Family Law

Family Law Newsletter #3030.10.19

Issue #30 of Spire Barristers' Family Law Newsletter: edited by Ashley Lord and Naomi Hartridge; news and Case Reviews by Georgina Dalton. Georgina was recently successful in her application for pupillage commencing in September 2020.

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.

‘Domestic abuse bill not enough to save crucial services’

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‘Mothers imprisonment blamed on lack of legal aid’

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‘Couple spend £500,000 on disproportionate divorce proceedings’

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‘Sudden infant deaths where children at risk of harm to be reviewed’

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‘Councils will have statutory duty to support domestic abuse victims and their children'

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Updates and Guidance

The Bar Council responds to the Law Commission consultation paper on building families through surrogacy

The Queens speech reintroduces domestic abuse and divorce bill

Case Summaries

Maughan v Wilmot [2019] EWHC 2765 (Fam)

High court: Mr Justice Mostyn, 22 October 2019.

The applicant (Ms Maughan) and respondent (Mr Wilmot) divorced in 1999; since this date Mr Wilmot made numerous applications to the court. On one occasion Mr Wilmot claimed the financial remedy made almost 20 years ago was made without jurisdiction. Many of the applications made by the respondent in this case were described by Mr Justice Mostyn as ‘spurious’; Ms Maugham had spent £42,098 defending and refuting such claims. There had also been issues regarding the numerous emails Mr Wilmot had been sending to Ms Maughan’s solicitors and the court.

Ms Maughan made an application on this occasion for relief on numerous matters including: an order which summarily assesses the applicants costs since January 2018 and ensures such costs are paid to her, a general civil restraint order and an order pursuant to the Harassment Act 1977 restraining the respondent from harassing the applicant, their children and the applicants solicitor.

Mr Justice Mostyn made a total costs award in the sum of £42,082 on the grounds that the Mr Wilmot’s behaviour sat at ‘the top end of misconduct’. The judge also granted the general civil restraint order on the basis that this was one of the worst cases of vexatious conduct he had ever encountered. Pursuant to this, Mr Wilmot cannot make any application in any court without first obtaining the permission of a nominated judge. The judge further referred a copy of his judgment to the Attorney General.

Mr Wilmot applied for ‘amplification’ of the above judgment under the Family Procedure Rules (FPR) (PD 30A para 4.6) this was refused on the basis that he was seeking to reargue points already rejected by the judge, this was not the intended purpose of this provision. Permission to appeal was also rejected, the judge stated there were no prospects of success for such an appeal.

Full Judgment

RH (Parental Alienation) [2019] EWHC 2723 (Fam)

High court: Mr Justice Keehan, 3 October 2019

The father made an application for a transfer of living arrangements in relation to his son H who is 12 years old. The marriage between the mother and father broke down in 2005 leading to issues with contact between H and his father. An expert on parental alienation stated that over the years the mother’s opinions about the father had been transferring to H; such opinions had resulted in the ultimate decision by H to reject any contact with his father.

The judge stated that the mother could see no benefit in H having a relationship with his father and has plainly alienated H against his father. The result of this alienation is that H is and will continue to suffer emotional and social harm. Mr Justice Keehan was satisfied that an attempt to restore contact between H and his father whilst he was in the care of his mother would fail based on the evidence. As a result the court concluded that the only way for H and his father to have a meaningful relationship was for a Child Arrangements Order to be made placing H in the care of his father. Although this decision came with risks related to disrupting H’s normal routine, it was the only option available to ensure H’s welfare and best interests were met.

Full Judgment