News Essentials: 14th August 2017

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:30 am
[syndicated profile] familylore_feed

Posted by John Bolch

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

Supreme Court to consider applications to vary periodical payments orders under MCA s31(7)
Permission given to husband to appeal by Mills v Mills. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass private law demand
In July 2017, Cafcass received a total of 3,709 new private law cases. This is a 10% increase compared with those received in July 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in July 2017
In July 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,238 care applications. This figure represents a 5% decrease compared with those received in July 2016. Full story: Cafcass.

Supreme Court to hear argument that 'unreasonable behaviour' in divorce is a 'linguistic trap'
Supreme Court grants permission to appeal in Owens case. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Judge approves suicidal girl care plan
A judge who said society should be "ashamed" for not protecting a suicidal girl has approved a care plan for her. Full story: BBC News. See X (A Child) (No 4), below.

Family Procedure Rules amended as of today
New divorce form D8 may be used from today. Full story: Family Law Week.

Joy-Morancho v Joy (Dismissal of Variation Application) [2017] EWHC 2086 (Fam) (11 August 2017)
Judgment dismissing husband's application for downward variation of spousal maintenance order. Full report: Bailii.

S v S [2017] EWHC 1298 (Fam) (28 May 2017)
Interim judgment in application by father for return of child to Iran, dealing with issue of expert evidence as to Iranian law and practice. Full report: Bailii.

K and P (Children : Discharge of care order) [2017] EWFC B51 (23 March 2017)
Application by local authority for discharge of care order in respect of two children. Full report: Bailii.

J (A Child : Care Proceedings : Apportionment of Experts' fees) [2017] EWFC B49 (3 August 2017)
Care proceedings involving possible non-accidental injuries to child. Judgment concerning how medical experts' fees should be apportioned between the parties. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 4) [2017] EWHC 2084 (Fam) (07 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. Full report: Bailii.

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[syndicated profile] wellroundedmama_feed

Posted by Well-Rounded Mama

Original checklist by Melek Speros

Many women with a prior cesarean who want a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) are counseled that they are not "good candidates" for a trial of labor because a VBAC Prediction Model suggests that they have a very low chance of VBAC "success."

In particular, the MFMU VBAC Prediction Model considers weight a strong negative predictive factor for VBAC. As a result, many obese women are told that their chances for VBAC are very low, implying they might as well just sign up for the repeat cesarean now. Many doctors strongly discourage VBAC in women with a high Body Mass Index (BMI). Some hospitals and practices even have BMI restrictions on who is allowed to have a Trial of Labor After Cesarean (TOLAC).

Similarly, many women of color are discouraged from pursuing a VBAC because they are told that they have a lower chance of success. Imagine the negative pressure against VBAC when these two factors intersect in a high BMI woman of color!

However, a recent study from UCLA actually examined how predictive this model was in their institution. They found that it was highly accurate for women predicted to have a very strong chance of VBAC. But to their surprise, they found it was NOT that accurate for women predicted to have a low or moderate chance of VBAC.

The difference was particularly striking for those predicted to have a low chance of a VBAC. 57% of this group actually had a VBAC, when only 29% were predicted to have one, nearly twice the expected rate. 

Of particular note, the authors also documented that, unlike the MFMU prediction model, neither BMI nor ethnicity were associated with lower rates of VBACs in their institution. 

This is especially meaningful to the many women of color and women of size who have been actively discouraged from pursuing a VBAC because of the MFMU prediction model. It also suggests to me that risk perception and the way women are managed in labor (higher induction rates and a lower surgical threshold are common in TOLAC in high BMI women, for example) may influence VBAC "success."

Personally, my VBAC prediction scores were extremely low (22%!) due to multiple risk factors, yet I went on to have not one but two VBACs. If I had let negative predictions discourage me, I would have missed out on my VBACs and their easier recoveries, and I would have been exposed to increased risk for placenta previa and accreta by having additional scars on my uterus.

I know from my work with the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) that many women are told they have a poor chance at a VBAC and yet go on to have a VBAC anyhow. In fact, few women meet all the "ideal conditions" for VBAC success, yet most will go on to have a VBAC.

If you have been told that you are not a good candidate for VBAC because of your BMI, your race, or various other factors, remember this study and the anecdotal experience of so many women in ICAN. It's okay to consider risk factors, but don't let them overly influence your decision. Group risk factors don't predict what will happen with any one individual. 

No one can guarantee you a VBAC, but neither can anyone reliably predict who will not have a VBAC when given a fair and adequate chance to labor. As the authors conclude in the UCLA study:
As part of efforts to safely decrease cesarean rates in the United States, patients interested in TOLAC (and their providers) should not be discouraged by a low predicted success score.


AJP Rep. 2017 Jan;7(1):e31-e38. doi: 10.1055/s-0037-1599129. Validation of a Prediction Model for Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Delivery Reveals Unexpected Success in a Diverse American Population. Maykin MM, Mularz AJ, Lee LK, Valderramos SG. PMID: 28255520  Full free text here.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the validity of a prediction model for success of vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC) in an ethnically diverse population. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of women admitted at a single academic institution for a trial of labor after cesarean from May 2007 to January 2015. Individual predicted success rates were calculated using the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network prediction model. Participants were stratified into three probability-of-success groups: low (<35%), moderate (35-65%), and high (>65%). The actual versus predicted success rates were compared. RESULTS: In total, 568 women met inclusion criteria. Successful VBAC occurred in 402 (71%), compared with a predicted success rate of 66% (p = 0.016). Actual VBAC success rates were higher than predicted by the model in the low (57 vs. 29%; p < 0.001) and moderate (61 vs. 52%; p = 0.003) groups. In the high probability group, the observed and predicted VBAC rates were the same (79%). CONCLUSION: When the predicted success rate was above 65%, the model was highly accurate. In contrast, for women with predicted success rates <35%, actual VBAC rates were nearly twofold higher in our population, suggesting that they should not be discouraged by a low prediction score.

Don’t do that, then

Aug. 10th, 2017 11:12 pm
[syndicated profile] shapeofthings_feed

Posted by janetmck

There are certain classes of bug — or at least unexpected behaviour — which are so buried in layers of how-did-you-even-get-there that I wouldn’t even begin to think about reporting them, but which still manage to irritate me. Here’s an example.

I play Candy Crush Saga. In the game, when you have used up your five lives, you have to wait until a set period of time has elapsed for them to be restored; you are encouraged to get more lives more quickly by spamming your friends or by paying actual money to the plagiarists who produce the game. There is, however, a workaround:

1. go to ‘Settings’ and set your phone’s date to the next day
2. switch back to Candy Crush, at which point your lives will have reappeared
3. return to ‘Settings’ and reset your phone’s date back to the correct one
4. return to Candy Crush and enjoy your new lives

Screenshot of 'overview' in Android

Many apps make lives work

In the course of the thousands of hours I’ve lost to Candy Crush (level 1834 on original Candy Crush Saga, level 1382 on Candy Crush Soda Saga) I’ve become pretty quick at doing this ridiculous app-switching task, first on an iPhone and more recently on a Fairphone. (Trivia: ‘Multitasking’ for iOS was introduced in iOS 4, in 2010. I still think of this app-switching behaviour as ‘alt-tabbing’ because I first encountered it on a Windows PC.)

But here’s the thing: on Android 6.0.1, the Overview button (did you know it was called that? I didn’t until I looked it up for this post) only works for the first 3 steps of the above 4-step dance. In order to get to step 4 I have to press the Home button twice, and then return to Candy Crush by any of the usual means (from home screen; from ‘all apps’; via Overview button; probably other methods which are failing to occur to me).

Nobody is ever going to fix this; it is manifestly absurd that I should even be in a position where I notice this behaviour; nonetheless, it’s really very annoying.

[syndicated profile] familylore_feed

Posted by John Bolch

The forms needed for couples in England and Wales to file for divorce are set to change. In paper and digital format, the new forms are designed to gather more information from both divorcees. Whilst the paper forms are yet to be released by the Ministry of Justice, a pilot for the digital equivalent is to be extended.

Being used on a trial basis in the East Midlands, the forms have a few key differences from the old one. Whereas all was needed for the current forms was a signature from both parties, for the new ones, a statement of truth is needed. This is to help give the authorities an idea of why couples are filing for divorce.

The statement requires the person(s) filling in the form to explain why they want a separation, being as descriptive and honest as possible. This could cause some confusion for those couples who have different versions of events leading up to divorce. It isn’t the only big change being introduced to the way in which couples can divorce.

Civil Partnerships

A version of the new divorce form will be introduced for couples in civil partnerships. As with married couples, their form will also have a statement of truth section, which needs to be filled in before it gets signed off. This step recognises that couples are looking to alternatives to marriage as a means of expressing their love for one another.

As for the pilot electronic form, this needs to be printed off before it can be agreed by the relevant bodies. Expert family law solicitors can assist with filling in the new divorce form. The pilot, which started towards the end of July, will gauge whether or not paperless divorces and separations are set to become the norm.

The most recent amendment to Form D8 was made this month, but other aspects of divorce or dissolution remain unchanged for now. Whilst one change may not seem like that much, knowing how to write the statement of truth may require plenty of thought from both divorcees.

Divorce by Phone

With the modified divorce form now available online, in theory, would-be divorcees could fill it in via their smartphones. This could cause some confusion, particularly if predictive text is used. Seeking specialist divorce law advice should help anyone choosing the electronic pilot over the paper form will be the best course of action.

However the form is filled in, if the electronic pilot succeeds, it should be rolled out across England and Wales at some point in 2018. The early signs thus far look promising for this shift towards digital divorces. Until then, divorce lawyers and offices nationwide will need to keep stocking up on paper forms and have pens at the ready.

Published on behalf of withersworldwide.

News Essentials: 7th August 2017

Aug. 7th, 2017 07:30 am
[syndicated profile] familylore_feed

Posted by John Bolch

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

Senior judge: Fathers with valuable homes should pay more child support
Estranged fathers with expensive homes should be forced to pay more towards the upbringing of their children, one of Britain's most senior family judges has said. Full story: The Telegraph. See Green v Adams, below.

Judge warns of 'blood on our hands' if suicidal girl is forced out of secure care
Sir James Munby, head of high court’s family division, says he is ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ that no hospital place has been found for 17-year-old. Full story: The Guardian. See X (A Child) (No 3), below.

Government updates child maintenance application fee guidance
The Department for Work and Pensions has updated its guidance which sets out how it will decide if a victim of domestic violence or abuse is exempt from the Child Maintenance Service application fee. Full story: Family Law.

Judge dismisses council’s bid to block parents’ adoption petition
Parents' right to campaign outweighs risk to children, court finds. Full story: Community Care. See Southend Borough Council v CO & Anor.

Digital divorce update
Legal stationers are stocking up on new family law forms which will need to be used by the end of the summer. Full story: Family Law.

Green v Adams [2017] EWFC 52 (03 August 2017)
Applications arising from order requiring the father to pay a lump sum to the mother, under Schedule 1 CA 1989. Full report: Bailii.

AM v DF [2017] EWHC 2034 (Fam) (01 August 2017)
Appeal by father against order allowing mother to take children to Iraq for four weeks. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) (No 3) [2017] EWHC 2036 (Fam) (03 August 2017)
Further judgment in care proceedings concerning a 17 year old girl who has made determined attempts to commit suicide on a large number of occasions. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.
[syndicated profile] familylore_feed

Posted by John Bolch

Family court judges need to extend their imaginations beyond writing verdicts in the form of ‘personable’ letters to family members, says a leading family charity.

Mr Peter Justice Jackson made headlines in late July when he sent a 14 year-old boy a personalised letter, outlining his reasons for denying the teenager the outcome he sought – to be allowed to move abroad with his dad.

But National Family Mediation says we should not be deceived by the novel approach.

“Make no mistake, it’s going to be very hard for Sam to digest the way the court saw his father,” says Jane Robey, the charity’s CEO.

“The language and delivery of the verdict may be worlds away from what we expect. Yet the basic fact that again here is a judge handing down a life-changing verdict to a young person based on evidence he accrued during a long and expensive court case.”

She added that it “doesn’t alter the fact that as ever in divorce and separation cases that go to a court, parents’ and children’s futures get determined by a judge: the one person on the scene who knows least about the family.

“I say it’s high time for the judiciary to become more creative and vocal in its efforts to avoid court battles that expose the dirty laundry of a separating family, often in the full glare of the people most affected: the children.

“Judges already have powers to direct people who come before them towards alternatives.”

In an article for Huffington Post, Jane Robey explains there is capacity within the Children and Families Act to order couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, and explains how the charity was awarded a grant by the Department for Work and Pensions to develop an in-court mediation pilot programme.

“Our dispute resolution experts, based on hand in a sample of family courts, managed to settle cases just like this one in a much more constructive and amicable way.

“Crucially they avoided families involved having all their lives laid bare before a court. Many had already suffered years of court room squabbles but mediation helped them reach dignified agreements: settlements that were fully supported by the judges concerned.”
“We still await word from the DWP about a national roll-out of that in-court mediation programme that could transform the lives of thousands of separated families. And think of the money it could save the taxpayer.

“Transformative change could be a few heartbeats away, as long as the will exists. Judges and courts could manage their parenting, property and money dispute cases in a fresh way, using their existing powers to better effect, whilst seriously protecting the families’ right to a private life.

“A novel approach to writing a verdict is one thing: but it’s time for judges to use their imaginations in a completely different way.”

The article can be read in full here.

Nothing really matters

Aug. 4th, 2017 07:30 am
[syndicated profile] familylore_feed

Posted by John Bolch

Damn, just broke my rule not to use a song lyric for the title of a blog post. Again. Still, that lyric did seem particularly apposite, at least in respect of the first of my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

In this post-truth world, does it matter what the public believes? - Just putting some ideas out there...

OK, so what child names would a court find unacceptable? - Thoughts on Re C.

The legal aid scandal that wasn’t - (Over) reaction to Re C.

Determining whether care is shared for child support purposes - The Upper Tribunal case JS v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and another.

Have a good weekend.