Legal aid U-turn for brain-damaged babies and domestic violence victims

Children who suffer brain damage at birth and more victims of domestic violence will be entitled to financial support for courtroom claims, the Ministry of Justice has announced in significant concessions to its legal aid bill.

Full story: The Guardian

Ann Widdecombe calls for gay marriage referendum

Ann Widdecombe has called for a referendum on equal marriage rights for gays, believing such a measure would fail.

Full story: Pink News

Seven new family law QCs appointed

The Lord Chancellor has approved the appointment of seven new family law Queen's Counsel today.

Full story: Family Law

Number of people getting married jumps by 4% after years of steady decline... but it's still lowest rate since 1862

The number of people marrying in England and Wales has jumped by four per cent after years of steady decline, statistics showed today.

Full story: Daily Mail

Child maintenance under threat

The quango that oversees child maintenance payments is at risk of generating an enormous shortfall because of planned government cuts, the National Audit Office will say on Wednesday.

Full story: The Guardian

Savings accounts for children in long term care

Donors who wish to give money directly to some of the most vulnerable young people in the UK will be able to through a new savings account for children in care, the Department for Education announced today.

Full story:  Department for Education

Prince Charles's friend forced to give wife £260,000 in divorce payout

Libor Krejci, a property developed described as a “polo-playing friend of Prince Charles” who was accused of leaving his seriously ill wife penniless and bankrupt, will be forced to give her £260,000 divorce payout, a court has ruled.

Full story: The Telegraph

Birmingham law firm slammed for advertising divorce

A firm of no-win-no-fee solicitors has been accused of encouraging people to divorce after touting for those ‘unhappy with their partners’ in Birmingham City Centre.

Full story: Birmingham Mail

ADCS blasts proposed adoption targets

Ofsted's new adoption targets could inadvertently reduce the number of children put forward for adoption, the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) has warned.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Adoptions: Ofsted issues tougher new rules

Local authorities in England will only get an outstanding rating for adoption in future if they place children within 12 months, Ofsted says.

Full story: BBC News

Wales outlines plans for adoption reform

The Deputy Minister for Social Services and Children has outlined plans for reform to adoption in Wales.

Full story: Family Law Week

Church 'does not own marriage'

The Church does not "own" marriage nor have the exclusive right to say who can marry, a government minister has said.

Full story: BBC News

Are family arbitrations ‘binding’?

Launch of family arbitration scheme provokes debate about enforceability of awards.

Full story: Family Law Week

Care children given 'little notice of placement moves'

More than half of children in care are given a week's notice or less of being moved to another foster home, research suggests.

Full story: BBC News

Couple banned from adopting because their kettle flex was too long

A council banned a couple from adopting a child because their kettle flex was too long and could be a risk to health and safety, it emerged today.

Full story: The Telegraph

My wife was second best hotel receptionist we ever had

A multi-millionaire hotel boss who told his wife she was the second best receptionist he ever had is fighting in the Appeal Court to reduce her £2.7 million divorce payout.

Full story: The Telegraph

First ever LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week gets under way

Monday 20 to Sunday 26 February 2012 is LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, organised by charity New Family Social to encourage more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to consider adoption or fostering.

Full story: Family Law

Councils not doing enough to encourage adoption, claims Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove has reignited the debate on adoption, claiming that local authorities have failed to remove ethnicity as a barrier to matching potential adopters with children.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Government to launch adoption action plan in March

The government will launch in March a national action plan on adoption which will reform the current "bloated" system.

Full story: Family Law Week

Baby Peter social workers made 'serious errors'

Two of Baby Peter's social workers are said to have committed a "serious error of judgement" during an incident which saw him "disappear" for 12 days.

Full story: BBC News

Family courts are not immune from problems with interpreter services, according to PIA

Problems with Applied Language Solutions, the interpreter service appointed by the Ministry of Justice to provide interpreters to all courts across England and Wales, have begun to impact upon family proceedings, it is understood.

Full story: Family Law Week

Family arbitration scheme launched

A new scheme, set up by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, has today been launched to enable family disputes to be resolved by arbitration.

Full story: Family Law

Baby P social workers to appeal over sacking

Two social workers who lost their jobs after the killing of Baby P will appeal against an employment tribunal ruling they were fairly sacked.

Full story: BBC News

No 10 sides with gay couples over full marriage

Gay couples will finally win the right to marry, Downing Street insisted last night, despite an escalating campaign of opposition led by a former Archbishop of Canterbury and some Conservative MPs.

Full story: The Independent

Oil tycoon allowed to rely on African law in £17.5 million divorce battle

An oil baron has been granted permission by the Appeal Court to rely on Nigerian native law in a bitter multi-million divorce battle with his former wife in what is believed to be the first ruling of its kind.

Full story: The Telegraph

Father calls for domestic violence law change

A man whose daughter was murdered by her violent boyfriend has handed in a petition at Downing Street calling for a change in the law to protect women from domestic abuse.

Full story: The Guardian

Sandwell makes progress on safeguarding children

Sandwell Council has made "satisfactory progress" in improving its safeguarding procedures since it received an improvement notice from government in November 2009.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Essex to trial social impact bonds to reduce numbers of children in care

Essex County Council has announced that it will trial social impact bonds as a means of financing family and community-based work with young people on the edge of care or custody.

Full story: Family Law Week

LSC announces new measures to reduce the Very High Cost Cases backlog on family matters

The Legal Services Commission says that it is working hard to reduce the backlog of Very High Cost family work.

Full story: Family Law Week

Hackney domestic violence review proposes more help for teenagers

A review of domestic violence in Hackney has recommended that more should be done to address teenage victims and support schools to offer preventative programmes.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Baby Robert's Southend death: Protection agencies failed

Child protection is being improved after failures in the care of a baby found dead next to his alcoholic mother in Essex, a council has claimed.

Full story: BBC News

Cardiff child protection social worker agency and staff jobs added

Cardiff council is taking on more social workers after some staff said an "excessive" workload risked their ability to protect at-risk children.

Full story: BBC News

Junior staff forced upon 'life and death' care cases

The soaring number of court applications to take children into care is forcing cash-strapped law firms to use junior and unqualified staff to handle ‘life and death’ cases.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Reunite given liberty to intervene in S (A Child) in the Supreme Court

Reunite is intervening in the Supreme Court hearing of S (A Child) in which sub nom S v C [2011] EWCA Civ 1385, the Court of Appeal overturned the original judgment of Mr Justice Charles.

Full story: Family Law Week

Councils join forces to cut fostering costs

Southampton City Council has launched a partnership with 10 other local authorities to reduce the cost of specialist fostering placements and plough the savings back into better services for children in care.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Stonewall publishes draft marriage equality bill

Gay rights charity Stonewall has published a draft marriage bill which it says contains the provisions necessary to extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Full story: Pink News

Local authorities fined for failure to protect information relating to children

The Information Commissioner's Office has served monetary penalties totalling £180,000 to two councils for failing to keep highly sensitive information about the welfare of children secure.

Full story: Family Law Week

Child abduction case given leave to appeal to Supreme Court

In the child abduction case of S v C, the Supreme Court has given the mother leave to appeal to that court. The hearing in the Supreme Court will take place on Monday, 20 February 2012.

Full story: Family Law Week

Treasury rules out marriage tax breaks

George Osborne has angered Conservative backbenchers by ruling out the introduction of tax breaks for married couples in next month’s Budget.

Full story: The Telegraph

Foster parents told to stay away from 'autistic' man

Judge backs decision to take 30-year-old away from carers despite 12-year relationship.

Full story: The Independent

Government response to the Family Justice Review weakens safeguards for children

Proposals to limit care cases for vulnerable children to six months are unrealistic given the huge demands on all the services who play a role in family courts, Nagalro says today.

Full story: Nagalro

A mixed welcome to the government's response to Family Justice Review

The government's response to the Family Justice Review as itself been met with a mixed reaction.

Full story: Family Law Week

Barnardo's Press Release

Following the release of today's Cafcass figures which show that the number of children being referred into care in England is now higher than ever before.

Full story: Barnardo's

Family courts plans 'risk miscarriages of justice'

Social workers and children's guardians have condemned "nonsensical" government plans for a six-month limit on care cases, warning the deadline could lead to miscarriages of justice.

Full story: Community Care

Councils refer record number of children into care

The number of children referred into care in England has hit a record high.

Full story: BBC News

Munro takes up College of Social Work role

Professor Eileen Munro will take up the post of transitional chair for The College of Social Work next month.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

MPs and peers demand law against stalking

A new law making stalking a specific offence is needed in England and Wales to stop harassment ending in violence and murder, MPs and peers have said.

Full story: BBC News

Djanogly gives ground on medical negligence and domestic violence

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly has said the government will make compromises on legal aid for children in medical negligence cases and the definition of domestic violence, while refusing to budge on the “main tenets” of the legal aid bill.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Divorced fathers might not get equal time with their children after a divorce, Ken Clarke says

Divorced fathers may not be given the same access as mothers to their children after a divorce, the Justice Secretary said yesterday.

Full story: The Telegraph

Law Commission announces review of financial provision arising on divorce

The Law Commission has extended its review on marital property agreements to cover two further issues of financial provision arising on divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Full story: Family Law

Protocol for process servers: Non-molestation orders

This guidance issued by the Domestic Abuse Committee of the Family Justice Council sets out an agreed protocol for the service of non-molestation orders and injunctions made by the courts to protect people from violence and harassment.

Practice Guidance: Family Law

Lesbian parents 'betrayed' by gay father demanding to see his son

A two-year-old boy with "three parents" - his lesbian mother, her partner and a gay father - is at the centre of an Appeal Court test case on the status of "alternative" families.

Full story: The Telegraph

Cafcass to transfer to the Ministry of Justice

Responsibility for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service will transfer from the Department for Education to the Ministry of Justice the government has announced.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Government to legislate on shared parenting - Clarke

Strengthening shared parenting after divorce and speeding up care and adoption cases are among ‘ambitious and system-wide’ reforms outlined by the government today to improve the family justice system.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Major overhaul to reform family justice system

Children and Families in England and Wales will benefit from major reforms to the family justice system which will tackle delays, streamline processes and rebuild trust.

Full story: Department for Education

Ken Clarke warns of child access plan 'dangers'

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has admitted there are "dangers" to proposals to give divorced and separated fathers stronger rights.

Full story: The Independent

The Government's Response to the Family Justice Review is published

The Government has published its response to the Family Justice Review and sets out how its recommendations will be taken forward.

Full story: Family Law Week

Government responds to Family Justice Review

In its official response to the Family Justice Review today, the government has announced plans to introduce legislation ensuring children maintain an ongoing relationship with both parents following divorce and separation.

Full story: Family Law

Family justice review: government response

This is the government’s response to the independent review of family justice in England and Wales.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Grandparents must have 'clear rights' to see grandchildren when couples split

Grandparents should be given clear rights to see their grandchildren when couples separate, ministers will say today.

Full story: The Telegraph

Mr Justice Ryder will publish Family Justice Modernisation proposals and plans for implementation by end of July

Mr Justice Ryder has published a second update on the work of the Family Justice Modernisation Programme.

Full story: Family Law Week

“Technology must be safer” warns stalking and domestic violence charities

National domestic violence charity Women's Aid and national stalking charity Network for Surviving Stalking are together launching a practical guide for victims of stalking.

Full story: Family Law Week

Law Society calls for proper resources for changes in family courts

The Law Society has said that any radical and sustained change to the family justice system will require a delicate balancing act from the government, which is expected to announce its response to the Family Justice Review next week.

Full story: Family Law Week

Cash crisis slows justice for the vulnerable at Court of Protection

Hundreds of vulnerable people seeking court decisions about where they live or whom they can meet could experience months of delays because the government expert protecting their interests has almost run out of money, The Independent can disclose.

Full story: The Independent

Autistic woman banned from having sex in latest Court of Protection case

A senior judge has effectively banned a vulnerable young woman from having sex on the grounds that she does not understand the risks involved.

Full story: The Telegraph

Divorce tycoon loses passport bid

Property tycoon Scot Young today failed in his High Court bid to get his passport back.

Full story: The Independent

Family justice report author criticises plan to change divorce and custody law

David Norgrove says giving parents a right to shared access has caused long delays in custody cases in Australia.

Full story: The Guardian

BBC social work film prompts calls for early police support

Strong partnerships between social workers and other agencies are integral throughout any child protection case, two experts have warned following a BBC documentary about a social work team in Bristol.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Family Justice Review

On Monday (6th February), the Government is due to publish its response to the Family Justice Review.

Full story: Resolution

Resolution statement on proposed changes to CSA charges

Resolution has responded to the Government's proposed changes to the charges to be levied by the Child Support Agency.

Full story: Resolution

Children to get access rights to both parents

Children are to get legal rights to maintain proper relationships with both parents after separation, as part of a shake-up of the family justice system.

Full story: BBC News

Government overturns House of Lords' Welfare Reform Bill defeats

The House of Commons has reversed all the defeats suffered by the government's Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords.

Full story: Family Law Week

Tender process for Family Licensed Work begins on 6 February

A tender process for Family Licensed Work (which will also give successful applicants authorisation to undertake Licensed Work in Housing), will open on 6 February 2012 and will stay open for two weeks.

Full story: Family Law Week

Social workers lack time to work with children

Nearly four in 10 social workers do not feel they have sufficient time to work effectively with children and young people, a survey by Ofsted has found.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Mental Capacity Act Code needs revising to enable more effective best interests decisions, says Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with the Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol and the Centre for Applied Social Research at the University of Bradford, have published a report calling for the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice to be revised to enable health and social care staff to make more effective best interests decisions.

Full story: Family Law Week

Barristers’ Working Lives Survey 2011 paints vivid portrait of life at the Bar

Family Law barristers work longest hours and take least holiday.

Full story: Family Law Week

Ofsted announces no notice inspections for child protection

Ofsted is to introduce no notice inspection for child protection services. The new child protection framework, published today, will come into effect in May.

Full story: Family Law Week

Watchdog admits it got adoption inspections wrong

A senior watchdog last night admitted mistakes in the inspection of adoption services.

Full story: The Telegraph

Parents owed £55m unpaid child maintenance

Parents across the Bristol region are owed more than £55 million in child maintenance payments, it has been revealed.

Full story: This is Bristol

Church of England clergy challenge civil partnership stance

A letter signed by 120 clergy is calling for the Church of England to reverse its ban on civil partnership ceremonies being held in churches.

Full story: BBC News

BBC documentary exposes poor support for struggling parents, claims charity

A BBC 2 documentary following the day-to-day work of a Bristol Council child protection team revealed a lack of support for the parents featured in the programme, a family advocacy charity has warned.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Ministers seek to overturn peers' welfare bill changes

The government will seek to overturn seven defeats inflicted by the House of Lords to its Welfare Reform Bill later.

Full story: BBC News

College of Social Work sets out its stall at inaugural event

The College of Social Work has used its inaugural event to pledge to champion the role of social workers from across children's services through a time of "unprecedented change".

Full story: Children & Young People Now