Cafcass plans, a biased system and more

Family Law|August 19th 2016

A week in family law

It’s been another blissfully quiet week, as many family judges and lawyers enjoy the summer vacation sunshine, although there have still been one or two things to talk about…

Anthony Douglas, the Chief Executive of Cafcass, has said that Cafcass is working with the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services to try to tackle the issue of high demand for care proceedings. He said that Cafcass is eager to do more pre-proceedings work with local authorities, so that children who do not need to be subject to care proceedings can be identified and “stepped-down”, and looked after in the community, with the focus on child protection planning. He also said that while in some areas up to 10 per cent of children a local authority has concerns about are placed at home with their parents, in some other parts of the country the provision is not used at all. He hoped that standardising the approach would lead to reduced demand in some parts of the country. As I said here, these courses of action could be good ideas, but I worry that they may be dictated more by cost considerations, rather than child welfare.

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, has claimed that the family justice system favours women. In a speech to the ‘International Conference on Men’s Issues’ he said that:

“Many women use their children as a stick to beat the father with, either because they’re bitter about the failed relationship, for financial reasons, or because they’ve moved on and it’s easier for them if their new partner takes on the role of father to their children.”

Whilst this may happen, it is obviously the fault of the women, not the system. As I have explained many times, and explain again here, the system is not biased against men or women. It merely reflects how society views mothers and fathers, as it should, and it is not the job of the family justice system to change society.

Lawyers for former model Christina Estrada have returned to the High Court to inform Mrs Justice Roberts that Ms Estrada has yet to receive any funds from the award made in her favour by Mrs Justice Roberts in June. Mrs Justice Roberts had ordered her former husband Sheikh Walid Juffali to pay to Ms Estrada a total of £53 million, by 29 July. However, Juffali died from cancer a week before the payment was due. Mrs Justice Roberts determined that there was no need to issue enforcement proceedings at this stage, as she was confident that Juffali’s estate would meet the award.

A mother was jailed for two weeks for refusing to testify against her husband, in a domestic violence case in Scotland. The mother had alleged that he had struck her on the head, which caused her to fall and suffer an injury. The husband was then charged with assaulting her. However, she said in court that she couldn’t swear that her husband had hit her. As a result, her husband was found not guilty. The mother was then held to be in contempt of court. She was sentenced to 14 days in prison, although she was released after four nights in prison, after her solicitor successfully lodged an appeal against the conviction. The case has caused outrage in some quarters, but it is a complex issue. For a sensible discussion of the difficulties, see this post by Amy Foweather, a solicitor at Stowe Family Law’s office in Harrogate.

And finally, my favourite story of the week has to been the one about the Indian man who wants to divorce his mother-in-law. There must be a Les Dawson joke in there somewhere…

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. Carole Myall says:

    I disagree with the statement made by Philip Davies it is often shown that perpetrators mainly male still get contact rights against the mothers wishes, and often the children’s wishes. Statements like this seem to encourage the view that domestic violence is acceptable in a modern society. The contact arrangements should put the Children at the centre not the parent regardless of gender, this does not appear to be occurring and children are being murdered because of this.

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