I'm John Bolch. I started writing Family Lore in January 2006, which I believe makes it the first family law blog in this country. For the twenty-four years I worked almost exclusively in family law, dealing primarily with divorce, ancillary relief (financial/property settlements on divorce), private law children matters and cohabitee disputes.
A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:
NEWS Government takes action to tackle domestic abuse The government has launched a consultation on domestic abuse, seeking new laws and stronger powers to protect and support survivors. Full story: Home Office and Ministry of Justice.
Domestic abuse still under-reported in England, says Women's Aid The charity says its figures underline the need for continued support of refuges. Full story: The Guardian.
Cobb J reviews law on interim orders for sale of parties' former matrimonial home Wife’s appeal against interim order for sale allowed. Full story: Family Law Week.
Adopted children should remain close to birth families, study suggests Adoption law should be overhauled to ensure children can retain close contact with their birth families, the British Association of Social Workers has said following the findings of an academic study. Full story: Children & Young People Now.
CASES RS v LS & LMP  EWHC 449 (Fam) (07 March 2018) Application by wife to set aside judgment for costs obtained by her former solicitors, who acted for her in the context of financial remedy proceedings. Full report: Bailii.
X and Y (Children)  EWHC 451 (Fam) (08 March 2018) Care and placement proceedings concerning two teenage girls. Applications by local authority concerning what role, if any, the girls' father should play in the proceedings. Full report: Bailii.
DAM (Children), Re  EWCA Civ 386 (08 March 2018) Appeal by mother against care orders in relation to two of three children. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.
AG and AB (Children)  EWHC 381 (Fam) (28 February 2018) Appeal against order that children habitually resident in Canada and that court had no jurisdiction to determine father's application for a child arrangements order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.
Habberfield v Habberfield  EWHC 317 (Ch) (23 February 2018) Application by daughter claiming entitlement to the entirety of the family farm, owned by her deceased father, or such lesser sum as the court thought fit. The claim was brought against her mother in proprietary estoppel and alternatively under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Full report: Family Law Week.
As I have said here before, I'm afraid I don't have time these days to do full book reviews. I will therefore keep this short.
As I have explained before, the Dictionary of Financial Remedies is an A4 paperback (or digital edition, see below) book comprising (in this edition) 104 pages with some 71 entries, in alphabetical order, on various topics relevant to financial remedies, ranging from Add-Backs (you'll have to read the book if you don't know what they are) through such things as the Compensation and Sharing Principles, to Variation of Settlements. The publishers describe it as " a unique reference guide to the key concepts, cases and practice of financial remedies."
The Dictionary is updated each year. In addition this year it has new entries on the aforementioned Add-Backs, Chattels, Hadkinson Orders, International Enforcement, Jurisdiction, Special Contribution and Stockpiling Orders, all of which obviously makes it even more useful than before.
The Dictionary provides a handy and portable aide-memoire for anyone involved in financial remedies work. If you already have it, then you'll need the latest edition. If you don't have it, try it out - as I also said last year, you may just find it becoming an essential addition to your library.
Dictionary of Financial Remedies can be purchased from Class Legal, here. As usual, a digital edition is also available. * If you get in quick and pre-order, the price is £45.
In response to today's comments from the Justice Minister to further postpone the review of legal aid, and alongside the announced changes to the cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses, Resolution Chair Nigel Shepherd said:
"It is now nearly 5 years since the government’s devastating cuts to the legal aid system in England and Wales. In that time we’ve seen the number of people without legal representation in the family courts sky-rocket, countless more are unable to access even basic early legal advice and there has been a fall off in the referrals to family mediation that before the cuts came primarily from family lawyers.
Vulnerable people are still finding it harder to access legal support to help them escape abusive relationships than they did before 2013 .
The government committed to reviewing the impact of LASPO by April this year. And more than a year ago, we were told that this review process had begun. It seems bizarre that, at a time when Government is trying to increase efficiencies in the court system, they’re unwilling to take steps to address the growing number of litigants in person in family courts – a direct result of these cuts and one that comes with a financial and emotional cost and the risk of real injustice.
Whilst we welcome the consultation on other long-awaited measures to protect victims of domestic abuse, it is unacceptable that that there is still no clear timetable to introduce the urgently needed legislation to allow family court judges to prevent perpetrators of abuse (alleged or otherwise) from cross-examining their victims in person.
Today’s announcement sends a very clear, and very stark, message: while ministers continue to drag their feet, tens of thousands are left in legal limbo each year."
A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:
NEWS First surrogacy guidance published for England and Wales Guidance on how to start a family using a surrogate has been published for England and Wales for the first time by the government. Full story: BBC News.
President issues fresh guidance on jurisdiction and allocation in the Family Court The President seeks to clarify the position, which is the cause of "considerable confusion". Full story: Family Law Hub.
Latest ONS marriage figures underline need for legal reform The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published Marriages in England and Wales: 2015, reporting on the number of marriages that took place in England and Wales in 2015. Full story: Family Law.
Number of councils using Family Drug and Alcohol Courts to expand The new authorities join 15 others that operate the specialist courts across the country. Full story: Community Care.
Solicitor loses appeal against order to give evidence on Russian client’s assets and not tip him off about it A solicitor compelled to give evidence about a billionaire Russian client’s assets, and forbidden from revealing his court appearance to the client, has lost his appeal against those orders. Full story: Legal Futures. See Kerman v Akhmedova, below.
Rudd urged to prevent cross-examining by domestic abusers Charity calls on home secretary to end practice in family courts as she unveils proposals for bill. Full story: The Guardian.
Divorce costs £3,800 a year in retirement income, says Prudential Expected annual income for divorcees retiring in 2018 is £17,600. Full story: Family Law Week.
CASES A v A  EWHC 340 (Fam) (28 February 2018) Appeal by husband against order varying terms of consent order made in 2011, on the basis of a change in circumstances. Appeal allowed in part. Full report: Bailii.
G (A Child)  EWCA Civ 305 (28 February 2018) Appeal against provision in child arrangements order in favour of artificial insemination donor where child's parents are civil partners, allowing contact with donor's parents. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.
WS v HS (appeal - sale of matrimonial home)  EWFC 11 (28 February 2018) Application for permission to appeal against interim order for the immediate sale of a former matrimonial home. Permission granted, and appeal allowed, on the basis that there was no application before the DJ on which he could make such an order. Full report: Bailii.
Kerman v Akhmedova  EWCA Civ 307 (27 February 2018) Appeal by solicitor against order made on application of wife in financial remedy proceedings requiring him to attend court to give evidence. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.
The country may have fallen under the spell of the Beast from the East this week, but that didn't stop me posting on the Stowe Family Law Blog (well, someone has to keep things running), where my posts were generally of a rather serious nature. They included:
Families in nine London boroughs can now access Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC), improving the lives of London children who face removal from their families because of the risk posed by a parent’s substance misuse and other complex needs.
The new pan-London service is launched today (February 28) at a special event hosted by Croydon Family Court, with Judges, parent graduates, charities, and local authority representatives in attendance.
A partnership of nine London boroughs, led by the London Borough of Merton, commissioned the expansion of the London FDAC service, awarded to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
Families in these nine boroughs will now have the option of ordinary care proceedings, or being referred to Central London Family Court, Croydon Family Court, and West London Family Court so their case can proceed through FDAC.
The FDAC service, delivered by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, gives parents more intensive support than they normally get when they are involved in care proceedings, with hearings (without lawyers) led by dedicated, specially-trained judges who provide frequent encouragement and challenge as parents work on their recovery.
Under FDAC, the judge works closely with a specialist, multi-disciplinary team attached to the court, who collaborate with local services to offer parents a personalised package of support and treatment that gives them the chance to overcome their problems and show that they are capable of caring for their children.
Latest research (2016) demonstrates families receiving FDAC are significantly more likely than families in standard care proceedings to be reunited with their children and for the parents to have ceased misusing substances.
FDAC families are also 3 to 4 times more likely than families receiving standard care proceedings to be doing well 3 years after the proceedings came to an end:
A significantly higher proportion of FDAC than comparison reunification mothers (58% v 24%) were estimated to sustain cessation over the five-year follow up, and
A significantly higher proportion of FDAC than comparison mothers who had been reunited with their children at the end of proceedings were estimated to experience no disruption to family stability at 3-year follow up (51% v 22%).
The nine London boroughs join fifteen other local authorities around the country in operating a FDAC, with further expansion planned across the UK later in 2018.
Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Our problem-solving Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) model is tried and tested. We know it works better than standard family proceedings in addressing the complex problems of trauma, substance misuse, mental ill health and domestic violence that families involved in care proceedings often face, and I’m delighted that families across London will now have the option of accessing a FDAC service.”
Steve Bambrough, director of the FDAC National Unit, said:
“FDAC achieves better outcomes for parents, better outcomes for children, and better value for money and we applaud these local authorities, the courts, and the judges for taking an innovative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to family justice in the capital.”
A mother who has been through FDAC said:
“I feel passionately about the role FDAC plays in family courts, and the unique support they offer to parents in a terrifying situation. The holistic and individualised approach FDAC takes is in stark contrast to standard child protection proceedings.
“Instead of viewing my situation in black and white, they found the shades of grey and supported me to be strong and brave enough to face my addiction. I was challenged to gain insight and to become strong both as an individual and as a mother.”
Financial Remedies Practice, now in its 7th annual edition, has become firmly established as an essential reference for all family financial remedies practitioners.
Cited and used in the courts every day, this unique book combines in a single portable volume authoritative Commentary on financial remedies practice and procedure together with the full, up-to-date text of the relevant Family Procedure Rules and Practice Directions.
The Commentary is written by the team responsible for both At A Glance and @eGlance so you can be confident that the guidance is current, trusted and insightful.
Crucially, and unlike other books on the topic, Financial Remedies Practice provides unrivalled coverage of myriad decisions and developments under the CPR that now mirror many of the key aspects of financial remedies practice, such as injunctions, relief from sanctions, costs and general case management.
This 7th edition has been fully revised to incorporate the key developments affecting financial remedies practice and procedure over the past 12 months, with analysis of cases drawn from both the family and civil courts covering topics such as vulnerable witnesses, strike out, set aside, proportionality, undertakings and more.
The book is supplemented by an online version at familyprocedure.com which includes the full text of the Commentary linked to the primary sources cited so that you can more easily find the relevant case and statutes direct from the Commentary. Access to the site is included in the price.
Financial Remedies Practice is available from Class Legal, here.