Children in need, fraudulent petitions and more

Family Law|November 10th 2017

A week in family law

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has dismissed media concerns over their decision to place a child in the care of a Muslim foster family, following an investigation by a senior social worker from the council. The allegations, which were made in the national press, included that the child had been fostered with Muslim carers who spoke only Arabic. The council said in a statement that the child was placed in an emergency situation following concerns she was at risk, and this was the urgent placement available. The statement went on to say that whilst it was correct that the foster carer’s first language is Arabic, her husband is White British born in the UK, her children’s first language is English and that is the language of the home. The local authority were satisfied that at all times the foster carers provided warm and appropriate care to the child, and had been impressed with the care and commitment shown by the carers to the child.  So, it just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read in newspapers. Who knew?

A report setting out measures being taken by the Government toward ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the ‘Istanbul Convention’) has been published by the Home Office. The Convention consists of 81 articles aimed at tackling violence against women and girls which focus on prevention, protection of victims, prosecution, and integrated policies. The report says that since signing the Convention in 2012 the Government has strengthened the law, introduced new protective tools, and issued a range of guidance and support for frontline professionals. The UK, it says, complies with the vast majority of the Convention’s articles and in most respects goes further than the Convention’s requirements. The Government will also bring forward a Domestic Abuse Bill, which will protect and support victims and make sure agencies effectively respond to domestic abuse.

Statistics for children in need, for the year to 31st March 2017, have been published by the Department for Education. As of March 2016 there were 394,400 children in need, but over the course of the year this fell to 389,430, a decrease 4,970, or 1.3 per cent. However, the number of children placed on protection plans is continuing to rise. As of 31st March there were 51,080 children on child protection plans, an increase of 770, or 1.5 per cent, on the 50,310 recorded in 2016. The figure is now 30.64 per cent higher than in March 2010, when it stood at 39,100. That is a huge increase in just seven years – no wonder Ray Jones, emeritus professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, said that the figures highlight a “crisis” in social care.

The President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has dismissed twenty-one fraudulent divorce petitions, on the application of the Queen’s Proctor. Sir James found that in each case the underlying proceedings were tainted by deception in relation to the address of either the petitioner or the respondent, and that the decrees, where decrees had been granted, were obtained by deception. Accordingly, the petitions were set aside, and all decrees made in the cases, whether decrees nisi or decrees absolute, were set aside. The report of the case does not, as far as I can see, explain the reason for the fraudulent petitions to be issued. However, the case is very reminiscent of one in 2014, when 180 petitions were fraudulently issued on behalf of Italian individuals, as it was much quicker for them to divorce over here rather than in Italy.

And finally, the biggest family law news story of the week can only be the one about the Egyptian wife who is seeking a divorce after only two weeks of marriage, because her husband does all of the household chores. Now, some might say that this wife doesn’t know when she is well off. Myself, I think the husband has got it coming to him, as he is clearly letting down the whole male sex. Next thing you know, wives will be expecting husbands to put the lid down after they’ve used the toilet…

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. Nan says:

    Firstly it shouldnt have taken this long to investigate.
    Secondly to many children are being injured and killed within the local authorities care under ‘child protection’taken on a risk that something may or may never happen. but only 1 reported in MSM.

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