The Practical Lawyer


Collaborative agreements – fast track process approved

The President of the Family Division has given his approval to a fast track process being used by couples who achieve collaborative agreements. This follows Mr Justice Coleridge’s judgement in S v P (unreported at present) in which he said that the application for approval in that case could be dealt with through the urgent, ‘without notice’ applications list, rather than going through the lengthier process of lodging a consent order through the Principal Registry and waiting for it to be approved and sent back.

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Children and Young Persons Act 2008 – local authority duties extended

The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 received Royal Assent on 13 November 2008. Key changes brought about by the Act include:

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Forced marriage – relevant third parties

A relevant third party is someone who can make an application on behalf of a victim of forced marriage without first requiring the permission of the court. The government has indicated that provisions enabling local authorities to act as relevant third parties should be in force within 12 months.

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Same-sex couples – legal parents of child

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which received Royal Assent in November 2008, includes provisions to recognise same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. This recognises, for example, the civil partner of a woman who carries a child via IVF as the child’s legal parent.

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Enforcement of contact orders – disclosure to National Probation Service

A Practice Direction provides that where a magistrates’ court is considering an application for an enforcement order or for an order following an alleged breach of an enforcement order or makes an enforcement order and asks a CAFCASS officer to provide information to the court or to report to court, then the CAFCASS officer will need to discuss aspects of the court case with an officer of the National Probation Service.

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Enforcement of contact orders – family proceedings courts

A Practice Direction, which comes into force on 8th December 2008, governs applications to enforce contact orders made in the magistrates’ courts and is intended to ensure that they are considered by family proceedings courts. The Practice Direction applies in respect of applications for:

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Contact – new regulations in force

New regulations, which came into force on 8 December 2008, enable financial assistance to be paid in respect of an individual ordered or directed to undertake an activity that promotes contact with a child.

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Contact – contact activity directions and conditions

Part 1 of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 came into force on 8 December 2008, setting out new powers of the court to make contact activity directions and contact activity conditions, together with new provisions for the enforcement of contact orders.

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Judicial review – LA decision not to apply for care order

In Nottinghamshire CC v P [1993] 2 FLR 134 it was held that the LA’s decision not to issue care proceedings in respect of a child at risk of significant harm may be judicially reviewable.

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Care proceedings – further assessment when children previously removed

The parents in care proceedings concerning their baby had had their three older children previously removed from their care. The case is interesting because, despite this history, the judge allowed residential assessments to ascertain whether the parents had changed sufficiently to remain as carers for the baby.

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