Wardship and Forced Marriage Protection Orders thrust into the spotlight

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It is rare that such applications make the news, especially by very high-profile applicants.

However, the wife of the Dubai ruler has been in the news after she sought a Forced Marriage Protection Order, wardship of the children and a perhaps more widely known, a non-molestation order.

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, who is the sixth wife of the ruler, has reportedly applied to the Family Court in London and the matter is being dealt with at the highest level by Mr Justice McFarlane. As it involves international elements its complexity means it should be dealt with by the High Court (the upper level of the Family Court).

Applications for wardship are rare in private family law applications, and are usually applied for within proceedings where the local authority is involved. The moment a wardship application is issued, the children become wards of the court, which means the High Court is empowered with overall legal guardianship for decisions to be made in relation to them. This will then be reviewed at the first hearing, where further consideration of wardship is given and other wide-ranging directions can be made.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders can be applied for by local authorities, the police, interested parties (such as a concerned family member) or the person at risk of a forced marriage. FMPO applications continued the general upward trend last year, although only 324 were made in 2018. They are an important part of the family law justice system, as they ensure protection is available where required and protect the human rights of the vulnerable person.

Non-Molestation Orders are civil remedies which are similar to Restraining Orders made by the criminal court. Orders can often be made without giving advance notice to the respondent, if the protection of the applicant appears on balance to urgently require it.

Complex legal advice is likely to be required by the Princess due to the cross-jurisdictional nature of the applications, and the application by Sheikh Mohammed for reporting restrictions. The president of the Family Court, Mr Justice McFarlane, has rejected the application for reporting restrictions. However, the reporting rules continue to prevent the giving of details and names to protect the privacy of the family, particularly the children.

There is no suggestion that there are any other court proceedings (for divorce or finances) and media reports suggest that the matter is next due to be heard by the court in November. This is likely to mean that, in the interim, all three types of Order (if made) continue and will be reviewed at the next hearing.

Manchester Civil Justice Centre is one of the few court hearing centres in England and Wales which have specially-trained judges dealing with Forced Marriage Protection Orders. Bromleys’ care team practises primarily in Manchester and are knowledgeable in all these types of applications and more. We can also provide advice and representation in correspondence and in court, including in High Court matters.

How we can help?

If you, or someone you know, may need urgent advice about a family matter in relation to children or a parent requiring protection, please contact us for confidential advice on 0161 330 6821 or email:

Olivia Bellobell@bromleys.co.uk

Hannah Williamshwilliams@bromleys.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.