30% of private law cases have been to court before: Cafcass research
Family Law Week – 29 November
Cafcass research of private law cases in 2016-17 has revealed that 30% had been to court before. As reported by Family Law Week, the predominant reasons for returning were: ‘safeguarding concerns raised by parties; high conflict between adults; changes in life circumstances; and the child's wishes and feelings.’ Cafcass are hoping to use the information to provide easier and quicker resolutions for families in the future.
One in three police commissioners 'not funding youth crime prevention'
Cypnow – 27 November
In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board, it was revealed that over 40% of police and crime commissioners do not allocate funding to youth crime prevention schemes. The survey questioned youth offending teams (YOTs), whose funding has been cut by 12% from last year, and who are relying more and more on police commissioners.
Millions of couples at severe financial risk due to ‘common-law marriage' myth
Resolution – 27 November
Resolution has revealed the issues surrounding the belief that common-law marriage exists in the UK, and the financial risk that arises from that. There are currently over 3 million cohabiting couples and they are the fastest growing family type in the UK. However, the law does not reflect the increasing popularity of cohabitation.
Convicted sex abuser ‘still has parental rights’
Marilyn Stowe – 25 November
The Marilyn Stowe Blog explores the issues arising when a parent who has been jailed for sexually abusing their children still retains their parental rights and uses them against their children and the other parent. The case looked at in detail involves a man currently serving a 12-year sentence, and the mother has asked Welsh MPs to get involved to try and change the law.
Regulator calls for better scrutiny of drug testing in family courts
The Guardian – 24 November
A scandal at Manchester laboratory has called into question the quality of evidence used in child protection proceedings. The Home Office have announced that data in up to 10,000 criminal cases may have been affected. The scandal first came to light at the beginning of 2017, and has led to increased scrutiny over drug and alcohol testing for the family courts.
Rise in Childline counselling sessions to disabled young people
NSPCC – 23 November
In 2016/17 the number of counselling sessions given to young disabled people rose by 13% from the previous year, reaching 8,253. The counselling sessions were for a number of reasons, including bullying, mental health and abuse or neglect. The NSPCC have revealed that disabled young people are three times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled young people.
Court of Protection Rules 2017
Courts and Tribunals Judiciary – 23 November
The Court of Protection Rules 2017 will come into force on 1 December 2017. A new set of Practice Directions will also replace those that supported the 2007 Rules. The Courts and Tribunals Service detail the changes on their website.
Lords push for new regulations to protect children online
The Guardian – 18 November
A crossbencher from the House of Lords has amended the Data Protection Bill to try and increase protection of children online. The Bill requires technology companies to adhere to ‘minimum standards of age-appropriate design’, following reports that an overload of information is causing anxiety and sleep deprivation in young people. The amendment has the support of senior Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative peers.
Surrogate mother loses battle to keep baby from same-sex couple
The Independent – 18 November
Lord Justice McFarlane has ruled that a surrogate mother who agreed to carry a baby for a same-sex couple but then changed her mind must give the baby up as originally promised. The judgment concluded that it was in the child’s best interests to stay with the same-sex couple, with Lord Justice McFarlane criticising the lack of regulation around surrogacy.
Divorcing parents could lose children if they try to turn them against partner
The Guardian – 17 November
Cafcass are trialling a process to prevent divorcing parents from causing parental alienation. The initiative will give parents a chance to change their behaviour, but may lead to a parent not being allowed custody of their children, or a permanent ban from seeing their children in severe cases. Parental alienation is said to be present in 11-15% of cases of divorcing families.
Free school meals 'to be provided to 50,000 more children'
Cypnow – 17 November
Proposed changes to free school meals could mean that 50,000 more children are eligible as of next year. Currently the scheme is available to children whose parents receive benefits, but the government will be changing that to cover any children whose parents have a household income of less than £7,400.
Don't abandon separating families in Brexit, say legal groups
Family Law Week – 16 November
Three family law bodies have published a paper on Britain’s options regarding family law, following Brexit. The paper coincides with EU Withdrawal Bill consultations and recognises the need to retain current reciprocal agreements that are already in place between EU countries. The paper warns that if a family law agreement is not made soon, it could leave British citizens in a state of vulnerability.
Government delays tax-free childcare rollout
Cypnow – 16 November
Government plans to extend their tax-free childcare to families with children under 12 have been postponed. The scheme is currently available to working families with children under 4, but due to problems with the HM Revenue and Customs’ childcare service website, the full service will not be rolled out until March 2018.
Ministers urged to back full-time youth volunteering programme
Cypnow – 16 November
Findings from Pro Bono Economics have revealed that a government supported volunteer program that allowed 10,000 young people the chance to volunteer, could lead the UK economy to gain between £28m and £119m every year. Cypnow cite similar programs in the US, France and Germany as being successful and beneficial.