Sir Paul Coleridge Retires His Wig And Picks Up His Axe

As we mentioned last year, the controversial judge whose conservative views on marriage got him into hot water with the Judicial Complaints Investigations Office (and the public at large), has now officially retired. 

Paul Coleridge made the decision to step down as a judge after he was unable to garner support for his think tank The Marriage Foundation, amongst fellow lawyers and judges. Paul is now set to focus all his energies on the Foundation, which does not support gay marriage, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.

For our part, we can’t wait. Unless Paul gets a very clever PR firm to produce enough spin on the think tank to confuse and befuddle the nation, we can, we think, all look forward to a good laugh.

This is the twenty-first century. Marriage is no longer about dogma, it’s about love.

London Business Awards 2014 – DadsHouse Selected To Be A Finalist!!!

We are beyond thrilled to let you know that leading father’s charity DadsHouse has made it to the finals of Prospect’s London Business Awards 2014.

The awards fall into different categories, and DadsHouse has been shortlisted within the Commitment to the Community category.

This category focuses on businesses which positively impact the local community.

DadsHouse was set up in 2007 to offer lone and single dads support and advice during separation or bereavement. Since opening its doors, the enterprise has helped thousands of fathers stay in touch with their children, foster positive relationships within the family unit and has actively campaigned to change the way we view single fathers, as a society.

If anyone deserves to win this award, it’s DadsHouse and its founder, Billy McGranaghan. There is simply nothing else out there like DadsHouse.

Winners will be announced on the 17th July, so please keep your fingers crossed!

The Buzz

Here are the latest news items we thought might interest you:

Action for Children Ignore the Issues Surrounding Cinderella Law

It took their Public Affairs team two weeks to get back to us, so we assumed they had taken the time to answer at least some of the questions we sent over, questions everyone in the know are asking, about Cinderella Law.

What we got back though, was a very nice, if totally ineffective, fob-off.

You would think the Public Affairs team would understand the importance of engaging with the public on the very serious concerns already coming to light in certain quarters about the proposed law – namely that it uses criminal sanctions in situations many are finding unreasonable.

We also appreciate that Researching Reform is not a national newspaper, but when a Public Affairs team explains that they are frustrated with the way the media have dubbed the proposal Cinderella Law (because it does not illustrate the scope of the problem effectively), you would think they would jump at the chance to engage with audiences who are actually prepared to listen.

What a wasted opportunity. Even if they choose not to engage with us in the future, let’s hope they answer some of the hard-hitting questions raised in other arenas at some point.

Judge of The Week: Mr Justice Treacy

One of our greatest bug bears about the family justice system is the quality of evidence that comes before a court. That evidence is used to make some of the most dramatic decisions any human being might face in their lifetime and can lead to the removal of children from their family.

The veracity of that evidence then, must be of the highest calibre. Too often though, this is not the case and there is an entrenched and persistent culture inside the system which allows this exceptionally important aspect of child welfare to go awry.

Wonderful news then, that judges across the country including Mrs Justice Pauffley are making a stand against shabby procedure and less than satisfactory evidence. The latest judge to get tough on slack social work is Mr Justice Treacy, who recently ruled that a decision to remove a child from her mother was unlawful. There was simply not enough evidence, and an active decision on the Local Authority’s part not to consult with all the relevant parties. As is often the case, willful fabrication of facts to see the removal through was also part of the debacle.

For his courage and determination to ensure that good law is applied and followed, we make Mr Justice Treacy our Judge of the Week. We doff our hat to you.

Big hat tip to Alison Stevens over at PAIN for sharing this story on Google+, where we found it.



Question It!

Welcome to another week of family news and politics.

Our question for you this week revolves around the notion of a bullet proof marriage. A recent wedding expo in South Africa hosted a stand for a book which promises to make your marriage just that. Setting aside the religious undertones and the distinct antipathy towards divorce in the article, we thought the book’s central message was interesting. Essentially, the book argues that marriages are really just about learning to problem solve, and that this is the key to a successful, and lasting, marriage.

Among some of the tips the book offers, is the idea that the real enemy inside a marriage is not your partner, but the problem you are facing together. The book also suggests identifying the root cause of the conflict to allow for a better understanding of one another, honing communication skills and developing the right attitude towards your partner.

We thought these were all interesting suggestions. But are marriages really ever bullet proof, even with safety nets and hard work?

Our question then, is this: Do you think marriages can be bullet proof, and if so, what do you think makes a marriage indestructible?


Latest Entry: Encylopaedia on Family and The Law – Child Arrangements Programme, Superbly Explained

The latest entry in our Encyclopaedia is an explanation of the new Child Arrangements Programme, written by Lorna Borthwick, a barrister at Cornwall Street Chambers.

It is a must-read for anyone who would like to get to grips with the new developments in private family law and is simply perfection. From its elegant structure, to its clear, simple language and beyond (Lorna explains the current nuances in the area brilliantly), it should be your go-to material for information on the Private Law Programme. If you’re representing yourself in court, or you’re a McKenzie friend we think you’ll find this article incredibly helpful too.

If you want to chat with Lorna in real time, you can catch her over on Twitter. 

A very big thank you to Lorna for her piece.

Your submissions mean the world to us, and they are deeply valued by those who are looking for more information on the family justice system. If you would like to submit a piece, we would love to hear from you. Do take a look at Lorna’s submission in the mean time; it’s a perfect template.

Single Family Court – Excellent Resources

The Single Family Court should officially open its ‘doors’ on or around 22nd April this year, so it’s good to know exactly what that entails. There are some excellent resources available for anyone who would like to know more, so we’ve listed them below.

We will of course keep you up to date with anything else that we think is relevant to the reforms, but these are the places and spaces we recommend:


Cinderella Law – Researching Reform Awaits Response From Action For Children

Action for Children’s Cinderella Law aims to update existing criminal legislation around child abuse by including a definition of risk of significant harm (like the one the family courts currently use), and making it a criminal offence to physically and emotionally abuse a child (carrying a maximum sentence of up to 10 years).

The proposals have incited a wide variety of reactions, not all of which have been favourable. The proposed law has also caused a great deal of confusion, partly due to the way Cinderella Law has been communicated in the media and also as a result of Action for Children’s own promotional material, which is unclear.

We wanted to clarify the length and breadth of this draft legislation and find out exactly what it entailed, so last week we wrote to the policy team at Action for Children’s headquarters to find out more. This is our email to the Team:

Hi guys,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to ask you a little more about your proposal to bring criminal law in line with family/civil law in relation to child abuse.

I work in the sector as a legal researcher and copywriter, and my work focuses heavily on child welfare, so I’d love to be able to ask you the following about the Cinderella Law, if that’s ok?

  1. The media have said that Cinderella Law will encompass conduct which includes not showing children love and affection and humiliating them. Does that comment stem from Action for Children itself or is it an assumption being made? 
  2. If such conduct is to be included, how will standards be set to ensure that professionals do not misconstrue the legislation and will cultural differences be considered? 
  3. Some family groups have asked me whether parental alienation would fall under Cinderella Law – might this be the case? 
  4. Under Cinderella Law, who will be deemed to have responsibility for a child and will it include teachers, foster carers, social workers and the local authority at large? 
  5. The current draft of Cinderella Law looks very similar to the Child Maltreatment Bill which was presented in the House of Commons last year. That Bill sets out criminal sanctions for parents who are found guilty of emotional and physical child abuse. However, the current Action for Children draft legislation does not seem to mention the sanctions – why is this?
  6. Risk of Significant Harm in family law is continually being refined by the judiciary in case law and through research carried out by child experts. It is, in effect, a work in progress. How will the criminal courts ensure that they are up to date and fully aware of the important nuances which stem from this threshold, before the law is introduced?

Thank you again. I’m getting a great deal of feedback and interest on Cinderella Law and I know your answers will be very well received.

Have a lovely weekend,Natasha 

We have not heard back from Action for Children yet, but we do hope they’ll get in touch. We know these are difficult questions, but they need answering.

BBC Radio1 DJ Emperor Rosko Backs Children Screaming To Be Heard

Maggie Tuttle, founder of CSTBH has just told us that Michael Pasternak, former Radio 1 DJ and son of Hollywood film producer Joe Pasternak has, in a show of solidarity, added the CSTBH website to his own web page.

Rosko, as he is known, will also be playing the charity’s song, Calling You Calling Me, written and recorded for the children by Michael Unsworth on air. You can buy the song here if you would like to. All money raised from the proceeds will go to towards the running of safe houses in the UK. 

Children Screaming to Be Heard is dedicated to providing warm, welcoming safe houses to children who have run away from home or state care.


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