Lord Justice Munby Settled in as President of the Family Court

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.

Article here


Mediation the way Forward in Big Money Divorces

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

The Lawyers are the Only Winners in Family Court

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.


Crisis in Ontario, Canada Family Courts

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.”

Innocent Father Falsely Accused of Assaulting His Child

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 [2013] EWHC 3064


Statistics on Children born 2012

From the Office for National Statistics

Key Findings

  • In 2012, nearly half (49%) of all live births were to mothers aged 30 and over.
  • In 2012, nearly two-thirds (65%) of fathers were aged 30 and over (excluding births registered solely by the mother).
  • In 2012, the standardised average age of mothers for all births was 29.8 years.
  • In 2012, for first births the standardised average age of mothers was 28.1 years.
  • In 2012, 84% of babies were registered by parents who were married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting.

Full stats here

Opening Up the Irish Secret Family Courts

The blanket ban of reporting Family Law Court proceedings is being lifted for the first time in Ireland. However, there are many provisos and with strict ban on any publications that details the identification of any individuals.

There are a lot of questions as to how it will work in practice and what the effect will be on individuals making or retracting false allegations and conversely being afraid to publicly make allegations that are justified.

Judges will consider several factors including the best interests of a child; the extent to which the presence of the media might inhibit or cause undue distress to a party or a child; and the need to protect a party against coercion, intimidation or harassment.

And other factors a judge will consider include; financial, commercial, medical and sexual orientation matters of privacy.