The Practical Lawyer


Procedure – Ofsted

It is appropriate for judges to speak to Ofsted inspectors when discussing the ‘quality of the preparation of public law cases that the local authority brings before the family court’.

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Child maintenance – fee guidance

The government has updated its guidance on Child maintenance application fee: exemptions for victims of domestic violence. Under the revised guidance, a victim witnessing their child being abused by a partner (or former partner or family member) is also now treated as a form of domestic violence.

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Children – settlement conferences

Settlement conferences are being piloted by various designated family judges who adopt an inquisitorial approach to encourage co-operation between the parties. This collaborative approach is aimed at helping the parties reach an agreement that is in the children’s best interests.

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Children – disposal of body

The high-profile ruling concerning the right of a 14-year-old to be cryogenically frozen followed a disagreement between her parents about their daughter’s wishes. In this case, the girl died from cancer before the ruling became public. She had made known her wishes to be frozen cryogenically, having researched the issue in detail.

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Procedure – wards of court

FPR Practice Direction 12D, Interviewing Wards of Court, has been amended by the President following his recent judgment as to whether police/security service officers can interview a ward of court without prior approval of the wardship judge.

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Jurisdiction – arbitration

A new international family law arbitration scheme to help families involved in multinational family disputes is live from 4 September 2017. An online questionnaire will first be completed by the parties so that all relevant facts for forum dispute can be obtained.

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Care proceedings – leaving care plan

It was of critical importance that ‘leaving care’ planning for a very vulnerable 17-year-old girl should begin immediately. This was the fifth judgment of the President in various proceedings involving the girl. He endorsed the LA care plan for her, emphasising that she is entitled to enjoy all the benefits accruing to her as a ‘looked after’ child – both now and after she reaches 18.

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Children – care proceedings

In this case, the two children (7 and 11) had lived with M since birth. She had cared for them with increasing support from various sources, including her own mother who lived with them.

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Children – child arrangements order

M unsuccessfully applied for a child arrangements order including to relocate to Italy as the child’s main carer, but F opposed and made a cross-application for shared care. M had alleged serious domestic abuse on F’s part.

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Financial remedies – post-separation accrual

The most complicated evidential issues in relation to post-separation accrual and financial remedies arise in respect of active growth, says the author of this useful summary of recent rulings on post-separation accrual. Careful analysis of the genesis of assets being utilised is needed, and the individual’s role in creating active growth.

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