Divorce rates, child protection and domestic abuse: The last week in family law

UK divorce rates among newlyweds have dropped to their
lowest levels in thirty years, according to new analysis by the Marriage
Foundation. The proportion of couples divorcing after three years has more than
halved since rates peaked in 1993. For couples married for five years, divorce
is down by well over a third (39 per cent), while for couples who have made it
to their first decade together, it is down by a fifth. The Marriage Foundation
says that the drop is almost entirely a result of fewer women filing for
divorce, suggesting husbands are embracing their share of the responsibility
for making a marriage work. Sir Paul Coleridge, founder and chairman of
Marriage Foundation, commented: “For those of us who are in the long-term
business of confronting and combatting the national scourge of family
breakdown, with all its attendant pain and suffering for children, it is rare
to encounter genuinely good news. But this is a real good news story. Divorce
amongst the recently married – the period of the highest divorce risk where
young children are invariably found – is on a relentless and steady decline
from its peak in the swinging sixties and seventies. Amongst the middle aged and
above, painful as divorce is, it has never been at levels which are out of
hand. The fact is marriage works and is the single most effective antidote to
family breakdown.”

A study into cross-border child protection and international
family placements by Children and Families Across Borders (‘CFAB’) has found
that one in four children in need of protection who left the UK continued to be
at risk of abuse or neglect as it was not possible, despite the efforts of
social workers and other professionals, to safeguard them once they had
travelled to another country. CFAB said that in an increasingly globalised
world, cases of child protection have become more complicated from both a
political and regulatory perspective whilst, at the same time, local authority
Children’s Services departments have fewer resources to navigate these
complexities. The research highlights instances where vulnerable children and
their families are at risk of ‘falling between the cracks’ due to confusion
over legal responsibilities and a lack of clear professional guidance.  The research also makes several key
recommendations for practice and policy as to how professionals can better
protect children moving across international borders and for how the processes
around international family placements could be improved, better promoting a
child’s right to family life.

Figures obtained from 41 police forces across England and
Wales by the ManKind Initiative, the charity which supports male victims of
domestic abuse, showed that 158,974 men reported to them as being victims of
domestic abuse in 2017 – one in four of all victims (24.8%) where the gender of
the victim was recorded. A further 9,842 men reported the same in Scotland. Of
the 43 Police authorities in England and Wales which were sent the Freedom of
Information request by the charity, 37 provided figures for 2012 and last year.
On that like for like basis, the figures rose from 72,157 in 2012 to 149,248 in
2017 – more than double in five years. Mark Brooks, Chair of the ManKind
Initiative, said: “These figures are both shocking yet welcome. They show the
level of domestic abuse against men and the growing confidence they have in
coming forward. Friends, family and work colleagues are also playing a key part
in supporting them and many police forces are actively encouraging men to
report. These figures should act as a spur for even more men to reach out as
many feel they are the only man in the world this has ever happened to and they
suffer in silence behind their front door. They now know they are not alone.”

And finally, history is to be made in the Supreme Court next
month when for the first time an appeal will be heard before a majority of
female Justices. On the 3rd of October Lady Hale, Lady Black and
Lady Arden, together with Lord Carnwath and Lord Lloyd-Jones will hear the
appeal in In the matter of D (A Child).
The case concerns the issue of whether the confinement of a young person aged
16, who lacked capacity or competence to make decisions about his residence and
care, amounted to a deprivation of his liberty for the purposes of Article 5 of
the European Convention on Human Rights, in circumstances where his parents
were consenting to the confinement.