Wednesday, 27 July 2016

What is involved with Hair Strand Drug Testing?

What are the benefits of Hair Strand Drug Testing?

There is a unique long window of detection covering a period of months with hair stand drug testing.  In comparison to other testing such as blood or urine where the time period can be as little as a couple of days.

Drugs remain locked in hair for as long as the hair is there.  Drugs will remain in the hair almost permanently.  This means that for example 12 centimetres of hair can show drug usage over the past 12 months.

The testing can determine which specific drugs have been used.

Hair strand testing allows for sectional month by month analysis so that trends and patterns of drug usage can be seen.

Simple and quick sample collection, involves just a sample of hair being taken.  Whereas blood and urine testing can be more invasive.

This testing is commonly used and accepted as evidence in cases involving children in the Family Courts.

This article is for information only. If you require help and legal advice please contact us on 0191 213 1010 or on

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

I don't want my partner to see our children as we have just split up

Should both parents have contact with the children upon the breakdown of a relationship?

It is a growing principle in family law that contact should not be refused between parent and child unless absolutely necessary in the child’s interests.  It is important that children have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents unless it is not safe or would be against their welfare.  This is a principle that is upheld by the Courts.

If an agreement is unable to be reached between the parents directly then legal advice can be sought.

A family solicitor would attempt to agree acceptable arrangements so that both parents would spend time with the children.  A family solicitor may also recommend alternative methods to resolve the matter such as Mediation or Parenting After Parting.

Mediators are trained to help resolve disputes between separating couples and assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The aim of mediation is to resolve family disputes without going to court.
Parenting After Parting is a service which can provide advice on contact matters and aid separating couples in coming to an agreement. This course can be attended separately.

Finally, if none of the above methods are successful then an application could be made to Court for a Child Arrangement Order, which will set out the arrangements for the children including who they will live with and who they shall spend time with. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

I have made an application to family court for my daughter - what do I do now?

You have made an application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order – what happens now?

A referral will be made to CAFCASS (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).  CAFCASS are a non-departmental public body in England set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court. 

CAFCASS will undertake safeguarding checks with the Police and the Local Authority on all parties.  The CAFCASS officer will also have discussions with all parties usually over the telephone.  A short letter will be provided to the Court in advance of the first hearing with all information received and any recommendations for moving forward.

A First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) will be listed.  All parties and the CAFCASS Officer will attend this hearing and be directed to attend in advance of the hearing to enable discussions to take place. 

The FHDRA is the first time the matter is before the Court.  It is hoped that an agreement could be reached with the assistance of CAFCASS.  If this is not possible then directions can be made to help the resolution of the application which can include whether any detailed assessments should be carried out, any expert involvement or whether the parties should file detailed statements.  The interim arrangements for the child will also need to be considered at this stage.

This article is for information only.

If you need help and detailed advice contact us on 0191 213 1010 or on

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Do you need a DNA test in family court proceedings?

There is a DNA Testing Pilot Project in place for orders needed in family court proceedings.

With the restrictions in Legal Aid Funding over the past few years, this can often leave no way of funding the cost of DNA, alcohol and drug testing in private law children matters.  The outcome of these tests can often be fundamental to the resolution of the arrangements for the child.

From 23 November 2015, funding has been introduced to allow CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to pay for DNA tests to establish the paternity of a child in the family courts.  This funding is only available in the following circumstances:
1. An application has been made for Child Arrangement Order;
2. A decision cannot be made by the Court as to what the arrangements should be for the child(ren) unless the dispute about paternity of the child(ren) is resolved; and
3. The parents are prepared to co-operate with the DNA testing.

CAFCASS will manage this testing and are required to provide the results to the Court within 6 weeks of the Order being made.

There is currently no similar provision for Drug and Alcohol Testing but watch this space…….