Fathers, finances and difficult cases: The last week in family law

The NSPCC has criticised High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley for suggesting that “proper allowance must be made for what is, almost certainly, a different cultural context” when authorities consider the issue of parents physically punishing their children, in families that have newly arrived in this country from abroad. The NSPCC said that different practices in communities were no excuse for “child abuse taking place in this country”. The case, A (A child: Wardship: Fact Finding: Domestic Violence), involved a man from India who had been accused of assaulting his wife and son.

Fathers are likely to have more frequent contact with a son than a daughter after splitting up with the mother, according to research by the Nuffield Foundation. The research, which studied why one in five fathers lose touch with their children within two years of a break-up, found that fathers who are actively involved in bringing up children before a separation are more likely to keep in regular contact with the children after splitting with their partners, although seeing less of girls than of boys. Money played a major part, with fathers who had a spare room for their children to stay over keeping in touch more.

A family court judge has ruled that a boy whose father is in jail for his mother’s murder should live with the killer’s sister and family in England, rather than with his maternal grandparents in China. The mother’s parents argued it would be better for the six-year-old to come to them, saying that as the victim’s family, they shared his loss and were best placed to console him. However, experts recommended to the court that it would be better for the child to stay in England.

In a case that is believed to be the first of its kind, the High Court has ruled that a mother cannot use her dead daughter’s frozen eggs to give birth to her own grandchild. The unnamed 59-year-old woman wanted to seek fertility treatment in New York, but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (‘HFEA’), the UK’s fertility regulator, had refused to allow her to take the eggs out of storage, saying the deceased daughter had not given full consent. The HFEA decided in 2014 that there was insufficient evidence to show the daughter wanted the eggs used in the way her parents suggested after her death. In particular, although the daughter consented for her eggs to be stored for use after her death, she did not fill in a separate form outlining how she wished them to be used.

The number of people returning to the courts in an attempt to win more money from their former spouse after their divorce has already been finalised has more than doubled in a year, according to new data. Without a financial order severing their respective financial claims which may have arisen from the marriage, an ex-spouse can bring a new claim against their former partner, even years after the marriage was dissolved. It has been suggested that the increase is due to the recovering economy, with people now having more money available to spend on lawyers.

And finally, ‘runaway’ mother Rebecca Minnock has given herself and her son up to police, and the boy has been returned to his father. At a hearing at the Bristol Family Court His Honour Judge Wildblood QC said that the efforts by Miss Minnock’s family to manipulate the press were a “publicity stunt” and “an utterly irresponsible way to behave from the point of view of the welfare of a child”. However, he said that he would be “doing everything possible to ensure that this little boy has an effective relationship with both of his parents”.