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Procedure – HFEA

There have been a number of rulings involving administrative failures in the completion and signing of forms by clinics before applications under the HFEA 2008, with legal implications for the applicants. In a recent case, the court had to consider a particular issue for the first time and, while doing so, acknowledge once again the profoundly distressing impact on those unwittingly caught up in these kinds of cases.  

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Procedure – children; domestic violence

A new Practice Direction 12J (Child Arrangements and Contact Orders: Domestic Abuse and Harm) has been issued by the President of the Family Division. Following an earlier review of PD12J by Cobb J, his report was published in January 2017 and its recommendations were all (with one exception) accepted by the President.  

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Procedure – settlement conferences

New MoJ information and guidance for practitioners on the ongoing settlement conferences pilot and evaluation has been published. The aim of the pilot, supported by the President of the Family division, is to see if an inquisitorial approach can lead to appropriate outcomes for children and families.  

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Procedure – children

Various provisions under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2017 are in force from 31 October 2017. Important amendments to legislation are made under Regulation 2 as follows:  

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Financial remedies – variation of periodical payments

In this case, H was ordered to pay annual spousal periodical payments of £120,000 on a joint lives basis to W, to run from 1 November 2014. Three months after the order was made, H applied to vary the order. He also sought permission to appeal the final order, falling into arrears in the meantime. W filed an application for enforcement.  

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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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