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.
Father of two has run out of money, even though he represented himself. He was forced to spend a $30,000 retirement fund to pay for a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the children.
Elaine Mickman, of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, said legal costs in her divorce and child custody case have totaled about $1 million, including $125,000 for experts including a guardian ad litem and four psychologists. The mother of three adults and two minors said she’s worried about losing her home because she’s running out of money.
It seems the lawyers evaluate their clients prospects based on their bank balances rather than the merits of the case or on ensuring the best outcome for all involved.
A Connecticut task force has been appointed to review the high legal costs in child custody cases while other states are experimenting with mediation services.
Full article here.
Overcharging lawyers are crippling the family law system in Ontario. When litigants going through divorce have run out of money they resort to representing themselves.
The vast majority of people, the reason is really simple: They either couldn’t afford to hire someone at all, or they hired somebody and spent $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 or sometimes $100,000 and they didn’t have any more and they were in debt for the money they were paying, so they became self-represented.”
Father eventually vindicated after social services accuse him of assaulting his 3 month old child. He insisted that the injuries (retinal bleeding, scratch to the eye and a chin abrasion) were sustained when he fell holding the child. Lancashire social services instigated care proceedings after a referral was made to them after the child’s injuries were examined. The child was referred to local authority experts. In court, two of the experts concluded that the baby had been shaken and the third raised the possibility that such injuries may be possible when a child is dropped from a low level, with many parents not seeking medical attention.
Mr Justice Mostyn in the High Court Ruled that the father was innocent although as judges do, he didn’t rule out the possibility all together. He also criticised the time it had taken to bring the matter to court.
Lancashire Council v R  EWHC 3064