Welcome to the Roundup, where we correct, clarify and comment on media reports of family court cases, explain and comment on published family court judgments and highlight other transparency news
MEDIA COVERAGE OF FAMILY COURT MATTERS
Many media outlets (including internationally) – reported the final decision from proceedings about the children of the ruler of Dubai and his ex-wife, following findings of sustained abuse, phone-hacking and arranging the abduction of two of his adult daughters. Sir Andrew Macfarlane has ordered that the children (14 and 10) live with their mother, with their father’s relationship with them limited to phone calls, and his rights to share decision making about them severely curtailed. Two judgments have since been published. The publication decision judgment explains the (unprecedented) decision to publish the welfare judgment, without anonymisation, in the particular circumstances. Including the particular risks this family face in the future; the views of the mother, the older child and the Cafcass guardian; and the publicity to date. The ‘welfare’ judgment itself is here. Blog to follow. We last wrote about the earlier stages here:
The Guardian – Linked readers of this report of the interim findings from ‘the Cass Review’ for NHS England, of the Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust Gender Identity Dysphoria Service (GIDS), to a High Court judgment overturned last year. And to the report itself. A link to both to the high court and the Court of Appeal judgment which overturned it would have been ideal. (See also the Observer editorial view here).
NEWLY PUBLISHED JUDGMENTS FROM FAMILY LAW CASES
Re D (Leave to Apply to Revoke Placement Orders)  and A & B (Children) (Contested Adoption)  – Julie Doughty explained Court of Appeal and family court judgments respectively in Two new cases where parents try to stop adoptions. Re B (A Child) (Adequacy of Reasons)  has also just been published, explaining why the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against a Placement Order, featuring additional comments on the role judgments should play in transparent decision making:
Re K (Forced Marriage Protection Orders; Abuse of process)  – Georgia Fineberg explained a family court finding that a paternal aunt’s applications for forced marriage protection orders for her nieces were part of a campaign of abuse of their mother by the paternal family. See Re K – When a Forced Marriage Protection Order Application Isn’t All It Seems:
Re N (A Child) (Termination of Children’s Guardian)  – Judgment from a successful application to terminate the appointment of a Guardian in unusual circumstances. Andrew Pack at Suesspicious Minds explained here.
J & K v L (Schedule 1: older children)  – Judgment from a mother’s application for financial provision for children, now aged 20 and 18. The judgment features extensive litigation, delay including due to a judge’s illness, and passing reference without details to a concern that the mother made allegations that the court didn’t find proved.
IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
The Competition and Markets Authority Final Report – Martin Barrow explained the report’s recommendations on the state of the so-called ‘children’s care market-place’ as well as what the report doesn’t say, ahead of the forthcoming Care Review Report. As he observes, ‘One of the most contentious aspects of the care system for children and young people is the extensive use of private companies to provide foster care services and children’s homes.’
Kinship care – A new report from the charity Kinship set out their vision for kinship care ahead of the forthcoming Care Review recommendations. See Out of the Shadows: a vision for kinship care in England which also featured on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. Blog to follow we hope. See too this February Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) report based on freedom of information requests, saying 5,500 children currently in care might have been able to be with their families abroad if local authorities had explored those placements.
The House of Lords select committee inquiry on limited aspects of adoption – Continued to hear evidence on aspects of the existing adoption legal and policy framework following the Children and Families Act 2014. Including its implementation and effectiveness; whether the Act has enabled faster, more secure and stable adoptions which are in the best interests of the child; whether reforms have made the family justice system faster, simpler and less adversarial; the SEND review; and the Government’s work on flexible working and shared parental leave:
No fault divorce and the Family Solutions Group campaign – The Family Solutions Group (a multi disciplinary sub group of the former judicial private law working group who now have their own website), launched a campaign for a government- backed, integrated, family systems approach to family separation, with children at the heart, to coincide with the arrival of no fault divorce from 6 April. What About Me? Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation was published in autumn 2020, just before the final report of the private law working group in December 2020. We commented here at the time.
Teena Dhanota-Jones set out the main changes between the old divorce law and the new in one handy guide. BBC Radio 4 Law In Action featured Resolution on how the new law will serve families. See also Jon Armstrong’s blog:
31 March 2022 at 6pm – Sign up here for ‘the Great Transparency Debate’ hosted by Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors and featuring Transparency Project Chair, Lucy Reed.
6 April 2022 – The Family Justice Council Annual Conference – ‘Private Law – a proportionate and safe approach’ will be hosted by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Chair of the Family Justice Council, in Bristol. The annual Bridget Lindley Memorial Lecture, delivered by Helen Adam, chair of the Family Solutions working group will be a focal point. Registration details here.
8 April 2022 – Deadline for responding to the IMPRESS (the Leveson-compliant press regulator) consultation on proposed changes to its Standards Code and guidance.
28 July 2022 – HOLD THE DATE – The Family Justice Young People’s Board annual Voice of the Child Conference is now fixed for 28 July 2022. Details will follow.
Ongoing – A Family Rights Group survey of UK kinship carers is open here with a view to feeding into the All Party Parliamentary Group legal aid inquiry.
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