A week in family law: Cases, Cafcass figures and more

Family Law|Industry News | 11 Sep 2015 1

It seems as though the holidays never happened…

His Honour Judge Sir Gavyn Arthur has ordered that two children, who are believed to have been abducted to Cyprus, may be identified in the hope that the publicity will help to locate them. He said that he had “grave concern” for the welfare of Charlie Clift, aged five, and Kaiton Warnes, who is two years old. It is believed that the children, who have been missing since January 2014, are with their mother, Amelia Warnes. In a statement approved by the judge, lawyers said the boys were the subject of ongoing family court proceedings brought by East Sussex County Council social services. Both boys were removed from the UK while on child protection plans and both are wards of court. I mention this story here in order to give it further publicity.

Along similar lines, two grandparents from Wolverhampton have been jailed in connection with the abduction of their two grandchildren by their mother, who had taken them to Costa Rica in breach of a court order. The children had resided with the mother, but the court order allowed her just one hour of supervised contact every month at a contact centre. The grandparents helped her to remove the children from this country, and then tried to cover up their part in the plot by lying to police and a High Court judge. They admitted child abduction and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The grandmother was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment and the grandfather to a year’s imprisonment. The children have since been returned to the UK. The mother is believed still to be in Costa Rica, but a British arrest warrant has been issued for her. All in all, a lesson in why you should not disobey the court.

The latest figures from Cafcass for care applications and private law demand, for August 2015, have been published. In that month Cafcass received a total of 943 care applications, a four per cent increase compared to those received in August 2014. As to private law demand, Cafcass received a total of 2,954 new private law cases, which is an 18 per cent increase on August 2014 levels. The upward trends continue…

A parental order cannot be made upon the application of a single parent, the President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has held. In Re Z (A Child : Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act : parental order) a child was conceived in the USA with the father’s sperm and a third party donor’s egg implanted in an American surrogate mother. The father then returned to this country, bringing the child with him, and applied for a parental order, under which the child would be treated in law as his child. However, the President held that a parental order can only be made on the application of “two people” and therefore the application failed. The case included a discussion of the concept of ‘reading down’ in the context of the Human Rights Act.

And finally, the Magistrates’ Association has warned that criminal courts charges introduced in April ‘punish domestic violence victims’. The criminal courts charge ranges from £150 for anyone who pleads guilty to a summary offence at a magistrates’ court to as much as £1,000 for those convicted by magistrates after a trial of a more serious offence. In the Crown Court the charge ranges from £900 for a guilty plea to up to £1,200 for conviction after trial. The Association’s national chairman argues that by taking money out of poorer families’ incomes in domestic violence cases where the parties reconcile, both partners – victim and perpetrator – are being penalised, an outcome that is unjust. Another unfortunate result of this badly thought-out charging scheme.

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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    1. Helen Lesak says:

      Please can you tell mw if there is any movement in the family courts or amongst CAFCAS workers to identify, define and acknowledge the existence of the pernicious and insidious Parental Alienation Syndrome, otherwise known as Implacable Hostility or Pathogenic Parenting.
      How can it be ignored that a child cuts out a parent and refuses, thereafter to have any contact whatsoever with him.
      Who can targeted parents, turn to for help to protect lost children who are victims of this emotional abuse by the other parent. It is complex but very well documented and yet, it sees, totally ignored by CAFCAS. Can they have more training on PAS or Pathogenic Parenting so that the judges can protect families from this unnecessary “death” or a healthy relationship.
      Any help, advice, guidance or support you could give would be very much appreciated.
      I have written to Judge Munby too.
      Thank you.

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