Family law in action: will we go the way of the Scots in 2011?

It is New Year’s Eve and another year is about to begin. I always feel some trepidation when Big Ben begins to chime 12 and the first day of January begins. This year I feel more anxious than ever although, as always, I will aim to start the New Year in a positive frame of mind.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

The family law case of the year: Imerman v Tchenguiz

As we gallop towards the end of 2010 my thoughts have turned to just what has happened over the past 12 months. In particular, which has been the “stand out” family law case of this year?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Review of the Year 2010

Now that the horrors of Xmas are behind us, it's time for another seasonal tradition: the annual retrospective.

Full post: Family Lore

Research on Litigants in Person

Been meaning to pop a link up to Richard Moorhead’s useful summary of his research on Litigants in Person.

Full post: Pink Tape

Book Review: Good Practice in Child Care Cases

Good Practice in Child Care Cases was first published in 2004, and was intended to provide guidance for solicitors acting in public law Children Act proceedings, both in terms of the conduct of cases and the particular approach required.

Full post: Family Lore

A Family Solicitor’s Christmas Carol

This is an expanded version of my latest Family Business column in Solicitors Journal.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Are we getting more litigious in family cases?

The Green Paper on legal aid suggests that legal aid has encouraged too much litigation but provides no evidence to support that assertion.

Full post: Lawyer Watch

The Centre for Social Justice rides again

It may surprise you to learn that in the CSJ’s latest report, Family breakdown in the UK: it’s NOT about divorce, I find something to like.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Questions in the House

There have been a number of questions in The House on family legal aid reform.

Full post: Pink Tape

Is more mediation in divorce cases missing the point?

In recent speeches legal aid minister Jonathan Djanogly has emphasised the government’s commitment to increasing the use of mediation, particularly in disputes over arrangements for children, property and finances that arise when family relationships break down.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News blog

Re Jane

Discussion of the case Re Jane (A Child) [2010] EWHC 3221 (Fam).

Full post: Family Lore

Mr Justice Coleridge and intractable contact disputes: change is in the air

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have previously applauded Mr Justice Coleridge for his bold and outspoken views on family breakdown. His latest speech touched on another sensitive and controversial subject: the plight of children who become caught up in ugly contact disputes between parents.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

European states will not be forced to allow gay marriage

The European Court of Human Rights has refused permission to appeal in a challenge to the ban on gay marriage in Austria. The effect of the decision is to make the court’s rejection of the same-sex couple’s claim final.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

CMEC v Beesley: CMEC not a creditor capable of being bound by IVA

Discussion of the case Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission v Beesley & Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 1344.

Full post: Family Lore

Lykiardopulo v Lykiardopulo: when “different considerations” apply

Does it sometimes seem as if the very richest people think that wealth buys them immunity to say, do and act exactly as they please?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

All Rise

Mr Justice Coleridge made a speech this morning to the Association of Lawyers for Children. In it he expressed his concern that there is a creeping tendency towards disrespect for court orders in family proceedings especially in so far as they relate to contact with children.

Full post: Judith's Divorce Blog

Valour: the better part of Judicial Discretion

Mr Justice Coleridge has been ruffling feathers again. In a speech whose title sounds more like a popular soundtrack to an ’80s film than a serious polemic, Mr Justice Coleridge has made some radical proposals about the way forward for the family justice system.

Full post: Pink Tape

Shared Residence

I have recently read a really interesting article in the November issue of Family Law by Liz Trinder, entitled Shared Residence: A Review of Recent Research Evidence.

Full post: Pink Tape

The dismantling of the family justice system?

Hardly a day seems to pass without news of some change or proposed change either to, or affecting, family justice in this country.

Full post: Family Lore

Green Paper On Legal Aid Initial Observations #4: Private Law Children Cases

Lucy Reed continues her discussion of the government's proposals to reform legal aid.

Full post: Pink Tape

W (A Minor): Change of residence not due to mother's conduct

The case of W (A Minor) [2010] EWCA Civ 1280, reported today, graphically illustrates the problems faced by a court when dealing with difficult and uncooperative parties.

Full post: Family Lore

Green Paper on Legal Aid Initial Observations #3: What About Enforcement?

So I wonder what the position will be in respect of enforcement of orders made under the children act?

Full post: Pink Tape

Green Paper on Legal Aid Initial Observations #2: Family mediation in private law family cases

This should be read in conjunction with my earlier post on the Green Paper as it relates to domestic violence.

Full post: Pink Tape

Green Paper on Legal Aid – Initial Observations #1: Domestic Violence

I’ve decided to post several shorter posts about the green paper on legal aid published yesterday. This one will deal with domestic violence.

Full post: Pink Tape

HAT tricks

Judgment has now been delivered in a case involving Hair Alcohol Testing (LB Richmond v B & W [2010] EWCA 2903).

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Leave to remove and the vexed question of jurisdiction

I read Marilyn Stowe’s recent post with interest, as I have come across or worked on a number of cases in which one parent wanted to move abroad and the other battled with the idea of being left behind.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Why I’m Cross

It makes me cross when it takes adversarial cross examination of a social worker to force a Local Authority into pulling its finger out and fulfilling it’s duty towards children and parents.

Full post: Pink Tape

Advice service for care case children “not fit for purpose”

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a damning report into the Children and Family Court Service’s (‘Cafcass’) response to increased demand following the Baby P scandal.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Leave to remove a child: what about the parents left behind?

Back in September, when Lord Justice Wall gave a speech to Families Need Fathers, his view of separation as a “serious failure of parenting” attracted headlines. I would like to draw attention to a lengthy but little reported part of his speech, which concerned one of the most heartrending areas of family law: when parents divorce and one parent decides to begin a new life overseas with the children.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Once more without conviction

The case of Re L-W [2010] EWCA Civ 1253 is getting a lot of blogging attention (Family Lore, Researching Reform).

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Re L-W (Children): The law is not omnicompetent

The case of Re L-W (Children) EWCA Civ 1253, decided last week, perhaps demonstrated the limits of the courts powers when dealing with an intractable contact dispute.

Full post: Family Lore

Baby P Serious Case Review

Serious Case Reviews are carried out under Regulation 5 of the Local Safeguarding Children Board Regulations 2006 which requires Local Safeguarding Children Boards to undertake reviews of serious cases in accordance with procedures set out in chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Appointing a Guardian for a Child

Two parents have a child and then separate - the father leaves and does not pursue contact, direct or indirect and does not contribute to the child's maintenance for some years. What can the resident parent do to ensure the child is properly looked after in the event of her death?

Full post: Bloody Relations

Adoption & Fostering round up

Round-up of recent adoption news and cases.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Kingdon v Kingdon: Order vitiated by material non-disclosure does not have to be set aside

In Kingdon v Kingdon [2010] EWCA Civ 1251, the Court of Appeal yesterday held that where an ancillary relief order is vitiated by material non-disclosure, the order does not necessarily have to be set aside.

Full post: Family Lore

Gay marriage rules to be challenged, but courts may say decision is Parliament’s

Campaigners are seeking to challenge the rules against gay marriages and straight civil partnerships in the UK.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

LSC: no appeal on family contracts

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has confirmed yesterday that it will not be appealing against the judgment made on the Law Society’s judicial review of the family law tender process.

Full post: LAG News Blog

Robson v Robson: Dividing the carcass of the golden goose

Robson v Robson [2010] EWCA Civ 1171 may ultimately be best remembered for the language used by Lord Justice Ward in his judgment, rather than for any particular point of law. It does, however, throw up some interesting issues.

Full post: Family Lore

The Supreme Court and pre-nups: a victory for 40-year-old law?

So it has finally happened. The new Millennium began with a bang in the form of the White v White case, and ten years later we’ve started the new decade with a similarly momentous development following the Supreme Court’s long awaited judgement in the Radmacher v Granatino case.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Pension offsetting in divorce – another throw of the dice?

Offsetting is common in divorce and dissolution because the principles are simple. It involves one party keeping an asset that has a value similar to that of one the other party will retain.

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

Supreme Court pre-nup decision: the human rights angle

Although human rights were not in issue in this litigation, there is an interesting question to explore here in relation to the parties’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their possession without interference by the state (in the form of a court order reversing the provisions of a private settlement).

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

“Prenuptial agreements are great – for the rich”

After nearly seven months of deliberation, it is ironic timing that as the Government announces swingeing cuts to the justice system, no fewer than nine Supreme Court judges are to finally hand down their decision in the glamorous case of multi-millionairess Katrin Radmacher and her former husband, Nicolas Granatino.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Radmacher v Granatino: No change

The much-anticipated Supreme Court judgment in Radmacher v Granatino has now been handed down, and the Justices found in favour of heiress Katrin Radmacher.

Full post: Family Lore

Pre-nuptial agreements have force in English law as long as they are “fair”, say Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ruled by an 8-1 majority (Lady Hale dissenting) that a court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless, in the circumstances prevailing, it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Singing into the wind

There has certainly been a chorus of warnings about possible changes to the family justice system, in particular the introduction of compulsory mediation, in the spending review and/or the Family Justice Review.

Full post: Family Lore

Prenups: the German heiress vs UK law

A long-awaited supreme court judgment on prenups is unlikely to change the law.

Full post: Afua Hirsch's Law Blog

Willy Wonka’s Spending Review

At the risk of becoming monotonous, news of the demise of family legal aid is not greatly exaggerated.

Full post: Pink Tape

Do Budget cuts timetable the start of the dance on divorce-lawyers’ graves?

Those reading about the UK government’s proposals to slash the availability of court hearings dealing with family law matters, could be forgiven for thinking that this is uniquely good news, particularly where, the latest headlines sit next to stories of how slow the process is and the high cost concerning multi-million pound divorce cases.

Full post: FLiP Blog

Marriage in later life: what are the pitfalls?

I recently listened to a morning radio programme on which three counsellors gave advice to a young girl who had written in to the show. Her father had been widowed for ten years and had met another woman nearly twenty years younger than him. His daughter was desperately worried as she thought the woman to be a gold digger who was only after her dad for his money.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Alakazam!

Further to my post only yesterday about the proposal to revoke the implementing SI in respect of the Family Advocacy Scheme – it has already been revoked.

Full post: Pink Tape

Fabricated illness: case management lessons

The judgment of HHJ Clifford Bellamy in Re X, Y & Z which we now know involved Coventry City Council covers a wide range of important points about case management, permission to withdraw proceedings and the duties of an expert asked to report on suggestions of fabricated illness.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Shaken Baby Syndrome: evolving law and the quest for justice

Children tend to cause more problems than any other area of family law. Few areas change so much, or are as nuanced and complex. I’ve recently read a wealth of legal articles and cases that illustrate the breadth of issues affecting them, but there is one type of case in particular that speaks to my own personal experience.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Forced marriage, honour violence and secret justice

The High Court has given guidance on the role which special advocates may play in forced marriage and honour violence cases.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Compulsory mediation: You can take a horse to water...

The Telegraph today has taken up on the indication by Justice Minister Jonathan Djangoly yesterday on the BBC radio Today programme that parents involved in private law children disputes may be refused legal aid unless they attempt mediation first.

Full post: Family Lore

A coup for Chancery Lane – but what happens now?

Last week’s High Court judgment that the Legal Services Commission’s family tender process was unlawful railroaded a process which would have reduced the number of family providers from 2,400 to 1,300 and led to the demise of many experienced firms.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News blog

More councils named and shamed in child protection cases

Coventry City Council has been ordered to pay £100,000 in costs and has been severely criticised by the High Court for child protection failures.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

The law on cohabitation and property: who owns the house?

Cohabitation is a complex area of family law and one that becomes more confused and murky by the week.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Family Justice Review – The Outlook is Gloomy

The deadline for written submissions to the Family Justice Review call for evidence was yesterday.

Full post: Pink Tape

Those Cruel Courts

Sir Nicholas Wall in a speech to Families Need Fathers thinks that the Family Justice Review may diminish or even abolish legal aid for private law family disputes.

Full post: WALL

Fathers’ rights on the agenda for upcoming family justice reform

Last week I posted on a speech given by Sir Nicholas Wall on family justice reform. The speech has been widely reported: see articles on the BBC and Zoe Williams’ challenge to Sir Nicholas’ point that intelligent parents made worse litigants.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Forget the soundbites: Lord Justice Wall is the herald of family law reform

Earlier this week I appeared on BBC Radio Four’s popular PM programme to discuss a speech made by the President of the Family Division, Lord Justice Wall, to Families Need Fathers.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Should we send more child support evaders to prison?

I posted last week about the high child support collection rate in Allegheny County, in the USA. It has since been pointed out to me that with a case load of 46,500 Allegheny County sent 345 people to jail last year for failure to pay, whereas over here the CSA has a case load of 1.2 million and only 40 people were jailed.

Full post: Family Lore

Pension values in divorce – pitfall number … 99?

A recent announcement by Standard Life presents a simple argument for why you might need professional input from your friendly IFA or actuary when looking at pension values in divorce.

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

Top judge says legal aid in family cases may disappear

The president of the family courts, Sir Nicholas Wall, has given a wide-ranging speech to Families Needs Fathers. In it he outlined his own vision for change and also sounded a warning that legal aid in family cases may soon be abolished.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

The President speaks

Sir Nicholas Wall is back in the news. In a speech to Families Need Fathers, the President attacked parents who use their children as 'ammunition' in separations, gave an indication of possible reform to private children law and issued a warning about the future of legal aid.

Full post: Family Lore

Divorce and bankruptcy: why we all need a “BOGWIT” order

Guest blogger Jonathan James of Stowe Family Law writes a salutary reminder in this post about the perils of sustained delay, a complex and highly topical issue that has been brought into relief by recent changes to the way inflation is measured in relation to pensions.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Postnuptial agreements and “America’s Messiest Divorce”: what would happen here?

This week I read a fascinating piece in U.S. Marie Claire magazine, by Justine Musk. “I Was a Starter Wife”: Inside America’s Messiest Divorce describes her marriage to the fabulously wealthy entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Book Review: Tax and Family Breakdown

When I received Tax and Family Breakdown for review I was slightly surprised by the size of the book: 281 pages (although nearly half of those are appendices, more of which below) – it is generally considered that there is very little tax law that the family practitioner needs to know, and most general family law text books only devote a few pages to the subject.

Full post: Family Lore

“Conflicting out”: when can solicitors be prevented from acting?

What are the circumstances in which a firm of solicitors may be restrained from acting for a client in a family law case?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Family Advocacy Scheme Looms

The new FAS is rushing fast towards us. The clerks have been on training. There has been a flurry of new SIP-like forms, and we will soon have to start working out quite what the new scheme will mean on a day to day basis.

Full post: Pink Tape

Roll up! Roll up! Join The JR!

I’ve been asked to post information about another forthcoming JR of the LSC in respect of the family tender.

Full post: Pink Tape

The child contract

A Twitter contact of mine came up with a beautifully simple solution to the age old problem of how parents continue parenting when a relationship breaks down: a Children Contract.

Full post: Family Law Blog

A broken engagement

Dibble v Pfluger [2010] EWCA Civ 1005 concerns an appeal in a joint property case, largely decided on its facts. It has one interesting point of note for anyone who practices in this field: the couples were engaged to be married for much of the period of their relationship.

Full post: Nearly Legal

Imerman v Tchenguiz in the real-world: one reader’s dilemma

A blog reader, Paul, commented on a recent post about Imerman v Tchenguiz and the Court of Appeal’s decision in that case.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Turn Off The TAP – Is Collaborative Law Suitable For You?

The Collaborative Law approach within family law can be so attractive that there is sometimes a rush to collaborate even when the process is not suitable for a particular client, or family.

Full post: About Family Law

Book Review: Resolution Family Disputes Handbook

The Resolution Family Disputes Handbook sets out to provide ‘an authoritative guide to offering non-court based solutions’ to family disputes. Written by Resolution’s ADR committee, it comprises 16 chapters (not the 19 stated on The Law Society’s website), covering the various alternatives to court (primarily mediation and collaborative law), and a number of related issues.

Full post: Family Lore

Family Justice Review – Condensed

Lucy Reed gives her condensed response to the Family Justice Review questions.

Full post: Pink Tape

Divorce solicitors: when is the best time to seek second opinions?

Marilyn Stowe gives some advice for those who are unhappy with the way their divorce is going.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

RPI to CPI – how changing one word has a big impact

The Government’s June emergency budget has resulted in some turmoil for those dealing with pensions in divorce and dissolution. In this article we look at what has happened, and why.

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

Panorama

On Monday Panorama showed a report on the journey through the family courts of a family accused of causing serious non-accidental injuries to their baby son: ‘Parents’ Child Abuse Nightmare’.

Full post: Pink Tape

PENSION relief brief

I have just received issue 8 of their PENSION relief brief from Bradshaw Dixon Moore. Covering the turmoil caused by the recent change in the measure of inflation used by State and statutory pensions from RPI to CPI, the brief makes important reading for all dealing with pensions and divorce. You can subscribe to PENSION relief brief here.

Full post: Family Lore

Legal aid contracts: LSC shift the goalposts - possible basis for challenge?

Nearly Legal has pointed out what he calls 'a major shift in position' by the LSC regarding the tender for civil contracts.

Full post: Family Lore

Contraception, capacity and coercion: when does a woman lack capacity to decide whether to use contraceptive treatment?

A Local Authority v Mrs A, by her Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor, and Mr A [2010] EWHC 1549 (Fam) – In the first case of its kind, the court was asked to consider whether a young married woman lacks capacity to decide whether to use contraception, and whether it would be in her interests to be required to receive it.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

The Mills Grind Slower and Slower

Brick examines the reasons why care cases take 45 weeks or more to reach a conclusion.

Full post: WALL

Cuts to family law legal aid: an update

Further to my recent posts about savage cuts to family law legal aid in England and Wales, I would like to thank those who have contacted me or left comments, on this blog and on Solicitors Journal, with their thoughts.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Law Society takes action on Family Contract

The Law Society has today (20th August) announced that it has commenced judicial review proceedings against the Legal Services Commission (LSC) over its handling of the tender process for the family law contracts.

Full post: LAG News Blog

Hildebrand Documents and Disclosure in Ancillary Relief

A high value ancillary relief case, FZ v SZ, provides further clarification on Hildebrand documents.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson West LLP

Cafcass Woes

There has been a call to “Scrap Cafcass” from Andrew Povey, leader of Surrey Council. Not a bad idea in itself but he goes on to recommend that Cafcass’s responsibilities be transferred to local authorities.

Full post: WALL

LSC contracts.

Good post on Nearly Legal about the LSC contract debacle.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Cafcass: Why? The value of Children's Guardians

The leader of Surrey Council recommends scrapping Cafcass according to this article in Community Care -he suggests the responsibilities are transferred to the local authorities.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

“Law will tear us apart”

Regular readers will have noted that I hold some strong views about the latest family law developments and their implications for divorcing couples up and down the country. So when Solicitors Journal invited me to contribute an editorial about the “key issues facing family lawyers right now”, the biggest challenge was to fit everything within my allocated column inches!

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Warwickshire County Council v TE & Ors: Another father abandons his battle

Adopting the 'poignant descriptive words' of Munby J (as he then was) in Re D (Intractable Contact Dispute: Publicity) [2004] 1 FLR 1226, His Honour Judge Clifford Bellamy began his judgment in Warwickshire County Council v TE & Ors [2010] EWHC B19 yesterday as follows:

Full post: Family Lore

Why civil partnerships for heterosexual couples could be a good idea

The Gazette reported last week that there has been a surge in cohabitation cases as a result of the recession.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News blog

Smorgasbord

"... whilst there is no time to hone the following into some compelling piece of art or pop-journalism, here are some interesting bits and bobs I’ve collected this week..."

Full post: Pink Tape

Trouble in the Courts

There is trouble in the family justice system in England and Wales. It is struggling and in danger of collapsing (or imploding – Mr Justice Wall) in the face of a sustained increase in the numbers of child protection cases.

Full post: WALL

Legal aid solicitors and Grahame Stowe Bateson: what will the Legal Services Commission do next?

Readers may have learned from the media about the scandal surrounding the savage cuts to legal aid in family law cases.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Monro Review – Second Act

I’m amazed it took so long before the second of the Monro “reference group”, Martin Narey took the stage to treat us to his extraordinary expertise and experience about almost everything.

Full post: WALL

Vulnerable children trapped in court limbo, says charity

A leading children’s charity has said that vulnerable children are trapped in an unnecessary limbo of court delays, with courts taking up to 65 weeks to decide whether it is safe for a child to remain with its parents.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

WHY CARE?

Firstly, let me explode the myth that the outcome of care applications is inevitable and that therefore care proceedings are purposeless.

Full post: Pink Tape

The Imerman judgement: does this picture ring true?

When I read the Imerman judgement, there is one passage that jumps off the page and startles me.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

ContactPoint switched off but child welfare concerns remain

A database which was to hold the details of every child in England will be switched off at noon today, but the uneasy relationship between social services, the government and the courts in child protection matters still remains.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Cafcass: Why? The value of Children's Guardians

I have posted a lot recently on Cafcass and the failure to deliver the service we had got used to.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Judge Dread – The Future

The Family Justice Review is calling for written evidence by the end of September.

Full post: Pink Tape

It’s Carnage Out There In The Desert

LAG reports on the slashing of the numbers of legal aid solicitors up and down the country as a result of the tendering process – from 2400 to 1300 in one fell swoop.

Full post: Pink Tape

Family Justice System faces "complete meltdown"

My thanks to John Hirst of Jailhouselawyer's Blog for drawing my attention to a letter that appeared in The Times today from Piers Pressdee, QC and Alan Bean, Co-Chairs of the Association of Lawyers for Children.

Full post: Family Lore

Little chance of US-style gay marriage ruling here

A Federal court in California has struck down a ban on gay marriage in the state, marking the first step on a path to a United States Supreme Court decision on the issue.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Split hearings: what will happen now?

A split hearing can be summarised as a hearing divided into two parts. During the first part the court makes findings of fact on issues identified by the parties or the court. During the second part the court, drawing upon the findings it has made, decides the case.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Stolen documents divorce ruling a blow to human rights of poorer partners?

The Court of Appeal has ruled that secretly obtained documents can no longer copied and then used in divorce proceedings, overturning a rule dating back almost twenty years.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

The Hildebrand Rules and Imerman v Tchenguiz: what about Jim v Mary?

Yesterday the Court of Appeal made a landmark ruling that has been described as a “cheat’s charter”.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Non-Hague International Child Abductions from Britain

This map, prepared by the U.K.'s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, shows those non-Hague countries with the highest numbers of new British child abduction cases.

Full post: International Family Law

Cafcass: the National Audit Office

Seemingly I am not the only one to have noticed the inadequacies of Cafcass. The BBC reports on the conclusions of the National Audit Office inspection of the service.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Openness in the Family Courts: news roundup

Christopher Booker in the Telegraph raises concerns about some specific public law cases in his ongoing campaign against closed family courts.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Family Justice Review

Further to my previous post, I am en route back to the sticks having thrown my two penn’orth in the general direction of the Family Justice Review Panel (I got ‘em, right between the eyes).

Full post: Pink Tape

'Carnage' as family solicitors lose legal aid contracts

LAG has just heard from the Legal Services Commission that 1,300 out of 2,400 firms have been awarded contracts in family law.

Full post: LAG News Blog

Lord Justice Munby and the piglets: a salutary tale

Because divorce lawyers aren’t mind readers and because divorce settlements aren’t matters of precise science, there can be many twists and turns in a divorce case.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Would a shared parenting presumption actually make a difference?

In her column in Family Law last week Sandra Davis took issue with MP Brian Binley over his Shared Parenting Orders Bill

Full post: Family Lore

Book Review: Domestic Abuse - Practice and Precedents

Domestic Abuse - Practice and Precedents sets for itself the considerable task of ‘providing a fully comprehensive guide to all aspects of domestic abuse’, outlining the full range of civil and criminal options, including non-molestation and occupation orders, forced marriage protection orders, protection from harassment and even anti-social behaviour injunctions. How well does it meet these aims?

Full post: Family Lore

Re S (A child): 'Chillingly callous'

The case of Re S (A Child) [2010] EWHC 1669 (Fam) is, sadly, a familiar story.

Full post: Family Lore

A big idea for legal aid cuts

The Ministry of Justice have got big cuts to make and we have already heard that a number of courts are going to be merged or closed, but this is chickenfeed compared to what is going to be needed to meet the coalition targets.

Full post: Divorce-Online Blog

A Momentous and Disturbing Ruling in Europe on the Hague Abduction Convention

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has issued, just days ago, a major decision that – at least at first blush – appears likely to have an extremely significant impact on the interpretation and application of the Hague Abduction Convention within Europe and may well lead to a major split between the way that Convention is interpreted and applied within Europe versus the rest of the world.

Full post: International Family Law

Money: when is it relevant to children cases?

I am grateful to Peter Ryder, solicitor, for the following thoughts on residence, parental responsibility & relocation.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Guidance on McKenzie Friends

The Master of the Rolls & the President of the Family Division have issued new Guidance on McKenzie Friends.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Prenuptial agreements: a waste of time and money?

This week’s edition of The Sunday Times carried a lurid headline, “An end to the goldmine divorce”, with accompanying pictures of the heiress Katrin Radmacher and her former husband Nicolas Granatino.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Cafcass: advocates duties when there is no Officer appointed

One of the most regrettable casualties of the increase in workload has been the availability of Cafcass Officers to report in cases.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Monro Review – a Hard Act to Follow

I wondered which of the big egos of the Monro Child Protection Review Team would be first to rush to express their firmly held and wise opinions.

Full post: WALL

Pre-nups to be enforceable?

According to the Sunday Telegraph today, the Law Commission will recommend that prenuptial agreements be made legally enforceable.

Full post: Family Lore

Nightmare for dad charged with alleged child abduction

Andrew Wall, a 40 year old father from Lincolnshire, has been charged with 2 counts of child abuction by a parent in relation to a recent break he took with his 6 year old twin sons.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

A v East Sussex County Council & Ors: The cost of child protection

The case A v East Sussex County Council & Ors [2010] EWCA Civ 743 caused some headlines yesterday, for example in The Independent, and on the BBC. It concerned a mother whose two-month-old son was removed from her and taken into care because of fears which subsequently proved groundless.

Full post: Family Lore

Halliwells and the true cost of the recession: why take a cheap shot?

Over the past couple of weeks, the legal press has been buzzing with news of the demise of Halliwells, a large firm of solicitors based in Manchester.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Court had to balance child’s need to continue relationship with father and mother’s wishes to return to France

One of the most difficult judgements Family Courts have to consider is when one parent wishes to take the children to another country (perhaps their country of origin, having left their extended family behind to marry and settle in the UK), because the Court is aware that in the majority of cases this will mean the parent remaining in the UK will effectively lose the relationship with their children.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson West LLP

Grandparents' rights: No 'rose-tinted glasses'

There is much discussion these days of grandparents' rights. Promoting contact rights for grandparents is, of course, one of the matters that will be considered by the Family Justice Review.

Full post: Family Lore

Open letter to Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg has today asked us all to help the Government make divorce better ... This could be a very complex subject, so to keep things clear I set out below some quick thoughts.

Full post: Family Law Blog

Publication of information in children matters – Children Schools and Families Act 2010

The Children Schools and Families Act 2010 made its way through ‘wash up’ and received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010.

Full post: Pink Tape

Cohabitation: what has Australia got that England hasn’t?

A blog reader enquired recently about the cohabitation legislation in Australia, asking: “Are you familiar with it and its effects and what is your opinion?”

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

S (A child): Children orders must use statutory language

The case of S (A Child) [2010] EWCA Civ 705, recently reported on Family Law Week, involved a technical point of language.

Full post: Family Lore

In Loco Parentis

The independent think-tank Demos has today published its report on the care system, In Loco Parentis, commissioned by Barnardo's.

Full post: Family Lore

Neither mediation nor collaboration is a panacea

It seems that the proponents of mediation and collaborative law are very passionate about their subjects, but are they in danger of misleading the public as to just what mediation and collaboration can achieve?

Full post: Family Lore

ContactPoint Unscrapped

In May 2010 the Coalition Government published The Coalition: our programme for government, under the heading Civil Liberties that document states: “We will scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register and the ContactPoint database”.

Full post: WALL

Facebook and Adoption

The Guardian has a long and thoughtful article about the effect of social networking sites on adoption and the questions which the new media communication facilities are asking of adopters, of biological parents, of professionals and most of all of adopted children and young people.

Full post: WALL

Legal Aid under Threat

As anticipated the government has announced its review of legal aid.

Full post: LAG News Blog

Dads-to-be excluded from ultrasound scans

Rob Williams writes in the Guardian about the practice at Basildon hospital of excluding fathers to be from ultrasound scans. He suspect[s] that the policy to exclude men from the scanning room is rooted in a belief that men are not important to the process of bringing a baby into the world.

Full post: Pink Tape

Residence order made in favour of grandparents despite appeal by mother

In D (Children), a mother appealed against a residence order in favour of her sons’ grandparents.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson-West LLP

Fathers’ rights and family law in 2010: could every day be Father’s Day?

In the case (AR (A Child: Relocation) [2010] EWHC 1346) Mr Justice Mostyn had to make a decision about whether or not a mother could remove her children from the jurisdiction of the Court, so that they could go and live in France.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Musings on new fangled equality

Just a thought. I’m not trying to be controversial or nuffing. But it did occur to me today that whilst the clamour for a presumption of equal parenting is all well and good (I agree its a solution that should be given serious consideration in most cases, but not that this should be elevated to a presumption) its something which is really completely novel as far as the history of the family is concerned.

Full post: Pink Tape

Legal Lookalikes

There are a growing number of quasi-legal services out there for litigants in person involved in family proceedings, and it is no surprise that many of them are advertised via the internet.

Full post: Pink Tape

“If you walk through the courtroom door, the outcome cannot be guaranteed”

I have been reading a judgement that has recently been handed down by brand new appointment to the High Court Bench, Mr Justice Mostyn.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Lesbian partner not liable to maintain child

If you have parental responsibility for a child then logic would suggest that you should be responsible for maintaining the child. Not so, said Mr Justice Moylan, according to this report in The Telegraph yesterday.

Full post: Family Lore

Are we nearly there yet...? Media representatives bored by experience of access to family courts

It is now just over a year since the family courts in England and Wales opened their doors to accredited members of the media.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Vetting and Barring comes to a Shuddering Halt

Theresa May has announced that the ISA (no – not a savings scheme but the Independent Safeguarding Authority – a QUANGO) is to be “put on hold” and “scaled back”.

Full post: WALL

Divorce rights or wrongs?

There are few absolute rights in life, though the Americans have done their best by creating a Bill of all the ones they could think of. So it is difficult to understand why people think they have cast-iron rights when it comes to divorce and separation.

Full post: Family Law Blog

Litigation funding: are brokers really “rescuers”?

I was interested to read in The Times that a barristers’ chambers in London has set up a company that will arrange funding in divorce cases.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

How to improve family law

There is much talk these days of reforming the family justice system. Well, here is my five-point plan.

Full post: Family Lore

Divorcing a bully – and seeking an Indemnity Costs order

Suppose that you are going through a very nasty financial case in the course of your divorce.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Are the family law courts letting children down?

In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper the former president of the family law division and head of justice for England and Wales, Mark Potter, claimed that children are being put in danger because the family court service is facing an "acute situation of crisis".

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Big Fish or JAWS

“Professor Eileen Munro is a big fish poised to plunge into the Tory tank”, so said C0mmunity Care in April. Well, now it’s the Coalition tank but Eileen is still there and her review of child protection in England has now been announced.

Full post: WALL

The Guardian’s Tale

When the Children’s Guardian system started in 1985 in England and Wales the ratio of practitioners to administrators was probably about 20:1.

Full post: WALL

Fathers' rights: Some good ideas, but also some bad eggs

Continuing the fathers' rights theme of my last two posts, Lucy Reed at Pink Tape has posted about the relaunch of Fathers 4 Justice, but asks how they, as the 'official campaign' should "deal with the splitters and splinter groups that persistently damage its reputation and undermine the progress it is striving to make".

Full post: Family Lore

Contact Activities – the big giveaway!

Contact Activity Directions – remember them? Yes, the little used Contact Activity provisions have received a bit of a boost as of 1 April: they are now provided free of charge to any parent ordered to attend such an activity.

Full post: Pink Tape

Family litigation & death: what happens next?

One of the saddest realities of family litigation is that a death is not necessarily the end of the arguments.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Collaborative law: is it just the "trend of the week"?

"Collaborative law" seems to be the buzzphrase of the moment in family law circles (certainly collaborative lawyers are always eager to sing its praises), but just how important is collaborative law, and what role is it likely to play in the future?

Full post: Family Lore

Kernott v Jones may have been the correct decision, but was it the RIGHT decision?

I reported briefly on Kernott v Jones in this post, shortly after the judgment was published... Now that I have had more time to consider, I thought that I would look at this important case in a little more detail, at least in relation to its implications.

Full post: Family Lore

New online resource

As national family week gets underway, Resolution is launching a new online advice centre with information on the legal aspects of splitting up, as well as advice on parenting apart, sorting out money and arranging child maintenance.

Full post: Judith's Divorce Blog

Less than ambulatory intentions

Kernott v Jones [2010] EWCA Civ 578. This was the Court of Appeal hearing, on a second appeal, of a case on equitable interests in a property.

Full post: Nearly Legal

Official Slow-icitor

Yet another facet of the system is creaking under the caseload: I am reliably informed that the Official Solicitor has written to family law practitioners to inform them that his staff is unable to accept new instructions to act as a guardian ad litem or litigation friend without some delay.

Full post: Pink Tape

ISW Pay Rates

When Cafcass started to be unable to meet courts request’s for Children’s Guardians the Legal Services Commission (LSC) became concerned that its legal aid funds were at risk of being used to engage Independent Social Workers (ISWs) as substitutes for the absent Cafcass Guardians.

Full post: WALL

Kernott v Jones: A cautionary tale

"This is a cautionary tale, which all unmarried couples who are contemplating the purchase of residential property as their home, and all solicitors who advise them, should study."

Full post: Family Lore

Lightning Fast Lawyers

40 minutes apparently. That’s the time it takes to get to and from Bath County Court from chambers in Bristol. Or at least my clerks tell me (to snorts of derision from me) that this is all the LSC say I can claim.

Full post: Pink Tape

So you’re divorcing and the housing market has stalled. Now what?

Local and national newspapers are filled with page after page of houses that are failing to sell. Those who don’t have to sell simply aren’t – it is a buyer’s market and the price a seller asks for is unlikely to be what they receive.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Adoption, Secrecy and Facebook

Back in August last year I wrote about the potential effects of social networking sites, primarily Facebook, on adoption. Now I see Victoria Macdonald in the Observer and under the not understated headline; “Adopted children face anguish as birth parents stalk them on Facebook”, has discovered the same issue.

Full post: WALL

ISWs throw in the towel

Community Care reports on the prospect of Independent Social Workers quitting over the fees cap to be introduced by the LSC in October.

Full post: Pink Tape

Shut Your Face(book)

Dear (Imaginary) Client, Please read, digest and act promptly upon this article in The Guardian which tells you how to appropriately protect your privacy on Facebook.

Full post: Pink Tape

Foretelling the future of family law

Marilyn Stowe consults her trusty crystal ball to predict the future for family law in these unsettled times.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Manners Maketh a Lawyer

I had a particularly taxing day at court recently. My opponent solicitor and I did not – ahem – gel.

Full post: Pink Tape

Heads and Eyes Rolling

Is there any part of the family justice system not being adversely affected by a lack of resources?

Full post: Pink Tape

CAFCASS – Fact Finding

Jacqui Gilliat on the Family Law Week Blog highlights two concerning practice developments here in her post about CAFCASS.

Full post: Pink Tape

Why “I’ll keep the house, you keep your pension” is too simple.

Miles Hendy of Fraser Heath Financial Management and David Freke of Moore Stephens Financial Services gave a great presentation to the Bath Collaborative Law group earlier this morning at Mogers‘ offices.

Full post: About Family Law

A marriage of convenience

The best news about the new political reality at Westminster is, of, course, that if things work out as hoped we will all be spared the horror of another general election for the next five years. How, however, will the coalition affect family policies?

Full post: Family Lore

The Politicians’ Wedding Entrance Dance

"Because we voted for people and not parties, there is no overall majority. So in order to govern, two of the people who lead our parties must now dive headlong into an arranged marriage."

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

If only we had a magic wand...

I recently stumbled across a US website called 'Our Family Wizard' which really interested me. OFW provides a service for separated parents to manage their communication and arrangements relating to their children.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Washed up and hung out to air in public

Further to my previous post on the passing of the Children Schools & Families Act 2010, The Times has published an article about the new provisions which is spot on

Full post: Pink Tape

Opening up the courts, one year on

Like a dog with a bone, The Times today continues its campaign to open up the family courts.

Full post: Family Lore

Panel Minutes

I had a salutary reminder recently of how useful it can be getting hold of minutes of internal meetings held within the local authority which are not routinely disclosed.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Cafcass & fact finding

Speaking as one who is having enormous difficulties managing my own caseload I was interested to learn yesterday of a novel approach being adopted in the Stoke area to managing the deluge of cases in which domestic violence allegations are made and which would ordinarily be listed for a fact finding hearing.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Pannone case heard in the Court of Appeal now reported

The website 'Family Law Week' have now published the full judgment of the case of H (A Child) which was heard by the Court of Appeal in February.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

International Divorce Laws

The European Commission has proposed new rules which would allow married couples from certain European countries to choose which country’s law should apply to their divorce.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Media and the Family Courts: Punishing the Innocent and Protecting the Guilty

This is the talk I gave at Staffordshire University’s Annual Family Law Seminar last week, about media and the family courts within the context of Human Rights legislation.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Permission Plus

Family Lore has alerted me to this curious decision of Lord Justice Wall on permission (RW v SW [2010] EWCA Civ 457 (29 April 2010)).

Full post: Pink Tape

Just as you thought it was safe to go back in the courtroom…

The snappily titled and easy to read Children Schools and Families Act 2010 has landed on our virtual desks.

Full post: Pink Tape

To the next Government: Please think your policies through

Family Law reports today the disturbing news that an increase in violence against children may be linked to the 2008 rise in court fees for care and supervision orders.

Full post: Family Lore

Allocate this

I’ve been thinking about blame lately. You lose count in this job of the number of people you meet who don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions.

Full post: Pink Tape

Court considers Post-Nuptial Agreement and Husband’s criminal conduct in Ancillary Relief proceedings

In L v K, the Court had to consider an ancillary relief claim from a husband where there had been a Post-Nuptial Agreement and the husband was currently serving a prison sentence.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson West LLP

Family law reform: is it out of this world?

Marilyn Stowe considers that the present agenda for family law reform "fixates upon the caseloads of Central London and the jurisprudential views of the Great and Good, who seem to be able to decide for us all".

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Morocco. Hague Abduction Convention. Update.

Morocco has acceded to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, effective June 1, 2010. It is the 82nd party to the treaty.

Full post: International Family Law

Cleaning up: one reason why divorce rates are falling…

I have a theory that one reason why divorce rates are falling is because husbands and wives are together taking on both roles, setting aside the traditional approach that certain jobs are allocated by gender.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

What's mine is mine - could divorce law be changing?

The Law Commission is presently examining whether prenuptial agreements should be legally binding. Its recommendations are due later this year and could result in fresh divorce legislation.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

“Tug-of-love” ruling resonates in law

A six-year old girl and her two brothers are to be allowed to stay living with their mum in the UK after an Appeal Court ruling took into account where the little girl said she would rather live.

Full post: Family Law Blog

Delaying the Decree Absolute: another look at Miller Smith v Miller Smith

If one party wants the divorce to be finalised but the other does not, and the parties’ finances have not been resolved, may the decree absolute be delayed?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Judging families

There seems to be quite a backlash against the Tory pro-marriage policies, in particular their proposed £150 a year tax break for (some) married couples.

Full post: Family Lore

J v J: Warnings for family lawyers in big money cases on trial prep & clients' credibility

The judgment of Mr Justice Charles in the case of J v J (Fam Div) from January 2010 has been published. The judgement is of importance to those specialising in 'big money' financial settlements on divorce not only for its principles of law, but as examined here the guidance given on the preparation cases for trial, and warnings about the presentation of cases in terms of maintaining clients' credibility.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Sod the children, this could win votes

I've not commented upon this up until now, but I found it quite appalling (although not at all surprising) that the Government decided that Part 2 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill did not warrant proper consideration and was therefore suitable for the 'wash up' procedure, being rushed through before parliament was dissolved.

Full post: Family Lore

JK Rowling & single mothers: from a family lawyer’s perspective

I believe in families: families of all types, single, married, divorcing, cohabiting. They all deserve consideration and recognition, rather than approbation.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Campaigns, criticisms and clerihews

I shall miss The Times' regular shots at the family justice system when it goes pay-to-view in June...

Full post: Family Lore

First Wife v Second Wife: which one gets priority?

The recent case of Vaughan v Vaughan, which involved an elderly divorced couple and made the news while I was away on holiday last week, has led me to wonder. How should a husband divvy up the spoils of a lifetime between his former wife and his current wife?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

CMEC v Mitchell: Child support and the Limitation Act

The case involves the ever-ingenious David Burrows, who sought to claim that the Act applied to applications by CMEC under s.39A Child Support Act 1991 for the issue of a warrant committing the liable person to prison or for an order for him to be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence.

Full post: Family Lore

Professional ethics: keeping your head in a difficult situation

"If you always do what is right in your head and always put your loyalty to the firm first, you won’t go wrong." Says Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Interlo-cutey

News that the President’s Interim Guidance in Respect of CAFCASS is to be extended by a further six months (to c Oct 2010) fills me with dismay.

Full post: Pink Tape

For the Sake of the Kids

I have now watched the first episode of the new BBC series Who Needs Fathers? Entitled For the Sake of the Kids, the programme follows two couples as they try to resolve arrangements for their children following separation, in contrasting ways.

Full post: Family Lore

Family Law Direct

The Legal Services Board have today lifted the restrictions on barristers accepting instructions directly from members of the public in family work have been lifted.

Full post: Pink Tape

Ex-wife in case of Vaughan wins payout 29 years after separating from her ex

Many newspapers are today reporting the case involving Mr Vaughan QC and his ex-wife.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Sir Mark and the terms of the FJR

I have just read the speech given by outgoing President of the Family Division Sir Mark Potter at the Annual Seminar of District Judges. I found most interesting his comments regarding the terms of the proposed Family Justice Review.

Full post: Family Lore

"VALUATIONS, DAMNED VALUATIONS & CETVs"

Practitioners need to be aware of the difference between disclosure values, market-consistent values and offsetting values.

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

Proposed New European Choice of Law Divorce Rules

Ten European countries are about to proceed with divorce law rules that will clarify which law applies to international marriages.

Full post: International Family Law

D-I-V-O-R-C-E, EU style

The new justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, took to the stage this week as the country-and-western singer, Tammy Wynette.

Full post: Law Society Gazette Euro blog

Renewed Efforts

The President’s Interim Guidance has been reissued to take effect for six months from April 2010, with PDs to accompany it.

Full post: Pink Tape

Hewett v First Plus: Common sense

Analysis of Hewett v First Plus Financial Group Plc [2010] EWCA Civ 312.

Full post: Family Lore

Cafcass Survey “How it Looks to Me” – Children comment on Divorce and Separation proceedings

Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, invited 136 children, 122 of whom had been in contact with Cafcass, to the National Space Centre in Leicester to consult on their views of the Family court proceedings and their experiences of divorce and separation.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson West LLP

Tear Down The Wall…

Charon QC is right. I have to comment on Jack Straw’s apparent reluctance to appoint Lord Justice Wall as the new President of the Family Division, reported on here by The Times.

Full post: Pink Tape

Radmacher v Granatino: what happens now?

This week the Supreme Court is hearing the case of Radmacher v Granatino, with Mr Granatino arguing that the prenuptial agreement that he signed with his former wife, German heiress Katrin Radmacher, should not be upheld.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Shared residence & holidays

An interesting question has been exercising me: can a holder of a shared residence order take a child on holiday abroad without the consent of the other holder / parent.

Full post: Bloody Relations

John and Sarah's divorce

We all hear, it seems daily, about yet another "celebrity divorce" or the make believe "quickie divorce" they often claim to obtain. We hear about the agonising over whether the settlement should be £200million or £300million. What a hard life and tough case that must be!

Full post: Family Law Blog

The Sirens of Divorce

Recently I wrote about the “Black Knights” of divorce: those people who won’t face reality but fight on, relentlessly, long after the case has finished. They are few in number but their behaviour is remarkable. Today I would like to consider another group, equally rare in number. They are the Sirens.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

From Secret Court to Star Chamber?

This article compares and contrasts the adversarial process with its sister system, the inquisitorial process and highlights the possibility of a power struggle between the judiciary, the legislative and the executive on matters of family law.

Post (and link to article): Divorce Manual

Well – DUUR!!

News just in from the FLBA: The Report from Francis Plowden – the Review of Court Fees in Child Care Proceedings – was published yesterday.

Full post: Pink Tape

Should the ancillary relief system be revised?

I have often wondered whether the period between First Appointment and the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment needs to be reconsidered in greater detail.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Baroness Deech speaks... again

Baroness Deech continues her monthly onslaught against the family justice system today with the latest of her public lectures as professor of law at Gresham College, London.

Full post: Family Lore

Workload issues

I a sorry to have been neglecting the blog recently but contrary to any pronouncements you may have heard on the radio myself and my colleagues are not noticing any discernible drop in our workloads.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

CMEC v Beesley: CMEC not bound by IVA

Can entering into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement ('IVA') reduce the liability of the non-resident parent ('NRP') for child maintenance?

Full post: Family Lore

Coronation Street, grandparents’ rights and a family lawyers’ advice

As a family lawyer, what advice can I offer a grandparent seeking a residence order in relation to a grandchild?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

The divorce capital of the world...?

The big news in the world of family law this week came from the Supreme Court who handed down the eagerly awaited judgment in the case of Agbaje.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Judges face an even tougher task in children’s cases

Judges in family proceedings have been given an unenviable task. Following a decision of the Supreme Court last week, they must now think longer and harder about whether a child should appear in court to face the person that might have abused them.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News Blog

“London’s role as divorce payout capital confirmed”

It was more than a year ago when I first blogged about Agbaje v Agbaje. This drawn-out case involves a couple who married in 1967, gained British citizenship, separated in 1999 and divorced in Nigeria.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Agbaje: Supreme Court overturns Court of Appeal decision

In a ruling that has been described as confirming London as the divorce capital of the world, the Supreme Court has today overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal in Agbaje v Akinnoye-Agbaje.

Full post: Family Lore

Australians go mad for online divorce

HUSBANDS and wives are flooding a new government online divorce service which critics say makes marriage break-ups too easy.

Full post: Divorce-Online Blog

Caravaggio, ethics & the divorce courts – revisited

Marilyn Stowe considers the case of K v L, which "concerns a convicted paedophile who attempted to claw a share of his former wife’s fortune".

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Re W: New rule, similar result?

The Supreme Court decision in Re W (Children) [2010] UKSC 12 is one of those cases that is likely to get family lawyers jumping up and down with excitement, but is it likely to have much practical effect?

Full post: Family Lore

Business Ownership, Divorce and H v H

In divorce where one spouse owns or has a significant share in a business, the business will be treated as an asset of the marriage that needs to be considered as part of the ancillary relief agreement.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson West LLP

Decision Pending from Japan over Hague Convention

Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has recently revealed that a decision as to whether the country will become a signatory to the Hague Convention will soon be made.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Fear over 'child court crisis'

Judge Graham Cliffe, a senior family judge based in York has warned of an 'alarming deterioration' in the protection of vulnerable children in court proceedings, primarily those involved in care proceedings.

Full post: Pannone Family Blog

Family Futures Conference 2010

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of going to The Guardian’s Family Futures Conference, which the newspaper organised with a view to putting family at the top of the political agenda in the run up to the General Election.

Full post: Divorce Manual

Letters of request: will other countries co-operate?

Some recent, and surprising, court decisions from offshore jurisdictions, namely Bermuda and Jersey, demonstrate the fluctuating levels of cooperation that the English family courts can expect to receive in divorce cases.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

The consequences of the adversarial process

I have just read the judgment of Lord Justice Munby in H v H. I do not propose to comment upon the body of the judgment (I'm not sure, in any event, that it tells us much that is new), but rather upon Lord Justice Munby's preliminary observations.

Full post: Family Lore

Who is manipulating the divorce rate

The rate of divorce has gone down and is presently at its lowest for many years. That is well known and well publicised. But, we have been busier than ever and have recruited 5 specialist divorce lawyers in the last 10 months. How can this be?

Full post: Family Law Blog

Delay the Bill

An article in The Times today highlights the increasing concerns of those involved in the family justice system at the proposals to further open up the family courts to the media, contained in the Children, Schools and Families Bill.

Full post: Family Lore

Rethinking Reforms on Reporting Restrictions

Since April last year, the media have had their foot in the door of proceedings in the family court.

Full post: Wigless

Annuities: Insurance contracts against living longer than our savings

Most people, I’m sure, wouldn’t know where to begin if put on the spot and asked to describe an annuity. That, by the way, probably includes most of the people who work in financial services too. Annuities are hard to understand. So, what is an annuity when it’s at home?

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

Maintenance payments and a new partner: bad news for cohabitees? (Part 2)

In my previous post I set the scene in a hotly disputed area of law: maintenance payments and the ex-husband who resents paying after his former partner begins living with another man.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Who Is Telling The Truth?

Allegations of domestic violence are the basis of quite a few trials these days, and I chaired one a few months ago.

Full post: The Magistrate's Blog

Maintenance payments and a new partner – what happens next? (Part 1)

Your ex-wife has moved on and is now happily living with a new partner. They are in a stable, supportive relationship and he doesn’t seem short of cash. So why are you still paying her regular maintenance?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Divorce and tax avoidance schemes – by guest blogger Frank Arndt

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs can now close tax loopholes retrospectively and claw back unpaid taxes from trusts which have benefited.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

DIY Divorce: Do away with the lawyers?

I posted the other day about divorce reform, putting the case for no-fault divorce. How about no-lawyer divorce?

Full post: Family Lore

When opponent spouses become the Black Knights of divorce

The Black Knight is one of the most famous characters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail ... In many ways this character reminds me of opponent spouses we come across only rarely; the spouses of clients who are determined to prevent the divorce from proceeding smoothly unless it all goes their way.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?

Not social workers apparently. At least so says the British Association of Social Workers which offers representation from non-lawyers as a perk of its membership.

Full post: Pink Tape

Fun and games ahead for family legal aid

This week Legal Aid Minister Willy Bach announced that the government will tighten the rules for civil legal aid, with the aim of ensuring "that fraudsters are uncovered at an early stage".

Full post: Family Lore

Grounds for Divorce - Time for a change!

As I work with separating and divorcing clients who frequently just want to maintain their self respect and dignity, secure a fair financial settlement, do what is best for their children in the circumstances, amicably resolve differences with their partner and move on with their lives, a divorce process that is fault based can be unnecessarily confrontational and out of step with the direction clients are moving towards.

Full post: Family Law Collaborative Divorce

Why a Living Together Agreement or Pre-Nuptial Agreement would have avoided Walsh v Singh

In Walsh v Singh 2009, Miss Walsh claimed a beneficial interest in a property purchased in her partner Mr Singh’s sole name under a constructive trust or proprietary estoppel when the couple, who were engaged and had been living together, separated.

Full post: Family Law at Lawson West LLP

The Long Road to Recovery

When undergoing the trauma of marriage or relationship breakdown counselling is often a sensible option to help cope with the trauma and its effect on one’s emotional well-being.

Full post: Judith's Divorce Blog

Prenuptial agreements and collaborative law – a marriage made in heaven?

I read in the legal press recently that Family solicitors have reported a rise in the number of prenuptial agreements being drawn up using the collaborative law process.

Full post: Family Law Blog