The Practical Lawyer


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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Domestic violence – banking

A new guide launched in February offers banking support for victims of domestic violence. It explains how victims can open new independent accounts with a letter from a refuge manager confirming their circumstances, as opposed to the usual multiple proofs of identification which may be in the possession of, or access-controlled by, the abuser.

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Local authority – no duty of care to parents

Do local authorities or individuals employed by them owe a duty of care to parents when investigating and/or taking steps in protection of their children whom they consider to be at risk of parental abuse?

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FDR judge – case management

The Financial Dispute Resolution judge’s duty is of ‘active case management’ under the FPR. Cases over the last few years reveal how this has applied in practice.

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Ancillary proceedings – third parties

The explosion in ancillary relief hearings involving the interests of third parties in putative matrimonial property is for two reasons. Firstly, the ageing population and escalating property prices; secondly the increase in divorces among ethnic minorities where concepts of property ownership are more fluid.

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