About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Biking for Children In Care

I am sorry the blog has been a bit neglected in June. For some of the time I have been off cycling 250 miles to raise money for the Who Cares? Trust with Biking for Children in Care 2009 - in the Loire Valley. This is the 4th year I have joined the team which has raised a fantastic £290,000 to put towards improving the lives of children in care. I was in great company as usual as the picture shows - Judy Bishton, Barbara Hopkin, Deborah Marsden, Claire Holland, Kate Tindale and myself were the family lawyer contingent. The whole group numbered about 50 and included many Cafcass Officers & Guardians, our friends, family, judges as well as psych on a bike Cosmo Hallstrom - and if they weren't cycling they were in the support team who fed us and made sure we had water and rescued us from breakdowns. We set a record this year (unintentionally) by cycling 90 miles in one day!

At any one time there are at least 74,000 children separated from their families living in residential or foster care. The Who Cares? Trust was established in 1992 to help address the needs of these children. They work to improve their day to day lives and to ensure every child in care receives the support they need to enjoy life and achieve. They are best known for Who Cares? Magazine which reaches 25,000 young people in care every quarter. Current activities also include projects to help improve the employment opportunities and educational attainment of children in care.

Last year the Biking for Children in Care event raised over £40,000 for a project to help foster carers and residential care workers to better support the children in their care and help them make informed decisions about education that will improve their life outcomes. This year money raised from the event will support a highly important project which will improve the literacy skills of children in care and help them express themselves through creative writing and will also support the general running costs of the charity.

Donating through Justgiving is quick, easy and totally secure. It’s also the most efficient way to sponsor me: The Who Cares? Trust gets your money faster and, if you’re a UK taxpayer, Justgiving makes sure 25% in Gift Aid, plus a 3% supplement, are added to your donation. And if you don't want to sponsor me and my husband there are plenty of other options below!

Jacqui & John's Justgiving page
Claire's Justgiving page
Judy Bishton#s Justgiving page
Kate Tindale's Justgiving page
Deborah Marsden's Justgiving page
Barbara Hopkin's Justgiving page
Wells Street Cafcass Justgiving page

Monday, 22 June 2009

"Tycoon"s passport seized in divorce proceedings

The Sunday Times has reported that a property developer tycoon has had his passport seized to prevent him fleeing abroad after he claimed that he was penniless and not worth £400m. Mr Justice Charles reportedly made an order allowing the Sunday Times to report on the case and

"There is a £400m starting figure. I expect some documentation to show where it has all gone. There isn’t any at the moment”

Friday, 19 June 2009

Baby P - Prosecution Appeal has 'No Realistic Prospect' of Increasing Sentences Imposed

Baroness Scotland last month considered whether to refer the Baby P matter to the appeal courts after "widespread outrage" at the perceived leniency of the sentences imposed.

After consideration, the AG is now of the view that such an appeal brought by the prosecution in an attempt to increase the sentences would have no realistic prospect of success, writes Afua Hirsch of the Guardian. The sentences, says the AG, were within the appropriate guidelines.

Sentences of indeterminate length for "public protection"were imposed for the mother and the lodger following conviction. In the case of the mother a minimum term of 5 years was specified.

Fewer than 50 defendants who have received an IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) have been released at the minimum term date.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Research into Children Act Published

As we reach the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Children Act 1989, Solicitors Mischon de Reya will today publish research on the experience of children who are caught up in court proceedings when their parents separate. In many respects this study will perhaps tells us nothing surprising: Sandra Davis from Mischon's summarises the findings thus “This research demonstrates that the legal process does not work when parents use their children as emotional footballs. Not only are warring mothers and fathers damaging their children, they are costing the tax payer millions which could be spent so much more constructively". She proposes that greater use should be made of parenting classes, to educate parents about children's needs and how to co-parent after separation. Of course this was one of the intentions behind the contact activity directions enacted by the Children & Adoption Act 2006, but in practice the measures are little used because the courses are not available.

Some of the more striking figures contained in the research are:
- 19% of those surveyed felt they had been ‘used’ by their parents
- 17% of children have been involved in violent bust ups between divorcing parents
- 42% witnessed aggressive rows - 49% were forced to play parent and comfort a crying mother or father.
- A quarter (24%) admit they were forced by one parent to lie to the other
- A further 15% were asked to spy on their mother or father
- 21% of those surveyed said they had no faith in their future relationships and would never get married themselves.

The study is based on a survey of 2,000 individuals who'd experienced a divorce as a child in the last 20 years (and, one assumes, are now adults), so it's not clear how reliably this research can paint a picture of children's experience in, say, the last five years. But food for thought nonetheless...

At the time of writing the research has not been published, but readers may want to check on the Mischon De Reya website. I will post a specific link when available.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Go Girls!

Yes Ladies, we can have it all. The Times publishes today an interesting piece about Judge Sylvia de Bertodano who has recently been appointed part time as a CJ.

Postscript 9 June: See also Rachel Langdale QC's letter to the Editor today in response.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Panorama on Southall

The BBC's Panorama strand last night featured a sympathetic programme on Dr David Southall in the wake of his recent failed attempt to reverse the GMC's decision to strike him off the medical register.

You can watch the programme on the BBC iPlayer service using this link