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Family Matters

Issue 2

Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents – a wake-up call on the treatment of private law children cases involving domestic abuse

An expert Panel Report on Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents (the "Report") was published in June, alongside a Government implementation plan setting out both immediate and longer term changes that are proposed to private law children proceedings.

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The Road Ahead – Family hearings beyond the pandemic

In the months since the nationwide "lockdown" was imposed on 23 March, the practice of litigation has changed in ways that few could have imagined, even at the start of 2020.

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The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020, albeit it is not expected the new regime created by the Act will be implemented before autumn 2021.

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Villiers v Villiers [2020] UKSC 30 – A maintenance claim can be brought in England where there are divorce proceedings in Scotland

This case concerned the question as to whether an English court could consider an application for maintenance under s.27 of the Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 where the divorce proceedings had been conducted in Scotland.

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Attorney General v Akhter [2020] EWCA Civ 122 – Marriage did not take place despite promises made by husband

At first instance in this widely-publicised case, Williams J held that, despite the parties having known that the ceremony they went through wasn't a valid marriage, the circumstances of the relationship, including the parties having described themselves as married and the respondent's assurances to the petitioner that they would undergo a civil ceremony meant that, applying the European Convention on Human Rights, there was a void marriage.

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YN v NM [2020] EWFC 13 – Interim maintenance refused pending resolution of set-aside application

In this case, the wife applied to set aside a final consent order made in August 2018. The wife subsequently claimed that the husband had placed her under duress to sign the order. She also applied for recission of decree nisi.

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RC v JC [2020] EWHC 466 (Fam) – Court orders compensation

The parties had both been solicitors – when they met, the husband was an associate, the wife a trainee (although became an associate during their relationship). Their relationship began three to four years later.

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Re A (surrogacy: s 54 criteria); M v F and others [2020] EWHC 1426 (Fam) – Parental order made in favour of separated parents

The mother and father had been in a relationship since 2011. They wanted to start a family, but could not conceive naturally. They entered into a surrogacy arrangement and in 2015 entered into an agreement with a fertility clinic. An embryo was created using their gametes and transplanted into the surrogate.

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