Aysha King – Family Law – time for reform and clarity?

The case of Aysha King is one that has stirred the nation resulting in unprecedented support for Mr and Mrs King.

There have been petitions presented to Downing Street and the NHS trust, Police and the Local Authority have all been subject to much criticism and scrutiny by the Public and the media.

No doubt many parents will sympathise with the King’s as after all any parent wants what is best for their child. This is a very emotive case and as it is presently before the High Court we cannot go into great detail.

The European Arrest Warrant issued against the King’s has now been withdrawn by the CPS and they have been freed from the Spanish jail and reunited with Aysha.

This has however had no effect on separate proceedings brought by Portsmouth City Council’s Social Services Department who applied for Aysha to be made a ward of the court. The proceedings continue and it is not clear as to whether the King’s are legally represented.

Prior to the introduction of the Children Act 1989 Wardship was regularly used by practitioners and local authorities but since then it’s use has diminished considerably as the ability to make an application for Wardship is significantly restricted by the introduction of the 1989 Act.

The recent case has brought Wardship very firmly back into the spotlight with commentators questioning whether it is now suitable in the modern world.

At the present moment Aysha King remains a ward of the Court which means that in effect the Court become the legal guardian for the child and decisions relating to the child’s welfare must be made by the Court.

It is not known either whether the King’s have appropriate Legal Representation in the Wardship proceedings or whether they will be able to obtain legal aid. The introduction of the sweeping legal aid cuts to family cases in 2013 arguably means that unless the King’s have capital of less than £8,000 and a disposable income of less than £733 per month then they may not be able to obtain help with their legal costs.

This has resulted in many commentators arguing that there needs to be urgent consideration on the present Legal Aid requirements and eligibility criteria along with the use of European Arrest Warrants and a review of Wardship.

If you would like to contact us about any Family matter please call 0800 107 3000.

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