A week in family law
It was reported this week that Theresa May has pledged to create a new aggravated offence when domestic violence is directed towards a child, in order to allow perpetrators to be given longer sentences. She also confirmed that a Conservative government would introduce a statutory definition for domestic violence and establish a special commissioner to stand up for victims, all of which confirms what we have already seen in the Tory manifesto. She is quoted as saying: “we will bring in a single piece of domestic violence legislation with a clear definition of domestic violence – so that we eradicate this abuse in our country.” Sorry, but no single piece of legislation will eradicate domestic abuse, and to suggest that it will is at best misleading to the electorate, and at worst incredibly naïve.
Two sad cases in the news this week confirm once more just what difficult decisions judges dealing with family cases can be faced with.
Firstly, a mother has asked the Court of Protection to give doctors permission to stop providing life-support treatment to her severely ill daughter. The woman, who is in her 70s, says that her daughter, who is in her 50s, has suffered from Huntington’s disease for more than 20 years, and shows no awareness of her surroundings. She says that medical evidence shows that her daughter is in the end stages of life, and that relatives and doctors agree that life-support treatment should stop. The case will be heard by Mr Justice Peter Jackson on 22 June.
Meanwhile, and in a similar vein, the Charlie Gard case continues. The Supreme Court has reported that his parents’ legal representatives intend to seek permission to appeal to the Court. The report states: “The Court is aware of the urgency of the matter and it is currently anticipated that a panel of three Supreme Court Justices will sit on the afternoon of Thursday 8 June 2017 to decide whether or not to grant permission to appeal based on submissions from the parties. In the interim, the Court of Appeal has ordered a stay until midnight on 8th June, or a further order of the Supreme Court.” If permission to appeal is granted, a further hearing date will be set to consider the substantive appeal.
I’m sure I am not the only one glad not to be a judge in one of these cases.
Moving on, the phrase ‘until death do us part’ took on an entirely new meaning this week (or perhaps no meaning at all), at least for me. Ignorant of the fact that posthumous marriage was possible under French law, I was surprised to hear that a French policemen who was killed earlier this year in an Isis attack has been married to his civil partner. I’m not quite sure what to think of changing a person’s status after death without their permission, but I suppose that if no one is adversely affected by it then why not, if it brings some solace to the surviving ‘spouse’?
And finally, the prize for the strangest case of the week must go to the one involving an Indian man who divorced his wife because she switched off his fan. That infraction on her part was enough for him to instantly divorce her by triple talaq. All of that, though, was nearly three years ago, and now the man wants his (ex?) wife out of the house so that he can remarry. Bizarrely, however, the local legal advice centre thinks that the best arrangement would be for the wife to remain in the family home, even if the man remarries. Somehow, I can’t see it happening over here…
Have a good weekend.