Family Law

Family Law Newsletter #1426.09.18

Issue #14 of Spire Barristers' Family Law Newsletter: edited by Jacqueline Thomas and Sarah Blackmore; news items collated by Gemma Carr

Articles from around the web, Legislation updates and Case Updates from Care Proceedings and Financial Remedy matters. Subscribe to receive Family Law Newsletter notifications or email us to give us any feedback.

Chambers News

Spire Barristers recently welcomed 2017/2018 pupils Sharon Tappin, Ashley Lord and Naomi Hartridge as full tenants.

Our 2018/2019 Pupils are Alison Davenport and Barbara Green. Commencing pupillage program for 2019/2020 is Gemma Carr and Chloe Lee.

‘Guidelines on “parent alienation” has been provided to social workers for the first time’

Read More

‘The Guardian believe greater openness is needed in the family courts’

Read More

‘New statistics show a dramatic increase in incidents of men reporting domestic abuse’

Read More

Couples filing for divorce after three years of marriage has dropped by a half

Read More

Divorce Reforms

Government proposals to reform the legal requirements for divorce

A Government consultation proposing “no fault divorces” is now live. Give you the opportunity to post your views here.

Case Updates

Recent case updates and summaries:

LKH v TQA AL Z (Interim maintenance and pound for pound costs funding) [2018] EWHC 2436 (Fam)

A wife’s application for a pound for pound order in a ‘big money’ financial remedy case.

In an earlier judgment, the husband had been directed to pay the wife interim maintenance at £29,500 per month in addition to a costs allowance of £40,000 per month. The husband had not complied with these orders and there were arrears of £230,000. The husband had been able to pay £95,000 to his own solicitors. The Wife applied for a pound for pound order seeking £100 for every £1 the husband spends on his solicitors, in addition to a debarring order in the event of non-payment.

Holman J was willing to make the pound for pound order in addition to the interim maintenance order already in existence, commenting that it was “frankly, intolerable and an affront to justice that in the last month this man paid £95,000 to his new solicitors at the very time when he was already in arrears and getting further into arrears with his wife” [para 23]. However, he rejected ordering £100 for every £1, commented that the “rationale of such an order must be that of an equal or level playing field, and it does not seem to me that the Mubarak jurisdiction can properly be applied to require a payer (usually the husband) to pay substantially more to the other party than to his own solicitors” [para 17].

Transcript: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2018/2436.html

K (A Child): Threshold Findings) [2018] EWCA Civ 2044

Successful appeal against a finding that the threshold for making a care order had not been made out.

K, was 6 months at the time of the hearing. Her parents were aged 16 and 17 when K was born. The mother and K were placed under an interim care order, in a foster placement. There was evidence the mother had done well. HHJ Tolson QC concluded there was no likelihood of significant harm and made no care order.

The local authority appealed. Jackson LJ allowed the appeal and found the judge was wrong to have concluded the threshold for making a care order was not met. The reasoning was:

  1. The local authority’s case was based on the whole of the mother’s history, including the mother’s behavior whilst pregnant. The Judge had ‘excluded from his consideration the solid wall of evidence relating to the mother’s personal history’ [para.11]
  2. The judge failed to focus on the relevant date of assessment, the time when protective measures were put in place under the interim care order when proceedings were issued. [para.12]
  3. The judge ‘entangled’ questions of welfare with threshold [para.13]

Transcript: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2018/2044.html

Leicestershire County Council v AB and others [2018] EWFC 58

Child arrangements order made for child to live with the biological father of his younger half sibling, as opposed to being separated to live with their respective biological fathers.

Judgment made by Keehan J following a final hearing in the care proceedings concerning half siblings aged 4 (EF) and 3 (GH). Care proceedings were issued following two occasions when EF had been admitted to hospital. The injuries he sustained were found to be non accidental and caused by mother or her partner. They accepted this and neither sought to care for the children in the future.

GH’s father, CD, sought an order that both children live with him. all parties agreed that GH will be placed with him, the issue at trial was whether EF should be placed in his care or with his own biological father’s. the social worker and the author of the parenting assessment recommended separating the children.

Keehan J found the analysis of risk that EF’s needs would not be met in a household of four children (if with CD) was flawed. He criticized the social worker and guardian for referring to EF having a ‘right’ to be cared for by his biological father, when there is no such right in law. He found both to have made serious omissions in their analysis as to the impact on the sibling relationship if the children were separated.

Keehan J ordered a child arrangement order that EF and GH live with CD and his partner. A child arrangements order was also made in favour that EF spend time with his biological father and his family, coupled with a parental responsibility order.

Transcript: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2018/58.html