Family Law (28 February - 19 March)

Family News

Judge slams council that ‘wrongly and abusively’ kept children in section 20 care

Community Care – 19 March

Justice Keehan has criticised the local authority in Herefordshire for misusing section 20 care proceedings. One child had been in a section 20 arrangement for his entire life, which has contributed to feelings that the proceeding is being misused and abused.

Sexual relations ‘not necessary for marriage’ claims Family Division President

Marilyn Stowe Blog – 14 March

According to Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, sexual relations are not necessary for a marriage to be valid. According to Munby, a platonic relationship should not stop couples from receiving a parental order. Marilyn Stowe Blog discusses the case: In the Matter of X (A Child) in more detail.

Alfie Evans: parents apply for permission to appeal to Supreme Court

Family Law Week – 12 March

Following decisions by the High Court and the Court of Appeal that Alfie Evans, a 21-month-old with an undiagnosed neurological degenerative condition, should be taken off life support, the boy’s parents are taking the case to the Supreme Court. Alfie is currently in a coma and not responding to any external stimulation.

Tens of thousands left in legal limbo as government backtracks on legal aid review

Family Lore – 8 March

As reported in an earlier family law newsletter, the government had planned to review the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of
Offenders Act (LASPO) by April this year. However, Family Lore has reported that the government has postponed the review, leaving many victims ‘in limbo’ and unable to access legal support.

Councils struggling to meet SEND deadline, ombudsman warns

Cypnow – 7 March

The local government and social care ombudsman has expressed concerns that local authorities will not be able to meet the deadline of
transferring all special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to new education, health and care (EHC) plans by the April 2018 deadline. Michael King has spoken of delays of up to 90 weeks when transferring children and there has often been a ‘lack of proper forward planning’ as children progress through the education system.

'Austerity to blame' for many children's mental health problems

Cypnow – 6 March

According to The British Psychological Society (BPS), the government’s recent green paper has failed to acknowledge that public spending cuts are the root cause of many problems children currently face. The paper plans to encourage schools to appoint a ‘designated senior lead for mental health’, but does not make any plans to improve the outside factors that affect many children’s mental health.

Adopted children should remain ‘close to birth families’

Marilyn Stowe Blog – 6 March

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has published a study on the effect of adopted children losing contact with their relatives, alongside a statement that adopted children should retain contact with their birth families where possible. Sense of identity and emotional well-being were two of the detrimental effects on adopted children the study has highlighted.

Government rejects case for mandatory reporting

Cypnow – 5 March

Following a consultation in 2016, which examined whether to introduce a statutory duty to report or act on child abuse or neglect, the government has concluded that the evidence received does not demonstrate that the proposals would sufficiently improve outcomes for children or make children any safer.

Number of councils using Family Drug and Alcohol Courts to expand

Community Care – 28 February

Families in nine London boroughs will now have the option of ordinary care proceedings through access to Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC). The FDAC service gives parents more intensive support than they usually get when they are involved in care proceedings, with hearings (without lawyers) led by dedicated, specially-trained judges who provide frequent encouragement and challenge as parents work on their recovery.

First surrogacy guidance published for England and Wales

BBC News – 28 February

The government has released the first ever guidance on surrogacy in England and Wales, in response to the rising number of people using surrogates. The guidance ranges from future relationships between surrogate and child, to using endorsed organisations and signing an official contract.

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