What family lawyers were talking about this week… by John Bolch

Divorce|Family|Family Law|Industry News|February 14th 2014

The case S v S was certainly a talking-point this week amongst family lawyers. It seemed somewhat odd that a husband could ‘get away’ with fraudulent non-disclosure to a court, but that appeared to be what the Court of Appeal allowed when it dismissed the wife’s appeal. She had sought to re-open the financial settlement she had agreed with her husband. The court found that it wouldn’t have made any substantial difference to the settlement had the husband been completely honest. Of course, as Lady Justice Macur pointed out, the judgment should not be read as a ‘green light’ to fraudulent dishonesty in court. Not only will the court take a very dim view of such behaviour, but it could result in costs penalties, proceedings for contempt and even criminal prosecution.

Another case to hit the headlines was RS v SS. This judgment was handed down on the 23rd of December, but was not reported until last Monday. The case involved a father’s application for a transfer of residence, so his two children could come and live with him. The move was supported by the Guardian on behalf of the children but strongly opposed by the mother. The judge ordered the transfer. Unfortunately, the transfer took place on December 25, leading to something of an outcry from a well-known journalist, who blamed the court for pulling the children from their mother on Christmas Day. However, in a postscript to her judgment the judge explained that the transfer only took place on Christmas Day due to the mother refusing to comply with her order that the mother take the boys to the paternal grandparents by 2pm on the 24th of December.

Meanwhile, the latest figures from Cafcass show a significant drop in demand, both for care applications and private law cases. In January Cafcass received 9 per cent fewer care applications compared to January 2013, and 13 per fewer private law applications. The reduction in care applications is certainly welcome, but whether the large reduction in private law applications is also welcome depends upon the reasons behind it. For example, was the figure for January last year particularly high because parents were getting their applications in before legal aid was abolished, and is the figure for this January particularly low due to people not making applications because they can’t afford representation without legal aid?

The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales make pretty sobering reading. They show that more than 1.1 million or 7% of all women and 720,000 or 4% of all men have been victims of some kind of domestic abuse in the last year. Even more appalling is the statistic that nearly 5 million women, or 30% of the female population, have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16. I don’t know what the answer is – education, perhaps?

Lastly, the President of the Family Division has published his 10th View from the President’s Chambers. This one is intriguingly sub-titled The process of reform: the beginning of the future. We are told, for example, that “the new Family Court is already up and running for most practical purposes” and we are given updates on such things as the proposed Child Arrangements Programme, transparency and the standard family court orders project. It all reminds me of the advertising slogan for a certain software company, one of whose products I am using to write this: The future is now.

Have a good weekend.


Author: John Bolch

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

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  1. David Mortimer says:

    Hi Marilyn,

    If the Children Act places a duty on Local Authorities to protect children & they do not collect the right information with regard to child abuse perpetrators are they guilty of neglect of duty & should those who are legally responsible be held to account, sacked & charged by the police for breaking the law?

    Even if the DoE does not specifically ask them to collect the right information surely those who are legally responsible & paid to protect children should of raised the issue of what information is collected given that policies can not be effectively written if they are not based on the right information & if none of them have questioned & complained about what information is collected then have they failed in their duty to protect children & are they guilty of child neglect & if any children have died under their care shouldn’t the police arrest them for corporate manslaughter & if they are is it right that they can simply say they did not intend that person to die to avoid being found guilty?

    Best regards Dave


    Who do local authorities protect children from? 28th December 2013

  2. Stitchedup says:

    “The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales make pretty sobering reading. They show that more than 1.1 million or 7% of all women and 720,000 or 4% of all men have been victims of some kind of domestic abuse in the last year. Even more appalling is the statistic that nearly 5 million women, or 30% of the female population, have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16. I don’t know what the answer is – education, perhaps?”

    If men had the support organisations and more men are educated to recognise domestic violence and encouraged to report it as women are, you can expect to see a massive rise in the number of male victims of domestic violence.

    Once men realise that they don’t have to put up with being hit, hen pecked, constantly criticised, belittled, stopped from socialising with friends/family by women and report it for the abuse it is; we will have a more accurate, balanced view of domestic violence/abuse. So yes John, education might be the answer, but it might not yield the results you expect or wish for.

  3. Paul says:

    With regards to the s v s case, it is odd that the husband “got away with something” normally its the woman like my ex. She emptied her accounts, got legal aid , failed to declare everything on her E-form and then Deputy District chose to believe her lie’s rather than look at a letter from my employer. Maybe there IS something wrong with the system.

  4. Anon says:

    i think if the label domestic violence was ditched and it was labelled correctly as interpersonal violence the authorities may actually take it seriously. The conviction rate is appalling.Men are victims as well, but they are physically stonger on the whole and spineless men use this to bully women. There needs far better understanding amongst professionals,and education for young people.

  5. Tristan says:

    This is the very depressing judgment of RS v SS.


    Note the never-ending obstacles put in the father’s path by the mother while the court stood idly. Note the pain he is subjected to vis-a-vis his children before residency is finally removed from the mother. Reverse the roles. The father would have been shown the door inside 5 minutes let alone the 18 hours he spent inside a police cell while this mother was given full rein by courts and agencies alike to perform mayhem in these poor children’s lives.

  6. Stitchedup says:

    “Men are victims as well, but”

    There’s always a “but” isn’t there?

    Yet again it is clear we’ve got ourselves in a terrible state regarding the definition of domestic abuse/violence. When talking about men being victims of domestic abuse/violence, women like to ignore the non-physical abuse/violence and focus on the physical violence that men can Inflict due to they being generally physically stronger…. something about having your cake and eating it comes to mind!! Women are supremely capable of mental abuse, wholly capable of physical abuse, and frequently engage in both.

    I stand by the point I made in my earlier post. As men become more educated to recognise when they are the victims of domestic abuse/violence and encouraged to report it, we will see a massive escalation in the numbers of male victims of domestic violence.

    This catch-all definition of domestic abuse/violence may well turn around and bite the feminists that have encouraged it.

  7. anon says:

    My partner is currently going through a divorce and has passed information to police that his wife allegedly has remarried on a trip to the states. She and her new millionaire partner are being investigated by british police who have also passed on the information to the american authority. Would this affect the financial settlement in his divorce

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