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Family Law Journal: February 2014

Zoë Fleetwood outlines guidance provided by the Court of Appeal regarding adoption proceedings where a placement order is opposed by a parent

A raft of cases dealt with judicial practice in making adoption orders in 2013. Most notably, Re B-S (Children) [2013] became a reliable vehicle for practitioners to use when examining the case for adoption. Re B-S highlighted the essential dual mechanisms of proper evidence and adequately reasoned judgments in order for an adoption order to be reliably made (see ‘A fresh approach?’ by Matthew Maynard, FLJ131 November 2013, p2).

Mike Caffyn considers the practical implications, opportunities and pitfalls of pension sharing orders

Pension sharing orders have become the preferred method of dealing with the value of pension funds that have been built up during a marriage. However, the ever-changing legislation that surrounds pensions can make structuring a settlement difficult to achieve with any degree of fairness, pragmatism and while maintaining the full value of the pension that has been built up. How often to do we see a £30,000 pa pension split in a way that gives each party £12,000 each? Or makes a party wait ten years to get a pension that was taken away from their former spouse now?

Jane Booth analyses the factors the courts will take into account when considering non-matrimonial assets

The decision in G v B [2013] is a reminder that where there are substantial non-matrimonial assets a financial award may be determined by the parties’ needs without reference to the sharing principle. However, caution should be taken as each case turns on its particular facts. This article explores the judgment of Bruce Blair QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, in G v B and sets out the current position in relation to non-matrimonial assets.

Chris Bryden and Katherine Illsley discuss recommendations to increase protection from stalking and the provisions already in place

Stalking can cause real harm and may arise out of family breakdown. It is an issue that is becoming increasingly prominent in both the media and the courts. The British Crime Survey in 2006 estimated that up to 120,000 people experience stalking in any one year. This particular form of harassment affects people in all parts of society, can take many forms and has unfortunately been facilitated by the development of the internet, particularly social networking sites.

Lorna Borthwick highlights the difficulties of enforcing orders against a ‘determined defaulter’

In Constantinides v Constantinides [2013], Holman J was asked to consider an appeal against an order made by a district judge whereby the husband was committed to prison for six weeks for his failure to make maintenance payments to the wife. The parties had been married briefly and had a child, maintenance for whom was dealt with by the Child Support Agency. In October 2004, following the parties’ divorce, a joint lives periodical payments was made, under which the husband was ordered to made payments to the wife at the rate of £750 per month. It was common ground that nothing had ever been paid under this order, and at the time of the committal hearing in July 2013, the arrears stood at an eyewatering £78,000.

Matthew Maynard sets out the issues in Re C (A Child) and examines the challenges facing both parties and the courts in children proceedings

It is nearly a year since the legal aid reforms in respect of private law proceedings began to bite. The entire landscape of private law applications has changed, with magistrates and judges in every corner of the country now regularly faced with parties representing themselves. The aim of the government’s reforms within the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 was to cut costs, and drive the significant number of private law disputes in to mediation. To cut the number of parents involved in (often) divisive litigation is laudable; however the warning delivered by practitioners at the time was focused on the increased costs to courts associated with spiraling numbers of litigants in person. In short, what would the knock-on effect be?

In the conclusion to a two-part analysis Che Meakins looks at Xydhias agreements and the procedure to be adopted on a notice to show cause

The first part of this consideration of different types of agreements between parties in family proceedings ('Final word', FLJ131) considered case law on the weight to be given to such agreements in financial remedy proceedings agreements, the tension with the court’s duties to deal with cases justly under the r1.1 Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010) and the discretionary obligations of the court under s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973). This concluding part will outline the courts’ approach to Xydhias agreements and the opportunity for a pre-proceedings agreement to give rise to a preliminary hearing outside of the normal financial remedy procedure (ie a notice to show cause).