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

Family Law|Industry News|June 20th 2014

A children dispute which has taken almost 13 years has been described by a judge to be the “longest dispute of its kind” he had encountered during his years as a judge and barrister. The case concerned a 14-year-old girl who refused direct contact with her father. Eight judges, numerous social workers and psychiatrists have been involved in more than 80 court appearances that have “irredeemably marred” the teenager’s childhood, judges have said. Last September the Court of Appeal ordered another hearing into the case and said the teenager had been “failed” by the family justice system. In the latest hearing Mr Justice Moylan, who made the comment about the length of the case, refused to order the girl to have direct contact with her father after she said she did not want it.

One of Britain’s leading parenting experts has angered fathers’ rights groups by claiming that young children of separated couples should not be allowed to stay the night with their fathers. Psychologist Penelope Leach, whose parenting books have sold millions, claims that, as a general rule, children aged four and under should not be separated from their mother by having a “sleepover” with the father, when couples have separated. She says that attempts by separated parents to “share” young children is putting “adult rights” above those of children, and that there is “undisputed” evidence that separating children from their mothers “reduces brain development” and creates a tendency toward “unhealthy attachment issues”. A spokesman for New Father’s 4 Justice group said: “Leach’s advice sounds like absolute poison and potentially terribly damaging to children’s development. Overnight stays with fathers from as early an age as possible is crucial if children are to form strong attachments with both of their parents.”

An eight year old child involved in care proceedings has suggested fitting her house with CCTV so that social workers could monitor her parents’ abusive behaviour. When she was asked ‘What did she think the Judge should decide?’ she replied: “That’s a difficult question. The judge should decide that we can’t go home yet until Mummy and Daddy change…the Social Workers should watch Mummy and Daddy. They need to put cameras in every room; not upstairs, downstairs because they hit us downstairs…” Details of the suggestion emerged in a judgment of Judge Swindells QC, in the Family Court. Judge Swindells made a care order with a plan of long term fostering for the girl and her younger siblings.

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (‘BAAF’) matched over 1,000 children with adoptive families over the past year. This is the first time in its 34 year history that BAAF’s family finding services have done so. In all 1,023 children were matched with adoptive families in 2013-14, a significant increase on previous years. BAAF says that the increase reflects both the rise in the number of children waiting to be adopted as well as the continued improvement throughout the UK’s adoption services, including more creative matching processes and more effective recruitment and approval of prospective adopters.

Finally, if there’s one thing the media love it’s speculating over whether a divorce settlement is going to be the biggest ever in this country. This week the attention has turned to the upcoming case involving financier Sir Chris Hohn and his wife Jamie Cooper-Hohn. The pair are in dispute over the value of a hedge fund that Sir Chris founded in 2003. If it is worth as much as his wife claims then it is said that she could be entitled to the country’s first billion pound divorce payout. Nice work if you can get it.

Have a good weekend.

Photo by Jack via Flickr

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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