Ofsted, social media and adoption: The last week in family law

A report from consultancy firm iMPOWER claims that Ofsted’s approach to inspection of children’s services is outdated and can harm the services. iMPOWER said that the impact of the single word judgement ‘inadequate’ from Ofsted can have a catastrophic spiralling effect on a local authority, turning a poorly performing authority into a broken one. It also said that there is national shortage of social workers meaning that struggling councils are overly reliant on agency staff costing more money and leading to less consistency of support for vulnerable children. The report additionally calls for the next government to make improving the safeguarding of vulnerable children a core priority of its first 100 days in office.

A study of 2,000 married people suggests that social media is putting an added strain on relationships. The research indicates that just under half of all adults in the UK would admit they have secretly checked their partner’s Facebook account, with one in five going on to argue about what they discovered. One in seven said they had contemplated divorce because of their partner’s activities on Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter or What’sApp. The most common reasons for checking their partner’s social media accounts were to find out who their partner was talking to, to keep tabs on them, to check who they were out with and find out if they were telling the truth about their social life. 14 per cent said they looked specifically to identify evidence of infidelity.

The leading adoption charity the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (‘BAAF’) has welcomed the £19.3 million Adoption Support Fund, which has now gone live in England, and has announced a range of new services to help social workers and adoptive parents make the most of the funding. BAAF is now calling for this fund to be extended to children under special guardianship and children adopted internationally. Figures from the Department for Education show that last year 62 per cent of children entered care after suffering abuse or neglect in England. Many of these children are placed for adoption. BAAF has campaigned for the Government to introduce more comprehensive post-adoption support to help children recover from their previous experiences and bond with their adoptive families.

The Labour party has pledged to give victims of domestic violence easier access to legal aid to help them escape abusive relationships, if it forms the next government. Changes brought in by the last government mean that victims must produce documentary proof they meet strict criteria. Labour has promised to ease the process significantly and says that the anticipated £5m cost of expanding the scheme, which is expected to help thousands of women, will be paid for by increases in the victim’s surcharge.

A High Court judge has ruled that a baby girl should be removed from her mother and live with her father and his boyfriend instead. The judgment follows a dispute over the nature of the parents’ agreement when the child was conceived. The mother said they had agreed for her to be the main parent, but the father, who donated sperm, said she had agreed to be the gay couple’s surrogate. Ms Justice Russell said it was in the best interests of the child to live with her father.

And finally, a court has heard that a banker hacked into his ex-wife’s email account during a multi-million pound divorce battle. Daniel Arbili and his former wife Catriona were fighting over properties in France, £50,000 worth of watches, an Aston Martin, and the family’s Grade II-listed home in Essex. The assets were divided equally in 2013, but Mr Arbili has now appealed, claiming that new evidence suggests his ex-wife is richer than was thought. He says emails have been found suggesting Mrs Arbili could have been in line for a windfall from the sale of her parents’ £2.1 million home in France. However, Mrs Arbili’s barrister has told the Court of Appeal that this evidence was illicit, because it was obtained in a “gross invasion” of her privacy. The Court of Appeal has reserved its judgment to a later date.