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Procedure – amendments to FPR

A new Part 3A to the Family Procedure (Amendment No 3) Rules 2017 (which amend the FPR and came into force on 27 November 2017) has been inserted. Part 3A provides for participation of vulnerable persons in family proceedings.

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Children – capacity; deprivation of liberty

The parents of a disabled 16-year-old boy (D) were capable of consenting to what would otherwise have been a deprivation of D’s liberty, on the basis that D lacked Gillick capacity. D lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about his residence and care. He had been placed by the LA in a residential placement under s20 CA with his parents’ agreement. D’s litigation friend, the Official Solicitor, had agreed that the placement was in D’s best interests.

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Financial remedies – financial agreement

Even though both parties acted on their agreement and transferred assets to each other, a financial agreement had not been concluded. So held the Court of Appeal in a case where the purported agreement had been reached eight years before W started financial proceedings.

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Care proceedings – s31 threshold

In a fact-finding hearing following the death of a toddler by one of her gay adoptive parents shortly following her adoption, the Family Court concluded that the s31 threshold was crossed, even though the other adoptive parent had been exonerated of any failure to protect her.

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Procedure – divorce

H applied for an order disbarring W’s solicitor from acting for her in ongoing divorce proceedings. He also sought the costs of the application on an indemnity basis. H had objected that W’s solicitor was privy to confidential, privileged information and therefore there was a conflict when it came to acting for W.

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Children – child maintenance

Family practitioners will welcome two briefing notes on the 2012 statutory child maintenance scheme. There are five different methods of calculating the amount of child maintenance payable, with the rate applied depending on the non-resident parent’s gross weekly income, whether they claim certain welfare benefits, and the circumstances of the non-resident parent.

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Marriage – fraud

The President of the Family Division has found that 20 divorce petitions and one petition for dissolution of a civil partnership, dated between 2006 and 2015, were fraudulent. An application to the High Court was made by the Queen’s Proctor on the basis that there was deception in each of the 21 petitions. Only some of them had reached decree.

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Children – care proceedings

M unsuccessfully applied for permission to appeal an order that her child (N) should continue to live with F. The order also limited M’s contact to indirect contact by sending cards, letters, and a small gift once every three weeks via the local authority social worker. Under the trial judge’s order, W was also barred from making any applications for child arrangement orders in respect of N without the leave of the court for a period of three years, except if M applied for a psychological assessment of herself.

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Evidence – Trimega warning

Family practitioners who have or had clients involved in family case where hair strand testing for drug and alcohol use was provided by Trimega Laboratories between 2010 and 2014 should note important advice from the Ministry of Justice. The advice is for all those concerned about potentially unreliable forensic toxicology tests.

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Financial remedies – spousal maintenance

This updated note on universal credit (UC) and its impact on spousal maintenance will be invaluable to practitioners advising clients in receipt of UC and other benefits. The guidance recites the background to the UC and links to what the author believes is the most recent roll-out guide to it.

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