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Procedure – financial remedies courts

The President of the Family Division has issued a circular on Financial Remedies Courts which are expected to be piloted from February 2018 in London, the West Midlands and South-East Wales. To begin with, these will deal with ancillary relief cases, but will be extended to all financial remedies cases dealt with in the Family Court or Family Division. Initially, the FRC will function only with paper files, with transition to a digitised model to follow.

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Declaration of parentage – jurisdiction

The English court was the more appropriate forum to determine an application for a declaration of parentage. A British woman (DA) of Turkish descent applied for the declaration of parentage under s55A Family Law Act 1986 to establish whether the deceased was her genetic or biological father. She sought this so that her birth certificate could be amended.

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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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