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Family law hearings in public

10 Aug 2009, 13:19 by Rebecca Fitton-Brown

Labels: ancillary-relief, barrister, care, family-law, family-proceedings, media, publication, residence

The Family Proceeding Rules have been amended to allow access to family proceedings by the media and any other person allowed by the court. So you may now find journalists attending your care or residence or ancillary relief case! It is not clear what other persons may be allowed. There is an exception for "judicially assisted conciliation." Restrictions on publication continue to apply.

 Written by Rebecca Fitton-Brown, barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in family law.

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Private Law Children / Residence

08 Dec 2008, 09:54 by Rebecca Fitton-Brown

Labels: barrister, children, cohabitee, family, family-law, paternity, residence

RE A (JOINT RESIDENCE : PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY) [2008] EWCA Civ 867

Mother's ex-cohabitee, who had treated the child as his own for the first two years of his life was given joint residence so as to confer PR on him. This was despite the man being found to be dominating and controlling and having covertly filmed the mother and child in their home. Mother was even prevented from informing the real father of his paternity and from introducing the child to him.

Written by Rebecca Fitton-Brown, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Family law.

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Children Law

04 Dec 2008, 14:45 by Rebecca Fitton-Brown

Labels: barrister, contact, family, family-law, lawyer, prohibited-steps, residence, specific-issue

With the new contact provisions coming into force next monday, the 8th of December, there is a new court form: Form C100 will replace form C1 for all section 8 Applications (residence, contact, specific issue, prohibited steps)

 Written by Rebecca Fitton-Brown, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Family Law.

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Ancillary Relief

04 Dec 2008, 11:04 by Rebecca Fitton-Brown

Labels: ancillary-relief, barrister, family, family-law, matrimonial

Bradley v. Bradley [2008] EWCA Civ 629

W, who had been ordered to pay H a lump sum, would be entitled to ask for costs already awarded against him to be set off and deducted from the lump sum, but her obligation to pay the rest of the lump sum could not be stayed pending further litigation and possible future costs orders. Security for costs could be ordered in Matrimonial Causes Act applications.

 Written by Rebecca Fitton-Brown, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Family Law.

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New contact order enforcement powers to come into force

05 Nov 2008, 13:04 by Rebecca Fitton-Brown

Labels: cafcass, children-act, contact, family-law

The long heralded changes to enforcement of section 8 orders under the Children Act 1989 come into force at the end of this month. Many groups, especially fathers' campaigning organisations, have long complained that court orders in children cases are easily flouted by recalcitrant parents, especially those with whom the child lives.

The new enforcement powers are as follows:

  • Activity requirements and conditions - As well as ordering contact, the court will have the power to order that a particular activity is undertaken during the period of contact. This could range from something as simple as a particular leisure activity, to something tailored to the parent and child, such as programmes designed to facilitate and encourage contact. The court may also make conditional contact orders, where the contact order is conditional on a party taking part in a particular activity, for example counselling.
  • Contact Monitoring - The court will be able to order that a CAFCASS officer monitor contact to report on how it goes. This is something which is sometimes done voluntarily by CAFCASS officers, but is resource-sensitive.
  • Compensation - the non-complying party can be ordered to pay compensation to another party who has suffered financial loss through the non-compliance. This is likely to take the form of petrol / travel costs and loss of earnings incurred through attending contact sessions where the child is not then made available.
  • Warning Notices - The existing practice is to place a penal notice on a contact order after it is breached for the first time; a further breach entailing committal proceedings. The new regime will see a warning notice attached to a contact order when it is first made, meaning the court's enforcement powers are available to it on the first breach.
  • Enforcement Orders - these provide a new quasi-criminal sanction for failure to comply with an order. If the court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a part has failed to comply, without reasonable excuse, it may make an enforcement order on the application of a party. This requires the party to perform unpaid work in the same way as a community order imposed in criminal courts following a conviction. Compliance with the order is monitored by a CAFCASS officer, and a report made to the court.

 

The Act containing the changes can be found here, and the statutory instrument creating changes to the Family Procedure Rules together with the new forms can be found here. They all come into force on 25th November 2008.

 

Reaction to the new provisions has been mixed. A survey by the University of Kent found that less than half of family law professionals thought the new provisions would be sufficient to deter parties from breaching orders, although a majority agreed that the existing means of enforcement were also inadequate. The Ministry of Justice states that its consultation produced largely positive results. It also remains to be seen what effect the greater involvement of CAFCASS officers will have, given how woefully underfunded the service is at present.

Written by Rebecca Fitton-Brown, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Family Law.

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