About the Family Law Week blog
The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Anyone can practice as a private family law mediator and can have gone on any course by any provider (or indeed none at all). Mediators may also be qualified as lawyers, social workers or counsellors but this is not compulsory. The lack of regulation of mediators is not satisfactory as the quality of mediators in the private field varies from excellent to poor and is not regulated by a core professional body. However, in order to take on public funded cases they have to be approved to the LSC standard which is usually done by the following route. Mediators undertake a foundation mediation course by a provider accredited by the UK College of Family Mediators. There are five providers who run family mediation courses to the standards of the UK College of Family Mediators. These are National Family Mediation (NFM), Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Hertfordshire Family Mediation and Key Mediation.
The foundation course usually contains five modules taken over the course of a year. The trainee must then complete a period of supervision taking cases from induction through to agreement and writing a portfolio relating core criteria to evidence from cases. On satisfactory completion of a portfolio it will be signed off by the supervisor and sent to the UK College of Family Mediators to be assessed. If passed, the mediator is deemed suitably qualified to undertake public funded mediations by the LSC. College membership, assessment and continuing professional development is specified as a requirement (except for members of the equivalent Law Society family mediation group) by the Legal Services Commission for family mediators who wish to work with publicly funded clients in England and Wales.
Therefore mediators accredited by the UK College of Family Mediators or who have completed a mediation course with one of the UK College’s approved providers and/or those who take on LSC mediations have been trained well. This does not mean that they are all excellent mediators nor that mediators without college approval do not do a good job but it is at least an assurance of a standard of basic and ongoing training and accreditation.
Monday, 26 November 2007
Sunday, 25 November 2007
Friday, 23 November 2007
Reunite say that this year they have recorded a 22% increase on child abductions in the first half of this year compared with 2006.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Joanne Harris, formerly of Garden Court Chambers, has also been appointed as a Circuit Judge and is sitting in Watford. She is the first of my contemporaries to be appointed to the Circuit Bench and whilst it will be a very great pleasure to address her as Your Honour it will also be more than a little weird and makes me feel ever so slightly old & grown up.
The Children Act 2004 is now fully in force & introduced a number of initiatives including the Children's Commissioner, the ContactPoint Information Database, the Safeguarding Children's Boards & the Children & Young People's Plan. Nick Armstrong & Eleanor Wright have written a helpful commentary on the only reported case on the Act so far - Re LH & MH . For an overview of the main provisions of the Act see the guide on 4 Brick Court's website .
It is difficult to see from this case (albeit the decision was obviously based on the facts of the particular case) how an application for permission to revoke is ever going to meet the high standard of ‘arguable case’ which Wilson LJ has prescribed in Warwickshire.
An updated article considering this case and the related case of
Re P (on leave to oppose adoption applications) can be found on 4 Brick Court's website .
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
A mother's decision to put a child conceived during a one-night stand
up for adoption has turned into a legal dilemma over parental rights
The woman, 20, has told the court of appeal she does not want anyone
to know the identity of the father, a work colleague. However, her
local authority believes her family and the father should be
approached to see if they are willing and able to look after the baby girl, who is now 17 weeks old.
A county court has already ordered that the woman's parents and the father should know. Yesterday three appeal court judges were asked to reverse that order. The local authority is preparing to take the child into care after receiving a report that she was "abandoned" by the mother at the hospital where she was born.
Eleanor Hamilton QC, representing the mother, said she had not told
her parents or the father about her pregnancy because she did not want them to know. "This girl was unable to bring herself to tell the
parents and drove herself to hospital in the dead of night to have the child.
"She is a perfectly ordinary girl in a job she loves, who is living
her own life. That should be taken into account by the court." Ms Hamilton said the mother lived away from her parents.
Although the parents now know about the child, she has consistently refused to name the father. Ms Hamilton said: "It was, on the account given by the mother, a one-night stand with a fellow employee while
both were on the rebound having broken up with long-term partners.
"He is now back with his fiancee, continuing with that relationship,
and has no idea she has given birth to a child."
Judith Rowe QC, representing the baby's legal guardian, said that if
the woman's family could not help or were unsuitable, then the father and his family would be approached. Ms Rowe said the local authority believed the child should be brought up by the family if possible.
Lord Justice Thorpe, who led the panel of three judges, said: "That sounds doctrinaire. It is difficult to imagine a more dysfunctional family than this."
A court order prevents identification of the mother and child, the
local authority and where the case occurred. Judgment was reserved.
On a similar point in Re L (2007) was a case where the local authority needed guidance as to whether they should attempt to contact the natural father before placing the child for adoption. The mother claimed that she did not have any information about his identity of whereabouts. Initially Munby J had directed that the mother should be asked once more for information at a hearing, but as that did not result in anything concrete he concluded that nothing further should be done to pursue the father.
Monday, 12 November 2007
The Government has announced its plans to introduce new legislation dealing with services for vulnerable children & children in care following on from the Care Matters consultation & Green & White Papers. The main elements of the Children & Young Persons Bill will consist of provisions:
- Giving pilot local authorities the power to test a different model of organising social care by commissioning services from ‘Social Work Practices’ and enabling regulation of these practices;
- Increasing the focus on the transparency and quality of care planning and ensuring that the child’s voice is heard when important decisions that affect their future are taken;
- Increasing schools’ capacity to address the needs of children in care, including placing the role of the designated teacher on a statutory footing and ensuring that children in care do not move schools in Year 10 and 11 except in exceptional circumstances;
- Ensuring that young people are not forced out of care before they are ready, by giving them a greater say over moves to independent living and ensuring they retain support and guidance as long as they need it; and
- Improving the quality and stability of placements for children in care, securing higher placement standards, ensuring that children in care and custody are visited regularly.
All sounds very laudible. No further information available as yet as to that old devil the detail.