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What family lawyers were talking about this week…

The President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has published guidance regarding the role of the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit in obtaining information from other jurisdictions. Introducing the guidance, he said: “I am aware that an increasing number of children cases have an international element and that courts often require information from other jurisdictions before being able to proceed. It is not always easy to know how to obtain this information.” He went on to say that guidance, provided by the Unit, will help practitioners to follow the correct route to obtain information to help the court when necessary. The guidance has been approved by Lady Justice Black and the Senior Master.

Sir Martin Narey has warned that children are missing out on the chance to be adopted because social workers have over-reacted to a number of recent court judgments. The warning came as the adoption adviser published a ‘myth-busting’ guide to clarify the rulings and reassure social workers that the law has not changed, as mentioned here in this post. Narey, who chairs the National Adoption Leadership Board, the independent watchdog set up by the government to oversee its adoption reforms, claimed key Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judgments made last year have led to confusion around the law on adoption. They reiterated the need for adoption decisions to be based on robust analysis of all realistic options, and set out that adoption should only be pursued where it is necessary for the child’s welfare. This, Narey said, appears to have deterred councils from pursuing adoption, resulting in a 47 per cent drop in the number of children being put forward for adoption.

In a new consultation the Law Commission has suggested that a specific criminal offence should be created to deal with cases of domestic violence. The proposal follows comments made during the summer by the prime minister supporting the introduction of an offence dedicated to dealing with domestic violence incidents. The commission said that any new offence would be a response to widespread concerns that domestic violence is not being effectively policed, and it would also alert social services in future to the fact that an individual had a history of aggression against a partner. Hopefully, such an offence will make a real difference and reduce the scourge of domestic violence.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service Cafcass has published its latest figures for care applications and private law demand, for October 2014. In that month Cafcass received a total of 999 care applications, representing a two per cent increase compared to those received in October 2013. Still going up, but the rate has at least slowed. As to private law demand, Cafcass received a total of 3,419 new private law cases, which is a 13 per cent decrease on October 2013 levels, possibly reflecting the continuing effect of the abolition of legal aid in April 2013.

Lastly, as reported here in this post, figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that marriage is becoming more and more the preserve of the wealthy. The figures show that since 2001 those in the top social class have gone from being 24 per cent more likely to be married to 50 per cent more likely. Whether this is a good or a bad thing I will leave the reader to decide…

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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