A week in family law: domestic abuse guidance and more

Family Law|Industry News | 16 Jan 2015 0

After the excitements of ‘Divorce Day’ and other things last week it has thankfully been a comparatively quiet week for family law news, but there have been a few items of note…

Former High Court judge and Chairman of the Marriage Foundation Sir Paul Coleridge has proposed that couples be given extra tax breaks after passing landmark wedding anniversaries, in order to encourage ‘family stability’. He also said that couples who choose to cohabit rather than get married should not have children. I have already set out my views on what Sir Paul had to say (hint: I didn’t agree with him).

New guidance on the handling cases of domestic abuse is expected to help the Crown Prosecution Service deal effectively with up to 20,000 more cases this year than two years ago. The updated guidance sets out handling of all aspects of domestic abuse offending including the many ways in which abusers can control, coerce and psychologically abuse their victims. It also reminds prosecutors that domestic abuse occurs in all communities and to both sexes. In the year 2012/13, there were just over 70,700 prosecutions for domestic abuse and current projections expect that figure to increase to nearly 90,000 by the end of this financial year. As the number of prosecutions grows, conviction rates have been maintained.

A survey by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has found that more than half of the UK believes that childcare should be shared equally between parents, rather than by the mother. Some 53 per cent of those questioned said that childcare should be the equal responsibility of both parents while a further 22 per cent believe that a couple should have the right to choose how they divide caring responsibilities, depending on their circumstances. Just under a quarter of those surveyed believe that childcare should be the mother’s main responsibility, with more than half of men thinking that childcare should be shared equally, compared to 50 per cent of women. Quite what is to be done with this information, we will have to wait and see.

Cafcass has published its latest figures for care applications and private law demand, for December 2014. In that month Cafcass received a total of 918 care applications, representing a 13 per cent increase compared to those received in December 2013. As to private law demand, Cafcass received a total of 2,735 new private law cases – a 4 per cent decrease on December 2013 levels. The worrying trends continue.

The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has said that local authorities need to be “pro-active and vigilant” in taking appropriate protective measures to prevent girls being subjected to female genital mutilation (‘FGM’). Giving his judgment in the case B and G (Children)(No 2) he said that the courts must not hesitate to use every weapon in their “protective arsenal if faced with a case of actual or anticipated FGM”. In the case social workers at Leeds City Council claimed that a three-year-old girl from a Muslim family had been subjected to FGM. Sir James said that he thought it was the first time that allegations of FGM had arisen in care proceedings and described the case as “unusual and complex”. He concluded that the council had not proved that the child had been, or was at risk of being, subjected to FGM.

And finally, the new Queen’s Counsel appointed in this year’s selection process have been announced. Congratulations in particular to the twelve new family QCs in the list.

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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