• Correcting, clarifying or commenting on media reports of family court cases

  • Explaining or commenting on published judgments of family court cases

  • Highlighting other transparency news


The Guardian – We explained the existing law and questioned the value of an MP’s well-meaning proposal to change that law as reported in the Guardian (in response to the entirely compelling argument that matrimonial assets should be awarded minimally, if at all, to a person convicted of the attempted murder of their former spouse). See A gasp factor and a gulp factor: bad conduct and the family assets:


Transparency Positive 

BBC News – Responded quickly and constructively to our request they expand their definition of the legal test for removing (here babies) under interim care orders in this report.

We also took the opportunity to explain and discuss that legal test (from the point of view of a lawyer and a parent) in: What is the legal test for taking a baby away before a final care order is made?:


Linker of the Week 

The Guardian – Owen Bowcott linked readers from this report of Judge Mary Lazarus’ comments (on finding herself unable to make a Secure Accommodation Order for a child due to lack of beds) to the judgment itself:



Care Appointments – Elected not to link readers to the same family court judgment (published 9th October) despite publishing their report on the 11th. (This Local London seem to have broken the story on the day the judgment was published. Though the caption below their photo saying the hearing had been that afternoon seems incorrect)



PM v CF – Example of a rare case in which exceptional facts (including relocation to a confidential address under the protected persons scheme) justified termination of a father’s parental responsibility.  The father in this case was serving a long sentence for a sustained, serious assault on the mother and ultimately did not oppose the order being made. Interesting point: not only is it very rare to terminate a parent’s parental responsibility – it is not even legally possible (apart from through adoption) for mothers or for fathers whose parental responsibility comes through their status as the spouse of the mother. In cases involving a mother or married father the court’s powers are limited to making injunctions to stop or curtail the exercise of parental responsibility, but it cannot be got rid of entirely:


Leicestershire County Council v AB & Ors –  Judgment published from a care proceedings decision before the summer break, in which Cafcass and a council were criticised.  Community Care reported last week here:


A cluster of cases/judgments this week (and last week) concerning detained teenagers

Re T in the Court of Appeal – We’re mentioning this one again (on lack of secure beds and the use of the inherent jurisdiction) because we think the public and practitioners could still benefit from some clearer explanations. Blog to follow on this and some of the other examples below too:

Re D – The Supreme Court proceedings are now available for catch up viewing here. We flagged this appeal (against a decision that a 16 year old’s  ‘confinement’ in a residential unit wasn’t a deprivation of his liberty where his parents consented) last week, noting it wasn’t available at that point, after an initial live streaming:

The case of a vulnerable teenager at Alder Hey hospital due to lack of secure beds – Several media outlets reported the unusual facts and comments by Hayden J, when making an interim care order in the High Court last week.  We don’t think there is a published judgement. (These are not usually published from interim decisions unless the judge thinks they should be, in the public interest). See BBC News, the Metro and the Liverpool Echo:

O (A child : No Available Secure Accommodation) – The judgment behind reports of Her Honour Mary Lazarus’ comments (on finding herself unable to make a Secure Accommodation Order for a child at risk, due to shortage of available secure beds), was published.  (Though only the Guardian linked to it. See Linker of the Week /Linkless above):

The case of ‘Bethany’ – There’s no available judgment from what may have been a free standing reporting restriction order application by Walsall council about blogs from the father of an autistic teenager detained under the Mental Health Act. Bethany’s case featured last week on BBC File on Four: Transforming Care Is It Working? following social media publications. The Times reported yesterday. Bethany’s Father has said on twitter that he will be blogging an update, now the court has permitted him to do so (subject to certain safeguards to prevent Bethany being identified). Including on the efforts of his pro bono (acting unpaid) legal (etc) team:



The new Transparency Project Coordinators – The successful applicants for the Transparency Project’s new coordinator position were announced. More information in A Big Step for The Transparency Project here:


SAVE THE DATE: 22nd November 2018 – The Transparency Project will launch a new guidance note on domestic violence in the family courts at a London based event. Confirmed speakers so far include Mr Justice Keehan, Bob Greig (Only Dads and Only Mums), Sarah Parsons (CAFCASS), Dr Freda Gardner (psychologist) and Sam King (QC).

Legal bloggers pilot: UPDATE – There is now a new FP301 form which is identical except that it invites legal bloggers to submit links to the blogs they have posted for evaluation purposes only. We’re not sure if this was prompted by our attempt to set up a survey here but in any event we welcome this sign that an evaluation will take place. At the time of writing the new form isn’t yet on the gov.uk site, but we have added it to our legal bloggers page.   For more on the pilot see Inaugural Legal Blogging Day and Day 2: Attending as a non-practising lawyers under the Transparency Project umbrella. The law on applying to exclude legal bloggers is here and the history of the project here.

The new Cafcass Framework for private law assessments – Cafcass published their new Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) to guide and improve social work assessments in private law proceedings. (See also FAQ’s and this news item). Here’s some of what we wrote in the lead up: “It blew up too soon for us” – CAFCASS explain their position on alienation (December 2017); A fork in the road – Cafcass and their pathways (January 2018); Cafcass, parental alienation and the law (January 2018). The new assessment framework is organised around four pathways – domestic abuse, harmful conflict, child contact refusal / resistance (including but not limited to alienating behaviours), and other harmful parenting. As one of the groups that had been involved in the consultation, we attended a briefing last week. The new framework (and the Cafcass vision – of a transparent, unified assessment framework, to build on and share) seemed to us to be well received. We’ll be keeping an eye out for fuller responses to the new framework:



Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinen via Creative Commons licence – with thanks