An Irish couple have asked the High Court to overturn the Adoption Authority of Ireland’s refusal to recognise their adoption of a young Mexican girl.
The court is refusing on a legal technicality to recognise the adoption though all parties agree the child’s wellbeing would be guaranteed by recognising the adoption. 18 other adoptions are in the same boat.
The couple went through an onerous process during 2010 to secure the adoption, including having to stay in Mexico for about six months until the adoption was finalised, he said.
When they returned to Ireland with the child in March 2011, they were told the adoption authority could not recognise the adoption because it did not meet requirements of the Hague Convention.
The welfare of children and families will be brought to the heart of the court system when a key safeguarding organisation moves to the Ministry of Justice, Family Justice Minister Lord McNally has announced.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) will transfer to the Ministry of Justice in April 2014.
Cafcass looks after the interests of children involved in family court cases and helps over 145,000 children and young people who are involved in divorce or separation and care or adoption cases every year. Cafcass is the voice of the children in family courts and helps ensure that children’s welfare is put first during proceedings. It is currently sponsored by the Department for Education.
Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said: ‘I am determined to improve the family justice system so that it offers the best possible service for those families – and particularly those children – that come into contact with it.
‘The work Cafcass does in supporting vulnerable children and ensuring their voice is heard in court proceedings is essential. Bringing Cafcass into the Ministry of Justice will be of great benefit to the family justice system.
The transfer follows a recommendation in the Family Justice Review.
Chief Executive of Cafcass Anthony Douglas CBE said: ‘Our move to the MOJ will help to accelerate the pace of family justice reform, as all court-based agencies will be in the same team. It will be a chance for us to be the voice of vulnerable children inside MOJ and will help to promote better justice for these children.
‘Cafcass will make maximum use of this opportunity to bring about the vision set out in the Family Justice Review – to develop a high quality service to all children and families using the family courts, making best use of the resources we have in the system overall.’
Ministry of justice article here
The 2006 shared parenting reforms in Australia left a lot of mother’s unhappy with the continued involvement with the father in the children’s lives. Last year’s changes to the Family Law Act has resulted in an unprecedented level of domestic violence and abuse allegations being made now more than 50%. Reports of abuse and violence had, until that point, been in steady decline in the four years leading up to the reforms.
Introduction of Domestic Violence legislation
The number of divorcing couples entering pre-court mediation is down by a third because of cuts in legal aid for lawyers. It has been observed that the only route left to obtain legal aid for lawyers is to make allegations of violence or abuse.
Thousands of divorcing couples and their children are now heading straight to court.
Mediation is an alternative system designed to help families reach agreement over their property and children’s upbringing without going to court.
The number of couples inquiring about formal mediation has halved since the cuts came into force in April, with the number of couples entering mediation down by a third. The difference made up by self funding.
The numbers of people applying directly to courts has exploded, often without the help of a lawyer, for rulings on contentious and complex issues such as contact with their children.
However, legal aid funding is still available for mediation. Because the lawyers don’t get paid for it, they are not referring people to mediation. Perhaps a court inspired scheme to inform people about mediation is necessary.
The phone number for legal aid is 0845 345 4 345.
In 2006 when questions were put to Harriet Harman on the number of people jailed in 2005 in secret in the Family courts, the answer was 200.
Justice Munby’s guidelines in that people should not be jailed without a fair and public trial are being ignored.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Absolutely secrecy gives sustenance to absolute power.
Many shocking cases are anonymously presented in an excellent article in the Telegraph by Christopher Booker.
Actually, this is not a surprise to anyone who has had first hand experience of the family courts.
Being so rare as to be newsworthy, an Australian wife in divorce proceedings has actually been fined over $3000(AUS) for commiting perjury. Perhaps the days of women lying in court with impunity are coming to an end.
Full article here
Sir James Munby, President of the Family courts of England and Wales comments on the secular position of the courts.
From his speech, “We live in this country in a democratic and pluralist society in a secular state, not a theocracy. Judges have long since abandoned their pretensions to be the guardians of public morality”.
This is and was one of the better judges in the family high court in London. He has published 7 reports on family law since attaining office on how he would like family court judges, legal professionals, social services, NYAS, CAFCASS, expert witnesses and other family court professionals to operate. But, without any sanctions it would be very difficult to overturn the sub-culture prevalent in the family court system just by persuasion alone.
In the past in the appeal courts and high courts decisions and rulings have been made that were supposed to be binding on lower courts, yet those lower courts persisted in those malpractices. How many times can a new excuse be found for a mother to flout court orders, by moving from one part of the country, state that a child is too sick for contact yet well enough to have attended school on the same day. Findings of fact made where no actual facts were present. How many times has a guardian that was supposed to be presenting the child’s position actually just supported the mother’s position. How many times were allegations made, where the allegations were only presented to the father five minutes before going into court.
How many of the supposedly neutral NYAS, CAFCASS and Social Services are actually feminists who instead of putting the welfare of the child first are just promoting the mother’s rights. How many times have Social Services blocked access to vital information that was crucial for the court to make just decisions. Of course there are excellent NYAS, CAFCASS officers and social workers who are brilliant and hard working who actually care to achieve the best solution, who have acted in actually make the decisions of the court work despite the hostility they may meet. Mistakes are made, but the biggest problem is the complaints procedures of these organisation that are in place seemingly not to correct mistakes but rather to protect the individual officer from legal action, while the complainer exhausts himself in a long winded procedure where he will end up with very little benefit for a lot of effort.
The courts nearest to the President seemed to have a different culture and approach because of the new president, but the further away you go from the high court the less change can be seen except for the occasional conscientious judge who keeps himself abreast of the latest developments.
Gold digging wives, millionaires mysteriously becoming bankrupt, the private lives of the rich and famous exposed to the media. This could be coming to an end in the Royal Courts of Justice according to high court judge, Justice Coleridge as he heads for retirement. He proposes pushing mediation as a way out of hostile and expensive divorce proceedings. However, arbitration is only an agreement and the divorcing couple still need to go to court the get the agreement ratified to make it legally binding.
Full Article in the FT
On 1st April 2014 Japan will no longer be a safe haven for parents wishing to abscond with the children to another country to escape courts at home. The abscondee will be forced by the family courts in Japan to return the children to the country they absconded from.