Fixed fee Divorce

Divorce, children in care and FGM: The last week in family law

It has been reported that divorce lawyers are warning that judges are clamping down on the so-called ‘meal ticket for life’ divorces, by increasingly telling rich wives that they should go out and get a job, rather than rely on maintenance from their former husbands. The lawyers are saying that there has been a marked increase in cases in which family courts order spousal maintenance only for a limited period, rather than until the wife dies or remarries. The warning follows a Court of Appeal case last year in which an ex-wife was effectively told to get a job, rather than expect to live off maintenance from her former husband. Since that ruling, the lawyers say, there have been far more time-limited maintenance arrangements put in place, with the expectation that by the time the maintenance ends the wife should be in a position to support herself.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre has published the first ever annual statistics on the incidence of Female Genital Mutilation (‘FGM’) in England. The statistics show that there were 5,700 newly recorded cases of FGM reported during 2015-16. The statistics also showed that there were 8,660 total attendances in the same period where FGM was identified, or a medical procedure for FGM was undertaken. Women and girls born in Somalia account for more than one third (37 per cent or 810 cases) of newly recorded cases of FGM with a known country of birth. Of the total number of newly recorded cases, 43 involved women and girls who self-reported to have been born in the United Kingdom. Responsible statistician, Peter Knighton, said: “This is the first time that annual data have been collected and published to give an insight into the practice and prevalence of FGM in England. The resulting data will support the Department of Health’s FGM Prevention Programme and improve the NHS response to FGM by raising awareness, enabling the provision of services and management of FGM, and safeguarding girls at risk.”

The Home Office and Department for Education have launched a consultation seeking views on the possible introduction of mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, or a duty to act in relation to child abuse or neglect. The consultation sets out the government’s wide-ranging programme of reform to provide better outcomes for vulnerable children, and seeks views on the possible introduction of one of two additional statutory measures:

  • a mandatory reporting duty, which would require certain practitioners or organisations to report child abuse or neglect if they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect it was taking place; or
  • a duty to act, which would require certain practitioners or organisations to take appropriate action in relation to child abuse or neglect if they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect it was taking place.
  • The government will consider all responses to the consultation, which closes on the 13th of October, before deciding on next steps.

The High Court has ordered that the sale of a property, sought by a trustee in bankruptcy, should not be postponed until the respondents’ disabled adult child no longer resided at the property. The property was owned jointly by Ronald Baker and his wife, Deborah. After Ronald was made bankrupt his trustee in bankruptcy applied for the sale of the property. Mr and Mrs Baker had a thirty year-old disabled child, who had the mental age of an 8/9 year old, and was incapable of living on her own. At first instance the District Judge ordered that the trustees were entitled to one half of the property and that Mrs Baker was entitled to the other half. She ordered that the property be sold, but that the sale should be postponed until the disabled child no longer resided at the property. The trustees appealed against the postponement to the High Court, and their appeal was allowed.

And finally, a High Court judge has ruled that a severely disabled baby should be allowed to die. The baby, who is now three and a half months old, suffers from the most severe type of spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that is degenerative and incurable. He has been on a ventilator since he was 18 minutes old. The NHS Trust sought permission from the court to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. The boy’s parents objected, but Mr Justice Hayden decided that a move to a palliative care regime was in the baby’s best interests.