Monday, 2 February 2015

Do You Know Your Family Law - Answers and References

Click on the image to take the quiz
Having seen a range of advice, from very good to not, and given the prevalence of Facebook style quizzes, we thought we'd have some fun with a 'Do You Know Your Family Law' Quiz.

Fun but with a serious side. The quiz is intended for those involved in giving advice on family law as a lay adviser. On the whole, the questions aren't difficult for those with some experience, and if you're helping parents prepare for court, you should know the majority of the answers.

Before reading the rest of the article please Take the quiz - and share it. Don't worry, your answers aren't recorded. The site only records the number of people who take the quiz, not the answers or scores. You're anonymous!

If you want to learn more, The Custody Minefield explains the court process, contains more specialist information than most, and has detailed case law libraries including the full text of judgments in the public domain. Charity staff, McKenzie Friends and parents going through the court make use of it. Please share details of it to help others become better informed and improve their prospects.

Returning to the quiz... we give the answers (both on the quiz site and here, as we want to help inform people and highlight knowledge gaps) so please do not take someone else's published quiz result as a guarantee of their expertise or knowledge. Simply, there's nothing to stop someone cheating or guessing the answers.

Analysing your result: if you scored less than 65%, accept that you are lacking basic knowledge and the advice you give, away from text books or web reference sources is suspect. Perhaps hard to hear, but you're putting yourself and those you help at risk. Time to step back and do more study, and be very sure you're only answering questions where you're 100% sure of the answers, admitting when you don't, and not taking cases where you don't have the knowledge. If you're regularly in court supporting people as a McKenzie Friend in all stages of proceedings, you should have got at least 80%, and have got all the basic questions right (see further on).

For those who support and advise people going to court, consider if someone asked you a question which is in the quiz, and you got the answer wrong. What would be the impact on their case? How might you limit their options? Is your knowledge sufficiently good, for people taking your advice, to risk their relationship with their child through reliance upon what you can tell them?

The Questions
Below we give the question, the answer, and references which inform the answers. We also include our opinion as to whether the knowledge should be considered basic knowledge for any lay adviser, or are more specialist (but should still be known if you involve yourself in that type of case, or stage of court proceedings). Specialist answers we'd normally expect someone with good knowledge to still need to look up, so a score of 90% or above is good.

The three levels of questions are:
  1. Basic Questions - 13 of these amounting to 65% of the total score - the answers should be known by anyone advising on family law, whether as a McKenzie Friend or in a charity support capacity.
  2. Advanced Questions - 4 of these amounting to 20% of the total score - BUT... the knowledge is commonly needed depending on the nature of case or stage of proceedings. If you're involved in the type of case or stage of proceedings to which they refer, you should know the answer.
  3. Specialist Questions - 3 of these amounting to 15% of the total score. You should know where to look for the answers if involved in cases with an international element. If you scored 85% or more without guessing or cheating, well done!
Question 1: "How long do child arrangements orders normally last?"
Answer: b) Until the child named in the order is 16, unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Reference: section 9(6) of the Children Act 1989 [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 2: "If I am named in a child arrangements order as someone with whom the child lives, can I take my child abroad on holiday for 45 days?"
Answer: a) Possibly, but you must have the consent of each other holder of parental responsibility for the child, or failing this, the court's consent via a specific issue order.
Reference: section 13(1)(b) and13(2) of the Children Act 1989 [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 3: "Having a residence order or child arrangements order naming me as the person with whom the child lives gives me the right to change the child's surname."
Answer: c) Possibly. You must however first obtain the consent of each other holder of parental responsibility for your child, or failing this, have sought the court's permission via a specific issue order.
Reference: section 13(1)(a) of the Children Act 1989 [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 4: "Under which of the following circumstances would you normally need to ask the court's permission to apply for contact with a child (via a child arrangements order)."
Answer: a) You are the child's biological grandparent, and saw the child every week of their life.
Reference: section 10(5) of the Children Act 1989 [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 5: "Under which of the following circumstances would a child arrangements order automatically end?"
Answer b) Once the parents have been living together for 6 months.
Reference: section 11(5) of the Children Act 1989 [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 6: "A court will only consider making an order for shared living arrangements if the child spends half of their time with each parent."
Answer: b) False
Reference: refer to the cases K (Shared Residence Order) [2008] 2 FLR 380. Care does not need to be more or less equal for a court to make an order for shared living arrangements. The case C (A Child) [2006] EWCA Civ 235 gives a good guide as to circumstances a court may consider for the granting of shared living arrangements. [Case Law] [Basic]

Question 7: "Section 91.14 orders require a named individual to seek the court's permission before applying for further specified orders. Conditions may be attached to the order which a parent must satisfy before they will be granted permission. Is this statement..."
Answer: b) False
Reference: see Stringer v Stringer [2006] EWCA Civ 1617 - While the judge may indicate what might help a litigant in having permission granted in the future, this cannot be set down as a condition for further applications. This point of law should not be confused with a court limiting the types of order to which the s91.14 restrictions may refer. Similarly, the order may be for a specified period of time, but again, this is not a 'condition'. [Case Law] [Advanced - basic if cases involve applications for a s91.14 order]

Question 8: "Which of the following items of evidence should not be included in the court bundle unless specifically directed by the court?"
Answer: e) All of the above
Reference: Practice Direction 27A section 4.1 which related to information which should be excluded from the Court Bundle [Practice Direction] [Basic]

Question 9: Shared living arrangements (called shared residence before residence orders were replaced by child arrangements orders in April 2014), cannot be made if one parent is hostile to the idea.
Answer: b) False
Reference: the judgment in A v A [2004] EWHC 142 (Fam) [Case Law] [Basic]

Question 10: You disagree with your ex-partner's choice of school. You wish the court to resolve the matter. You should apply for...
Answer: a) Specific Issue Order
Reference: section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989 [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 11: Which of the following countries is party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction?
Answer: a) Russian Federation
Explanation: Russia became a member state in 2011, however is not obliged to assume costs (Article 26 of the Convention). Saudi Arabia and Liberia are not party to the Convention. Saudi Arabia and Liberia have not signed up to the 1980 Hague Convention. [HCCH - The World Organisation for Cross-Border Co-operation in Civil and Commercial Matters] [Specialist]

Question 12: Applications for non-molestation orders and/or occupation orders (injunctive orders made in relation to domestic violence) are heard under...
Answer: b) The Family Law Act 1996
Reference: see Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996. [Statute] [Advanced - basic if supporting people at risk of or accused of domestic violence]

Question 13: The letters CAP, in respect to family law, commonly refer to...
Answer: c) The Child Arrangements Programme
Reference: see Practice Direction 12b (basic knowledge) and reforms introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 [Practice Directions/Statute] [Basic]

Question 14: You were not married to the mother but are named as the father on the birth certificate. You automatically have parental responsibility for the children if...
Answer: b) The child was born after 1st December 2003
Reference: Amendments were made to the Children Act 1989 via the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which allows for parental responsibility to be granted to unmarried fathers whose children were born on or after 1st December 2003 (when the amendment came into force) where they were named on the birth certificate. [Statute/Legislation] [Basic]

Question 15: Courts can consider someone to be a parent, even if they are not biologically related to the children and no orders have yet been made.
Answer: a) True
Reference: refer to the case G (Children) [2006] UKHL 43 which discusses parenthood being conferred by being a natural, gestational or psychological/social parent. This is unrelated to the acquisition of parental responsibility. This information is particularly important for LGBT non-biological parents (who are a partner to the biological parent), fathers who discover they are not the biological parent where they believed themselves to be a biological parent but otherwise fulfilled this rule, and may similarly support the ongoing role and involvement of unmarried step-parents in children's lives. [Case Law] [Specialist]

Question 16: When making orders in respect of children, one factor which the court should consider is their...
Answer: b) Ascertainable wishes
Reference: see section 1(3)(a) of the Children Act 1989 and clarification of as to why the difference is important in the case H (Children) [2014] EWCA Civ 733. Children's wishes can be influenced, and this is why there is, on occasion, a stark difference between what a child says (their expressed wish) and what their underlying wishes may be (which may also be influenced by attempts at alienation). Is it possible to ascertain their wishes? Are their expressed wishes reasonable? Understanding this concept (among others) is highly important when presenting arguments in support of alienated parents. [Statute/Case Law] [Advanced - basic if cases involve parental alienation]

Question 17: Which rules govern who you can and cannot discuss your details of your case with?
Answer: a) Sections 97 of the Children Act 1989 and Family Procedure Rules [2010] 12.73 and 12.75.
Reference: Sections 97 of the Children Act 1989 and Family Procedure Rules [2010] 12.73 and 12.75 cover confidentiality in respect of family law proceedings. [Statute/Legislation/Family Procedure Rules] [Basic]

Question 18: All countries in Europe have signed up to European Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 (also known as the Brussels II Revised Regulations) which governs the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility.
Answer: b) False
Reference: Denmark did not become party to this regulation. [European Council] [Specialist]

Question 19: Which form would normally be used to apply for a parental responsibility order?
Answer: b) C1 Form
Reference: The C100 form is used for orders made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989, while the C(PRA)1 form is used where parents make a formal agreement in respect of parental responsibility. The C1 form is used for applications for parental responsibility. [Court Forms] [Basic]

Question 20: If a fact finding hearing is carried out concerning allegations of domestic violence and abuse, the court should, having determined whether or not the allegations are true...
Answer: b) record its findings in writing, and serve a copy on the parties.
Reference: See Practice Direction 12J section 29. [Practice Directions] [Advanced - But basic where support is given to those facing findings of fact]