Statement from the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby: Cross-examination of vulnerable people

I am currently considering the review of Practice Direction 12J undertaken by Mr Justice Cobb, who met with Women’s Aid during the course of his review. I expect to make decisions on the review early in the New Year.

Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

Family courts chief backs end to abusers cross-examining their victims

Sir James Munby says he welcomes Guardian’s spotlight on issue and will prioritise reform early in New Year.

Full story: The Guardian

BBC helpline sees 26,000 people seek domestic abuse advice

Helen Titchener’s abuse by husband in The Archers was among storylines prompting people to search for guidance in 2016.

Full story: The Guardian

Police and council pay damages to children kept in care too long

Two children who were kept in care for too long have been awarded damages from a police force and council.

Full story: BBC News

Girl abducted to Oman phoned mother to say 'I miss you', court told

Mother Lacey Plato is seeking return of 11-year-old and her brother who were taken from UK to live with father’s relatives.

Full story: The Guardian

Justice Committee considers family law implications of Brexit

Key figures in the legal sector have today been giving evidence at the Justice Committee's inquiry on the implications of Brexit on the justice system.

Full story: Family Law Week

PC Paul Briggs: Coma treatment 'should stop'

Doctors should stop providing life-support treatment to a police officer who has been in a coma since July 2015, a judge has ruled.

Full story: BBC News

Millionaire seeks greater share in divorce because he is a 'genius', prompting court to examine the meaning of the word

Randy Work, an American financier, is seeking to overturn as order at the High Court last year awarding his estranged wife, Mandy Gray, half of a fortune, totalling more than £140 million.

Full story: The Telegraph

Troubled families turnaround claim misleading, say MPs

The government's claim that a project had "turned around" the lives of 99% of England's most troubled families was misleading, MPs have said.

Full story: BBC News

Demand for free legal advice spiralling upwards, charity reports

There is fast-growing growing demand for free legal advice, with family law now the most requested area of law, according to the experience of LawWorks, the solicitors’ national pro bono charity.

Full story: Legal Futures

Privy Council clarifies treatment of non-matrimonial property in AR applications

Appeal dismissed in Scatliffe v Scatliffe.

Full story: Family Law Week

Labour criticises government 'obsession' with adoption

The government has an "obsession" with adoption and is neglecting other forms of care, Labour's shadow children's minister Emma Lewell-Buck has said.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Council spending on child protection and care surges by £280m

Council spending on child protection and children in care services has risen by £280m this year as local areas struggle to cope with increasing demand on services.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

New Child Maintenance Service helping parents to work together

Research shows the majority of separated parents using the Child Maintenance Service are managing child support payments themselves.

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

CPS and NPCC launch new honour-based violence/abuse and forced marriage protocol

The CPS and police have published the first ever joint honour-based violence/abuse and forced marriage protocol, outlining their commitment to the successful investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

Full story: Family Law Week

Domestic violence legal aid applications rise

Relaxing time limits for reporting domestic violence may have contributed to the steep increase in legal aid applications from victims this year, latest government figures suggest.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

MPs accuse DfE of 'complacency' in efforts to improve child protection

MPs have launched a scathing attack on the government for failing to have a "credible plan" to improve the quality of child protection services.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

President's guidance on the allocation of work to section 9 judges

The President of the Family Division has issued new guidance on the allocation of work to section 9 judges.

Full story: Family Law

CMA demands greater transparency from legal service providers

After the completion of a year-long study into the legal services sector, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded that competition in legal services for individual consumers, including family law, is not working well.

Full story: Family Law Week

Latest family court statistics confirm recent surge in public law applications

The Ministry of Justice has released statistics on activity in the family courts of England and Wales for the period of July to September 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

Law Commission publishes report on enforcement of family financial orders

In a report published today, the Law Commission recommends a package of reforms to make the law governing the enforcement of family financial orders more effective, accessible and fair.

Full story: Family Law

Cafcass private law demand

In November 2016, Cafcass received a total of 3,586 new private law cases. This is a 7% increase on November 2015 levels.

Full story: Cafcass

Care applications in November 2016

In November 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,262 care applications.  This figure represents a 22% increase compared with those received in November 2015.

Full story: Cafcass

Judge criticises council for ‘egregious’ errors in child protection investigation

A judge found flaws in a social worker's report, which contradicted itself on the same page, and advised a child protection conference wasn't needed when it should have been held.

Full story: Community Care

Judges criticise Court of Protection over jailing of woman for contempt

Appeal judges have criticised the Court of Protection over a case in which a woman was jailed for contempt.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

British couple suspected of trying to join Isis allowed to keep children

Judge says he doubts claim family were heading to Germany but deradicalisation scheme appears to have changed attitudes.

Full story: The Guardian

Supreme Court to hear appeal by charities in Ilott v Mitson

Inheritance Act 1975 appeal to be heard on 12 December 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

Judge calls for LiP powers after court ‘bombarded’ with emails

An appeal judge has called for extra powers to curb the activities of litigants in person who inundate courts with communications.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Bill to ratify Istanbul Convention to have second reading on 16 December 2016

A Bill which would require the United Kingdom to ratify the Istanbul Convention is due to have its second reading on 16 December 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

Privy Council to give judgment in division of matrimonial assets case

Judgment to be promulgated in Scatliffe v Scatliffe on 12 December 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

‘Toxic trio’ increasingly drives involvement of children’s social care services

The Association of Directors of Children's Services has published the latest version of its Safeguarding Pressures research.

Full story: Family Law Week

1.8 million adults said they were victims of domestic violence in last year

There were in England and Wales an estimated 1.8 million adults aged 16 to 59 who said they were a victim of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

Men killed 900 women in six years in England and Wales, figures show

Government urged to protect long-term funding for domestic abuse services as study reveals scale of deadly male violence.

Full story: The Guardian

Husband ordered to leave home over wife mistreatment claims

A 67-year-old millionaire has been ordered by a judge to leave his home after his wife said she had been used as "an emotional punch bag".

Full story: BBC News

Divorce rate continues to fall in latest ONS figures

The number of people divorcing in England and Wales decreased by 3.1 per cent in 2014, according to the latest statistical bulletin published today (5 December 2016) from Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Full story: Family Law

Claims for financial orders on divorce do not vest in trustee in bankruptcy

The judgment has been published in the dismissal of a claim by the trustee in bankruptcy under sections 23 and 24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 where the bankrupt was deceased.

Full story: Family Law Week

FGM protection orders factsheet published

The Home Office has published a factsheet setting out information about FGM protection orders and how to apply for them.

Full story: Family Law Week

Lord Chief Justice concerned by number of LiPs in the family courts

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, has expressed concern over the number of LiPs involved private family law disputes.

Full story: Family Law Hub

Commons library publishes guide on UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Commons Library has published a briefing paper giving an overview of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, what it covers and how it is enforced.

Full story: Family Law

150 Resolution members gather in Parliament to call for No Fault Divorce

The Government will come under increasing pressure to introduce ‘No Fault Divorce’ today (Wednesday 30 November), as 150 family lawyers and other professionals come to Parliament to meet with MPs and Peers on the subject.

Full story: Resolution

Jewish father who let children ride bikes on Sabbath exposed them to 'alien way of life', ultra-orthodox wife claims

A Jewish father who left an ultra-orthodox community when splitting from his wife was accused of letting their two young children ride their bikes on the Sabbath and watch television, a family court judge has said.

Full story: The Telegraph

British woman can adopt girl found in box in Egypt, judge rules

High court decides NHS administrator can bring up child, now six, in the UK despite objections from Egyptian authorities.

Full story: The Guardian

Judge dismisses ‘unaffordable’ care package case

Court of Protection ends proceedings after determining man has capacity to make decisions about his care.

Full story: Community Care

Ellie Butler family court judge may be called to 'inevitable' inquest

Dame Mary Hogg, who ruled that girl should be returned to father who later murdered her, could be asked to give evidence.

Full story: The Guardian

New international child relocation rankings reveal that Belgian courts are the least likely to grant a relocation order

The first ever international child relocation rankings, compiled by the Penningtons Manches family law team, reveal that Belgium is the jurisdiction least likely to allow a parent to relocate with a child internationally.

Full story: Family Law

Court hears rare treatment withdrawal application for minimally conscious patient

Mr Justice Charles criticises Legal Aid Agency for advancing any argument ‘to avoid paying legal aid’.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Older divorcees could be affected by Autumn Statement pension changes

Divorcees could be affected by proposals announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement that the Money Purchase Annual Allowance will be cut from £10,000 pa to £4,000 pa.

Full story: Family Law Week

Responses to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

On Wednesday, 23 November the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his first Autumn Statement.

Full story: Family Law Week

Litigant in person’s ‘misconceived’ applications an abuse of process

Munby J rejects serial litigant’s ‘scurrilous’ allegations.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Law Society practice note: Court duty scheme for private law family clients

The Law Society has issued a practice note for family practitioners intending to set up or provide advice at a court duty scheme for private law family cases.

Full story: Family Law

Parents fear transgender children will be taken away after court ruling

Ex-partners reportedly emboldened by high court ruling have suggested they will try to get custody of children.

Full story: The Guardian

Court orders adoption re-hearing after failure to analyse fostering options

Parents’ appeal upheld after court finds adoption order was made without proper consideration of fostering alternative.

Full story: Community Care

Cost of problems affecting, children, young persons and families calculated at £17 billion

The cost of picking up the pieces from damaging social problems affecting children, young people and families such as domestic violence, mental health, child abuse and neglect, unemployment and youth crime remains almost £17 billion a year, new research shows.

Full story: Family Law Week

Responding to human rights judgments 2014-16: MoJ report published

The Ministry of Justice has published a report setting out the government's position on the implementation of human rights judgments from the domestic courts (declarations of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act 1998) and the European Court of Human Rights for the last two years.

Full story: Family Law Week

Terminally ill teen won historic ruling to preserve body

A 14-year-old girl who wanted her body to be preserved in case she could be cured in the future, won an historic legal fight shortly before her death.

Full story: BBC News

English councils confirm they set targets for number of children to be adopted

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Transparency Project to 172 councils, 12 English councils have confirmed, sent or published documents showing that they use numerical targets for adoption.

Full story: Family Law Week

Legal Aid Agency rapped over approach to damages payable to ward of court

A High Court judge has severely criticised the Legal Aid Agency's actions in a case concerning a ward of court to whom a local authority had agreed to pay damages for the unauthorised release of information.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

Council to pay £10k damages over failure to act in child protection case

Swansea City Council has been found to have breached an 11 year old’s rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the Human Rights Act, with the judge ordering the authority to pay the child £10,000 in damages to the child.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

Woman with learning disability should have caesarean, judge rules

After specialist court hearing, judge says a planned caesarean is in best interests of woman who cannot be identified.

Full story: The Guardian

Shorter care proceedings improving placement stability, research says

A research study into a pilot conducted before the introduction of the 26 week Public Law Outline also found it shortened the time it took for children to find a placement.

Full story: Community Care

London council children's services data breach as court bundle lost

A London council has been warned to strengthen its protection of personal information after a social worker left court documents on the roof of her car and drove off.

Full story: Family Law Week

‘Alarming number’ of trafficked children go missing from care

Trafficked and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are going missing from UK care at an "alarmingly high" rate, leading charities ECPAT UK and Missing People have said in a newly published report.

Full story: Family Law Week

Pension sharing not available in relation to a foreign pension

Wife's claim for a pension sharing order failed in long-running dispute.

Full story: Family Law Week

Hague Conventions enter into force for Kyrgyzstan and Serbia

On 1st November 2016 the 1993 Intercountry Adoption Convention entered into force for Kyrgyzstan, and the 1996 Child Protection Convention entered into force for Serbia.

Full story: Family Law Week

Court of appeal upholds decision to keep Oxford mother's child in care

Judges heard how the three-year-old ‘Child B’ moved uncontrollably and ran into traffic.

Full story: The Guardian

Commons Briefing Paper: Brexit & Brussels IIa

Considers the effect of Brexit on the UK in terms of the Brussels IIa regulation concerning cross-border child contact cases, and international child abduction within the EU.

Full story: Family Law Hub

Applying to the European Court of Human Rights

House of Commons Library publishes useful briefing note.

Full story: Family Law Week

New guidance issued on facilitating participation of ‘P’ and vulnerable persons in Court of Protection proceedings

Mr Justice Charles has issued guidance on facilitating participation of ‘P’ and vulnerable persons in Court of Protection proceedings.

Full story: Family Law

Brexit may be final straw for some couples, say divorce lawyers

The stress of Brexit is adding to pressure on couples on the brink of divorce, according to the head of the UK’s largest family law organisation.

Full story: The Guardian

Christian couple blocked from adoption amid 'gay parents' row

A couple have been blocked from adopting their two foster children after expressing concerns about them being raised by a gay couple.

Full story: The Telegraph

Lord Chief Justice concerned by volume of public and private law cases before the Family Court

Annual report highlights workload problems in the Family Court.

Full story: Family Law Week

Dying boy's parents lose palliative care court fight

A terminally ill boy should be moved to a palliative care regime proposed by specialists despite his parents' objections, a judge has ruled.

Full story: BBC News

Unaccompanied migrant children – government to publish strategy next year

Children’s Services directors publish report of migrant children’s needs and LAs' response.

Full story: Family Law Week

Dr Waney Squier reinstated

Dr Waney Squier, a consultant paediatric neuropathologist who has given expert evidence in several trials concerning shaken baby syndrome, has won an appeal against a determination by the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal that her name should be erased from the medical register.

Full story: Family Law Week

Domestic violence 'biggest factor' for social services children

Domestic violence and poor mental health are the biggest issues facing children on the books of social services in England, new figures show.

Full story: BBC News

Compulsory reporting of child abuse concerns 'could deluge social workers'

Eileen Munro, who conducted child protection review in wake of Baby P case, warns against government plans.

Full story: The Guardian

Cohabitation remains fastest growing relationship in UK

Figures released today (4 November 2016) show that the cohabiting couple family continues to be the fastest growing family type in the UK in 2016.

Full story: Family Law

Rise in child protection cases ups pressure on services

Department for Education figures reveal year-on-year rise in child protection demand continues.

Full story: Community Care

Foster care case teenager wins right to own lawyer

The teenager was fighting a local authority request from social workers that she be put into foster care.

Full story: Sky News

UK couple cleared of abuse give up court battle to regain care of child

Man and woman abandon legal fight and say taking child away from adoptive parents would be wrong.

Full story: The Guardian

Sisters at centre of family court dispute 'prayed for parents to stop arguing'

Two sisters at the centre of an "extraordinarily acrimonious" family court dispute prayed for their parents to "stop arguing", judges said.

Full story: Daily Express

UK surrogate vetoes legal parenthood for biological parents despite having no wish to be involved in children’s lives

The High Court has ruled that it cannot award legal parenthood to the biological parents of twins born through a UK surrogacy arrangement, because the surrogate who carried them has refused to give her permission.

Full story: Family Law

Sharia Courts interfered to protect domestic abusers, MPs told

A leading British Sharia Council intervened to prevent men accused of domestic violence from facing criminal charges, according to testimony submitted to a Commons Committee.

Full story: The Independent

Council ‘unable’ to fund care package for man to leave hospital

It would be almost three times more expensive to support the man at home, an increase the local authority said was "unsustainable".

Full story: Community Care

Number of serious incident notifications may have plateaued

Serious harm notifications have increased.

Full story: Family Law Week

LAs reminded of responsibilities to comply with case management decisions in public law cases

Mr Justice MacDonald has reminded local authorities and their representatives of 'the cardinal principles' applicable to complying with case management directions made by the court in public law cases.

Full story: Family Law Week

UK court to hear appeal about civil partnerships for straight couples

Six-year struggle for an option that gay partners already enjoy will face a new test this week.

Full story: The Guardian

NHS hospitals forcing surrogate families to hand over newborn babies in car parks due to ‘dire and outdated’ laws

Hospitals are forcing surrogates to hand over newborn babies to parents in car parks for fear they may fall foul of "dire" and "outdated" surrogacy laws that are failing families, The Independent can reveal.

Full story: The Independent

Paper-free Digital Courtroom technology introduced at the Central London Family Court

E-filing local direction introduced for financial remedies applications.

Full story: Family Law Week

Home Affairs Committee begins to hear evidence on Sharia councils

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee will hold its first evidence session on Sharia councils on 1st November 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

Family Justice Council 10th Annual Debate: settlement conferences

The Family Justice Council is holding its 10th Annual Debate and panel discussion in London between 5.30pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, 1 December 2016.

Full story: Family Law

MoJ opts into EU family law proposal over Brexit risk

The Ministry of Justice says it is in the UK’s interests to opt into an EU regulation on cross-border family matters as a result of risks that could arise once the UK has left the European Union.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Fewer care leavers placed in bed and breakfast

Barnardo's said the Children and Social Work Bill provides a "significant opportunity" to ensure all care leavers get suitable accommodation.

Full story: Community Care

Essex family court case is among first to go to appeal under new system

High Court judges are set to routinely examine some family court cases at public hearings following the introduction of a new appeal system.

Full story: Echo News

Single parents owed millions of pounds for child maintenance, study reveals

Single parents in parts of the UK are owed millions of pounds in unpaid child maintenance, a new study shows.

Full story: BT.com

Judge rejects late bid by family members to stop boy’s adoption

Family's attempts to halt the adoption of a baby in an early permanence placement would put child at risk of emotional harm, court rules.

Full story: Community Care

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill receives second reading

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on 21st October 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

Boy 'living life entirely as a girl' removed from mother's care by judge

Mother who was convinced her son perceived himself as a girl caused 7-year-old boy ‘significant emotional harm’.

Full story: The Guardian

The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2016

These rules amend rule 14.2 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, which makes provision for the assignment of serial numbers to adoptive parents or prospective adoptive parents in proceedings for adoption and certain other proceedings, in order to keep their identity confidential.

Statutory Instrument

Judge dismisses ‘conspiracy theory’ against social workers in care proceedings

A father believed his children had been encouraged to make abuse allegations against him by a social worker.

Full story: Community Care

Married couples failing to claim tax perk, says HMRC

Less than a quarter of couples eligible for marriage tax allowance are bothering to claim it, according to HM Revenue and Customs.

Full story: BBC News

TUC: Legal aid reforms cutting people out of justice system

Damning report reiterates damaging impact of cuts as support grows for LASPO review.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

President clarifies status of draft guidance on anonymising judgments

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has issued a statement on the judicial website clarifying the status of draft guidance on anonymising judgments published in August 2016 by the Association of Lawyers for Children and Dr Julia Brophy.

Full story: Family Law

Child protection: concerns raised as to the police approach

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills, has written to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary raising concerns about the contribution of police to safeguarding child.

Full story: Family Law Week

Judge praises devotion of social worker in care proceedings

A social worker has been praised by a judge for devoting hours to a family and providing “reliable and persuasive” evidence in care proceedings.

Full story: Community Care

Troubled families scheme has made 'no significant impact'

A flagship government initiative to help the most disadvantaged families in England has made no significant impact, according to analysis of the scheme.

Full story: BBC News

Civil Partnerships Records Regulations 2016

Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships Records Regulations 2016.

Full story: Family Law Week

McKenzie friend jailed for ‘deceit in family court’

A paid McKenzie friend has been jailed for perverting the course of justice in a family court.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

DfE suggests 'exemption' from foster carer assessments

Councils could use controversial new powers allowing them to be exempted from children's social care legislation in order to streamline checks on potential foster carers, the Department for Education has suggested.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Official Solicitor publishes questionnaire for private law cases involving families

The Official Solicitor's Office has published a questionnaire to help the Official Solicitor understand the issues involved when acting for a parent lacking litigation capacity.

Full story: Family Law Week

Leading family lawyer calls for action on 'endemic' court delays

The government needs to take urgent action to secure the viability and sustainability of the family courts in response to the rising number of litigants and a sharp decline in funding, a leading family lawyer has said.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Civil partner wins appeal against estate of former partner who hid assets

Court confirms that Sharland and Gohil apply to civil partnership dissolutions.

Full story: Family Law Week

Justice Committee launches inquiry into justice system post-Brexit

Committee will consider implications for international family disputes.

Full story: Family Law Week

Cafcass private law demand

In September 2016, Cafcass received a total of 3,588 new private law cases. This is a 19% increase on September 2015 levels.

Full story: Cafcass

Care applications in September 2016

In September 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,216 care applications.  This figure represents a 23% increase compared to those received in September 2015.

Full story: Cafcass

Children services still not good enough, according to National Audit Office

According to the National Audit Office, the actions taken by the Department for Education since 2010 to improve the quality of help and protection services delivered by local authorities for children have not yet resulted in services being of good enough quality.

Full story: Family Law

Bankrupt cannot be forced to access pension pots to repay debts, Court of Appeal confirms

A bankrupt individual that has chosen not to access his pension savings cannot be forced to do so in order to repay debts, the Court of Appeal has confirmed.

Full story: Out-Law.com

Turkey signs 1996 and 2007 Hague Conventions

On Friday, 7 October 2016, Turkey signed and deposited its instrument of ratification to the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention and to the 2007 Hague Maintenance Convention.

Full story: Family Law

360,000 visits to Government's Sorting out Separation website

The DWP has published information about visitors and their use of the Sorting out Separation website from its launch in December 2012 to December 2015.

Full story: Family Law Week

MPs launch inquiry into fostering

The education select committee will hold an inquiry into the state of fostering in England, it has been announced.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

'Britain's biggest divorce': The Ivy owner Richard Caring 'faces £350m bill after separating from his wife'

A restaurant tycoon’s wife could be in line for £350 million in one of Britain’s biggest divorces after 'her husband left her and moved in with' a Brazilian woman half her age.

Full story: The Telegraph

Social worker turnover damaged understanding of boy’s case, finds serious case review

A serious case review into the death of a 17-year-old boy found he 'bitterly' complained about turnover among his social workers.

Full story: Community Care

The Transparency Project today launches its Family Court Reporting Watch project

Family Court Reporting Watch is a new venture set up by the Transparency Project, made possible by funding from the Legal Education Foundation.

Full story: Family Law

Nicholas Francis QC appointed to High Court bench

Appointment follows retirement of Dame Mary Hogg DBE.

Full story: Family Law Week

Commons Library publishes briefing paper on no fault divorce

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper considering the current basis for divorce and arguments for and against the introduction of no fault divorce.

Full story: Family Law

Domestic abuse: 75% rise in NSPCC helpline contacts since 2011

Ten adults a day now contact the NSPCC helpline worried about children living in a dangerous or risky home, the charity says.

Full story: Family Law Week

First baby born from mitochondrial donation

HFEA is yet to approve licensing regime for UK clinics.

Full story: Family Law Week

Sharp fall in numbers of children being adopted

Numbers of children being adopted have fallen for the first time in more than four years, government figures show.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Practice Directions published for Court of Protection pilots

PDs relate to case management and section 49 pilots.

Full story: Family Law Week

Latest legal aid and court statistics published

The Ministry of Justice have today (29 September 2016) published their latest legal aid and family court statistics.

Full story: Family Law

New cases in the family courts rise by 10% year-on-year in most recent quarter

The figures were revealed in latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice.

Full story: Family Law Week

Judge criticises council that blamed workload for failings in work with ‘abusive’ mother

The judge rejected an application made by a 14-year-old girl for her care order to be discharged after finding her mother had “driven” the application.

Full story: Community Care

Widow wins High Court frozen embryo case

The widow of a Falklands war veteran has won a High Court bid to keep frozen embryos that they had created.

Full story: BBC News

Expansion of joint children’s services company on the horizon

Windsor and Maidenhead planning to join Achieving for Children.

Full story: Family Law Week

Completed Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applications rise 68 per cent

NHS Digital has published its findings from the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) data collection from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

Full story: Family Law

DWP publishes evaluation of help for separated families projects

Report looks at the progress of 17 services funded by the department and finds that they need to find ways to sustain their impact.

Full story: Family Law Hub

Helping families ‘open up about domestic violence needs to be a public health priority’

Helping children and families open up about experiencing domestic violence needs to be a public health priority, experts from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have warned.

Full story: Family Law Week

Judges to rule on tycoon's secrecy plea in court battle with ex-wife

Wealthy businessman says his identity should not feature in media reports due to safety concerns but Times editors disagree.

Full story: The Guardian

Ex-BBC actress cleared by High Court judge of abducting child in international custody battle

A former BBC actress has been cleared of abducting her child in an international custody battle.

Full story: The Telegraph

Family Drug and Alcohol Court’s ‘humane’ approach keeps more families together

New research has found that mothers reunited with their children after care proceedings in the Family Drug and Alcohol Court are more likely to stay off drugs and alcohol for longer, and their family life less likely to be disrupted when compared with cases heard in ordinary care proceedings.

Full story: Family Law

Solicitor removed from injured child case over conflict of interest

A court has arranged for a woman whose child suffered “shocking” injuries at home to be represented by a new law firm in family law proceedings after her previous solicitor was found to have a conflict of interest on both professional and personal grounds.

Full story: Legal Futures

FGM application reveals loophole in protection measures

Met Police urge Home Secretary to bar FGM practitioner from entering country.

Full story: Family Law Week

Victims of coercive control are focus of new police pilot

Research shows officers may not recognise patterns of controlling behaviour.

Full story: Family Law Week

Court directs solicitor to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet Amina Al-Jeffery in private

The solicitor representing Amina Al-Jeffery in High Court proceedings concerning her removal to Saudi Arabia from her home in Wales, is to visit Riyadh in order to take instructions in person from her client.

Full story: Family Law Week

Courts face “imminent crisis” with rise in care cases, warns top family judge

The family courts face “a clear and imminent crisis” as a result of the rapidly rising number of care cases, the President of the Family Division has warned.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

Number of women convicted of domestic violence at record high

The number of women convicted of domestic violence has tripled in the last decade, new figures have shown.

Full story: The Independent

Foster care workers vote to form first ever trade union

A group of foster care workers have voted to form the first ever trade union for the profession.

Full story: BBC News

MPs call for end to abusive men using courts against families

Government urged to review family court system which is ‘allowing men to re-traumatise women and children’.

Full story: The Guardian

Changes to legal aid Special Children Act applications

The Legal Aid Agency has made changes to applications under the Special Children Act and standard cost limits to improve processes in the Client and Cost Management System.

Full story: Family Law Week

Transforming our Justice System

Consultation and Statement seek to map out future for the court system.

Full story: Family Law Week

Smile: High Court judge uses emoji in official ruling

One High Court judge has gone to previously unheard-of lengths to make a judgment in a family court case comprehensible even for the children it affects.

Full story: The Telegraph

First children arbitration heard

The first arbitration held under the children arbitration scheme introduced in July 2016 has been determined.

Full story: Family Law Week

Mr Justice Moylan appointed as Lord Justice of Appeal

Mr Justice Moylan has been appointed as one of six new Court of Appeal judges.

Full story: Family Law

Munby calls for action on England-Scotland enforcement

The president of the Family Division has called for urgent action to fill gaps in the law relating to cross-border issues between England and Scotland.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Judge identifies high social worker turnover in 52 week care case

A judge has lamented the turnover of social workers and “wholly unacceptable” delays in a care case that saw adoption orders made for three children of learning disabled parents.

Full story: Community Care

Government service puts domestic abuse survivors at risk

Domestic abuse survivors are being put at risk by the government’s new Child Maintenance Service, finds new evidence from Gingerbread and Women’s Aid.

Full story: Gingerbread

Solicitor dismay over Munby care case comments

Lawyers have expressed concern over comments made by the president of the Family Division about the representation of children in public law cases.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Shot girl Mary Shipstone's safe house revealed by solicitor error

The address of a girl fatally shot on her doorstep by her estranged father was accidentally sent to him by her mother's solicitor, it has emerged.

Full story: BBC News

The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2016

These rules amend the Family Procedure Rules 2010.

Statutory Instrument

Care cases received by Cafcass in August up 34% on a year ago

1,258 care applications received.

Full story: Family Law Week

New private law cases received by Cafcass in August up 23% on a year ago

3,535 new private law cases received.

Full story: Family Law Week

The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) (Amendment) Order 2016

Article 2 of this Order amends the Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2014 to provide for the route of appeal from certain decisions or orders of Circuit judges and Recorders sitting in the family court to be to the High Court, rather than the Court of Appeal.

Statutory Instrument

Joint Human Rights Committee will consider UK’s record on children’s rights

Recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child under scrutiny.

Full story: Family Law Week

Long-term fostering must be on equal footing with adoption and SGOs in new legislation, says The Fostering Network

The Fostering Network is calling for an amendment to clause 8 of the Children and Social Work Bill, to ensure that long-term fostering is on an equal footing with adoption and special guardianship orders when it comes to possible permanence options for children in care.

Full story: Family Law Week

Mother verbally abused social worker she claimed tried to ‘drive her to insanity’

Family Court judge finds aspects of the mother's behaviour had put her children in "stressful and upsetting situations".

Full story: Community Care

Civil partnerships registrations halved since introduction of same gender marriage

Dissolutions increase by 14% since 2014.

Full story: Family Law Week

Acquitted dad Craig Beattie 'killed baby son' family judge said

A judge found that a father killed his baby son in a ruling made a year before he was cleared of manslaughter by a jury, it has emerged.

Full story: BBC News

Violent crimes against women in England and Wales reach record high

Director of public prosecutions says use of social media to threaten and control is driving factor behind 10% rise in number of cases to 117,568 in 2015-16.

Full story: The Guardian

CPS prosecuting and convicting more cases of rape, domestic abuse, sexual offences and child abuse than ever before

The Crown Prosecution Service is prosecuting and convicting a record number of rape, domestic abuse, sexual offences and child abuse cases, a report published today shows.

Full story: Family Law

Police failing to use new law against coercive domestic abuse

Lawyers say controlling and coercive behaviour powers should be used to help victims before relationships turn violent.

Full story: The Guardian

USA signs Hague 2007 Maintenance Convention

On 30 August 2016, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, signed the instrument of ratification of the USA to the 2007 Hague Child Support and Maintenance Convention.

Full story: Family Law

Court finds care case assessment ‘distorted’ mother’s responses

Judge finds ‘fundamental failures’ in psychologist’s report means it should be withdrawn from care proceedings.

Full story: Community Care

Towards a Family Justice Observatory: national call for evidence

The research team working on 'Towards a Family Justice observatory', a project aiming to improve the generation and application of research in the family justice system, has issued a national call for evidence as a means of engaging with stakeholders in an open and transparent way to ascertain opinions and ideas.

Full story: Family Law

Separated couple called daughter by different names, court hears

The case resembles a storyline on BBC Radio 4 soap opera ‘The Archers’.

Full story: The Independent

Couple told they must adopt own baby after failing to check tick box on form

'The absence of no more than a centimetre of ink in a tick box is nothing more than an understandable error' .

Full story: The Independent

Life-support to be turned off for 'no smile' baby girl

A judge has ruled that medics can stop giving life-support treatment to a seriously ill baby unable to smile - despite social services bosses wanting the treatment to continue.

Full story: BBC News

Father who backs 'harmful' alternative cancer medication should have baby taken into care, says judge

A baby boy whose father advocates the use of "harmful alternative medication" should be taken into council care, a family court judge has decided.

Full story: The Telegraph

Force family lawyers to offer fixed fees, consumer panel suggests

Family law specialists should be required to work under fixed fees, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has suggested as it ramped up its call for regulatory intervention to improve transparency in the market.

Full story: Legal Futures

LiP slapped with £100k costs bill for ‘farrago of nonsense’ application

Case highlights the difficulties encountered by the judiciary when dealing with the 'chaos' created by litigants in person.

Full story: Solicitors Journal

Stop scapegoating social workers to better protect children, Shoesmith says

Former Haringey children’s services director says treatment by politicians and media after Baby P’s death has left social services hamstrung by ‘fear of failure’.

Full story: The Guardian

Draft guidance published on anonymisation of children judgments

A project funded by the Nuffield Foundation and supported by the Association of Lawyers for Children aims to develop draft guidance to assist judges in the anonymisation of children judgments in public law proceedings.

Full story: Family Law

15 councils put obese children on ‘at risk’ register or take them into care

FoI request reveals LA action in last two years.

Full story: Family Law Week

Court of Protection judge criticises firm for ‘brutal and insensitive’ comments

A north-west firm is considering appealing a Court of Protection ruling in which it was removed as a financial deputy in a case concerning deprivation of liberty and care arrangements.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Commons Local Government Committee calls for more help for care leavers

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has published a report following its inquiry into homelessness.

Full story: Family Law Week

Father's hopes for single parent surrogacy law change

A father who won a groundbreaking legal case on Britain's surrogacy laws has told the BBC he hopes he will soon be given the same rights as other parents.

Full story: BBC News

Man’s ‘aggressive’ emails to social worker play part in care order decision

The father’s emails, along with his failure to attend a final hearing and an assessment, led the judge to conclude he couldn’t meet his son’s needs.

Full story: Community Care

Council fined after confidential care files found in disused building

Hampshire council has been fined £100,000 after confidential files containing “highly sensitive” details of vulnerable adults and children were found in a disused building.

Full story: Community Care

Woman jailed for refusing to testify against her husband in domestic violence case

An alleged domestic violence victim has been jailed for two weeks after refusing to testify against her husband.

Full story: The Independent

Cafcass chief: Stemming care applications may require law change

Changes to legislation may be required in order to curb steep rises in the number of applications for children to be taken into care, the chief executive of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has said.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Council pays £7,500 after section 20 use breached girl’s human rights

Thurrock council was found to have breached a girl's right to a fair trial and family life by keeping her in a section 20 arrangement for 13 months.

Full story: Community Care

Cafcass in talks with government to stem care application rises

Attempts are being made to halt rapid increases in the number of applications being made for children to be taken into care, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has said.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Ofsted announces domestic abuse focus for multi-agency inspections

Multi-agency inspections of how services work together to protect children within local authority areas will from next month focus on the quality of support for children living with domestic abuse, Ofsted has said.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Care applications in July 2016

In July 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,305 care applications.  This figure represents a 16% increase compared to those received in July 2015.

Full story: Cafcass

Cafcass private law demand

In July 2016, Cafcass received a total of 3,468 new private law cases.  This has remained at a similar level as that seen in July 2015.

Full story: Cafcass

Attendance of Solicitors at Local Authority Children Act Meetings

The Law Society has issued an updated Practice Note on attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act meetings. It is aimed at all solicitors who work in public law Children Act proceedings.

Full story: Family Law

Journalists challenge woman's demands for anonymity during divorce payout appeal

A woman embroiled in a court battle over a divorce settlement  is trying to stop journalists from revealing her identity.

Full story: Press Gazette

Former Pirelli model Christina Estrada yet to receive a penny of record £53m divorce settlement

A former supermodel who won a £53 million award in a High Court divorce battle with her Saudi billionaire ex-husband has yet to receive a penny of the record settlement.

Full story: The Telegraph

£1.3bn troubled families scheme has had 'no discernible impact'

Senior civil servant describes unpublished Whitehall report into efforts to tackle entrenched social problems as damning.

Full story: The Guardian

26% of CM Options customers last year set up family based arrangements

DWP publishes data for child maintenance arrangements.

Full story: Family Law Week

Two-year-old girl thought to be at risk of FGM returned to UK

A two-year-old girl who was thought to be at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) has been returned to the UK from Guinea, the High Court has been told.

Full story: Family Law Week

Anger over legal aid bill for Ellie Butler's parents

Ben Butler, convicted of murdering his six-year-old daughter, and Linda Gray, guilty of child cruelty, received £1.5m, say reports.

Full story: The Guardian

Foster carers 'poached with golden hellos'

Large private foster agencies are offering cash incentives to recruit foster carers working for English local authorities - and then charging more for the service, councils say.

Full story: BBC News

Children accommodated in secure children’s homes at 31 March 2016

Statistics recently published by the Department for Education show that there were 210 children accommodated in secure children's homes in England and Wales at 31 March 2016, a slight increase from 205 last year.

Full story: Family Law Week

Information Commissioner responds to Supreme Court’s ‘named person’ judgment

ICO will work with Scottish Government oa address Supreme Court's concerns.

Full story: Family Law Week