The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Family Business

Not everyone is aware that magistrates play a key part in family law, dealing with matters of child care and custody, finance, and other things. I have never been involved in this, but I do know that to sit in the family court one has to do lots of extra training and submit to a selection and appraisal process.

The family courts are being rearranged under Her Majesty's Courts' Service and the idea is to have centres for each area where magistrates, District Judges and, very rarely, Circuit Judges sit. Cases will be allocated to the appropriate level depending on their complexity.

I finished my court early the other day, and I found a colleague sitting in the corner of our pleasant retiring room just staring out of the window. He looked drained, so after I had fetched him a coffee I asked him about his morning's work. He told me that he had just finished chairing a four day child care case, at the end of which the court ordered that the two small children of a heroin and alcohol addicted couple should be taken from then and placed for adoption with no further parental contact. This couple had been through similar proceedings five years ago, and had two earlier offspring taken away.

The law provides that the child's interests are paramount, and to that end a posse of lawyers attended, each representing one of the parties involved, including local authority, parents, child, and so on.

My colleague was so emotionally drained after his case that he just needed a quiet sit down and a bit of space.

These cases are hugely important to parents family and above all the children involved, and I have the greatest respect for my colleagues who take this work on.