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

Family Law|Industry News|May 30th 2014

Well, they were probably talking more about the weather than the law, in what has been another quiet post-bank holiday week. There have, however been a few things worthy of discussion…

A Catholic Slovakian couple of Roma origin has failed to block the adoption of two of their sons by a same sex couple in Kent. The couple argued that their two young children would grow up alienated from their family and community. Appealing the case, they accused the local authority of social engineering by attempting to turn the children white and middle class. However, the President of the family Division Sir James Munby found that they had no grounds for appeal. An earlier hearing heard evidence that they had neglected their children. The couple now intend to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

In the same case, the President called the arrangements for providing court interpreters ‘unacceptable’, after he was forced to abandon an earlier hearing, as no one attended to translate for the Slovak-speaking parents. Sir James Munby ordered Capita, which bought the smaller company given an £18 million a year Ministry of Justice translating contract, to explain why neither of the two interpreters booked for a hearing on the 7th of May attended. He described the abandonment of hearings owing to the lack of interpreters as an “unacceptable state of affairs” and said that: “It might be that something needs to be done”.

A High Court judge has ruled that a five-month-old baby who has still not been given a name will be put up for adoption because of his father’s hostility to social workers. Mrs Justice Parker heard that the father of the five-month-old boy had assaulted one social worker and threatened to kill another. She said she was worried about the baby’s mother who has a learning difficulty, and was “troubled” by the decision not to name the child. She also said that the father, who appeared to have become frustrated by what he saw as an “invasive” approach by Hertfordshire County Council social services, could be “dangerous”. The mother, who cannot be identified, said that she and her partner aim to challenge Mrs Justice Parker’s ruling in the Court of Appeal.

The Young v Young case can’t stay out of the news. The Independent has reported that accountancy firm Grant Thornton, who act as Scot Young’s trustees in bankruptcy, have written, through their lawyers, to Mr Justice Moor who was the judge in the final hearing of Michelle Young’s financial remedy application. According to the paper, during a costs application in the bankruptcy proceedings it was stated that the lawyers wrote to the judge to complain about findings made by him that certain creditors were fictitious, claiming that this was not a conclusion that it was open to him to reach. It was also claimed that the effect of the financial remedy judgment was that “Mrs Young’s share of recoveries will be enhanced at the expense of her former husband’s other unsecured creditors.” Apparently Mr Justice Moor has sent a ‘robust response’ to the letter – I’m sure many family lawyers would like to see that!

Lastly, the Department for Education has announced changes to the adoption system which they say “will reduce delays for black and ethnic minority children and give adopters a much more active role in finding children they might be suitable to adopt.” The changes are contained in the Government’s response to the ‘Adoption: getting it right, making it work’ consultation, which sought views on amendments to statutory guidance and regulations about adoption.

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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