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Judge allows publication of article about children in care

A judge has permitted the reporting of a child care case by a freelance journalist.

The case in question involves a mother whose severe mental health problems did, at times, make it unsafe for her to care for her children. The mother has had a number of children taken into care in the past, but is now able and well.

The mother speaks publicly about her experiences on and offline, and, with her full support, the journalist applied to the court for permission to incorporate her story into an in-depth article about the care system.

Should heterosexual couples be able to enter into civil partnerships?

A campaign is mounting in the UK to allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships.

Under UK law, same-sex couples can now have a civil partnership or marry under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. However, opposite-sex couples are not afforded the same options, and cannot make a relationship official through any means but marriage.

However, with a vast number of people turning their backs on marriage, the ability to formalise long-term relationships through other legal means has never been more important.

Privacy in Family Law Proceedings

The question of privacy in family law proceedings was considered by the courts recently in the high profile case of Liam Gallagher and Nicole Appleton. Both had lived their lives in the public eye for many years and indeed courted attention (no pun intended) but, when it came to their divorce, they wanted to keep a very low profile.

They met in 2000 when Gallagher was lead singer in ‘Oasis’ and Appleton was with girl band ‘All Saints’. They married in 2008. In 2013 their marriage collapsed following revelations that Gallagher was expecting a child with an American journalist with whom he’d had an affair. They divorced in 2014 and have since then been trying to sort a financial settlement. Where discussions and negotiations are unsuccessful, it is left to the court to decide on financial settlement and the proceedings issued in this case for that purpose were the subject of that recent publicity.

Couple cleared of child abuse unlikely to see their child again

A mother and father wrongly accused of child-abuse are unlikely to see their child ever again.

The parents, who brought their baby to the hospital three years ago after it started bleeding from the mouth, have been cleared of all charges after it was discovered that the bruising and suspected fractures were caused by blood disease and vitamin D deficiency.

During investigations and the subsequent trial, the baby was put into foster care. However, as the child has now been formally adopted, it is unlikely that the family will be reunited.

Landmark rulings could open the floodgates for divorce settlements to be revisited

This week, the Supreme Court found in favour of two women whose ex-husband’s lied about the extent of their wealth during the divorce process.

The rulings could make many divorcees nervous about the legitimacy of their settlement agreements, even if their divorce took place years ago.

Because of the landmark decisions, Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil – who both claim that they were deliberately misled by their ex-husbands – are now likely to see their settlements revised and increased.

As marriage rates collapse among middle classes, it has never been more important for cohabiting couples to protect their rights

According to a recent study by the Marriage Foundation, the middle classes are turning their backs on marriage.

While the vast majority (84%) of middle earning families with young children were still marrying in 1994, only 59% were married in 2012. That’s a drop of 25% over 18 years. In the 1990’s, this trend away from marriage was, on the whole, confined to low-income groups. However, if the research is correct, this now seems to be spreading.

Of course, today the UK benefits from a variety of diverse family structures, and, for many, the idea of marriage has become both outdated and unnecessary. However, according to the Marriage Foundation: “When a social-economic group turns away from marriage, we see a corresponding hike in the rates of family breakdown” and that is worrying.

Family judge rules that single father has no rights over his own son

In a recent child custody case, Britain’s top family judge has ruled that a single father has no rights over his own son. The child was conceived via surrogacy in the United States, using the man’s sperm and a donor egg. Unbelievably, in this case, the man had the full support of the surrogate mother, officials and social workers. However, despite this, the child, who is just over one-year-old, is currently a ward of court without a family.

Despite being officially recognised as the boy’s sole parent in Minnesota, where he was born, the judge has ruled that, here in the UK, the surrogate mother is the child’s only legal parent. The man, who paid £20,000 to the surrogate mother for the baby may now have to apply for adoption to become legally recognised as the child’s father.

Is it time for the no-fault divorce?

An important new study is to take place, exploring how the law deals with divorce and civil partnership dissolution.

It is hoped that the results of the research will help advise the government on whether, and how, current divorce law in England & Wales could be reformed.

Divorcing couples increasingly likely to try mediation rather than heading to court

Separating couples are increasingly likely to try to come to an agreement through mediation rather than heading to court according to National Family Mediation.

The dispute resolution specialists have seen the number of calls to their telephone helpline more than double over the past year. At the same time, figures show a big fall in the number of people beginning private law cases.

More support pledged to adoptive parents as the number of babies available for adoption drops

Recent years have seen visible campaigns to drive more individuals and couples wishing to become parents to consider the adoption route.

From the beginning of May 2015, the £19.3 million Adoption Support Fund became available nationwide however, it has been reported that the number of babies made subject to special guardianships, and therefore placed with extended family members, friends or foster parents rather than adopters, has tripled.

Adoption has changed. As same sex couples gain the right to marry, and England and Wales allowing single people to adopt, there are more prospective adopters waiting to start or grow their family.

Landmark ruling may open floodgates to historical financial claims decades post-divorce

The Supreme Court has recently allowed an appeal which could make a lot of divorcees very nervous about their financial position, even if their divorce was finalised decades previously.

The highest court in England and Wales ruled in March 2015 that a former wife could bring a claim for financial provision against her ex-husband despite the couple having been divorced some 20 years earlier.

Should grandparents have to fight to see their grandchildren when couples choose to part ways?

According to the Justice Minister as many as seven grandparents a day apply for court orders simply to gain the right to see their grandchildren when the parents have divorced or separated.

This is sad news as the reality is that more and more frequently, grandparents are finding themselves taking responsibility for more of the childcare as the number of parents working full time increases.

Forced marriage and the law – how individuals can protect themselves

Panorama recently highlighted the real issue of forced marriage which sadly, is still commonplace in some communities in the UK and the programme followed the plight of 19 year old ‘Sana’.

A British Asian, Sana was taken to Pakistan under the guise by her parents of attending university there however, while there, she overheard them discussing her being married to a man she hadn’t even met.

Silent Witness – was it fair to depict social worker Louise Marsh as the villain?

The recent two part episode of Silent Witness created a bit of a storm on social media with social workers, and other viewers alike, complaining about what we agree was an unfair portrayal of social workers.

The crime drama focused its latest episode on child protection and social services with the estranged stepfather of a teenager, whose care social worker Louise Marsh managed, was found dead in his car.

Report shows that children of divorcing couples suffer at exam time

A recent report from Resolution, the 6,500 strong association of family lawyers, has highlighted that the stress of divorce can lead to children of separating couples achieving poor exam results.

The survey, involving 500 children and young people aged between 14 and 22, found that almost two thirds of those whose parents divorced said that the break-up affected their exams. In the UK around 100,000 under 16s experienced the emotional turmoil of divorcing parents each year.

Cultural disputes increase in child care proceedings as migration to the UK rises

The number of people migrating to the UK is on the increase according to figures from the Office of National Statistics which estimated that 243,000 moved to the UK during the year up to the end of March 2014, a significant increase from 175,000 in the previous 12 months.

As the social landscape changes, with a notable rise in people coming from Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, cultural disputes in child care proceedings are becoming more prevalent.

High Court judge puts financial dampner on new romances during divorce proceedings

A recent ruling by a High Court judge has sent a clear message to women undergoing divorce proceedings: stay single.

Mr Justice Mostyn warned wives against starting a new relationship before their divorce is finalised as family judges would take into account any new relationship when calculating a fair financial settlement on the assumption that they would, in time, cohabit with their new partner.

The ruling was made during divorce proceedings involving a couple who had an adopted child together, the mother worked as a journalist while the father didn’t work but had inherited millions ensuing a long legal battle over how assets would be split following the breakdown of their marriage.

Estranged partners could benefit more than children under new rules if the deceased doesn’t leave a Will

Changes to the intestacy rules, which govern how an estate is divided if an individual dies without a valid Will, came into effect on 1st October. The changes highlight the importance of having a Will in place to protect assets and valuables for those who have separated from their partner but are yet to formalise a divorce.

Without a Will in place in these circumstances, estranged partners will now inherit more than the children and if the partnership didn’t produce any children, the estranged spouse or civil partner will inherit the deceased’s whole estate.

As child abuse cases increasingly hit the headlines, how do you spot the signs of a vulnerable child?

It was sad to read the story in the press recently about a young lady in Bradford who had suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of her own father. It was quoted that she had been raped more than 1,000 times for seven years from the age of 10.

This shocking story came to light after a £160,000 compensation payout was won against Bradford City Council as the local authority admitted a ‘breach of duty’ in not removing her from the family home.

Will children of separating couples become increasingly vulnerable as more parents opt for a DIY divorce?

A recent drop in private family law cases could mean that more separating parents are taking the law into their own hands when it comes to childcare arrangements.

Recently published statistics by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service reveal a 36% year-on-year drop in the number of family cases involving children. These figures follow a report from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service released earlier this year which found a sharp increase in the number of people representing themselves in the family courts in the UK.