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'State of crisis' for domestic abuse services because of cuts, warns commissioner

'State of crisis' for domestic abuse services because of cuts, warns commissioner | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Michael Gove warned that survivors risk falling through cracks with cuts on the cards, or already happening, to domestic abuse services...
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Family Division judge makes adoption order despite late application

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High Court rejects local authority application for DNA test after man mixed sperm with father’s to get partner pregnant

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Care Day

Care Day | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Care Day is the world’s biggest celebration of children and young people with care experience. Find out more about Care Day.
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The latest

The latest | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Welcome to another week. These are the latest child welfare items that should be right on your radar: Church of England: Report urges sweeping changes to help abuse survivors What Can Be Done To Better Protect Children and Young People From Serious Safeguarding Incidents?
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Parliamentary Committee holds first session for new children’s social care inquiry 

Parliamentary Committee holds first session for new children’s social care inquiry  | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The government's latest inquiry into children's social care is holding its first session today. The Education Committee's inquiry into the children’s social care sector in England is looking at why there are so many children in care.
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Contact arrangements where there’s a history of coercive control | The Transparency Project

Contact arrangements where there’s a history of coercive control | The Transparency Project | Children In Law | Scoop.it
This judgment published last week on The National Archives – FW v MJ [2024]EWFC 33 (B) caught our eye because it’s unusual for a judgment by a district judge to be published. The reasons for the low numbers were investigated by a TIG (Transparency Implementation Group) subgroup in 2022 – you can read that report here. This followed the President’s proposal that all judges (including DJs) should publish 10% of their judgments, which now seems to be impractical and has been replaced with a recommendation that DJs should publish at least five judgments a year. We noted that this judgment was delivered on 22 February 2024 at Reading, which is not a Reporting PIlot court, but that a journalist was in attendance. While we don’t know anything about this case other than what is contained in the judgment, it does have some complex features, which we’ll highlight in this post. History of the case This is a contact dispute in respect of a five year old that’s been going on for more than two years. At this hearing, both the mother and father were represented by barristers and there was a bundle of documents of more than 360 pages. The same judge, DJ Sophie Harrison, had conducted a fact-finding hearing in December 2022. The child lives with the mother, and the father was applying for increased contact – he was seeing the child regularly with supported, but not supervised, contact at a centre. At a hearing in June 2023, this contact was varied to extend to some unsupervised contact ‘in the community’. Findings of fact about domestic abuse The district judge had made findings of fact about the father’s use of steroids and cannabis. There were some very serious findings: The mother and D, and S as a new baby, lived in an environment of coercive behaviour from the father with a pattern of acts of threats and intimidation used to harm and frighten the mother, and the mother was emotionally traumatised by frightening and aggressive behaviour from the father. There had also been a number of incidents of sexual assault of the mother by the father. The Cafcass safeguardng report before the court stated that the father had a number of criminal convictions, including one for rape (not of the mother) some 15 years ago, for which he had served a prison sentence. Issues before the court the further progression, if any, of S’s time with F, including at his home and how, if appropriate, contact should progress to S spending time with F overnight and whether a schedule for progression of contact should be specified in an order, the courses completed by F and whether they allow the court to order any progression of contact, exact arrangements for handover longer term, whether any refinements are required for contact and arrangements for the same on special days and during holiday times. The father wanted to see more of the child, including overnight stays at his home. The mother wanted the contact to be further restricted. While the possibility of the father posing a risk to the child could not be ruled out, there was also evidence that the father and child enjoyed a very good relationship. The court’s decision The judge had directed a section 7 report from Cafcass. This report concluded that the father needed to complete a DAPP (Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Programme) before more contact could be considered: [the Cafcass officer] does not consider that contact can progress for S to her father’s home or overnight, whilst there is an unaddressed risk of domestic abuse. Contact in the daytime in a public place, in her view, adequately mitigates this risk. Ms Jones was concerned that ending contact now between S and F would of itself cause S harm, given their established attachment and positive relationship. She viewed contact in a centre as somewhat artificial for S, who needs the normality of the community contact that seems to be working well for her. Apparently there is a DAP programme near Reading, but it only takes on clients who have been out of court proceedings for at least a year. The judge concluded: Throughout this long and difficult process, S’s mother has provided her with excellent care, kept her safe and put S’s needs first. S is fortunate to have the benefit of a relationship with her father, who loves her very much, and this relationship will help S understand her own unique identity as she grows up. I commend M for her decision-making throughout these proceedings which, in my judgement, has achieved a safe and beneficial outcome for S. The order I will make as the final order in these proceedings is as follows: 1.an order for S to continue to live with her mother (already agreed and recorded as a final order) 2.an order for S to spend time with her father on alternate weekends in the community on a Saturday between 10am and 5pm 3.a recital that F is expected to access and complete a DAPP (or its successor) before making an application to increase the time S spends with him. Media reporting This paragraph in the judgment may be helpful to reporters considering attendance in other non-pilot courts: An accredited representative of the press, Ms Martin, attended the final hearing, which was held in private. Applying FPR 2010 r 27.11, having invited short submissions from the parties, I permitted Ms Martin to remain in the court room, and reminded all those in court of the applicable reporting restrictions under the Administration of Justice Act 1960, s 12 and the Children Act 1989, s 97(2). Ms Martin sent an email to the court office at around midday, forwarded to me during the short adjournment, for permission to read the hearing bundle and indicating that she would seek for the reporting restrictions to be lifted. I confirmed, when the hearing resumed at 2pm, that a formal application would be required for access to documents and/or the lifting of reporting restrictions and that any such application, if made, should be referred by the court office to me and I would give directions for it to be considered on notice to the parties. The court must perform a proper balancing exercise of the relevant Article 10 and Article 8 rights before making these decisions. Assuming an application was then made, the decision on lifting restrictions may still be awaited or may have been refused, as we’ve not yet seen any reporting that matches this case. Image – Reading County Court – thanks to Smuconlaw at Wikimedia Commons We have a small favour to ask! The Transparency Project is a registered charity in England & Wales run largely by volunteers who also have full-time jobs. We’re working hard to secure extra funding so that we can keep making family justice clearer for all who use the court and work within it. Our legal bloggers take time out at their own expense to attend courts and to write up hearings. We’d be really grateful if you were able to help us by making a small one-off (or regular!) donation through our Just Giving page. Thanks for reading! Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Print
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Judge approves order to keep boy in residential accommodation at likely cost of £750k

Judge approves order to keep boy in residential accommodation at likely cost of £750k | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A High Court judge has approved a local authority’s application for a care order that will see a boy nearing his teenage years continue to stay at a registered children’s home at a cost of £9,500 a week and potentially a total amount of £750,000, despite the parents' wishes that he should return to live with his mother with such support as might be put in place.
mocc's comment, September 7, 2023 12:36 AM
super
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President appoints 26 experts to panel tasked with increasing transparency in Family Court

President appoints 26 experts to panel tasked with increasing transparency in Family Court | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has appointed senior members of the judiciary and government officials alongside legal professionals and media representatives to his proposed Transparency Implementation Group (TIG).
econorooteror's comment, May 22, 2023 5:45 AM
nice
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Zahawi: take children into care when 'any inkling of harm'

Zahawi: take children into care when 'any inkling of harm' | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Children should be removed from their families if there is "any inkling of harm to them, the education secretary has said.
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‘Fully reporting the evidence heard in care cases requires an expensive and time-consuming application process’ | The Transparency Project

‘Fully reporting the evidence heard in care cases requires an expensive and time-consuming application process’ | The Transparency Project | Children In Law | Scoop.it
This is the view of the Sunday Times in its editorial today, ‘The Sunday Times view on public transparency: A secrecy fixation shrouds decisions that affect us all’, which features a report by Emily Dugan, ‘Our baby was taken from us for months – for a skull fracture that didn’t even exist: A Cardiff couple endured a nightmare after tiny bruises on their son’s legs led to an inquiry into suspected child abuse’. Both these pieces are behind a paywall. We anticipate a court judgment to be published on BAILII shortly, when we will be able to write about the case. The case concerns a misdiagnosis of a fracture in an eight-week-old baby that led to an application for a care order and his being removed from his parents and older brother for three months. The article sets out details of a serious miscarriage of justice and traumatic experience that directly resulted from a mistake made by a hospital paediatrician. It is understandable that the Times says that knowledge of such matters is in the public interest. However, as Emily concludes: ‘Even when parents have been exonerated by the court and had parental responsibility restored, they are not free to talk about what happened to them. A review of transparency in the family court by its president is under way. Change cannot come quickly enough.’ The editorial comments that the publisher had to make a court application and incur significant legal costs to allow Emily’s article to be published, even though the family supported her and were not to be identified. Nevertheless the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board ‘spent taxpayers money’ trying, through the courts, to stop the publicity. [EDITED 17.05.2021. For clarification, the Health Board did not oppose publication in general but wanted a further costly hearing about identifying individual professionals, a hearing which the judge refused, but the article does not name them in any event.] The parents would have been prevented by section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 from telling a journalist what happened in the court proceedings, or showing her the court papers. Even if they did, she would have not been able to write about it publicly if the section 12 order had not been lifted or partly lifted by a judge – this would be the expensive court process to which the editorial refers. We recently published Sir James Munby’s submission to the Transparency Review, in which he examines the damaging effects of section 12 on public confidence in family justice. More explanation should be possible when we see the judgment. In the meantime, Emily’s report is notable not only for having seen the light of day, but also for its depth and balance.
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Landmark laws to keep children safe, stop racial hate and protect democracy online published

Landmark laws to keep children safe, stop racial hate and protect democracy online published | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The Online Safety Bill will help protect young people and clamp down on racist abuse online, while safeguarding freedom of expression.
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Current provision of Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programmes

Prior to the pandemic, the family justice system was under enormous pressure with increases in numbers across all areas of public and private family law.[…]...
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It’s out! New edition of Transparency in the Family Courts | The Transparency Project

It’s out! New edition of Transparency in the Family Courts | The Transparency Project | Children In Law | Scoop.it
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Judge rejects bid by doctor to be joined to public law proceedings amid claims her professional opinion had been manipulated by the mother

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Recommendations for Change: an Podcast series about IICSA

Recommendations for Change: an Podcast series about IICSA | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A five-part podcast series exploring the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) final recommendations and what they mean for professionals working with children. A range of experts from both inside and outside of the NSPCC will break down why the recommendations are needed, how they’ll work if implemented, and what impact they might have on the prevention of child sexual abuse.
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Pre-court social worker-guardian meetings have potential to improve care proceedings, finds study

Pre-court social worker-guardian meetings have potential to improve care proceedings, finds study | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Longer pilot will be needed to evaluate whether meetings before hearings can curb care proceedings backlogs, says report...
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Listen up, knuckleheads

Listen up, knuckleheads | Children In Law | Scoop.it
I came across a Lieven J authority yesterday. Now, over the last two years, Lieven J has become the Judge whose published judgments are ALWAYS, without exception worth reading.Of course, you can't categorise all of them (other than that they are worth your time), but I have over the last two years...
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News Essentials: 11th February 2023

News Essentials: 11th February 2023 | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:  NEWS Study exposes the extreme vulnerability of children su...
econorooteror's comment, May 22, 2023 5:44 AM
good
mocc's comment, September 7, 2023 12:36 AM
nice
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Good Law Project in renewed bid for judicial review challenge over placements of children in care outside of local area

Good Law Project in renewed bid for judicial review challenge over placements of children in care outside of local area | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The Good Law Project has renewed its application for permission to bring a judicial review challenge over the numbers of children in care being placed outside of their local area.
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General guidance on electronic court bundles | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

General guidance on electronic court bundles | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Please read how this guidance might affect your judicial role
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Family Law Week: Re O (A Child: The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 [2021] EWHC 908

Home > Judgments Re O (A Child: The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 [2021] EWHC 908 The court was concerned with O who was born in 2007 and thus 13 years old at the time of judgment. She is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ('DRC') and arrived in the UK around 2nd August 2020. It appears that O’s father died in prison in 2018 and in July 2020 O, her brothers and mother were arrested. O evaded detention and was cared for by a friend of her mother’s K, who eventually brought her to the UK and left her at a bus stop. ___ On the 4th August she was taken into police protection and then placed in local authority foster care. On 14th September the local authority left a message at the Embassy of the DRC in London, notifying them that one of their citizens had been placed in foster care, but received no reply. On 12th November 2020 the court made an interim care order. O missed her family but did not wish to return to the DRC as she believed she would risk being killed if she returned and was strongly opposed to the authorities in DRC being given any information about her. The court found no reason to doubt her account of 'horrific' experiences. O was doing well in and the care plan was for her to remain in foster care and receive psychological help. The discrete issue for the court was to decide if the local authority is under a duty to notify the Congolese authorities that O is the subject of public law proceedings. The local authority and the children's guardian, both sought a declaration that such non-notification was lawful and proportionate The court reserved full judgment until the Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH) but decided on an interim basis that Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 ('The Vienna Convention') was engaged and that respect for international Conventions would normally impose a duty upon the local authority to inform the relevant authorities in the DRC, but in the circumstances of this case it was 'plainly not in her best interests' to do so. Following the IRH the Judge confirmed this interim decision and provided fuller reasons. The court examined closely the relevant provisions of the Vienna Convention. Article 36 provides that States should keep other States informed with regard to the nationals of one State who end up detained in the other, and that consular officers shall be free to communicate with and visit those nationals of their State. Article 37 imposes a duty on the State who is dealing with a foreign national to inform that person's consulate without delay if a guardian or trustee has been appointed for a minor or person otherwise lacking capacity. However, this is 'without prejudice' to the operation of laws and regulations of the State concerning such appointments. The court therefore confirmed that Article 36 was not engaged but Article 37(b) was. The court referred to the judgment of the former President Sir James Munby in the case of Re E (A Child) (Care Proceedings: European Dimension) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam). He set out at paras 47-48 the requirements of 'good practice' in this area which was to allow free communication and access between a foreign national and their consular authority. The court should normally accede to any request by the foreign state for an accredited official to attend hearings and obtain relevant documents. The court should make sure that the relevant consular authority has been told about the foreign national child who is represented by a guardian or litigation friend.  If the court wishes to adopt a different approach then it is essential to hear submissions and set out clearly the reasons for its decision. The court would need to balance the need for local authorities to respect its obligations under the Vienna Convention (see In Re JL and AO [2016] EWHC 440) while at the same time considering circumstances where the foreign State ought not to be informed. An example of this was given at page six of advice given in July 2014 by the Department for Education,  "Working with foreign authorities: child protection cases and care orders": "Social workers should inform the relevant Embassy when a child with links to a foreign country has become the subject of a child protection plan, has required immediate protection or has become the subject of care proceedings, unless doing so is likely to place the child or family in danger and provided any necessary consent to disclose information has been obtained. Decisions should be linked to a robust and thorough risk assessment." The Vienna Convention, has not been incorporated it into domestic law by an Act of Parliament and so the court therefore needed to consider what binding force it had. As a general and important principle of public policy, the UK should respect the comity of nations and obey an instrument binding under public international law. Therefore the domestic courts are bound to consider Article 37 of the Vienna Convention as a 'necessary but not sufficient consideration in applying domestic legislative duties'. In this case, the court found that Article 37(b) did not impose an absolute and binding duty in all circumstances to notify a foreign authority where a court appoints a guardian in respect of one of its nationals. O's case was an example of one of those rare cases where 'it would wholly inimical to the welfare best interests of the child to give the requisite notice to the foreign authority.' Case summary by Sarah Phillimore, Barrister, St John's Chambers For full case, please see BAILII
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‘My baby was taken away for months over tiny bruises and a fracture that didn’t exist’ | News | The Sunday Times

‘My baby was taken away for months over tiny bruises and a fracture that didn’t exist’ | News | The Sunday Times | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A couple had their baby taken away for nearly three months after tiny bruises on his shins at his eight-week health check set off a child-abuse investigation.They missed his first Christmas and went...
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Adoption: 'Our sons' birth family turned them against us'

Adoption: 'Our sons' birth family turned them against us' | Children In Law | Scoop.it
There are calls for more support for adoptees - as social media searches for birth families rise.
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