What family lawyers were talking about this week…

Family Law|Industry News|November 21st 2014

A £19 million support fund for adoptive families has been announced by the Department for Education. The new funding will be available to help adoptive families across the country settle their children into their new home. The Adoption Support Fund – to be rolled out nationwide from May 2015 after pilots across 10 councils – will help pay for essential therapy services for adoptive families as and when they need it. The Department says that many adopted children have experienced difficult and traumatic experiences before being placed with their adoptive family, which can prevent them from settling into their new home and can create difficulties at particular stages such as adolescence. Services such as behavioural therapy, play and music therapy, and family support sessions can help children come to terms with their difficulties, giving them the confidence to build strong relationships with their new family.

As I mentioned here in this post, in response to recommendations by the Legal Services Board the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends is to require all of its members to have Professional Indemnity Insurance, and a qualification, equivalent to A level or above, in law or other relevant subject, or have 3 years experience as a McKenzie Friend. Ray Barry, joint founder and Director of the society, said: “There are major shifts taking place in the market, and in the demands of consumers, to which some practitioners, both lawyers and McKenzie Friends, are adapting better than others.”

The government has issued a report detailing the progress it has made since it launched its ‘Social Justice’ strategy for dealing with poverty in 2012. Through a series of programmes, intervention and policies, the report says that Social Justice has had a positive impact on thousands of families, including 250,000 more children who are living with both their birth parents, 387,000 fewer children living in workless households and over 48,000 couples who have participated in relationship counselling. It all sounds so marvellous.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has stated that new parents will be given relationship counselling by health visitors, under government plans to instil “basic concepts such as love, compassion and trust” and prevent marriage breakdown. He said that next year ministers would announce guidance for all health visitors on how to “recognise and respond to the signs of relationship difficulties”. The guidance is part of a drive by Mr Duncan Smith to prevent marriage breakdown and divorce, and give children “the best start in life” by ensuring they are in a “stable family”. I’m not sure whether this is really a job for health visitors, but there we are.

The Ministry of Justice is on track to meet its main objective of significantly reducing in a short timeframe spending on civil legal aid. However, it is less clear to what extent it has met its other objectives of reducing unnecessary litigation and targeting legal aid at those who need it most, according to a report from the National Audit Office. The Office concluded that, in implementing its reforms, the Ministry of Justice did not think through early enough the impact of the changes on the wider system, and does not know whether people who are eligible for legal aid are able to get it. I seem to recall that I’ve said here before that the effect of the cuts wasn’t properly thought through.

Lastly, the law relating to kidnapping, false imprisonment and child abduction is due for reform, according to the Law Commission. In a report published yesterday, the Commission is recommending reforms that will clarify the offences of kidnapping and false imprisonment, and allow for the prosecution of parents who keep their children overseas in contravention of a court order or without permission of the other parent or guardian. The recommendations have been welcomed by child abduction charity reunite and, I suspect, many family lawyers.

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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