Unimpeachable parents, domestic abuse failings and more

Family Law|January 26th 2018

A week in family law

It’s not been that quiet for news, but I’m only going to concentrate on three stories this week.

Local authorities should “think long and hard before embarking upon care proceedings against otherwise unimpeachable parents”, the President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has said. The comment was made in a case relating to a four-year-old boy who is profoundly neurologically disabled with a life-limiting condition. The local authority issued care proceedings in relation to him in February 2017, over concerns that his parents had been “uncooperative, rude and aggressive and intimidating of medical and nursing staff”, and that due to the lack of co-operation from the parents, and repeated allegations about the carers, it had been impossible to implement a care package of support for the boy. As a result, the authority alleged, the boy would suffer significant harm. A care order was made in April 2017, but the local authority subsequently applied to the court for it to be discharged, after it found that the care being given to the boy by his parents, with the supporting care package, was meeting his needs. The President granted the application.

I liked the postscript to his judgment:

“When I sent this judgment to the parties in draft, I asked for up-to-date news of [the boy]. His parents’ response, which obviously delighted me, was that he “remains stable and largely comfortable at home” and “Whilst he continues to have dystonic episodes they are not as frequent or as severe as in the past.” They also sent me, for which I am grateful, a heart-warming photograph of the family by the Christmas tree.”

A happy ending, or at least as happy as one could hope for.

“Domestic abusers told to say sorry to partner by police”.

So went a headline in The Telegraph this week, which continued:

“Police are dealing with domestic abuse cases by simply making the abuser say sorry to their partner on the doorstep”.

This actually relates to a review into sex discrimination law published by the Fawcett Society, the charity that campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights. I’ve had a quick look at the review (you can find it here), and whilst I can’t see any reference in it to doorsteps, there is a serious point here, although domestic abuse is only a small part of what the review covers. The point is that the review found that the police aren’t always doing the job you hope they would do when it comes to domestic abuse. Firstly, it found that the police are more likely to close domestic abuse cases due to evidential difficulties, compared with other violent offences. Secondly, the Review Panel received evidence that a worrying number of domestic violence incidents are resolved using “street level” restorative justice, which can often be little more than an apology. The review recommended that guidance be strengthened to make clear that “street level” restorative justice should not be used in cases of domestic abuse or sexual violence, and data should be collected to ensure that forces are held accountable. Agreed.

And finally, I began with the President, and I will end with him. This week he treated us to the latest exciting instalment of his View from the President’s Chambers, which have kept us informed about the on-going process of reform of the family justice system, since Sir James became President five years ago. Edition 18 is all about the new specialist Financial Remedies Courts, which were announced back in December (OK, I lied about it being exciting), including where the courts are likely to be piloted. The View also includes a new Form A, which is to be used for all types of financial remedy application. Now, as someone who recalls how simple the old application form used to be back in the day, the new form comes as a bit of a shock. Whilst I am quite used to legal forms expanding exponentially (I think, for example, of the way legal aid applications increased from 3 sides of A4, to something that would give War and Peace a run for its money), it does worry me that a large proportion of these forms are going to have to be completed by litigants who don’t have the benefit of legal assistance – I only hope that their complexity will not put people off from proceeding with legitimate claims, at the first hurdle.

Have a good weekend.

 

Author: John Bolch

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.

Comments(3)

  1. rumble says:

    I read these feeds every day . I don’t see reform. I would like to state that my education was fair and i got good grades . However, navigating the part 3 5 9 10 . or whatever it is , is the most daunting thing ever. There are cpr rules and family rules but none of them tell you the correct form to complete. Even if you eventually find the correct form and work your way through legal processes that you have no clue about, you are stopped at every hurdle. The judges always look to the represented party . You don’t get a word in edgeways. The system is grossly unfair, as if you have no legal support you just don’t stand a chance. As for making applications, when you do, they get ignored, and then you get ridiculed for making loads of applications. You cannot win. You go through the most frustrating biased system this so called ‘great’ COUNTRY has to offer, then you are just left without anything, heart broken, un compensated, and you feel that the criminal crook wins on all counts. He does, he will and nothing will change . I have never come across such biased, dismissive and ignorant parties that are supposed to uphold law in all my life. If your thinking of taking on a crook , your wasting your time. It is and was the most stressfull, annoying legal help i ever tried to get. God only knows how many woman have been crucified in this way, even with evidence. Reform is needed and equal arms. If he has the money to pay for cars , then he has the money to pay for legal services orders. Dismissed on all accounts . Anybody from the outside would think ‘conspiracy’ and turn to the barr and the sra. Don’t bother, its a conforming, non adhering system that fails . DON’T DO IT, It will kill and anger you so much, it will put years on you .
    (*Comment moderated)

  2. Sue says:

    I am completely in agreement the Form E we proved all the lies and deficiencies and they still dismissed true case. Completely corrupt. Other party continues holidays, cars, legal representation and doesn’t give his son a penny. I pay for everything but he gets shared care how does that work? Biased completely. It’s the injustice of it which is debilitating !

  3. Never again says:

    The local authorities, they can drive anyone around the bed. This is no suprise, they grind you down to a point, where you know its illigal, including others involved. The form system is endless, I agree with the above comment as well I think she has said it all exept where dishonesty can play a big roll in obtaining children by deception, trials which are unforgiveable and they wonder why family s hit the rrecording is to show the evidence one day. Our COUNTRY can break every act and regulations and Still walk free, While children and parents are ignored and subjected to abuse. They wonder why nobody believes they have good intensions, maybe back in 1949, its become the 2nd Aus country from many years ago. It can bê a frightening experience especially for children as there wishings and feelings are never looked at , some abused by the very People, as long as it ticks along as normal hoping nobody notices how many cases are going through. The English law is there for a reason and PR.
    If you can avoid the family court do so for your own sanity, as costs will keep coming, from all directions especially with local authorities and councils.
    Great wall of lies and denial

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