McKenzie friends, domestic violence and marriage: The last week in family law

The passport of a 16-year-old schoolgirl thought to be at risk of travelling to join ISIS must be held by a high court official for her own safety, a judge has ruled. The passports of the girl’s two sisters must also be held by an officer of the court, and only returned for approved trips abroad. Mr Justice Hayden made the ruling in the High Court after hearing that the girl was a pupil at the Bethnal Green academy in east London, where four pupils said to be close friends had already travelled to Syria. He also heard evidence that the girl may have been closely involved in certain steps taken by the first pupil to travel.

The application of an unrepresented father to have the solicitor acting for his former partner sent to prison has failed. In H v Dent & Others the father, who was seeking contact with his daughter, made secret recordings of the mother’s solicitor talking to the Cafcass officer. Using the recordings, he then sought to have both the solicitor and the Cafcass officer committed to prison for allegedly breaching court orders. Mrs Justice Roberts struck the applications out, after finding that they had no merit whatsoever, were procedurally defective and were an abuse of the court process.

A ‘professional’ McKenzie friend has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of multiple offences relating to the services he provided for his clients. The man, who had been offering help in cases involving children or grandchildren, deliberately sought out people who were unable to obtain legal assistance due to the legal aid cuts. His clients paid a fee up front. The case was investigated by Central Bedfordshire Council, which said that the man would then claim to have worked on the clients’ cases by applying for court orders, arranging court dates, contacting former partners and their legal firms and liaising with social services and the Child Support Agency. However, he did not actually do any of these things.

From the 24th of August local authorities will be able to bid for a share of a £3m fund to support the victims of domestic abuse. A £3m fund for 2015 to 2016 was announced in the July Budget to address any gaps in the provision of specialist accommodation-based support, and to provide support for victims seeking to access these services. The fund is now inviting bids for work in 2015 to 2016, led by local authorities working in partnership with service providers. Successful applicants must demonstrate how they will support innovative and cost-effective proposals to deliver accommodation-based services for victims of abuse, and for services to help them access such support. They should also set out how they will further the development of local strategies on tackling domestic abuse and help create sustainable and long-term approaches to providing support for victims.

And finally, new data analysed by the Marriage Foundation shows that marriage is increasingly the preserve of the rich, with the wealthy being four times more likely to marry than the poor. Sir Paul Coleridge, the Chairman of Marriage Foundation, responded to the figures by warning that while children from poorer households might be “superficially better off materially than the previous generation”, they face increasing disadvantage compared to their better off peers.