The last three weeks I've been busy with the seasonal festivities, daughter visiting from Australia, son's birthday and I even managed to get away for a short break. I've only just got around to reflecting events of the past year.
January My very first blog ever setting out a wish list and there have been some moves in the right direction. C-MEC came into operation this year although it remains yet to be seen how effective the change over from the Child Support Agency will be. Relationships Scotland was formed from Relate Scotland and Family Mediation Scotland and with the support of the Scottish Collaborative Law Group pilots of parenting classes were initiated throughout Scotland.
February The first of three damning regional Ofsted inspection reports into the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, the organisation that provides a social work service to children and families who are involved in family court proceedings in England & Wales.
March The Court of Session ordered three children to be returned to their mother in France. Subsequently the father was extradited to face charges of child abduction.
April The Glasgow Bar Association voted for industrial action in protest against the Scottish Government's plans to reform legal aid. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was to announce an increase in the level of civil legal aid payments and a new scale of payments for complex family law cases a month later.
May The launch in Edinburgh of Scotland's first specialist legal service, Cl@n, for children and young people who need legal advice and representation.
June In SS v Childen's Reporter Sheriff Stoddart ruled that an interim contact order did not "vest" any parental rights and responsibilities in the father, but did relate to the exercise of such rights. the case sent back to the children's hearing to reconsider.
July Sheriff Nigel Murray Paton Morrison set out a list of factors to consider in cases when permission to remove a child from the jurisdiction permanently is sought.
August Thousands of drivers, including holidaymakers on their way to Heathrow, were left stranded after police were forced to shut part of the M25 when Fathers 4 Justice campaigner, Geoffrey Hibbert, dressed as Batman and climbed on to a gantry. In September Fathers 4 justice was disbanded and then relaunched??
September In Scotland's first 'palimony' case a mother was awarded £14,460 representing a half share of a tax bill and a half share of the estimated £26,000 to cover childcare.
RAB v MIB overturned decisions by sheriffs in Aberdeen and an English Court that the child residency case should be heard in English courts.
Nigel Don tabled a motion, Family Law Disputes, in the Scottish Parliament.
That the Parliament recognises that current arrangements for settling family law disputes could be improved and that current law still discriminates against parents who are not married; notes that parents can find it difficult or impossible to enforce contact orders where the other parent is unco-operative and that disputes where broken families live in more than one jurisdiction within the United Kingdom are unnecessarily difficult to resolve; further notes that these issues are particularly relevant due to recent cases in the north east; encourages current moves by Scotland's legal profession towards collaborative dispute resolution, and notes with interest the new system of less adversarial trials being developed in Australia.
October Launch of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.
November Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced the upper disposable income threshold for civil legal aid is to increase from £10,306 to £25,000.
December New measures for the enforcement of child contact orders introduced in England& Wales.