Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Procedure - pre Children Act 1989 decisions

Judge seeing the children in private

Material matters arising from the interview should not be with-held from the parties, so that submissions may be made.
E v E [1986] 1 FLR 610

Where the children have said something to the Judge which the Judge does not inform the parties about they have no means of dealing with it themselves. The parties must have the opportunity of dealing with what seems to be important factors in the Judge’s decision.
Dickenson v Dickenson 1982

Judge discussing the case with anyone e.g. Court Welfare Officer

Any private conversation between a Judge and a person concerned with the case which was not disclosed to the parties involved an infraction of the principle that justice had to be seen to be done. - Retrial before another Judge.
H v H [1983] 4 FLR 119

Need to make specific findings of fact

The judge has a prima-facie duty to weigh the evidence and make specific findings of fact rather than rely on an overall impression. The parent’s evidence had been in conflict on a number of important issues (relationship between parents and children, father’s caring role, mother’s relationship with another man) and the judge had failed to make findings of fact on those issues. Without findings of fact there was no way of knowing if the judge’s impression was right or wrong - retrial ordered
M v M, (1988) 1 FLR 255

Prejudicial comments by judges

The court has a duty to discharge its discretionary duty judicially. It cannot be seen to do so if comments are made which might lead one of the parents to think that he or she had been prejudged before giving evidence.
M v M, (1988) 1 FLR 255

Note of judgement

In those cases where the appellant acts in person, counsel or solicitors for the other side must make available their notes of judgement.
[Practice Note: 1985 -1 All ER 841]

Inspecting the court file

Matrimonial Causes Rules 1977, Rule 130, permits you to: ‘‘Have a search made for, and may inspect and bespeak a copy of, any document lodged in the court office’’.

Security for costs

It is a general principle of English law that no person should be precluded from bringing an action just because he is insolvent or poor. This was upheld in B (infants) 1965. See also RSC Ord 23 r1

David Cannon
First issued January 1989

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