Cases, cases: The last week in family law

A former model and fashion director has seen her second husband threatened with jail at the High Court in a battle over their £45 million marital assets. Alisa Thiry was awarded £32 million after splitting from French Connection co-founder Stephen Marks in 2004. She then married Belgian businessman Didier Thiry. Mrs Thiry had worked as creative director at French Connection and fashion editor of Elle. The couple owned a Caribbean beach house but are now in a divorce battle. Mr Justice Newton, sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, ordered that Mr Thiry be jailed for four months for a “flagrant” contempt of court. Mr Thiry, who is in Belgium, had been ordered to give his ex-wife information about a £13.8 million loan on the 12th of March, but did not comply. The judge gave him a chance to apply to “purge his contempt” by providing the information and apologising.

David Norgrove, who chaired the Family Justice Review in 2011, has been reappointed as chair of the Family Justice Board. He has been the body’s inaugural chair since it was set up in 2012 and will be in position for a further two-year term from the 9th of June. Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes said: “I am delighted that David Norgrove has been reappointed as the chair of the Family Justice Board. He has played a key role in identifying and driving through the reforms that have firmly put children at the heart of the system.”

A Catholic Slovakian couple of Roma origin have failed to block the adoption of two of their sons by a same sex couple in Kent. The couple argued that their two young children would grow up alienated from their family and community. Appealing the case, they accused the local authority of social engineering by attempting to turn the children white and middle class. However, the President of the family Division Sir James Munby found that they had no grounds for appeal. An earlier hearing heard evidence that they had neglected their children. The couple now intend to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

In the same case the President called the arrangements for providing court interpreters ‘unacceptable’, after he was forced to abandon an earlier hearing, as no one attended to translate for the Slovak-speaking parents. Sir James Munby ordered Capita, which bought the smaller company given an £18 million a year Ministry of Justice translating contract, to explain why neither of the two interpreters booked for a hearing on the 7th of May attended. He described the abandonment of hearings owing to the lack of interpreters as an “unacceptable state of affairs” and said that: “It might be that something needs to be done”.

And finally, a High Court judge has ruled that a five-month-old baby who has still not been given a name will be put up for adoption because of his father’s hostility to social workers. Mrs Justice Parker heard the father of the five-month-old boy had assaulted one social worker and threatened to kill another. She said she was worried about the baby’s mother who has a learning difficulty. She also said she was “troubled” by the decision not to name the child. The father, who appeared to have become frustrated by what he saw as an “invasive” approach by Hertfordshire County Council social services, could be “dangerous” the judge said. The mother, who cannot be identified, said that she and her partner aim to challenge Mrs Justice Parker’s ruling in the Court of Appeal.