economic study published today.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Family lawyers warn of the devastating impact of legal aid changes

Ahead of the House of Lords’ scrutiny of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill this week, Resolution, the association of 6,000 family lawyers and professionals, has warned of its potentially devastating consequences.

Full story: Resolution

CMEC publishes survey of Child Maintenance Options Outcomes for 2009/10

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has published findings from a 2010 survey of 2,009 separated parents using the Child Maintenance Options telephone service.

Full story: Family Law Week

Cafcass’s child protection team rated ‘good’ by Ofsted

The specialist child protection team, based at Cafcass' National Business Centre in Coventry, has been graded 'good' in a recent Ofsted inspection.

Full story: Family Law Week

Pension fears 'put divorce on hold'

Thousands of couples are putting divorce proceedings on hold because of uncertainty over public sector pensions sparked by the Government's controversial reforms, it was revealed today.

Full story: The Independent

Plans for child access rights for warring parents faces Cabinet battle

Moves to give both parents a legal right to see their children after divorce could cause a Cabinet split, it has emerged.

Full story: The Telegraph

Dump divorce day and make mediation a resolution instead - Djanogly

New Year is the peak time for couples to consider divorce or separation - but Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly is encouraging families to consider mediation as an alternative to going to court.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Ministers order first official study into adoption breakdown

The first study looking at why, and how often, adoptions break down has been commissioned by the Department for Education.

Full story: Community Care

Divorced mums and dads could get legal right to see their children

Divorced parents will be given a legal right to see their children under plans being drawn up by ministers, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Full story: The Telegraph

Bishop calls for church to help reduce divorce rate

A bishop has called for the church to encourage people to take marriage more seriously as a way of combating high levels of divorcing couples.

Full story: WalesOnline

Proposals for abolishing the CMEC: Law Society response

Law Society response to proposals for abolishing the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC), and transferring its functions to the Department of Work and Pensions.

Full story: The Law Society

Facebook allows natural parents to track down adopted children, charities warn

Charities have warned of the rising number of adopted children contacted by their birth parents via Facebook, leading to emotional and psychological distress.

Full story: The Telegraph

College of Social Work opens for business

The College of Social Work formally opened its doors to paying members this week.

Full story: Community Care

Families with children hit by tax and benefit changes

Families with children will be hardest hit by tax and benefit changes aimed at cutting the deficit, a charity argues.

Full story: BBC News

Munro leads New Year roll of honour in social care

Professor Eileen Munro has been awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours List following her review into child protection, which last year called for sweeping reforms to assessments and performance management.

Full story: Community Care

Judge launches foundation to reduce 'disease' of divorce

A senior High Court judge is launching a foundation to defend marriage and reduce of the "scourge of society" of family breakdown.

Full story: The Telegraph

Work plan for 'troubled families' across England

Ministers are set to announce £200m in additional support to help members of "troubled families" find work and deal with debt and drugs problems.

Full story: BBC News

Appeals soar after secret courts are opened to public

The number of appeals against deprivation of liberty orders has surged in the aftermath of a controversial Court of Protection case.

Full story: The Independent