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the family courts

Family Division President rules out remote hearing in complex family case

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The case against a mother suspected of abusing her child must be held in person, the President of the Family Division has declared. Re P (A Child: Remote Hearing) [2020] EWFC 32 concerned a mother suspected by her local authority of fabricating or inducing illness in the child, a practice known as ‘Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy’ or more formally, ‘Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another’. She disputes the allegations. The local authority launched proceedings against the mother in April last year, following lengthy previous disputes with other members of the child’s family. The seven year-old was sent to live with a friend…

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Northern Ireland to roll out remote family hearings

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Judges in Northern Ireland will begin hearing uncontentious family cases remotely from next week, the most senior judge in the Province has announced. Remote court hearings are conducted via telephone or video conferencing software. Sir Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, said the move marked the beginning of a “gradual and incremental” increase in the number of cases being heard in Northern Irish courts since the pandemic restrictions were introduced. He hoped the move would help clear the backlog which has since built up. All hearings would be held in line with “public health guidance”. The initial…

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Family courts operating online

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Since the prohibition placed on public gatherings on March 23, the family courts have begun to operate on a remote basis. Unless there is a good reason not to do so, all hearings will now take place via video conference or telephone, while document and information exchange is undertaken via email. But this approach cannot come “at the expense of a fair and just process”, Family Division President Sir Andrew McFarlane has stressed Writing last month, Sir Andrew McFarlane explained that, despite the difficulties posed by operating a system remotely that was designed for face-to-face contact: “…There is a strong…

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Orthodox children ‘should live with both parents’, court rules

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The two children of an orthodox Jewish mother should live with their father part of the time, a family court judge ruled in a recently published judgement. ‘A’ and ‘B’, aged nine and seven, have been the subject of multiple family court judgements as a result of their parents’ contentious divorce after the father chose to leave the family’s strictly orthodox Haredi community in London. His decision was described in a subsequent ruling as having had a “cataclysmic impact on each member of the family”. After leaving the father became involved with the more moderate Modern Orthodox community and the…

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