What family lawyers were talking about this week…

Family Law|Industry News | 17 Apr 2014 1

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Three drug, alcohol, paternity testing companies have gone into administration as a result of legal aid cutbacks. Trimega Laboratories Limited, Screensafe UK Limited and Ingemino Testing Services Limited went into administration on the 7th of April. Trimega Laboratories Limited, which operates out of Blackley, Greater Manchester, provides testing that supports decisions in child protection cases, offering services such as hair drug, alcohol and steroid testing, along with DNA relationship testing services. Last year legal aid was abolished for most private law family cases, and the amount that can be charged for DNA testing under legal aid was reduced.

Figures released by the Department for Education have shown that more than 96,000 people interested in adopting a child have contacted the First4Adoption information service in the last 12 months, an average of 327 new contacts every day. First4Adoption was set up in April 2013 to help address the serious shortage of adopters, which contributes to delays in finding loving homes for children. It provides ‘clear and impartial advice about adopting and helps put people in touch with local adoption agencies’. The government has also announced the appointment of Sir Martin Narey as the Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board, a new national initiative jointly developed by government, councils and voluntary adoption agencies to drive improvements in the adoption system and ensure there are enough adopters to provide homes for all the children who are waiting to be adopted.

The President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has published the 11th ‘View’ from his chambers. Entitled ‘On the cusp of history’ the View says that the 22nd of April “marks the largest reform of the family justice system any of us have seen or will see in our professional lifetimes”. On that date the new single family court will come into existence, and a number of reforms of the family justice system will take place. Taken as a whole, says the President, these reforms amount to a “revolution”.

As part of those reforms, the new Public Law Outline and the new Child Arrangements Programme have both now been published. The former deals with how public law children’s cases, such as care proceedings, should be managed, and the latter which sets out ‘best practice’ in how the courts should deal with disputes between parents over the arrangements for their children.

The President has also been busy in court. Giving the final judgment in the ‘forced caesarean’ case that made the headlines late last year, he made an adoption order in favour of the couple with whom the child was placed for adoption last November. The child’s Italian mother did not oppose the adoption, but expressed the wish that she would see her daughter again one day.

Lastly, an Arab politician who wrote an agreement to pay his estranged wife £60,000 a month has told a court he had not been wearing his reading glasses and did not know what he was signing. The man signed the paperwork when the pair met in a Chinese restaurant, a High Court judge heard. However, Mr Justice Mostyn said he found the explanation very hard to accept. Details of the case emerged in a written ruling by the judge, who said there was evidence of “serious wealth”, following a hearing in the High Court in London. The politician is involved in a divorce dispute after his marriage to his fourth wife broke down. Mr Justice Mostyn had been asked to make decisions about how much maintenance the man should pay pending final rulings on the dispute.

Have a good Easter break!

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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