Family law reports, it seems, are like buses: you wait ages for one, and then several all arrive together.
So it was on Tuesday of this week, when I came across no fewer than thirteen new reports. They gave a fair cross-section of what our courts (and, indeed, the European Court) deal with on a regular basis.
The day started with a particularly tragic case, A & B (Children), which actually occupied no fewer than three of those law reports (and was also the subject of two earlier reports). The proceedings, which began some six years ago, concerned a dispute over the arrangements for two children, and involved their father and his new civil partner, their mother and her new civil partner and the local authority. The case is far too complicated to go into the details in this post, but you can read the reports here, here and here. To give a flavour, though, I will mention two comments made by Mr Justice Cobb in the first of those three judgments. Firstly, his very first sentence which, whilst hardly profound, contains an important truth:
“Making contact happen and, even more importantly, making contact work is one of the most difficult and contentious challenges in the whole of family law.”
Secondly, the following succinctly sets out the effect of the long-running dispute upon the children:
“There is no way forward from here which does not involve the continuation of harm to the children, the risk of future harm, and/or inevitable loss to the children. The issue for me has tragically become one of balancing the risks of harm.”
Moving on, there were (as always, sadly) a number of (other) cases involving care proceedings. These included IB & EB (Children), in which Mr Justice Baker had to consider the awful scenario of whether injuries sustained by the children had been inflicted by one of their parents, and J (A Child: Criticism of ICO removal) which, as the citation suggests, includes (not for the first time) judicial criticism of the way in which the child concerned was removed from his home.
There was also a foreign element to several of the cases. A,L,K (BIIR Article 15 Request), for example, concerned three children, two of whom were born in Poland, and included consideration of whether the matter should be dealt with by the Polish courts, and similarly A And B (Children: Brussels II Revised: Article 15) involved two Czech children, and consideration of whether Czech court should assume jurisdiction (for further details of this case, see this post). Kirklees Metropolitan District Council v A Hungarian mother was another care case in which, as that name suggests, the mother resides in Hungary (and did not even come to this country to attend the hearing).
Continuing the international theme we had, as indicated above, one decision of the European Court of Human Rights. VP v Russia concerned the enforcement of, or rather the failure to enforce, a Moldavian residence order by the Russian authorities.
The cases weren’t all about children. In addition we had Quan v Bray & Others, which also made headlines in several national newspapers. This was the case in which a conservationist wife claimed that her millionaire husband used donations to a tiger charity to fund their lavish lifestyle and that she was therefore entitled to a share of the charity’s £25 million assets. Mr Justice Coleridge, however, disagreed, finding that she had become blinded by her desire for revenge and that this had led her to fabricate where she thought it would assist her case.
Finally, to round off the day’s cases with something different, we had London Borough of Croydon v S & Another, which concerned an application by a local authority for a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
Who said family law was dull?
Photo by Les Chatfield via Flickr