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What family lawyers were talking about this week

Quite a lot actually, including the following:

David Cameron has said that domestic violence could become a specific criminal offence. As I said here in this post, The proposal, put forward by various charities including Women’s Aid, is aimed at closing gaps in the present law which campaigners feel allow perpetrators of domestic violence to avoid prosecution. Specifically, it is considered that the current law does not always take psychological harm into account, or any ongoing pattern of abuse. For my views on the proposal see my previous post.

New figures have shown a substantial increase in the number of domestic violence incidents that have been dealt with under the “Community Resolution” procedure, rather than by prosecution of the offender. The procedure was introduced four years ago as a way of dealing with minor offences such as trivial thefts and ‘inconsequential’ assaults. Under it, the police expect the offender to apologise to the victim or pay them compensation, in which case there is no prosecution. Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has warned that the policy is putting thousands of victims of domestic violence at risk. She says that the procedure was never intended to be used for domestic violence and has promised that a new Labour government will pass legislation banning its use in domestic violence cases. Again, I commented upon this in my post here on Tuesday.

The Department for Education has announced that all schoolchildren adopted from care are to benefit from £20 million of additional pupil premium money to get the support they need to thrive at school. The money, worth £1,900 per pupil, will help around an extra 10,000 pupils to close the attainment gap and transform their future life chances. Previously, only children adopted from care since December 2005 were eligible. Children adopted from care do not perform as well as their classmates at school. In 2013, less than half of adopted children reached the expected levels of reading, writing and maths at key stage 2, compared with 75% of non-adopted children.

The government has also announced that 29 councils and voluntary adoption agencies are being to allow people approved to adopt to search the national Adoption Register from this September. The pilot will allow approved adopters to learn more about the children who are waiting for home. They will be able to find out about their hobbies, likes and dislikes, and hear them speak in videos and pictures. Opening up the register is designed to ensure that children are placed more quickly with families who can give them stability and security. Strict safeguards will be put in place to ensure the safety and privacy of children and approved adopters.

A former oil trader once estimated to be worth nearly £40m has been given a four-week suspended jail sentence after a judge ruled he owed his ex-wife £360,000 in unpaid maintenance. In 2011, Mr Justice Moylan ordered Michael Prest to make a lump sum payment of £17.5 million and periodical payments totalling nearly £300,000 a year to his wife and their four children. His ex-wife Yasmin Prest applied for him to be committed to prison for failing to comply with the order. Concluding that Mr Prest could afford to pay what he owed, Mr Justice Moylan has now ruled that he had wilfully refused or neglected to pay maintenance, and handed down the jail sentence, which will be suspended for three months. Whether it will have any effect, we will have to wait and see.

Finally, congratulations to Mrs Justice Eleanor King upon her being appointed to the Court of Appeal. The appointment will take effect from this autumn, when she will become the eighth woman of thirty-eight judges in the Court of Appeal.

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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