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Landmark court ruling may prevent expats from taking children 'home'

The case, reported in the Telegraph, concerned a Canadian divorcee who had been living in the UK with her former husband and two children. The woman wished to return to her native Canada after her divorce, and take her young children, aged two and four, with her. The mother complained of feeling 'lonely' and 'isolated' in Britain. She applied to the court for permission to take the children with her and was initially successful. However, her former husband, and father to the children appealed and the Court of Appeal struck the first ruling down. It did this on the basis that the father had been playing a 'major role' in the lives of the children since the couple had separated, seven months before the divorce. The father looked after the children for two nights per week (35% of the time, as the Telegraph point out).

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Grandparents risk poverty raising grandchildren

A new study by charity Grandparents Plus has revealed that lack of support from Government and local authorities means that many grandparents face poverty after dropping out of the labour market to raise their grandchildren.

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Quicker action to keep children safe

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has published new research which shows that local authorities are acting more quickly to keep vulnerable children safe.

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Commission's cost reduction report published

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report of its review of the the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission's (the Commission) cost reduction plans.

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Adoption delays revealed

The Government has recently published the first local authority adoption scorecards, which have revealed widespread delays throughout the adoption system in England.

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Government to legislate to improve family justice system

The Government has announced its intention to introduce a Children and Families Bill, which would deliver better support for families by reducing delays in the family justice and adoption systems, and ensuring vulnerable children get the provision and help they need.

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Study into the role of Children’s Guardians

A pilot study by researchers at Lancaster University and the University of Bradford has found that involving children’s guardians in vulnerable families may avoid the need for care proceedings.  The pilot study, listed in the Family Justice Review and Government response to that review, examined whether earlier involvement of the Children’s Guardian might ensure more cases are prevented from going to court, or where cases go to court, that they are resolved more quickly.The research team found that the Guardian’s independence of the local authority was seen as particularly advantageous in terms of enabling parents to engage with concerns for children.One lawyer for parents involved in a case said: “...the Guardian can put it in layman's terms - make it easier to understand - the parent will listen and open the parents' eyes. At this point the parents are very vulnerable, but if the Guardian can advocate for the child and get the parent to listen ... that's good .. the Guardian can be the voice of calm when the parents are very upset with the local authority. “Dr Karen Broadhurst, from Lancaster University’s Department of Applied Social Science, said: “The courts are dealing with a huge number of cases and it’s better if the Guardian can divert cases and reduce that volume of applications. In cases where diversion plans unfortunately fail, we found that the Children’s Guardians were very positive about being involved earlier as this enabled them to provide a stronger steer  for the courts, reducing the likelihood of time wasting, duplicate assessments.”The report from the pilot project will go to the Ministry of Justice and the project will now be extended to Liverpool.

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Kinship carers not adequately supported

The charity Family Rights Group has warned that family and friends carers are not receiving adequate support from local authorities to help them raise some of the country's most vulnerable children. When children are unable to live with either of their parents, official guidance stipulates they should be enabled to live with a member of their extended family or social network, provided this is feasible and in the child’s best interests. Yet one of the largest series of studies to date, by Family Rights Group, in partnership with Oxford University’s Centre for Family Law and Policy, has uncovered a major lack of support for family and friends carers or ‘kinship carers’ and the estimated 250,000 children living with them.The study found that 45% of English local authorities had not published a family and friends care policy, despite being required by the government to do so by the end of September 2011. The study also found that 76% of carers surveyed felt they did not have enough understanding of the legal options and the implications for the level of support they would receive to make informed decisions. These options include:

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Where do children live when international relationships breakdown?

An article by Richard Gregorian, principal of Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors (www.gelaw.co.uk) and Gavin Emerson, Brief Strategic Therapist.

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Proving "Alcoholism" (Alcohol Dependence Syndrome) in Family Law

The Implications for testing in London Borough of Richmond v B and Others [2010] EWHC 2903 (Fam) (Mr Justice Moylan) One of the more common reasons for the instruction of experts in family law cases is in the "proving" of alcoholism (alcohol dependence syndrome), harmful or problem drinking, or alcohol abuse (an issue which warrants a separate article). In extreme cases where the alcohol-related behaviour creates physical risk for the child (the stereotypical example being given of dropping the baby into hot bathwater), the facts may speak for themselves and the court able to protect the welfare of the child, through its range of available orders without requiring a formal diagnosis.Consistent with the abuse of alcohol in society, and the fact that physical manifestations of alcohol-related behaviour simply represent the tip of an iceberg, the main body of which is comprised of the emotional and psychological problems underlying such destructive behaviour, there are many more cases of seemingly otherwise "normal" working and middle class families where alcohol abuse is a concern expressed by one of the parents but where the children have not been directly impacted by its use.

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The Importance of Non-Legal Skills in "Private Law" Disputes Relating to Children, Including International Relocation ("Leave to Remove") Cases



An article by Richard Gregorian, principal of Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors (www.gelaw.co.uk) and Gavin Emerson, Brief Strategic Therapist.

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