John Bolch on what family lawyers were talking about this week…

Family Law|Industry News | 11 Apr 2014 0

Not an awful lot, actually. Perhaps this is the calm before the coming storm of the new Single Family Court?

Jo Edwards, in her first speech as Chair of family lawyers’ association Resolution, has criticised last year’s cuts to legal aid. She said that they are having a “devastating impact” on Resolution’s members and, more importantly, the people that they had previously been able to help. Commenting on the fact that only eight exceptional funding applications for family cases were successful out of 617 made in the past year, she added: “We know that the promised ‘safety valve’ of the availability of exceptional funding is not providing very much relief at all.”

Local authorities must do more to make sure the needs of looked after children living far away from their family, friends and communities can be met, a report from Ofsted has said. The regulator says that looked-after children face serious problems with education and health care because agencies are failing to work together. Ofsted found that 8,000 (12%) of looked-after children live more than 20 miles from their home, although it conceded that this might sometimes be in the best interests of a child. The Local Government Association has said that it finds the report “disappointing”.

A father has failed in his appeal against an order that he should have no direct contact with his 14 year old son. In J-M (Child), the father was seeking to appeal an order that he only have indirect contact with his son, which had been made primarily because the boy did not want contact with his father. The order provided for contact by the father by sending the boy a card and a present at Easter, Christmas and on his son’s birthday, and by the mother ensuring that the father was sent a recent photograph of his son twice a year. The father appealed but Lady Justice Black dismissed the appeal, finding that there had been no error made by the lower court. In a consenting judgment Lord Justice Maurice Kay said that the case had “received the conspicuously fair and thorough treatment which it merited”.

Cafcass has released its latest figures for care applications and private law demand, for March 2014. During that month Cafcass received a total of 910 care applications. This figure represents a 3 per cent decrease compared to those received in March 2013. As to private law demand, Cafcass received a total of 3,676 new private law cases, which represents a 7 per cent decrease on March 2013 levels.

The most comprehensive study ever to be carried out into adoption in England reveals a stark picture of the problems faced by families. Researchers from the University of Bristol analysed national data on 37,335 adoptions over a 12 year period to show that 3.2 per cent of children move out of their adoptive home prematurely, known as a ‘disruption’. Adoptions were more likely to breakdown if a child was placed once they were over the age of four. Most adoptions breakdown during the teenage years with teenagers 10 times more at risk of disruption compared with children under the age of four. The study, funded by the Department for Education, is the first national study of adoption breakdowns and gives recommendations for policy, practice and further research in the future.

And that’s about it, although I suspect that there will be plenty for family lawyers to discuss in the coming days. Meanwhile, have a good weekend.

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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