Monday, 29 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
- On the basis that Parenting Information Sessions are being increasingly embraced, let’s add to them with defaulting parents being asked to do detention and copy out “lines” from their last session.
- If the excuse used for a lack of contact relates to the child suffering from a cough, cold or other minor ailment, three spoonfuls of cod liver oil sounds like an appropriate remedy; for the parent that is and not for the child who will of course have made a miraculous recovery, once the due hour for collection has passed.
- If men in suits, or even Judges’ robes aren’t deemed frightening enough, let’s add open court hearings with a baying public gallery, horsehair wigs and even gavels for sound effects.
- Oh and what about throwing away the cushioned seats and bringing back all those hard wooden benches that used to adorn our courts? Especially useful if we return to waiting 3 or 4 hours for a case to be called.
- Scope for deportation to one of our former foreign colonies on the other side of the world? Maybe not, after all the line will have to be drawn somewhere.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
- In which country do at least 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime?
- In which country do almost 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault in their lifetime?
- In which country do 1 in 5 women experience being stalked in their lifetime?
- In which country have some 66,000 women had their genitals mutilated?
Sadly the answer is the UK, according to data collected.
Today was prescribed as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, took the opportunity to confirm that £28 million for frontline support services will be protected for 4 years as she confirmed a cross-government commitment to end violence against women and girls. The Government also announced that Domestic Violence Protection Orders will be introduced next year when police forces in Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire will pilot powers to protect victims after an attack where there is potentially insufficient evidence to prosecute. They will be able to exclude an alleged perpetrator from the home for 48 hours (sufficient time to allow the victim to obtain an injunction if necessary) with scope to go to court for an extension of up to 28 days.
Small steps perhaps, but they are in the right direction.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
“Will it be good for business?” No, I can’t have heard correctly. Does the presenter think I’m actually a man of the cloth licensed to undertake wedding ceremonies or is she anticipating that a swift divorce will follow the happy nuptials? Will Prince William and Kate Middleton (no relation) set a trend and will more happy Darlington couples follow suit only to land at my doorstep in a few years time?
Monday, 15 November 2010
So the Law Society’s victory in the courts against the Legal Services Commission a few weeks ago was a Pyrrhic victory. The LSC as you will recall had sought to cut dramatically the number of solicitors’ firms offering a family law legal aid service. Its action was rendered unlawful and in the interests of access to justice was reversed. However, today proposals announced by the Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke once again put thousands of vulnerable people at risk and deny justice to countless families, as Resolution has warned.
The proposals mean that the only private law family cases that will still get legal aid for court are domestic violence or forced marriage proceedings. The only option available to separating couples going through divorce or separation will be to attend mediation, which does not work for every family, or to represent themselves.
David Allison, Resolution chair said: “Families need legal aid for a whole range of reasons. Suggesting, as these proposals do, that couples in dispute about contact arrangements for children or financial issues are simply wasting taxpayers’ money by unnecessary squabbling ignores the reality that 90% of couples already reach agreement outside of court. Those that do need legal aid usually do so for good reason – intimidation by one partner over another, or an imbalance of financial power in the relationship. Resolving a financial dispute through legal aid can prevent a vulnerable spouse from becoming dependent on the state.”
David Allison continued: “We are deeply worried that mediation is being seen as a universal panacea. Whilst mediation has a real and useful role to play there are real dangers in this approach, which ignores the range of non-court options. Family disputes are complex. There cannot and must not be a one size fits all approach.”
Sunday, 14 November 2010
The tests have been designed to establish a pattern of drinking over a period of time but are not conclusive because ethanol is present in all hair, even that of teetotallers. Indeed traces can be the product of the environment, or the body’s metabolism and can result therefore from certain foods and cosmetics.
All of which reminds me of a case I was involved in once upon a time when Mrs Hardened Drinker’s contact with her children was severely limited because of allegations that they were at risk in her care. Hair strand testing was suggested by her husband’s lawyer as a means of satisfying both her husband and the court that, contrary to his client’s assertions that she even kept a stash of beer and brandy in the bathroom cabinet, she was not an alcoholic. Mrs Hardened Drinker was keen to prove her innocence and readily admitted the store of alcohol in the bathroom claiming not that it was medicinal, but that she used it to wash her hair. I have to admit that whilst she had a tendency to sway and slur her words when she came to see me, her hair was always glossy.
Inevitably hair-strand testing was deemed unlikely to be conclusive in the circumstances and much to Mrs HD’s chagrin she was asked to take a series of blood and urine tests instead. When the results were known, she was again able to explain them with reference to her bathing techniques. Apparently she didn’t just wash her hair in an alcoholic cocktail, but was accustomed to filling the bath with the beer and liquor before lying back to gloss her hair and occasionally and accidentally swallowing some of the alcohol that surrounded her. It was unfortunately clear from the results of those tests that she must have been taking more than the odd sly sip.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Less commonly, however, I recall the couple who once upon a time agreed that one would have the contents upstairs and the other those from downstairs. There was a certain logic to this in that both were surveyors and agreed that the floor areas up and down were identical. Their solution was, however flawed when they couldn’t actually agree on who would have which floor.
Then once upon a time there was the occasion when a Judge suggested to my client that she prepare two lists of contents, one for each of them. One might have expected the client to unduly weight one list in her favour but the Judge stalled this by indicating that the each list should be put in a separate unmarked envelope and then drawn as if from a bran tub with neither husband nor wife knowing which list they would get!
More frequently there is the regular threat by the court that if the couple can’t agree then everything must be sold and the proceeds divided between them. With second-hand goods selling for a fraction of new, that has to be an incentive for commonsense to prevail. After all chattels are just that, only things.