Adoption, legal aid and a ram: The last week in family law

Three new voluntary adoption agencies have opened for business, as part of a £16 million government drive to encourage more people to adopt. The agencies have each committed to recruit over 100 adopters in their first three years, finding stable, loving homes for vulnerable children who are waiting to be adopted – particularly those children who are harder to place. Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who has two adopted brothers himself, said: “It’s great to see three new agencies opening their doors today as a direct result of the government’s investment, finding and helping up to 300 potential adopters across the country. With more than 6,000 children still waiting for a loving home, it’s vital we continue to do all that we can to recruit new parents and give voluntary adoption agencies a key role in boosting the number of adopters further.”

In her first speech as Chair of family lawyers’ association Resolution Jo Edwards has criticised last year’s cuts to legal aid. She said that they are having a “devastating impact on our members and, more importantly, the people they had previously been able to help.” Commenting on the fact that only eight exceptional funding applications for family cases were successful, out of 617 made in the past year, she added: “We know that the promised ‘safety valve’ of the availability of exceptional funding is not providing very much relief at all.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo is visiting the United Kingdom to study the main manifestations of violence perpetrated in the family and in the community, such as domestic and sexual violence, sexual bullying and harassment, forced and early marriages, and female genital mutilation. Ms Manjoo’s visit began on the 31st March and will continue until the 15th April.

Young people in local authority care are too often being moved to children’s homes and foster places far from their home communities, according to Ofsted. The regulator says that looked-after children face serious problems with education and health care because agencies are failing to work together. Ofsted found that 8,000 (12%) of looked-after children live more than 20 miles from their home, although it conceded that this might sometimes be in the best interests of a child. The Local Government Association has said that it finds the report “disappointing”.

A new study suggests that excessive use of Twitter increases the risk of infidelity and divorce. Research from the University of Missouri, USA, found that Twitter causes relationship conflict, which in turn is linked to emotional and physical infidelity, breakups and divorce. The study’s author surveyed 581 Twitter users of all ages and asked how much conflict arose as a result of the social networking site. He found that the more active people were on Twitter, the more likely it was to cause arguments between them and spiral into serious relationship issues – including divorce.

And finally, a wealthy businessman whose marriage ended after he killed his wife’s pet ram has been ordered to pay her £170,000 a year maintenance pending suit by Mr Justice Mostyn, in the case CC v NC. The couple, who moved to the UK in 1976, had been married for 43 years and their property portfolio included a £15 million home in Camden, north London, a flat and a chalet in the wife’s native Austria, and a house near Cannes, in the south of France. The pair had purchased the French property after selling a country home in England, because the wife disliked the British weather and preferred warmer climes. However, the husband, who had become “completely anglicised” was said to have been disappointed by the relocation. The ram was kept at the home near Cannes and was “put to death” last June after a “most animated argument” between the husband, 68, and his 70-year-old wife.