The Practical Lawyer


Procedure – fact-finding hearing

In family proceedings, the court has a discretion whether to hear evidence in relation to disputed matters of fact with a view to determining them.

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Judicial guidance – parents

The Midland Region of Family Judges and Magistrates has issued guidelines for all parents thinking of asking for a court order. It provides practical advice and suggestions on how to deal with children when parents break-up.

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Bankruptcy – matrimonial home

The only asset in the husband’s bankruptcy was the matrimonial home. The trustee in bankruptcy sought a possession order against the husband, the wife, and the three children.

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Ancillary relief – criminal sanctions for seizing documents

What criminal sanctions might apply when a spouse secretly copies, seizes or attempts to access digital documents for use in ancillary relief proceedings? The unauthorised access to computer material is an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. Under s1 of the Act a person is guilty of an offence if:

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Divorce proceedings – use of documents by solicitors

Chef Marco Pierre White sued his former wife’s solicitors, Withers, for either acquiescing in her interception of confidential documents belonging to him or for encouraging her by their advice to intercept or retain such documents.

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Internal relocation – shared residence order in place

Where there is a residence order in place, the courts will not, other than in exceptional circumstances, impose conditions, including one restricting the right of residence to a specific place, on the residence order where the primary carer is providing entirely appropriate care for the child. But what is the position where there is a shared residence order in place?

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Intercountry adoption – meaning of ‘home’ in s84(4)

An important decision of the Court of Appeal has addressed a major hurdle for prospective adopters living overseas – usually relatives of the child in question – in satisfying the requirement in s84 Adoption and Children Act 2002 of having lived with the child for at least ten weeks in the UK.

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Adoption – orders could not be set aside

The biological parents sought permission to apply to set aside the care, freeing for adoption and adoption orders made in the county court in relation to their three oldest children, known in the proceedings as A, B and C.

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Paternity testing – procedure

In a paternity dispute, an application can be made to the High Court for a declaration of paternity under s55A Family Law Act 1986. Without an admission of paternity such applications are needed if there is any suspicion as to whether father and child are biological relatives.

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Domestic violence – fact-finding hearing

The Practice Direction issued in May 2008 ([2008] All ER (D) 132 (May)) has been re-issued to reflect the decision in Re B (children) (sexual abuse: standard of proof) [2008] 4 All ER 1, that (in both private and public law family cases) a fact-finding hearing is part of the process of trying a case, not a separate exercise, and that where the case is then adjourned for a further hearing it remains part heard.

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