Robust case management has its place, but it also has its limits

A Christmas dash through Re B (A child) 2012.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

What does Donald Rumsfeld have to do with paediatric head injuries?

Suesspiciousminds discusses the Court of Appeal decision in Re M (children) 2012, in his own idiosyncratic way.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Don’t Panic! The HUB is HERE!!!

Lucy Reed casts her eye over the Sorting Out Separation hub.

Full post: Pink Tape

A Little Local Practice

Lucy Reed examines the proliferation of local guidance documents and practice directions.

Full post: Pink Tape

Redacting for anonymisation: Article 8 v Article 10 in child protection context

Getting redaction right can be difficult: too much redaction undermines transparency, too much undermines privacy. The Court of Appeal’s recent judgment In the matter of X and Y (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1500 is a case in point.

Full post: Panopticon

Case Preview: Re J (Children)

This case concerns care proceedings, and the difficulties faced by the courts and child protection professionals where there has been a past finding of serious non-accidental injuries to a child, but it has not been possible to make a finding of fact as to which individual was responsible for these injuries, but only to say which two (or more) people make up the pool of potential perpetrators.

Full post: UKSC blog

Supreme Court rules in favour of disclosure

A fascinating judgement has been handed down today by the Supreme Court in the case of In the Matter of Re A (A Child) 2012.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Davies v Davies: Contribution and inherited assets

A summary of Davies v Davies [2012] EWCA Civ 1641.

Full post: Family Lore

B v A: Complying with the principles and procedures governing the making of a without notice application

A salutary tale for any lawyer dealing with such applications.

Full post: Family Lore

The Mail Reveals THE TRUTH…Well one version of it anyways

Thanks Adam Wagner for pointing out the “shocking revelations” in the Mail today, concerning the UKIP foster care row.

Full post: Pink Tape

I still haven’t found, what I’m looking for – or, going off-menu

A quick discussion of the Court of Appeal decision in RE J-L (Findings of Fact : Schedule of Allegations) 2012.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Re I & Re J: Habitual residence cases are like London buses...

A summary of Re I (Habitual Residence) [2012] EWHC 3363 (Fam) and Re J (Habitual Residence) [2012] EWHC 3364 (Fam).

Full post: Family Lore

Government launches separation app

Marilyn Stowe gives her views on the government's shiny new web app.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

It is lawful to make ICOs under repeated s37, I say it is lawful to make ICOs

A discussion of RE K (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1549 which has just been decided in the Court of Appeal.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Myths about fostering and adoption - Dr Julie Doughty

On Friday, 23 November, the Daily Telegraph published a story about foster carers in Rotherham who had three children removed from their care, eight weeks after an emergency placement, because of the carers’ membership of a political party, namely the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

Full post: Cardiff Law School

Court of Appeal rules against disclosure in divorce case

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Secretary of State for the Home Office have succeeded in an appeal against an order that they disclose documents relating to the international criminal activities of a former solicitor.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Court of Appeal throws out girlfriend’s claim to house

Should a former cohabitant who has had a child and worked in a successful business which has helped maintain the house he owns in his sole name be able to claim over that property when the relationship ends?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

'Social work reform is key to reforming family justice'

If children are to get a better deal from the family courts, reform must extend throughout the care system, writes Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas.

Full post: The Children's Services Blog

More on Vitamin D and rickets

A discussion of the Court of Appeal decision in Re C (A child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1477 (16 November 2012).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Sharbatly v Shagroon: You must be married to get divorced

A summary of Sharbatly v Shagroon [2012] EWCA Civ 1507 (21 November 2012).

Full post: Family Lore

Perspectives of young adults who experienced parental separation Study published

The report is an empirical study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and looks at how the contact arrangements made by separating parents for their children affect children’s long-term relationships with their parents throughout their childhood and then into adulthood.

Full post: Pink Tape

You can’t take it with you?

A knotty issue about Special Guardianship:- “If a Special Guardian appoints a guardian to have PR for the child in the event of their death, would that stand up if a parent challenged it?”

Full post: suesspiciousminds

What judges expect from social workers in the family courts

Family court judge Penny Reeves explains what judges expect from social workers in the family courts, and how her two expert guides for Community Care Inform can help social workers meet those expectations.

Full post: The Children's Services Blog

On a Rydering to Nothing

Lucy Reed discusses Mr Justice Ryder's speech to the ALC Conference.

Full post: Pink Tape

Take my breath away

A discussion of A Local Authority v A mother and others 2012.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

G (A Child): Will the lawyers take some responsibility for the future conduct of this case?

In this post I intend to mention just one point arising from the judgment in G (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1408 (31 August 2012), which has just appeared on Bailii.

Full post: Family Lore

If you’re thinking of placing my baby, it don’t matter if it’s black or white

The Government have published its draft proposals to amend the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Privacy and financial settlements

A v A [2012] is the first reported case on the reporting of financial remedy proceedings in the family courts by the media.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

G (Children): The difficulties that courts face when the parties are unrepresented

A summary of G (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1434, which involved an appeal against the variation of a shared residence order and termination of contact.

Full post: Family Lore

Government opts for shared parenting presumptions

In news which should be welcomed by family lawyers across the country, the government has announced that it plans to legislate for a legal presumption in favour of shared parenting.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Delegation’s all you need

"I have heard a rumour of Local Authorities purporting to delegate their P.R. (obtained pursuant to interim care orders) to proposed carers (foster carers, extended family members etc) whom they support as long term carers for children in their care but who would otherwise not qualify for legal aid, as a device in order to trigger non means non merits tested legal aid – for example in order to secure funds for representation of proposed special guardians."

Full post: Pink Tape

Taking neglect seriously

Some interesting research about children’s timescales and the Court process, which has been conducted by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Council.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

it cannot be right for the Court of Appeal to be asked to case manage cases retrospectively.

A discussion of Re G (A child) 2012 EWCA Civ 1377.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

A new model for family court social work?

Social workers who work regularly in the family courts must have: a strong grounding in child development, a good understanding of effective, evidence-based family interventions, the ability to produce high quality statements, chronologies and court reports and the skills to present evidence in court.

Full post: The Children's Services Blog

So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you

A quick look at four cases that have been decided, but that I’m still waiting for transcripts of judgments on, and one that I’ve been waiting for for ages, and which turns out to be crushingly disappointing.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

One of these nights you’re gonna get caught, It’ll give you a pregnant pause for thought

This is a discussion of the extraordinary case of A Local Authority v S & O [2011] EWHC 3764 (Fam).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

S v S: Dealing with a disparity in costs

A summary of S v S [2012] EWHC 2960 (Fam). WARNING: Contains maths.

Full post: Family Lore

F (Child) and the taxonomy of relocation cases

A summary of international relocation case F (Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1364.

Full post: Family Lore

Once you have eliminated the impossible

Is Sherlock Holmes’ maxim applicable to fact finding hearings? The Court of Appeal take a look - A (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1278.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

J’accuse .. no, I don’t… wait, yes I do (oh no you don’t)

A discussion of Re W (Children) 2012 EWCA Civ 1307.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

The importance of being formal

A discussion of the private law case of Re K (A child) 2012 EWCA Civ 1306.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Pre-owned businesses: when does non-matrimonial property become shareable in a divorce?

A discussion of the case of Jones –v- Jones, which involved the treatment by the Court of Appeal of a business which began before the marriage but significantly increased in value during it.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog 

Re J (A Child): When the past needs to be investigated

A summary of Re J (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1231, in which a father successfully appealed against residence and contact orders.

Full post: Family Lore

Family mediation is a waste of time

Why is the government so intent on 
forcing people into mediation when this is 
patently not delivering results, 
asks Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Parents regain access to children after five year battle

A London couple have regained access to their two daughters after a five-and-a-half year saga which saw the father imprisoned with sex offenders and both children taken into care.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

LASPO and the domestic violence gateway

As a solicitor, who set up a firm with two other family lawyers in 2005 primarily to deal with family legal aid cases for the mixed housing area of Shirley in Southampton where we practice, I was very concerned when I heard of the proposed new reforms for family legal aid work, writes Wendy Hewstone.

Full post: LegalVoice

A tapestry of justice

A discussion of London Borough of Sutton and Gray 2012 – in which the High Court determined that an earlier finding of fact that a father had shaken a child, causing injuries (and for which father went to prison) was wrong and had been in effect a miscarriage of justice.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Judge rules brain-damaged Muslim should not be resuscitated

A man left brain-damaged after a massive heart attack should not be resuscitated, a High Court judge has ruled, despite the likelihood of him wishing to be were he conscious.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

In the name of God: ultra-orthodox Jewish education not in children’s best interest, rules Court of Appeal.

A discussion of the case Re G (Children).

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Autonomy and the role of the Official Solicitor – whose interests are really being represented?

A discussion of the R.P. and others v United Kingdom case.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

A father’s rights?

Last week the Court of Appeal was the venue for a stark clash of cultures. One the one side stood members of the Haredi Jewish Community and on the other stood 21st Century secular Britain.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Practice directions make perfect?

Some consultation documents for new family law practice directions have flitted across my inbox today.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Passing the prior authority parcel

Suesspiciousminds discusses an ALC proposal to tackle the problems caused by the decision of the LSC to not grant prior authority for cases any more.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

and said ‘oh oh, smother me mother’

A consideration of AA (A Child) 2012 EWHC 2647 (Fam).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

M (Children): Use of a conditional residence order where contact obstructed

A discussion of M (Children) [2012] EWHC 1948 (Fam), which involved the making of a conditional residence order in favour of the father, in circumstances where the mother had been obstructing contact.

Full post: Family Lore

Designation’s what you need (or how to duck your responsibilities)

A discussion of Derbyshire County Council v HM 2011, and why it is important for Local Authority lawyers.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Surrogacy: the mysterious case of the disappearing mother and the gay male parents

Marilyn Stowe looks at the case D and L (Surrogacy) [2012] EWHC 2631 (Fam).

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Ace! Genius! And other superlatives.

Lucy Reed considers the guidance issued by HMCTS Civil and Family Operations Branch on the use of e-mail in the Civil and Family Courts.

Full post: Pink Tape

Hair we go again – or blip versus tip

What the heck do we do with hair strand tests following Bristol City Council v AA and Others 2012 ?

Full post: suesspiciousminds

an englishwoman’s home is her castle (unless she is 82) ?

A race through KK v STCC 2012 – on deprivation of liberty, capacity and Court of Protection.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Sex abuse allegations against parent should be disclosed in contact proceedings

The Court of Appeal has ordered the the disclosure of serious allegations made against a parent by an anonymous third party in contact proceedings.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Judge’s discretion

A discussion of the recent judgment of Lord Justice Ward in the case of Al-Saffar v Al-Saffar [2012] EWCA Civ 1103.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Is there truly such a thing as an ‘anonymous’ referral?

A discussion of Re J (A Child:Disclosure) 2012.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Re J (A Child: Disclosure): Public Interest Immunity

Re J (A Child: Disclosure) [2012] EWCA Civ 1204 concerned an appeal against the dismissal of an application for disclosure by the local authority of details relating to serious allegations of sexual abuse against the father.

Full post: Family Lore

Be wary of befriending clients

Getting involved with clients is not only unprofessional, it might put you in 
a difficult position when billing for your work, says Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Family preservation versus child rescue

I was kindly sent Dr Peter Dale’s response to the Government consultation on contact with children in care, and sibling placement in adoption.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

has a point been spectacularly missed? (warning, contains some maths)

The LSC have decided that from 1st October 2012, any application for Prior Authority on experts will be refused (unless it is a request which goes above the codified hourly rates).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

A few words about the private law draft legislation on Family Justice

Further to my post on Monday announcing the publication of draft legislation introducing changes to the operation of the family justice system as recommended by the Family Justice Review, I thought I would make a few comments upon the private law provisions.

Full post: Family Lore

As one door closes another opens

Lucy Reed's response to the shared parenting consultation.

Full post: Pink Tape

finally, something to get our teeth into

The Government have published their proposed legislation to bring about the Family Justice Review.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Maybe baby: commercial surrogacy and the Subcontinent

Marilyn Stowe looks at the rise of multinational surrogacy arrangements and asks whether it is time to take another look at British surrogacy laws.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Who’s the daddy?

Marilyn Stowe considers applications for declarations of paternity, and two recent cases.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

A continental perspective and a shuttlecock baby

Sometimes couples naively think that having a child together will cement their relationship when nothing could be further from the truth, particularly when they are trying in vain to live together in their respective countries and failing spectacularly in both, as a couple discovered in the newly published case of Re L[2012] EWCA Civ 1157.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

I’ve got (section) thirty seven problems, but a ***** ain’t one

A discussion about section 37 of the Children Act 1989 and the pending appeal on Re K (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1169.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Can’t pay, won’t pay?

Marilyn Stowe looks at the recently published case of Winter v Winter [2010] EWHC 3825.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

I wish I was Special, you’re so very Special (Guardians)

Some musings on Special Guardianship, and particularly what the ‘character’ of such placements are when it comes to working out level of contact.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

C (A Child): An incredibly rare order

C (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1144, reported today on Family Law Week, concerned Hague Convention proceedings and the unusual circumstance of a child changing her mind about returning to live with her father in Canada.

Full post: Family Lore

You never know when it might just… Buckaroo!

A discussion of whether too much weight is being put on the back of North Yorkshire County Council v B 2007, and whether there is such a thing as a ‘ruling out’ hearing at interlocutory stage.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

what should you do if social services steal your children?

Practical and sensible advice for parents involved in care proceedings.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

In their best interests, part two: the alarming case of C (A Child)

Today’s case, C (A Child), Re [2012] EW Misc 15 (CC), also concerns a parent’s wishes pitted against a child’s.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

In their best interests: at what point should children make their own decisions?

Marilyn Stowe reviews the recent cases of NHS Trust v Baby X and L v P (Paternity Test: Child’s Objection).

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

What happens when the validity of a marriage is questioned?

When is a marriage a marriage? Can it be a legal marriage if it didn’t begin as one? When is a marriage void? Or, if it is not a void marriage, when is it a non-marriage? Marilyn provides the answers.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Hobson’s choice – voluntary or compulsory removal of a child?

Discussion of Re CA (A Baby) [2012] EWHC 2190 (Fam) (30 July 2012).

Full post: The Not So Big Society

Acting for other solicitors

Lawyers instructing their peers in divorce proceedings should remember that family 
litigation is based on more flexible principles and with a different type of objective 
than other disputes, says Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

“When they begin, to intervene…”

Two important cases on Interveners in fact-finding hearings, or “Re T for two”.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Judge decides that Jewish girl could be baptised

A commentary by David Hart QC upon the case Re C (A Child) [2012] EW Misc 15 (CC).

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Surrogacy: a special case?

Marilyn writes: I am delighted to publish a post today by Cameron Paterson, a journalist with an interest in legal matters. He has written about a new case in the High Court, involving the breakdown of a marriage between husband and wife who are also the parents of a child, born to them via a surrogate mother.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Mr Justice Ryder proposes to overhaul our family courts

Marilyn Stowe discusses Mr Justice Ryder's proposals for the modernisation of family justice.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

A trilogy of important family law cases

"In this post I draw attention to some recent cases which illustrate the immensely difficult work undertaken by the judges in the High Court's Family Division and in the Court of Protection."

Full post: Law and Lawyers

“I need two volunteers – you, and you” – how ‘voluntary’ is voluntary accommodation?

A consideration of the High Court decision in CA (A Baby), Re [2012] EWHC 2190 (Fam) (30 July 2012) and whether it is now legitimate for a social worker to ask a mother to agree voluntary accommodation of a baby.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Forensic ferrets (or “Standing in the way of (beyond parental) control”)

A discussion of the little-used limb of the threshold criteria, and the interesting and deeply sad case of Re K (A Child: Post Adoption Breakdown) 2012.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Banging heads together and “a very big ask”

An analysis of the Court of Appeal decision in RE W (CHILDREN) [2012] EWCA Civ 999.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

HH v BLW: Costs in private law children application

The case of HH v BLW [2012] EWHC 2199 (Fam), reported today on Bailli, deals with the rare instance of a costs order made in private law children proceedings.

Full post: Family Lore

Letter from America: a busy week for family law back in Britain

Marilyn looks at the cases T (Children), Re W and Re S, and the issue of costs in family cases.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Defending allegations made in care proceedings ~ Costs

A discussion of the Supreme Court judgment in T (Children) [2012] UKSC 36.

Full post: Law and Lawyers

Re S (A Child): Residence and the controlling father

Re S (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1031, decided today, demonstrates aspects of children disputes with which all family law professionals will be familiar.

Full post: Family Lore

Family Court Cases - Understanding Some Numbers

In this post, I attempt to explain some of the recurring but often misunderstood numbers that are used in discussions about family law and the family courts of England and Wales. In particular, I show how these various numbers fit together to make sense of the claim that 'about 10% of separating couples have their parenting arrangements decided by a judge'.

Full post: Legal Liberal

We are family, I’ve got all my sisters with me… (or “Beware of the leopard” )

An analysis of the Government’s consultation on placement of siblings and contact post placement.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

It was Professor Plum, in the kitchen with a candlestick – no, it was Professor Plum AND Miss Scarlett….

A discussion of the Court of Appeal decision in Re L-B (Children) 2012 . Or ‘when is a judgment not a judgment?’

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

Arif v Zar & Anor: Applying to transfer a bankruptcy annulment application

Arif v Zar & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 986, decided yesterday, involved a wife's application for the annulment of the husband's bankruptcy.

Full post: Family Lore

Scottish adoption law compatible with human right to family life

A discussion of the Supreme Court judgment in ANS v ML [2012] UKSC 30.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

G v G: Setting aside a parental order

G v G [2012] EWHC 1979 (Fam), reported today on Bailii, is believed to be the first case in which an application was made to set aside a parental order.

Full post: Family Lore

“Mum is implacably hostile” By guest blogger DT.

The phrase “implacable hostility” made its judicial debut almost 30 years ago and has been in use ever since.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

An increasing probability gradually increasing to a certainty

A discussion of the judgment in A CityCouncil v (1) M (2) F (3) C (by her children's guardian) (2012) and how private law proceedings can go really badly wrong.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

Justice by gimmick

Instead of developing a ‘divorce by app’ scheme the government should consider allowing ‘no-win, no-fee’ 
in family cases, says 
Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Cohabitee disputes and trusts of land

Today our firm welcomed a talk about Cohabitee Disputes and Trusts of Land, given by Sarah Harrison of Chancery House Chambers in Leeds.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Care system failures breach children’s human rights

A discussion of the A & S v. Lancashire County Council case.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Gow v Grant: the Supreme Court rules on cohabitation

I first wrote about the Scottish case of Gow v Grant in a post for the Times’ Experts blog, in September 2011.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Con-current bun-fight?

A quick summary of the new Fostering for Adoption proposals.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

When assets aren’t divided 50:50. By Paul Read.

Marilyn writes: Among non-lawyers, there prevails a belief that marital assets are simply divided 50:50 in a divorce. However it is a mistake to assume that this is always the case.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Do family courts discriminate against husbands, or wives?

Marilyn looks at the question that is asked by so many people.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Gallarotti v Sebastianelli: Drawing proper inferences from the evidence

As Lady Justice Arden pointed out in her leading judgment, Gallarotti v Sebastianelli [2012] EWCA Civ 865 did not require the Court of Appeal to decide any new law: "Nonetheless, this appeal may be of wide interest as the factual paradigm is not uncommon."

Full post: Family Lore

When is a duty not a duty ? (when it falls on CAFCASS, of course)

A brief analysis of the Court of Appeal decision in R & Others and CAFCASS 2012.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Definition of chutzpah

An analysis of the High Court decision in A, S and Others v Lancashire County Council 2012, and the human rights breaches identified therein.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

A community of marital property regime?

The Law Society Gazette reported yesterday that Nicholas Cusworth QC, chair of the Family Law Bar Association, is in favour of a regime of ‘community of marital property’, under which all assets, except inheritances, gained during a marriage are presumed to be jointly owned and are divided upon divorce.

Full post: Family Lore

Stalking Napo

A long time ago in 2011 I wrote a blog post that was critical of Napo: the blogpost ABUSE OF PROCESS: DRAMATIC EXTENT OF STALKING IN THE FAMILY COURTS concerned the publication of a “dossier” of family court cases said to support the proposition that family court processes were being abused by convicted stalkers.

Full post: Pink Tape

Right of Access to Court File

I was asked an intriguing question the other day. One of those which at first blush seems as if it must have a straightforward answer, but on further enquiry proves tricky.

Full post: Pink Tape

Two teachers: what business taught me about family law, and vice versa

Marilyn looks back at her first experiences in family law.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

The genie is out: divorce procedure has changed forever, so why hasn’t the law?

The procedure to obtain an uncontested divorce has altered almost beyond recognition over the last 40 years, even though there has been no change in the law.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Shared parenting: are the Government’s proposals up to scratch?

Marilyn Stowe discusses the Government's co-parenting consultation.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Aunts aren’t gentlemen

Discussion of a new High Court decision ordering the LA to pay 50% of the aunt’s costs in care proceedings.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Judge orders that anorexic woman can be force-fed | Analysis

Mr Justice Jackson has ruled that it would be lawful and in the best interests of a 32 year old woman for her to be fed, using physical force or chemical sedation as necessary, for a period of “not less than a year”.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Help, it’s the care-hair bunch!

suesspiciousminds asks whether hair-strand tests for alcohol and drug misuse are sufficiently accurate for the court to rely on.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

We must not ignore the warnings about fixed fees

The dire situation in the residential property sector gives us a taste of things to come if we adopt this method elsewhere: quality will plummet and negligence claims and insurance premiums will escalate, argues Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

A Dad is for life, not just for Xmas

It is reported that the Government will seek to enact legislation providing for a presumption of “shared parenting” where father and mother split up.

Full post: Lords of the Blog

Co-op (good with kids)

The Government has published its consultation document on reform of the law for private law children proceedings.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

Kamikaze – you’re all thinking it, but I’ll say it out loud

Lucy Reed explains why 26 weeks. Will. Never. Work.

Full post: Pink Tape

A Very Private Divorce?

The popularity of Twitter, and the apparently compulsive desire by some to give a real-time account of a floundering marriage to millions of strangers, has left me thinking about privacy, the divorce process and what happens when a divorce is played out in the public domain.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Party Animals

Guest poster Stephen Twist asks whether now is the right time to withdraw party status from parents in private law children disputes.

Full post: Pink Tape

Contraception anybody? Or, if you're not married, how do you get your hands on his money?

I recently had my attention drawn to a case reported in 2010 about an unplanned pregnancy. Of course there are any number of these happening all the time. This one, however, ended up with the parents facing each other in the High Court.

Full post: Family Law Blog

Madame Le Guillotine and the law of unintended consequences

The 26 week period to resolve care proceedings, particularly if it is a cap, or guillotine, rather than an aspiration or target, won’t work.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Aspden v Elvy: Ascertaining the common intention

The recent case of Aspden v Elvy [2012] EWHC 1387 (Ch) is an example of the application of the principles in Jones v Kernott.

Full post: Family Lore

Is it wrong to profit from divorce litigation?

There are some intriguing developments in the financing of divorce cases at the moment.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News blog

In the Jingle, Djangoly morning, I come following you…

The Parliamentary Justice Committee met recently, and if you’re a fan of conspiracy and outrage the debate makes for entertaining reading...

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

The cost of bankruptcy in family proceedings

The recent case of Hayes v Hayes concerned a bankrupt husband who sought to be released from a debt that had arisen from a costs order made in family proceedings.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

S (A Child) and B (A Child): Too much haste...

We are always being reminded these days of the need to reduce delay in proceedings concerning children. However, two cases reported on Family Law Week yesterday serve as reminders that there can be such a thing as too much haste.

Full post: Family Lore

Gold Band : Gold Standard?

This weekend I listened to Coleridge J talk about his Marriage Foundation at the FLBA Cumberland Lodge weekend.

Full post: Pink Tape

Lilleyman v Lilleyman: a question of costs

Lilleyman v Lilleyman was an interesting case, explored in depth in the last post, in which a widow argued that her reasonable needs had not been met in her late husband’s will.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Lilleyman v Lilleyman: spouses and the Inheritance Act

This blog receives many queries from people who are left stranded after the death of a family member, particularly a partner or spouse.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Sour Note for Military (ex)wives

Public sector pensions have been in the news a lot recently. Strangely we have not seen any coverage of a problem faced by some military ex-wives (and civil partners?).

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

CKFT v Minkin: counting the costs and the lessons learned

The subject of costs has long been a thorny issue in law and a recent case perfectly illustrates the complexities involved, highlighting both the proper recourse open to disgruntled clients and the often fragile interplay between measuring actual service provided by a solicitor against the initial estimate provided at the outset.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Geary v Rankine: how a cohabiting couple’s assets are divided

The recent case of Geary v Rankine [2012] EWCA Civ 555 involved a relationship that lasted from 1990 to 2009.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

W-B (A Child): The complexities of jurisdiction

The recent case of W-B (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 592 demonstrates some of the complexities of resolving jurisdictional issues within the United Kingdom.

Full post: Family Lore

LASPO: Changes to the MCA

My thanks to ObiterJ of Law and Lawyers for reminding me today that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (as it unfortunately now is) makes certain changes to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Full post: Family Lore

A County Council v M and F 2011

Although judgment was given in this case in 2011, following a finding of fact hearing in the summer of that year, the judgment has only recently been published.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

The Marriage Foundation: playing devil’s advocate

The Marriage Foundation was launched by Sir Paul Coleridge earlier this week, and this experienced High Court judge is the organisation’s obvious champion.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

The problem of the hanged man

The 26 week time cap for new proceedings has been brought in, without fanfare, hullaballoo, announcement or even legislation.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

“Returning home from care” – an analysis of the NSPCC research on rehabilitation of looked after children

The NSPCC have published their research into outcomes for looked after children who are rehabilitated to the care of their parents.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

We need new laws to ensure transparency in the family courts

The family courts process is more transparent but legislation is needed to achieve true openness in public law cases, says Marilyn Stowe.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Chapman v Jaume: There is no presumption of advancement between co-habitants

The case of Chapman v Jaume [2012] EWCA Civ 476, reported today on Bailii, serves as a reminder that there is no presumption of advancement between co-habitants, and that therefore proof of payment by one cohabitant to another imports a prima facie obligation to repay upon the recipient.

Full post: Family Lore

Child Care Cases - a difficult question of law heading to the Supreme Court

In March 2004, a baby girl (T-L) was found dead in her parent's bed.

Full post: Law and Lawyers

Use of Independent Social Workers in Care Proceedings

I was fortunate to have been invited recently to the launch event of the publication of an important piece of research and one that is said to be the first of its kind.

Full post: Pink Tape

Family Court a law unto itself?

By now the press are reporting widely the case of Alas Al-Wray (FD10C00445 LB of Islington v Al Alas and Wray Approved Judgment 19 April 2012).

Full post: Pink Tape

Appealing against Care Orders: a Guide for Parents: Guest Post by Richard Carroll, Pupil at 4 Brick Court

If you have the benefit of legal representation, then your first port of call should be to your solicitor in asking for advice on what to do next.

Full post: bloody relations

Ouch! That hurt.

A case called F v. F has just been reported in the High Court before Mrs. Justice Macur.

Full post: Family Law Blog

Experts upon Experts

It’s been a few weeks since the Ireland report regarding expert evidence in family proceedings was published.

Full post: Pink Tape

M (A Child): S.91(14) prohibitions must be made with caution

M (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 446, reported today on Family Law Week, tells a classic tale of a father losing patience with the system.

Full post: Family Lore

Grubb v Grubb: "To be involved in ancillary relief litigation is a dire prospect for any husband or wife"

The report of Grubb v Grubb [2012] EWCA Civ 398, published on Bailii yesterday, may be brief but it is not without interest, particularly for the ubiquitous Lord Justice Thorpe's comments on the level of costs in financial remedy proceedings in London.

Full post: Family Lore

Oh Ofsted, you’re such a, you’re such a hot temptation…

A summary of the Right on Time Ofsted report into delays in adoptions.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

Child abduction: what happens when a parent has a change of heart?

What happens when the non-resident parent has consented to the removal of the children, but goes on to issue an application for their return?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

“Here they are, they’re so appealing…”

RE (R : Children ) 2011 – which although decided in June last year has only fluttered across my radar this week, courtesy of Pink Tape.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Discretion and uncertainty in the division of matrimonial assets

By nature, human beings are fickle and emotional. Understandably, they are perhaps never more so than when embroiled in the divorce process.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

What Do Family Law Clients Complain About

Family proceedings, whether in public or private family law are usually charged with emotion and calling upon the system to help with family issues can leave parents and children with very mixed feelings.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

No time to waste on adoption reform

Until the government announced its plans to speed up adoptions this month, I confess I knew very little about the process.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News blog

An update on child abduction and the Hague Convention

What happens when parents separate abroad and one of them wants to return to England and bring the children with them?

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Case Comment: Re S [2012] UKSC 10

Just 9 months after dealing with its last Hague Convention case, Re E [2011] UKSC 27, the Supreme Court has returned to the Convention and (expressing some surprise at being required to do so) has revisited the Article 13b defence potentially available to an abductor, namely that ‘there is a grave risk that [the child’s] return [to the country of origin] would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.’

Full post: UKSC blog

A Mother’s Day perspective: how parents’ legal rights can change for the better

The legal rights of separated fathers to their children is a highly contentious topic, especially given the sadness and bitterness many feel when they are unilaterally cut off from their children.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Without consent: shining a light on forced marriage

This is a subject we have not tackled before. It may be surprising to many people, but forced marriage, where one party is coerced into a loveless marriage, is a continuing issue in this country.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

who assesses the assessors?

The Family Justice Council report on the quality of expert psychologists used in care proceedings (as trailed on Channel 4 news) is up .

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Good news - judges like to do the right thing. Edgerton v. Edgerton

There's been one of those odd and complicated divorce cases in the Court of Appeal recently. It's about a rich man who, if he's not trying to pull a fast one on his estranged wife, is at least giving a first class impression of doing so.

Full post: Family Law Blog

Father Figures: How a conservative think tank proposes to deal with 'feckless fathers'

The conservative think tank Policy Exchange has today published a report setting out its recommendations as to how absent fathers on welfare benefits could pay 'meaningful' child support.

Full post: Family Lore

Experts in the News: 20% of experts are not qualified

Channel 4 News tonight at 7pm will carry a full report on some research by Professor Jane Ireland undertaken for the Family Justice Council in which she found that 20% experts in family cases were not qualified.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Tackling a legal mountain: overturning wasted costs orders

It seems to have been a week dominated by the subject of solicitors and costs.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Respect my prior authoriteh !

I would be very interested to know if this is a local problem, or more widespread, but I’ve had a spate over the last five months (getting steadily worse) of cases being delayed and my email being clogged full of problems about Prior Authority.

Full post:  suesspiciousminds

Book Review: Bubble Wrapped Children – How social networking is transforming the face of 21st century adoption

The ‘bubble wrapped’ children of the title refers to the traumatised adopted child who has tried to protect himself by a metaphorical wrapping of protective layers.

Full post: Pink Tape

Fisher Meredith LLP v JH & Anor: The obligation to join a third party

In Fisher Meredith LLP v JH & Anor [2012] EWHC 408 (Fam) Mr Justice Mostyn considered an appeal against a wasted costs order made against the wife's solicitors in financial remedy proceedings.

Full post: Family Lore

Protecting the family Home: orders for sale, bankruptcy and divorce

In these tough times, cash-strapped spouses may find themselves at the receiving end of an application for an order for sale of the matrimonial home, made by a secured creditor such as a bank.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Designer families - can they ever work?

Two recent cases have brought before the courts what you might term designer families.

Full post:  Family Law Blog

Twisted by the Pool?

This article by Harry Nosworthy on the main site rounds up and summarises some recent decisions on costs in public law proceedings, particularly relating to intervenors.

Full post: Family Law Week blog

Updating maintenance law: how can we better define needs?

There is an excellent article in this month’s Family Law written by Prof Elizabeth Cooke a Law Commissioner and Professor of Law at the University of Reading entitled “Pre-nups and beyond: What is the Law Commission up to now?”

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

FJR Response Considered – at last

I’ve said nothing so far about the Government response to the FJR, partly due to lack of time and partly due to lack of motivation.

Full post: Pink Tape

Introducing family law arbitration…

From today, qualified arbitrators can now decide a range of financial family law issues with legally binding outcomes or ‘awards’.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Z (A child): Relocation after MK v CK

Z (A child) [2012] EWHC 139 (Fam) is, to my knowledge, the first reported relocation case since MK v CK [2011] EWCA Civ 793.

Full post: Family Lore

Religious marriages: what constitutes a valid marriage in England?

This post will examine cases involving religious ceremonies where the issue of the marriage’s validity has subsequently arisen.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Smacks of hypocrisy

Not so long ago David Lammy was criticised for suggesting a relaxation of smacking laws, it was said he had sought to blame the summer riots upon the disempowerment of parents embodied in laws preventing the exercise of parental discipline.

Full post: Pink Tape

Court bans autistic woman from having sex

The Court of Protection has ruled that an autistic woman with an IQ of 64 does not have the mental capacity to engage in sexual relations, on the basis that she does not understand the implications and cannot effectively deploy the information she has understood into her decisions.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

When is a marriage not a marriage?

Getting married is meant to be an exciting, romantic time and no one wants to think about what would happen if it all goes wrong.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Back to basics: how I think we can help our stretched courts

I recently posted on the dire situation facing the judiciary, noting the comments made by District Judge Nicholas Crichton about our courts being stacked out with Litigants in Person and the detrimental effect it is having on the entire family justice system.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Legal Aid Update

In fact it’s been a while since I’ve done more than whine tangentially about the Government’s attempt to wreck the legal aid system. It’s time for an update.

Full post: Pink Tape

And when did you last see your father?

There have been conflicting stories in the press this week about how and whether the government intends to change the law in order to ensure that both parents see more of their children after divorce.

Full post: Lords of the Blog

Legal Aid Bill domestic violence concession?

So far the government has made two concessions on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently in the committee stage of the House of Lords. It seems more concessions might be on the way before the bill is approved.

Full post: LAG News Blog

Why I think grandparents’ legal rights are fit for purpose

Should or should there not be automatic rights of contact for grandparents with their grandchildren? For some years now there has been healthy debate regarding whether they should be given the legal right to exercise contact.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Government at odds with itself on domestic violence

The debate over the definition of domestic violence used in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill highlights the absence of joined-up thinking within the government.

Full post: Law Society Gazette News Blog

R v Kayani and Solliman: Any damage to welfare of children does not justify reduction in sentence for abduction

Should a prison sentence for child abduction be reduced because it may adversely affect the children, who are now in the care of the abducting parent?

Full post: Family Lore

Against my Will

The Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill received its first reading on the 12th January. It is based on a Law Commission Report which, after consultation, recommended that the law be changed so that cohabitants would have an automatic claim to the property of their partner if he or she died intestate, provided they had lived together for five years or two years if there was a child of the relationship.

Full post: Lords of the Blog

The costs risk conundrum: how a change in the law has congested courts

Marilyn considers whether the "no order" costs principle has led to an increase in the number of litigants in person.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Divorce, joint tenancy and how to prepare for the unexpected

A new case has come to light that is important for anyone going through family separation who owns a property jointly with their partner– as well as the practitioners advising them.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Public sector pensions - CEV problems - progress at last?

Contrary to what we are being told by the various pension scheme call-centres, it would appear that the public sector schemes have now received the revised calculation factors.

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary

What does the future hold for parents’ rights?

Just before I went on air at This Morning last week, Holly Willoughby – a new mum herself and one of the presenters of the programme – turned to me and said “just what rights do parents have to their children?”

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog

Social media – our master or our servant?

Guest post arising from a discussion about the difficulty in obtaining s26 contact orders in placement proceedings and the spate of media reports of teenagers tracked down on Facebook by their biological family.

Full post: Pink Tape

Public Sector Pensions - Green Shoots?

You may recall that the current difficulties with public sector pension schemes arose when the Treasury released a document on 26 October 2011 announcing a change to the discount factors used for calculating Cash Equivalent Values.

Full post: The Ancillary Actuary (scroll down)

The man who built his house on sand

No man can stop the tide. Sir Paul Coleridge is to build a Marriage Foundation, to strengthen the institution of marriage and to counter the “scourge of society” family breakdown.

Full post: Pink Tape

The non-resident nightmare: how offshore income is taken into account for child support

The case of GF v CMEC (2011) UKUT 371 (AAC), published last month, is yet another example of an inefficient and cumbersome draftsmanship at work.

Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog