Wednesday, 21 May 2008

One Deity at a Time

Humour, especially in the form of jokes, is rare in family law circles but I did quite like this one:

What's the difference between God & a Family Court Judge?

God doesn't think he's a Family Court Judge!

Monday, 19 May 2008

In memory of Tom & Nancie Hughes

I was so very sad to read about Tom Hughes & his wife Nancie in this Telegraph story who killed themselves after 60 years of marriage rather than face the prospect they feared of having to live in separate care homes. Rather a contrast to the couples who keep family courts in business and who only manage to stay together for 5 minutes in the first place and then spend years locked in litigation. Did he he start the affair before the official end of the relationship, which one of them should get the broken record player, who should keep the dog, should a child should spend 6 or 8 nights a month with the other parent, can the other parent be made to have more contact than they seem to want, is it reasonable to expect a father earning a tidy sum to contribute more than £2.50 a week towards his child's upkeep, which of two parents with convictions for benefit fraud should get to keep which of the houses they had effectively stolen from the state / law abiding council tax payers, should the children be able to take their belongings backwards and forwards between the two households or should the stuff stay with whoever pays, should you be able to change the child's surname to that of the new boyfriend who has been on the scene for 5 minutes and what did happen to the bridal jewellery? Not only does love seem to turn so easily to hate but for some it slips quickly into the mire of irrelevance and triviality. If you find yourself arguing about any of these examples it may be time to take a step back and a deep breath and ask yourself how much it really matters in the great scheme of things. Give it up and get over it. It is sad but perhaps not a tragedy to learn that a long life has ended, even if sooner than expected. The tragedy is the life that is not lived at all but wasted in waiting for one episode to end and a new one to begin. If you are stuck arguing about the past it will be very difficult to move into a future full of promise and possibility.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Why I became a Barrister: So I get to always dress in black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Friday, 2 May 2008

The impotence of family courts

In a recent case the Times reports on the remarks of Lord Justice Ward on the apparent powerlessness of the courts in certain contact disputes.

Lord Justice Ward made his comments after telling a father that there was nothing he could do to help him to reestablish contact with his teenage daughter who had been turned against him by her “vicious” mother. “The father complains bitterly, passionately and with every justification that the law is sterile, impotent and utterly useless - we have to acknowledge there is a degree of force in what he says,” the judge told the Court of Appeal Civil Division.

The father is considering taking the case to the European Court.

Lord Justice Ward's remarks are on all fours with those of Munby J in a 2004 case .

The courts are to be given greater powers in relation to contact as a result of the Children & Adoption Act 2006 (summarised in this article on Charles Russell's website ) but the relevant sections are not in force yet. On 17th May 2007 a written ministerial statement was promised on the implementation timetable but I cannot find it or any further reference to the timetable. Perhaps another question could be asked in the house?