Family Law Hub


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  • An appeal from a case management decision made in proceedings concerning the welfare of a six-year-old girl. The parents (the mother European, the father English) had been separated for some years. The mother made allegations of sexual abuse against the father, and contact was resumed after a finding of fact that there had been no sexual impropriety. The conclusion of an expert psychological report was that it would be in the child's interests for the father to become the primary carer. The Guardian recommended an immediate change of residence. The mother applied for an adjournment on the basis that the matter could not be determined fairly at a remote hearing. The application was refused, but at the start of the hearing, after reading the decision in Re P (A Child: Remote Hearings) [2020] EWFC 32, the judge vacated the hearing, with the matter to be relisted before her for a face-to-face final hearing in due course. The father appealed on the grounds that the judge had misapplied the judgment in Re P; there had been no material change in the circumstances between the two hearings; insufficient weight had been afforded to the child's welfare; and insufficient regard was given to the overriding objective in FPR rule 1.1. Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, allowed the appeal. There had not been new material in the father's position statement, and the judge's approach to the child's welfare had been in error. The decision to vacate the remote hearing would be set aside, and the matter remitted to the judge to redetermine the question of how and when the final hearing was to take place. Judgment, 05/06/2020, free
  • The father sought a child arrangements order while the mother opposed any direct contact. The mother alleged that she was the victim of the father's domestic violence and abuse. The case had engaged special measures, with a screen being used for the mother and the father being required to provide Willans J with his questions for her in advance, though Willans J expressed "grave reservations as to the resulting quality of evidence received". The allegations of rape and abduction were not found to be proven, while both mother and father were found to have sent inappropriate communications of a harassing nature to each other. Though the mother was found to have demonstrated implacable hostility, Willans J was not persuaded that the effects of this amounted to parental alienation. Consideration would now have to be given to whether contact could be re-established. The case needed to progress, and a Children's Guardian would be appointed prior to fixing a directions appointment. Judgment, 25/05/2020, free
  • The father applied for a summary inward return order in respect of a boy, one of three children, who was taken by the mother to both parents' native country of Sierra Leone and left there with her family. The mother cross-applied for an order permitting her retrospectively to relocate the boy. Mostyn J was also asked to make child arrangements orders regulating contact between the father and all three children. The father had not seen any of the children for three years. The mother alleged domestic abuse, and that the son had been involved in South London gang culture. The Cafcass officer recorded that the boy's emphatic wish was to remain in Sierra Leone until his education to GCSE level was complete. Mostyn J stated that the wishes of a Gillick-competent child on a particular issue, where they are not objectively foolish or unreasonable, should normally be given effect, and he was not satisfied that the child's wishes in this case were objectively foolish or unreasonable. The father's application for summary return was dismissed and the mother's application was granted. There would be supervised contact with the children, virtual at first, given the coronavirus, with the sessions recorded and the mother at liberty to stop them if the children became distressed. Mostyn J also commented on various procedural aspects of the case. Judgment, 18/05/2020, free
  • An appeal brought by the court itself, alleging contempt. The matter arose out of proceedings relating to the respondent's son. The mother had refused him contact with the child, and then raised allegations of coercive control and domestic violence. At the hearing the father made comments that were considered threatening. Moor J found that there was contempt in the face of the court. It was clear that he was threatening to pursue access to the child outside the court process and irrespective of court orders. However, the sentence was suspended for one year and reduced to two months in prison. Judgment, 07/04/2020, free
  • In the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak (‘Covid-19’), there has been little guidance as to whether Local Authorities have the ability to suspend contact between a child in their care and parties who have a right to contact with that child, either by parental responsibility or by a Court order. News, 03/04/2020, free

Latest know-how

Latest training

  • Recording of webinar broadcast live on 23 February 2017. Webcast, 02/03/2017, members only
  • In this webcast, which was recorded on 1 September 2016, Charlotte Trace, barrister at 29 Bedford Row, takes us through how to make private law Children Act applications, principally applications under section 8 of the Act (namely for contact, residence, specific issue and prohibited steps orders) and applications under section 11 for contact activity directions and conditions, and for enforcement. Webcast, 02/09/2016, members only
  • Piers Pressdee QC of 29 Bedford Row reviews the major developments within the private children law field in the last year. He focusses on the case-law, identifying the key decisions and seeking to set that case-law within context. Webcast, 24/02/2016, members only
  • Webinar recorded on 15 January 2015. Dafydd Griffiths of 29 Bedford Row reviews the private children law cases of 2014 and picks out some themes to look out for in 2015. Webcast, 15/01/2015, members only
  • Webcast on recent developments in private children law. Webcast, 16/10/2013, members only


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