‘Victims of the justice system’ left to rely on free help from lawyers let down by courts, judiciary and legal aid, blasts former top family judge

Errors by courts and judges that left a couple’s final divorce decree potentially void was exposed in a judgment from the former head of the family division, who slammed the state for “washing its hands” of the problem it created by not granting legal aid to the parties to resolve their case.

Full story: Legal Cheek

Council seeks to arrange home care for woman ‘detained’ in hospital for six months

Council social services bosses say they are trying to arrange a care package for a woman with mental health difficulties after a judge said she had “effectively been detained” in hospital for six months because her home was not fit to live in.

Full story: Care Appointments

Judge asked to reconsider social services evidence relating to death of 10-year-old

Council social services bosses are waiting for a High Court judge to make findings about the cause of death of a 10-year-old girl whose body was found in her bedroom more than two years ago.

Full story: Care Appointments

Stalking Protection Act 2019 comes into force

The Stalking Protection Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 15 March 2019. It comes into force immediately.

Full story: Family Law Week

Brexit Secretary responds to Children’s Commissioners’ ‘No Deal’ concerns

‘Arrangements are in place to ensure protection of children when UK leaves the EU’.

Full story: Family Law Week

Effective co-parenting is key to keeping children out of the courts: Cafcass

“Public health approach would help prevent cases from reaching crisis point”.

Full story: Family Law Week

Judge who banged her head on a desk during a court hearing was being 'sarcastic and condescending', investigation rules

A “sarcastic and condescending” judge who banged her head on her desk after a member of the public appeared before her at a family court hearing has been reprimanded.

Full story: The Telegraph

Woman lied about husband’s abuse and tried to exclude him from child’s life

A woman told a series of lies about her estranged husband’s behaviour and maliciously tried to exclude him from their five-year-old son’s life, a High Court judge has decided.

Full story: Care Appointments

Troubled Families Programme 'cuts number of children in care'

The government's Troubled Families Programme is cutting numbers of children in care by up to a third, new analysis from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government suggests.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Vulnerable woman with complex health problems cannot leave care facility, judge decides

A 56-year-old woman with complex physical and mental health problems cannot be allowed to leave a care facility and return to her flat, a judge in a specialist court has ruled.

Full story: Care Appointments

Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2019 comes into force

The Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 15 March 2019. It comes into force immediately.

Full story: Family Law Week

Judge argues ‘transparency’ outweighs risk in naming council in child protection cases

A family court judge has spelled out why councils should be named in rulings on cases involving applications for children to be taken from the care of their parents.

Full story: Care Appointments

Court of Protection should not summarily dismiss cases where liberty is at stake, says senior judge

Court of Protection judges should not summarily dismiss cases where someone’s liberty is at stake, Mr Justice Hayden, Vice President of the court, has said.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

No parental role for father who was part of ‘predatory’ group that sexually abused teen

A teenage girl groomed and sexually exploited by a group of “predatory men” is embroiled in family court litigation after giving birth.

Full story: Care Appointments

Child Support Agency case closure statistics: June 2014 to December 2018

Quarterly experimental statistics on the progress of the Child Support Agency (CSA) case closure programme from June 2014 to December 2018.

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

Child maintenance arrangements made after speaking to CM Options, December 2018

Child maintenance outcomes for parents that have spoken to Child Maintenance (CM) Options.

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

Mother unaware that estranged child has cancer must stay in dark, judge says

A woman who does not know that her estranged teenage child has cancer must remain in the dark, a High Court judge says.

Full story: Care Appointments

Judge uses ‘plain English’ text to explain decision to woman with learning difficulties

A family court judge has used plain English in a bid to help a woman with learning difficulties understand why a baby must be taken from her care.

Full story: Care Appointments

Master grants Inheritance Act application made 25 years out of time

The High Court has granted permission to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act – despite it being issued some 25 years and nine months after the deadline for doing so.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

The Civil Partnership and Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Jurisdiction and Judgments) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

These Regulations are made in exercise of the powers in section 8 of, and paragraph 21 of Schedule 7 to, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively in England and Wales and Northern Ireland and other deficiencies arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (and in particular, the deficiencies under paragraphs (c), (d) and (g) of section 8(2) and paragraph (a) of section 8(3)).

Special guardianship assessments ‘rushed’ by 26-week care proceedings timescale, study finds

Professionals tell Lancaster University researchers of 'consistent concerns' about impact of deadline on rigour of process around special guardianship and supervision orders.

Full story: Community Care

Police guilty of gross misconduct in domestic abuse murder case

Police officers risk losing their jobs and pensions if they fail to properly investigate domestic abuse including stalking, harassment and coercive control following a landmark misconduct ruling.

Full story: The Observer

The Jurisdiction and Judgments (Family) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

These Regulations are made in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively and other deficiencies in retained EU law (in particular to address reciprocal arrangements which no longer exist and are no longer appropriate) arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Statutory Instrument

Women’s Aid responds to government’s ending violence against women and girls strategy

Refreshed strategy published “to re-affirm government’s commitments”.

Full story: Family Law Week

250 children from 79 women taken into care in West Cumbria

Almost 250 children from just 79 mothers in west Cumbria are in care, with neglect identified as the main reason, figures reveal.

Full story: BBC News

Mother convicted of FGM sentenced to eleven years imprisonment for the offence

The mother of a young girl who became the first person to be convicted of female genital mutilation offences in England and Wales has been sentenced to eleven years imprisonment.

Full story: Family Law Week

Man jailed for controlling and coercive behaviour and beating pregnant girlfriend

A man who repeatedly beat his pregnant partner has been jailed for three years for displaying controlling and coercive behaviour.

Full story: Family Law Week

Civil Partnerships Bill returned to House of Commons to consider amendments

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill has received its third reading.

Full story: Family Law Week

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 and Court of Protection Rules 2017 (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

These Regulations are made in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively and other deficiencies (in particular paragraph g of section 8(2)) arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

These Regulations are made in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively and other deficiencies in retained EU law (in particular to address reciprocal arrangements which no longer exist and are no longer appropriate) arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Statutory Instrument

£1m boost for male survivors of domestic abuse

Home Office sets out new measures to assist victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

Full story: The Guardian

Mother jailed for contempt after posting family court case details on Facebook

A 54-year-old woman has been jailed after posting information relating to family court litigation on Facebook.

Full story: Care Appointments

Many women fleeing domestic abuse face poverty, report finds

Respondents in England say partners use economic abuse as method of control.

Full story: The Guardian

HMCTS extends court modernisation programme by a year

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has put back completion of the court modernisation programme by a year to 2023, it announced yesterday.

Full story: Legal Futures

Judge calls halt on parties 'stopping the clock' on delays

A widow has been refused permission to claim against the estate of her late husband after filing her application nearly 17 months out of time.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

High Court rejects evidence from law firm ‘whistleblower’

The president of the family division has rejected a wife’s application to admit the statement of a ‘whistleblower’ inside her former husband’s legal team who sent the court privileged information.

Full story: Legal Futures

Domestic abuse victims school priority call

Children whose families have had to move because of domestic violence should have priority for school places, says a charity report.

Full story: BBC News

Judge considers whether wealthy widow with dementia should get chance to go home

A judge has been asked to decide whether a wealthy widow who has dementia should be given the chance to leave a care facility and be looked after at home.

Full story: Care Appointments

James Bulger's father loses Jon Venables identity challenge

The father of James Bulger has lost a legal challenge to try to change a lifelong anonymity order for one of his son's killers.

Full story: BBC News

Supreme Court grants permission to appeal in Villiers v Villiers

Case concerns jurisdiction between England and Wales, and Scotland in maintenance proceedings.

Full story: Family Law Week

One in five children under supervision orders harmed again within five years

Study in England finds children placed with relatives have lower rates of return to court.

Full story: The Guardian

Speech by Mostyn J on spousal maintenance published

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website has recently published the text of a speech given by Mr Justice Mostyn on the subject of spousal maintenance.

Full story: Family Law Week

Police response to victims of domestic abuse continues to improve

Improvements found in how the police identify, respond to and support victims.

Full story: Family Law Week

Compensation scheme opened up for more victims of child sexual abuse

‘Same-roof’ rule of criminal injury compensation scheme to be abolished.

Full story: Family Law Week

Children’s Commissioner calls for improved safeguarding of children in gangs

Study published on children in England who are gang members.

Full story: Family Law Week

Ministry of Justice grant to support victims of domestic abuse in family courts

Government has awarded £900,000 to organisations based in some family courts to provide in-court support to victims of domestic abuse.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Sick girl to be treated against parents' wishes, judge rules

Doctors should treat a sick 13-month-old girl and give her a "chance" at life against the wishes of her parents, a High Court judge has ruled.

Full story: BBC News

Domestic violence in London rises 63% in seven years

Mayor Sadiq Khan announces £15m boost after cuts to services left them at ‘breaking point’.

Full story: The Guardian

Rising numbers of domestic abuse suspects released without bail conditions

Rising numbers of domestic abuse suspects are being released without restrictions after a steep fall in the use of police bail, a watchdog has revealed.

Full story: Care Appointments

Woman who had children taken from her faces jail for sharing case details online

A 54-year-old woman who says her children were unfairly taken from her could be jailed after a judge concluded that she had wrongly posted information relating to family court litigation on Facebook.

Full story: Care Appointments

Judiciary pulls back on ban for fee-charging McKenzie Friends

While “deeply concerned” about the growth in fee-charging McKenzie Friends, the judiciary has failed to decide whether they should be banned – three years after consulting on doing just that.

Full story: Legal Futures

Charity launches legal challenge to protect vulnerable children and young people

Article 39 seeks removal of ‘myth busting’ guide.

Full story: Family Law Week

Civil Partnerships Bill report stage scheduled for 1 March

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill, sponsored by Tim Loughton and Baroness Hodgson of Abinger, is scheduled to proceed to report stage in the House of Lords on 1 March.

Full story: Family Law Week

Care proceedings should not omit assessment of wider family ‘on parents’ say-so’, judge rules

Court rejects father's attempt to keep existence of children hidden from his family in adoption case.

Full story: Community Care

High Court clarifies internet access for vulnerable people

Guidance given in respect of persons who lack mental capacity to use the platforms.

Full story: Family Law Week

Domestic violence and abuse: help from DWP

A guide for domestic violence and abuse victims about services from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

Government faces High Court action over children's rights

A children's charity is taking High Court action against the government over its claims that some protections of children in care are "myths".

Full story: BBC News

Brexit 'could risk children's safety', warn commissioners

Children's safety could be put at risk if the UK leaves the EU without proper plans for child protection, the UK's four children's commissioners warn.

Full story: BBC News

More than 150 children subject of court proceedings amid radicalisation fears

More than 150 children have been have involved in care proceedings in the UK since 2013 over concerns they were in danger of being radicalised, a report has said.

Full story: Care Appointments

Grandparents win child custody after council fail to set out risk with ‘sufficient clarity’

A couple who have cared for their six-year-old grandson since he was born have won a family court fight after council social services bosses said he should be taken from them.

Full story: Care Appointments

Child Support Agency quarterly summary of statistics: December 2018

Quarterly statistics on the progress of the Child Support Agency child support schemes to 2018.

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

Country's biggest regional divorce centre hit by record delays

Delays at the country’s biggest regional divorce centre reached unprecedented levels in 2018, figures obtained by the Gazette have revealed.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Girl must live with stranger instead of grandparents, judge rules

Croydon family court judge says blood relationship ‘powerful’ but not ‘definitive’.

Full story: The Independent

Family Drug and Alcohol Courts backed by private donors

A group of private backers has agreed to fund a national unit supporting courts which help parents deal with drug or alcohol addiction so their children are not taken into care.

Full story: BBC News

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 and Court of Protection Rules 2017 (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The amendments remove provision in the FPR and COPR which relates to powers, processes and orders under EU instruments or international agreements which will no longer be applicable or available when those instruments or agreements are revoked by the Withdrawal Act or the statutory instruments made under it, or in some cases amend such provision where such instruments are retained in an amended form.

Statutory Instrument

“Far removed from fat cats” – High Court praises lawyers

Lawyers acting pro bono in a complex family law case countered the stereotyped image of ‘fat cats’, a High Court judge has said in praising their “commitment to the delivery of justice”.

Full story: Legal Futures

CA: “Bully” judge forced mother to agree to care orders

A judge effectively bullied a mother into agreeing to interim care orders for her children against her wishes, the Court of Appeal has found.

Full story: Legal Futures

Human Rights Committee begins inquiry into children whose mothers are in prison

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has begun an inquiry into children whose mothers are in prison.

Full story: Family Law Week

No-fault divorce to become the law

Long-awaited change will mean couples no longer have to allocate blame or mutually consent to ending marriage.

Full story: The Guardian

Resolution responds to Legal Aid review

Legal Aid review a welcome first step, but more must be done to reverse damage of cuts, say family lawyers.

Full story: Resolution

Government sets out new vision for legal support

A new strategy to help people resolve legal problems at the earliest opportunity and avoid the need for unnecessary court proceedings was unveiled today.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Legal Support Action Plan

The Ministry of Justice has published a Legal Support Action Plan to deliver quicker and easier access to legal support services.

Full story: Ministry of Justice

Post-Implementation Review of Part 1 of LASPO

The Ministry of Justice has published an evidence based review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

Full story: Ministry of Justice

New research: Government urged to reform overly-complex divorce system

New research published today by the Nuffield Foundation reinforces the case for reform of the overly complex divorce system in England and Wales.

Full story: Nuffield Foundation

No-deal Brexit: family lawyers told to seek local advice from EU neighbours

Continuing uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit next month has spurred a fresh wave of guidance for family lawyers who have been told they may need to start seeking advice from local lawyers in other EU member states.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Family law disputes involving EU after Brexit

What to do if you are involved in a family law dispute (including divorce and child maintenance) with someone living in the EU after Brexit.

Full story: Ministry of Justice and Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Surge in parents forced to fight child custody battles with no legal representation

The number of parents forced to represent themselves in child custody battles at family courts has more than doubled in six years in the wake of legal aid cuts.

Full story: The Independent

Judge's Twitter plea to missing mum

A High Court judge has used Twitter to urge a mother who vanished with her three-year-old son to return home.

Full story: BBC News

Mother first to be convicted of FGM

First prosecution in England for failing to protect a person from FGM.

Full story: Family Law Week

‘Wellbeing of children in single parent families not negatively affected’: Gingerbread research

‘Single parenthood is more common than typically reported’.

Full story: Family Law Week

Resolution and The Law Society issue joint note on No-Deal Brexit and family law

Family lawyer organisation Resolution and The Law Society have issued a joint note for family lawyers in England and Wales, with recommendations in the event of no-deal in relation to Brexit on areas of family law including divorce, maintenance and children proceedings.

Full story: Family Law

'Lackadaisical' approach to case attacked by family judge

A family judge has warned family lawyers not to take a 'lackadaisical' approach to case preparation after the wrong person was summoned as a witness to attend court in a case involving a seven-week old baby who suffered burns covering her groin area.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Slow decline in number of approved fostering households continues

Proportion of fostered young people Staying Put increases.

Full story: Family Law Week

“Senior judge’s salary enough”, divorcing husband told

A divorcing husband’s income was equivalent to that of senior judges and more than sufficient for his post-divorce needs, the High Court has ruled.

Full story: Legal Futures

Government deprivation of liberty ‘definition’ added to DoLS replacement bill but criticised as contrary to case law

Proposal designed to provide clarity to practitioners in interpreting the law but shadow minister warns it will fail in its aim and result in costly litigation.

Full story: Community Care

Family courts next to test video hearings

A test in the family courts will be the next step in exploring fully video hearings, against a backdrop of widespread concern about the technology among judges, it has emerged.

Full story: Legal Futures

Judge blasts council’s failure to include family member in care planning

Court told Greenwich council neglected to explore placing children with aunt, and compounded errors by breaching adopters' confidentiality.

Full story: Community Care

Corners may have to be cut and time limits exceeded: Family President

It is neither necessary nor healthy, “in these highly pressured times”, for the courts and the professionals to attempt to undertake ‘business as usual’, the President of the Family Division has said.

Full story: Local Government Lawyer

Family judge praised for ditching legal jargon so child can understand judgment

A family court judge has won plaudits for writing an adoption judgment without legal jargon.

Full story: Legal Cheek

UK named in Council of Europe sharia warning

The body that oversees the European Convention on Human Rights has named the UK - along with Albania, Azerbaijan and Turkey - in a hard-hitting resolution highlighting conflicts between sharia law and universal human rights. A measure adopted last night by the 47-nation Council of Europe raises concerns about the role of sharia councils in family, inheritance and commercial law.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Almost half of us mistakenly believe that common law marriage exists

Almost half of people in England and Wales mistakenly believe that unmarried couples who live together have a common law marriage and enjoy the same rights as couples that are legally married.

Full story: National Centre for Social Research

Charity calls for more foster carers as number of children in care rises by 27 percent in a decade in England

More children are being taken into care with fewer foster carers to look after them, says Barnardo’s as it launches its 10th annual fostering campaign.

Full story: Barnardo's

Domestic abuse bill 'missed chance' to protect children, warns NSPCC

New laws to tackle domestic abuse do not go far enough to protect children, a charity has warned.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Bill bans ‘abhorrent’ quizzing of domestic abuse victims in court

Landmark draft legislation also includes measures to raise awareness and support survivors.

Full story: The Observer

Private law cases received by Cafcass in December 2018 13 per cent up on a year ago

Cafcass received 3,105 new private law cases during December 2018. This is 13.1 per cent (360 cases) higher than December 2017 and the second highest December on record.

Full story: Family Law Week

Monthly care applications reach three-year low

The number of monthly children's care applications made by councils to family courts has dipped below the 1,000 mark for the first time in more than three years.

Full story: Children & Young People Now

Woman ordered not to contact son is spared jail for attending parents' evening

London woman, who cannot be identified, tells family court there was exemption in order allowing her to attend.

Full story: The Guardian

Child maintenance: changes to powers of entry and information requests

This consultation seeks views on changes to the powers the Child Maintenance Scheme use to calculate child maintenance and enforce payments.

Full story: Department for Work and Pensions

Civil Partnerships Bill due to receive second reading on 18 January

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc) Bill, sponsored by Tim Loughton and Baroness Hodgson of Abinger, will receive its second reading in the House of Lords on 18 January 2019.

Full story: Family Law Week

Government issues deprivation of liberty definition in bid to provide clarity to practitioners

Ministers’ amendment to DoLS replacement bill sets out when a person would not be deprived of liberty, but sparks concerns over compatibility with human rights law.

Full story: Community Care

Only three in ten children with mental health problems receive NHS-funded treatment

Government must accelerate prevention and early intervention efforts: Public Accounts Committee.

Full story: Family Law Week

Law must recognise children as victims of domestic abuse between parents, NSPCC says

Almost 250,000 children currently living with domestic violence in England but not being treated as victims, figures suggest.

Full story: The Independent

Repatriation fees for forced marriage victims abolished

Campaigners had long said victims should not have to pay Foreign Office for their freedom.

Full story: The Guardian

UK signs and ratifies Hague Choice of Court and Hague Maintenance Conventions

The UK signed and ratified, on 28 December, the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements and the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance.

Full story: Family Law

£2.7 million fund announced to tackle parental conflict

DWP looks for new initiatives to help families at risk of parental conflict.

Full story: Family Law Week

British victims of forced marriages required to pay their rescue costs, The Times reports

Those unable to pay asked to sign loan agreements by Foreign Office.

Full story: Family Law Week

Thousands apply online for divorce - including 13 on Christmas Day

Hundreds of people applied for a divorce over the Christmas and New Year period, the government has revealed, in its latest announcement claiming success in moving justice processes online.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Judge criticises top firm for exacerbating divorce conflict

A top family law firm has been criticised by a High Court judge for exacerbating the conflict in a high-value divorce.

Full story: Legal Futures

Family law ‘does not need lawyers’, claims ex-policeman's McKenzie startup

A former police officer who has set up a venture linking the public with McKenzie friends has told the Gazette it is an ‘irrebuttable truth’ that family law does not need lawyers.

Full story: Law Society Gazette

Mr Justice Moor becomes Family Division liaison judge for Thames Valley

Appointment took effect from 1 January 2019.

Full story: Family Law Hub