In the news


Siblings make successful bid to revoke an order forcing their return to the UK

Researching Reform

A sister and her brother have successfully managed to revoke an order made in an English family court forcing them to return to the UK to live with their mother.

The judgment for this case features several interesting legal principles which enabled the order to be revoked. However it is of greater importance for the weight it placed on the children’s wishes and feelings in an exceptional case which highlights the balance that needs to be struck between damage caused by forceful removal and any damage caused by parental absence.

The family law case involved a Spanish mother, Belgian father and their children who lived in the UK while the parents were married. Upon the parents separating, the mother remained in the UK and the father left for Spain. Divorce proceedings were initiated in England.

During the divorce proceedings, the children were ordered to live with their mother during a…

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Event: Child participation in family law

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week.

A free online event looking at children’s rights in family law and how to protect them marks the launch of an international handbook on child participation in family law cases.

The July press release for the handbook says:

“The handbook offers an analysis of human rights instruments, to which UCERF researcher Charlotte Mol contributed, and examines the pedagogical aspects of child participation.

Child participation in private international law and in national proceedings on divorce, separation, custody and child abduction is the focus.

Experts from 17 countries, including UCERF researchers Wendy Schrama and Christina Jeppesen-de Boer, take stock of national law and reflect on possible improvements.”

The launch features several speakers, including: Professor Ann Skelton, UNESCO Chair in Education Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria, Rotating Honorary Chair of Enforcement of Children’s Rights at the Department of Child Law of the University of Leiden…

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Family Procedure Committee wants “diverse and representative” audience for online event.

Researching Reform

The Family Procedure Rule Committee, (FPRC) the body tasked with developing rules used in family law proceedings, wants to see a “diverse and representative” audience for its annual open event this year.

The event is an online meeting where attendees can watch how the rule making process works and put questions to the Committee.

While the web page on GOV.UK’s site for the event describes the attendance sheet for the conference as an invitation, it is actually an application form to make a request to attend the meeting.

The form asks for peoples’ names, the organisation they represent, the “nature of their interest in the committee”, and any questions the individual would like to ask the Committee. The form also says “invitees will be selected to try to ensure a diverse and representative audience,” without offering any additional detail as to who that might include.

If you are interested…

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Open event: Domestic abuse and the treatment of mothers and children in the family courts

Researching Reform

An online event taking place on Thursday will highlight the way family courts in England and Wales handle domestic violence cases on the ground.

Despite ongoing policy and law-based efforts in recent years to raises awareness about domestic abuse and how it affects children and families in the UK, family courts have not managed to provide a uniform and competent service to tackle this form of violence.

The free online event has been organised by Support Not Separation — an organisation run by Legal Action for Women — and Barnet Women’s Equality Party, and is titled “Domestic abuse & the treatment of mothers & children behind the closed doors of the Family Court.”

The event will be chaired by Christine Dean, the deputy leader of the Women’s Equality Party. The page for this event says Dean has more than 25 years’ experience as a family lawyer.

Panellists include Nihal Ates…

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Ministers and Children’s Policy – Who’s Who in 2021 (Take Three)

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reshuffled his cabinet, with the first appointments announced on 15 September.

Of significance for the child welfare sector, are the appointments of Dominic Raab as the new justice secretary, Sajid Javidas secretary of state for health and social care, Nadhim Zahawi as education secretary, Thérèse Coffey as minister for Work and Pensions and Michael Gove as housing, communities and local government minister.

This is the list so far:

Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union

  • Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Ministry of Justice

  • Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice – Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP
  • Minister of State – Kit Malthouse MP (jointly with the Home Office)

Law Officers

  • Attorney General – Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP

Department of Health and Social Care

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Adoption order made without mother present at the hearing “not a fundamental breach of natural justice”

It’s a disgrace it is still going on 👀👀

Researching Reform

An adoption order made without the mother being physically present at the hearing has been pushed through. Although the High Court acknowledged that the making of the order amounted to a procedural irregularity and should never happen again, it went on to say the error did not constitute a “fundamental breach of natural justice.”

The reasoning used by the court — and which falls in line with the government’s very silly and irrational adoption policy (that it is for life, just because someone has said so in court and not because it is right for the child) — was that the mother knew the hearing was taking place, would not have been able to argue against the adoption order because she did not have the required permission to do so, and could not have prevented the adoption order from going through.

Lexis Nexis offers a very helpful summary of the…

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Contact with children in care – what parents should know

Really, really useful for any parents having problems with contact. It takes the homework out of it for you 😘🦋🙏🙂 Xx

Researching Reform

When a child is taken into care, parents can ask straight away for contact to be set up, even if the local authority does not tell parents they can do this.

Many parents find that they do not get contact at the start of child protection investigations, and then find that their children do not want to see them, or they are being told by social workers that their children do not want to have contact.

Keeping that connection with your child is vital to ensure no negative external influences affect your child’s state of mind, and that your child can continue to feel that you love and care for them.

The right to contact can be found in Section 34(1) of Children Act 1989, which says that children’s social services must allow a child to have reasonable contact with: his or her parents; guardians; anyone who looked after…

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