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A week like no other: domestic abuse courts, child maintenance, COVID-19 and divorce reform

Family law news: It has been a week quite unlike any that most of us have experienced in our lives. Our liberties have been restricted in a way that would have been unimaginable only weeks ago. And this could just be the beginning of a very long haul.

At a time like this family law news hardly seems important, unless of course, it relates to the virus and the response to it. I have nevertheless come up with four stories this week, only one of which falls into that category.

Domestic abuse courts

The Ministry of Justice (‘MoJ’) has said that it will shortly announce more details on specialised domestic abuse courts, after being given £5 million in the Budget to pilot them. Under the pilot, the courts will allow criminal and family matters to be considered together.

The MoJ commented:

“Integrated domestic abuse courts have real potential to reduce the trauma of court and improve outcomes for victims. We will announce more detailed proposals for the pilot shortly.”

The Law Society Gazette reports that the news has been greeted with caution by solicitors, with uncertainty as to how they will work.

However, Phil Bowen, director of the charity Centre for Justice Innovation is quoted as saying:

“It is vital for the courts to ensure that their response to domestic abuse is coordinated and integrated across criminal, family and civil matters and that the courts ensure that victims of domestic abuse are kept safe and given fairer access to justice and that perpetrators are held to account.”

Child Maintenance Service statistics

The Department for Work and Pensions has published the latest release of statistics on the Child Maintenance Service (‘CMS’), between January 2015 and December 2019.

The two main stories are that as at December 723,500 children were covered by Child Maintenance Service arrangements and that 68% of parents due to pay child maintenance through the Collect and Pay service (i.e. through the CMS) paid some maintenance in the quarter ending December 2019.

You can find the statistics here.

Coronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders

The President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane has issued guidance on compliance with child arrangements orders during the Coronavirus crisis.

He says:

During the current Coronavirus Crisis some parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangements Orders made by the Family Court have been understandably concerned about their ability to meet the requirements of these court orders safely in the wholly unforeseen circumstances that now apply.

This short statement is intended to offer advice but, as the circumstances of each child and family will differ, any advice can only be in the most general form.”

The guidance concludes:

“The key message should be that, where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child.”

You can find the guidance here.

Divorce Bill passes Lords

I would like to finish on a positive note for family law news.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which will finally bring in a long-awaited system of no-fault divorce, ended its passage through the House of Lords (where it was introduced) on Tuesday, when it had its third reading. It was presented to the House of Commons on Wednesday (in a ‘debate-less’ process known as the first reading there) and will have its second reading debate in the Commons on a date to be announced.

It is probably inevitable that the Coronavirus crisis will delay the Bill (the House of Commons rose early for Easter Recess), but at least progress is still being made.

Have a good weekend. Stay home if you can, and stay safe.

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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, with his content now supporting our divorce lawyers and child custody lawyers

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  1. Anon says:

    Allowing court managers and other staff to take the role of legal advisors as well as amalgamation of both civil and criminal hearings in a foreign jurisdiction, is effectively demolishing the ancient protections provided by English Common Law. Under English Criminal Law there must be evidence, or else a man must be found not-guilty. Under civil – there must be tangible evidence of contract, or else he is not liable. This is not what is happening in any courts today and especially the circus being labelled ‘family court’, where there is no judicial process at all. It is all fraud – they got away with massive oppression and fraud on the court with council tax and are now expanding the same void paperwork and abuse of power in order to render all people powerless against the state.

  2. M. Usman Khan says:

    Domestic Violence by Men Against Women and the Family Law:

    Domestic violence in the family is the biggest problem which ruin the family life and break the families apart, makes husband and wife separate and even divorced which then affect the children if there is any in the family and finally the innocent children will suffer the separation from one or their both parents and grow up without their parent’s love and care and they then grow up in the care of those who have some or even no relationship to them. Then what will be the life and the future of those children whom never grow up with their own parents or even have not seen one or both of them through out their childhood and it is because of one or both of their parent’s fault and then their innocent children will suffer because the primary carers are the parents and sadly they are not with them.

    Of course, the perpetrators should be punished by law who treat their life partners like slaves and become violent against them and have no care for their children no matter what will happen to them and where and with whom they will be growing up.

    But unfortunately, not every domestic violence case is real in every household and there are also some women that they make false allegations against their husbands just because they want to take revenge for something or they want the custody of their children for their oneself or they want their partner’s properties and money or they want the council house and the benefit money or even indefinite visas whom they married their partners abroad and came to the UK on spousal visas.

    The Police Service:

    For example when a woman wants to make false allegations against her partner for one of the reasons above and she then call the police to their household and when the police arrive then they just arrest her partner immediately without making any initial inquiry before arresting the man to see whether his partner’s allegations against him are true or false even when the police can’t find the evidence of any sort of violence that has taken place in that particular household. The man could be not at fault and he has not done anything to his wife and his wife allegations could be false against him. But unfortunately, the police arrest the man without asking any question or giving the chance to him that he can explain something to the police.

    Now the man has been arrested and taken to the police station then he is detained for several hours at the police station with no or very less food and water and the food that has given to the detainees is the type of food which no one will eat it outside also his mobile phone has been ceased as well.

    The police then will interview the man after several hours in custody which is normally recorded by video and audio both then the man whether will be charged or released on bail then he has to answer the bail on the given date and time on the bail sheet until the police make their investigation which often takes several months and that is all happening with a man who never committed a crime and there is no evidence against him at this stage. So his reputation has been ruined because of his arrest which could be a big impact on his business or job and a big impact on him in the society as well and metal stress, embarrassment, financial loss which he will suffer will be on the top and this is humiliation against lawful citizens in a democratic society like in the UK.

    Home Office’s Indefinite Visa Scheme:

    The Home Office has indefinite visa scheme to grant the visas within 90 days to whom they come from abroad on spousal visas and then they suffered the domestic abuse from their partners. But unfortunately, the Home Office never make their own investigation when the applicants apply for the indefinite visas because of the domestic violence to check whether their reports of the domestic violence against their partners are true or false even the police have closed the cases and the men were not charged for anything. Then in the result of that many innocent men’s life being ruined who married their wives abroad and brought them to this country on spousal visas with hope to have a good family life together and they don’t know that what their wives will do with them when they arrive in the UK. If the police make a proper inquiry to check whether the allegations are true or false against woman’s partner before arresting someone and at least there will be no false domestic violence cases at all for obtaining the indefinite visas. Similarly, if the Home Office conduct proper investigation before granting the indefinite visas then the number of applicants will significantly fall because there will be only genuine applicants applying for their indefinite visas and then innocent citizens will not be facing false allegations, arrests and detentions because of their female partners and their reputations will not be ruined in their daily life.

    The Social Services and their Child Care plan:

    If the family has children as well the the social services will definitely involve to remove the children from significant harm or emotionally harm when the domestic violence has taken place in the family and that is what they tell but the service should be provided to the children by them only in genuine cases of the domestic violence but they do the same in the bogus domestic abuse cases as well.

    When the social services have got a case in their hand the first thing they do to make husband and wife separate and tell them never meet and never contact each other because the social services are not there to solve the issue between husband and wife and bring the family together for the sake of their children that the children can grow up in the peaceful environment. But instead of doing the right thing they make the husband and wife separate and then tell the wife that her husband is totally against her and he is very angry with her and whenever he will see her and he definitely will harm her and if the woman got the children with her as well then they will tell her that her husband will harm the children as well so she is better to never meet him again even get the divorce from him and she doesn’t need him any more and we are always here to support her and her children with everything. When they meet her husband then they tell him you know that your wife will never come back to you again because she had enough from you so why don’t you just divorce her and you can see your children later anyway and this is the main reason that they make the family separate, so these types of negative comments that the social services are making is clearly hypocrisy and they are ruining the families like this also they are ruining the future of the children as well. Then they also try to push the allegations of one partner against other even they know the allegations are falsely made and there is no ground of anything because they want to make permanent separation or even divorce between husband and wife so this way they can separate the children from one parent and leave them with the other parent or place their children in the placement of foster carers or even they forcibly send the children for adaption that their own parents can never see them again.

    When the social services are going to push the wife’s false allegations against her husband and put them in the assessments as well to make them look like real then they also make some more false allegations themselves as well and then put them in the assessments to make the assessment to look even more terrifying for the things that never exist in the case neither the wife nor the have ever said it which will be in the assessments. Then the person will be shocked and thinking where these stories are coming from and all they want to do to make them permanently separate and to take their children away from one of parent or from both parents that none of the parents can see their children again.

    Child Proceedings and the Family Court:

    When the social services or the local authority take a case to the family court and the local authority solicitor will try very hard to convince the judge and tell the judge that the social services have a duty to protect the children from significant harms which will expose to them because of their parents misbehavior in the house especially the husband is violent towards his wife and the children are not safe with them even the husband has not done anything to his wife and he is a loving and caring husband and a loving and caring father as well and they never want to talk about this.

    In one case I have seen when the social services removed a woman’s child from her care as well then she frustrated and then she told the police that her allegation are false and her husband never been violent to her and he never harm his child as well and she is now fed up with the separation from him and she wants to reunite with him again to show that they are a loving and caring couple and their child can never be harm in their care and they both love their child very much. She even given a clear statement to her solicitor and told her solicitor that her allegations were false and she is happy to live back with her husband so why she will not get her child back. But unfortunately, her solicitor withheld her statement and she did not send it to the court and then her solicitor advised her to be in separation from her husband and pursue her false allegations against her husband and accuse him for whatever she can then she will have a better chance to get her child back. Which means a mother who made false allegations against her husband should have her child back and the father who is innocent and he has to lose his child and his wife too and then the husband has to go to the court and prove it there that he is actually innocent then why he cannot have his wife and his child back or at least to have his child back if his wife is going to stick with her false allegations and she wants to be separated from him.

    The wife doesn’t want to be separate from her husband and she wants her family life back with her husband and her child and they are pushing her for separation, is this the kind of advice given to the families by their solicitors and that is something which is not fair.

    Judges are often giving more time to the LA solicitors to talk in the family court and defendant’s solicitor is not given enough time to prove to the court that the defendant is actually a victim and he has not done anything and the judge is often making the decision upon social services application and statement.

    In addition, this family law in the UK needs some changes and their should a better one in place where people can get full justice and not to be favored one party on the other.

    That is the primary right of all children to grow up with their own parents and to have the love and care of them and no one will love the children of other people and care for them as their own parents and the children always need their both parents at the same time and their rights should not be abolished this way to remove them from their own biological parents. Not every parent is evil to harm their own children even their is sometime little dispute in the family unless someone has got metal problem or someone is a heavy drinker and then he/she become harmful to his/her family and the authorities should check the person’s background before believing in someone’s false allegations against a person.

    By M. Usman Khan

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