The Ministry of Justice has announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA 2020), which received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020, will now have a commencement date of 6 April 2022....
Well, I must admit the Supreme Court LIVE coverage of Petrodel v Prest has undoubtedly left me wanting more live action direct from the courts. It really does offer the opportunity to achieve a greater understanding of the issues involved and also of the work of our highest court. In the meantime the final judgment in this case is hotly awaited! We will of course be on hand to report as soon as it emerges.
The High Court and Court of Appeal have not been idle this week either.
The Queen's Bench Division judgment in R (X) v London Borough of Tower Hamlets  EWHC 480 (Admin) concerned a challenge by the claimant foster carer of three children with complex needs, who were also her nieces and nephews, of the local authority policy to pay family foster carers (also including unrelated friends of families) a lower allowance than independent foster carers. The local authority policy was found to be unlawful due to the differential treatment solely on the basis of their relationship with the children. It was suggested that varying payments could, however, be lawful on the basis of qualification. This local authority would need to change its policy in order to bring it within the boundaries of domestic law. By contrast, a challenge under the European Convention could not be upheld due to fees and allowances not falling within the scope of Art 8, upon which the Art 14 claim was founded.
Re S (Interim Residence)  EWCA Civ 1915 is an interesting judgment involving a balance of the welfare of the child with the rights of a parent with mental health difficulties. The judge at first instance reacted on the social work evidence concerning the maternal grandmother's treatment of the mother's difficulties in circumstances where she looked to her church for assistance rather than professional mental health services. There was no evidence the welfare of the child or the mother were put in jeopardy due to the grandmother's actions but the judge nevertheless ordered a removal of the child from their care. The Court of Appeal, accordingly, overturned the decision.
ML v KW and Another  EWHC 341 (Fam) was a fact-finding hearing to determine a mother's allegations of serious physical and sexual domestic violence pending the father's application for contact. The mother claimed to have been held in her home country of Afghanistan by the father against her will necessitating her seeking refuge in a shelter in order to escape. The mother's allegations were found proved on the evidence and the father was urged to take responsibility for his actions in order for some degree of reconciliation to be reached with the child. It will be interesting to see how matters progress in this case and whether a compromise will be possible to enable the child to have a relationship with his father, while keeping him and his mother safe.
For fuller coverage of all of this week's - and previous weeks' - cases, click here.
As for next week's highlight, I am very much looking forward to the Medical Evidence in Child Abuse Conference (brought to you by Family Law) on 20 March in London, where television's Mr Jayaratnam Jayamohan, Consultant Neurosurgeon, John Radcliffe Hospital (as featured in the ITV programme Brain Doctors for all you celebrity spotters!) will be speaking on unexplained head injury's from a neurosurgeon's perspective. Alongside him, Dr Neil Stoodley, Consultant Paediatric Neuroradiologist, Frenchay Hospital, Dr Joshua Carritt-Baker, Chartered Clinical Psychologist and John Vater QC, Harcourt Chambers also star. Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!