Calling the family courts ‘corrupt’ is the real dishonesty

family law



  1. Having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

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The client came into my room. Even through his suit I could see that he was a muscular man: not tall, but thick-set, and clearly able to look after himself, in a slightly intimidating sort of way. He was about forty years old. He had come to discuss the issue of custody of his children, following his separation from his wife. The children were living with her, but he wanted a custody order in his favour. I advised him that getting such an order would be very difficult. I could see that he was unhappy with my advice, obviously being a man who was used to getting his own way. I began to feel a little nervous that he might lose his temper and become angry at me. Instead, he did something else: he asked me whether we could bribe the judge to grant him custody of the children. I was shocked, but managed to stammer out my reply: “Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that.”

That was more than thirty years ago. However, if I were asked that question again today, my reply would be the same. Whilst there may be the very odd exception, family court judges are not corrupt. Sorry to disappoint, but they do not act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

Let’s look into that in a little more detail, bearing in mind the definition of ‘corrupt’, as set out above (courtesy of Oxford Dictionaries).

Firstly, as my little anecdote above indicated, it is not possible to bribe a judge. Otherwise, they do not receive money or personal gain of any other sort for deciding cases in a particular way. They receive a salary, which is not affected in any way by how they decide cases (magistrates receive no remuneration, only expenses). They could decide one hundred children cases in favour of the mother, it would make no difference to them personally, financially or otherwise.

The same applies to every other professional involved in the family justice system. It makes no difference to, for example, a Cafcass officer which way a case goes. It also makes no difference to the lawyers involved in a case (not that they play a direct role in deciding cases): in general, they charge and get paid at the same rate, irrespective of which party they are acting for, or whether that party was successful.

Another suggestion that has been made is that the system benefits by somehow making more work for itself. Obviously, this does not affect those on a salary. I suppose it could benefit the lawyers but, as I have said, they play no direct role in deciding cases.

In a quarter of a century of practising family law I never personally came across a corrupt judge, or heard of anyone else who did. I also don’t recall reading of any case in which a family judge acted dishonestly in return for money or personal gain. I’m not saying that corrupt judges don’t exist, just that my experience and knowledge suggests that they are extremely rare. So rare, in fact, that it would be an absolutely absurd extrapolation to conclude that the entire family court system is corrupt.

In short, whatever adjective you want to use to describe the family justice system, ‘corrupt’ is not the one. It is inaccurate. It is wrong. The family justice system is certainly not perfect, but corrupt it ain’t.

I can see the allure of using a word such as ‘corrupt’. It is dramatic, headline-grabbing, and suggestive of systemic failures. But even if you think that the system does suffer from such failures, that doesn’t entitle you to use such a word. I suspect that it is often said completely thoughtlessly, without the consideration of its implications, but that is no excuse for making such a serious allegation, against an entire group of people.

Bandying about allegations of corruption willy-nilly does not make them true. As I have said, even if you have some evidence of one judge being corrupt, that does not mean that the allegation can be levelled at all judges. Making false allegations is not only a slur upon the judiciary, it is also incredibly irresponsible, giving those with no experience of the system entirely the wrong impression, an impression that can seriously taint the decisions that they make in connection with their own matter.

If you are tempted to jump on the bandwagon and tell the world that our family courts are corrupt, stop and engage your critical faculties for a moment. Look at the definition above and ask yourself whether that describes the courts, or the system. A brief analysis will tell you that it does not, and to say that they are would be completely dishonest.

[Yes, I know that this post is very similar to one I wrote here previously, but the message clearly needs repeating. And I shall happily continue to repeat it for as long as necessary.]

Photo by mrpolyonymous via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

John Bolch

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

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Dr. Manhattan. - September 11, 2017 at 4:48pm

“If you are tempted to jump on the bandwagon and tell the world that our family courts are corrupt, stop and engage your critical faculties for a moment”
you never fail to make us laugh at your defence of the family courts.
Dont forget about High court Judge Justice Pauffley who exposed the truth about Family court Judges and Social workers.

“Judges and social workers have been conspiring to remove children unjustly from their parents, a scathing High Court ruling said today.
It condemned family court judges for a ‘clandestine arrangement’ which meant that they simply rubber-stamped the demands of social workers without giving a fair hearing to the pleas of parents.
Rulings by family judges were ‘cut and pasted’ from recommendations emailed to the court by social workers, the High Court found.
“The High Court judge warned that ‘the practices I have described are not confined to this area but are widespread across the country’.
But then i guess youd rather sweep this under the Carpet.
what a complete Joke.

Dolphin - September 11, 2017 at 5:04pm

I would agree, I do not think any Judge in a family court setting is corrupt.

But, there are far too many judges , in a family court playing “devil’s advocate”

I have witnessed it personally. That hear say and acussation were believed. No proof. Just an accusation.

Far too many accusations are made and statistics prove a one sided balance.

Equality ?

We are far from reaching such in a family court room in the UK.

In a final hearing, I was allowed to stay in my son’s life. He has gone on to play football with a premiere league team. Came 4th in a triathlon. That all came from me. A dad. Far too many are removed because of deceit & lies.

How many dad’s commit suicide ?

It is truly appalling.

It is a hate crime to remove a parent.

Without any real foundation. It cannot be hearsay.

Michele Simmons - September 11, 2017 at 5:31pm This is why everything should be audio recorded and it should be mandatory.

If there is an adoption order x 2 for one child and an adoption certificate x 2 for same said child, where the second one came many years later (for both) with no adoption placement breakdown and said child knew nothing about the name change (be it fully or in part) once the child has almost reached adulthood-would you say no money has been made from it/there was no corruption, when potentially there could be double Case files held on record (double dipping potentially)

I can provide you with an example-

I believe that in cases like these that the orders should be able to be challenged with a full investigation in tow. (re: potential null or void Court Order) because they tend to be put down to some sort of administrative error (misinterpretation) when it could have been a misrepresentation.

Tim Haines - September 11, 2017 at 5:45pm

So when a local authority puts forward an “independent expert” who just happens to be on their own payroll to the tune of £86000 pa, then puffs up their status from “Mrs” to “Dr” to match the defence’s proposed expert, and the court accepts this (“Baby with no name” case), that is not corrupt?

CB - September 13, 2017 at 2:11pm

You will never get an answer
Split Cases ALWAYS start with a baby with false name, outrageous, false accusations within first half of split case FPC, the legal then convince the accused to admit to something OR they will Lose their Baby/Child/Children FOREVER, which they adhere to, JOB DONE, Baby/Child/Children gone, parents deemed as dis-honest for confessing, HARD TO BELIEVE, I witnessed this first hand, DID the same with my Grandchild, No lies from my family or false confession??? So they took him illegally, had him adopted illegally, The LA had the courts at their mercy, having all legal and judges at their mercy, all had to tow the illegal line

Paul - September 11, 2017 at 6:47pm

I think that about sums it up nicely Dr. Judges are not making decissions CAFCAS are.
Would you not agree that hiring the services of legal professionals influances the final decission grately in your favour ? AKA buying a result. If the judgement was impartial then this should not be so. This does answer the above discription of corruption.

StuG - September 11, 2017 at 8:50pm

Probably the most superficial and omissive article on the ways organisations get corrupted one could ever read. But then it is Bolch writing it. The man who job i seems to be to put rubbish on Stowe’s blog to attract clickbait.

Lawyers do cheat. According to BuzzFeed, they’ve just been caught out handing backhanders to the NCDV for their usurping of s45 FLA 1996. Lawyers cause cases to protract as a result whilst fleecing the public purse. Judges refuse to hold return hearings in line with s45 and extend interim injunctions so lawyers get legal aid. It’s a scam long since noted in the High Court. lawyers don’t make decisions but they do influence them.

CAFCASS are institutionally corrupt. They are not trained to deal with cases.

The courts are corrupt, in that their service is not designed for families, the legal model does not work for these cases and the lawyers and judges who persistently try to tinker with the system are the engineers they seem to think they are.

There are other definition of corruption John has missed. But then, he is a family lawyer spouting his views, not an investigator or someone qualified in a respectable discipline with principals based in science. The other definitions of corruption are:

“change or debase by making errors or unintentional alterations” – that happens in family courts
“to degrade with unsound principles or moral values” – most certainly, especially where CAFCASS is concerned

As ever, it’s not the truth that matters, but truth-forming. Try harder.

Marie - September 11, 2017 at 10:02pm

I know first hand of a corrupt family judge at [name of court removed] a who done a court worker a favour for a family member and it was a conflict of interest as the court member worked on the case along side the district judge. I know this as I have all the case papers it’s there in black and white
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Julie Haines - September 11, 2017 at 11:27pm

When people use the word “corrupt” in relation to family courts, they are applying a wider and more commonly held meaning than what the dictionary says. Language is like that.

So I agree that money doesn’t come in to it with judges but personal gain may well in the form of promotions, and validation by the relevant peer groups.

I’ve pointed out issues with procedure only to be shouted by a judge and or the judge asking for example the children’s guardian’s advocate, who then backs up the incorrect law, or procedure.

Corruption may be passive in that they just do things like they always have , that still happens too.

The corruption is not just focused on the judges but some of the barristers too, the “professional losers” as we all know. They lack the will and the drive to really make change and make changes stick,

Then the “bottom feeders” the social workers. They lie on oath about they have experienced with families. That is corruption.

Bolch is wrong and he knows it.

John Murphy - September 12, 2017 at 2:46am

Try the definition at, it is a little broader and several definitions are appropo. !!??

Paul - September 12, 2017 at 8:40am

I the problem goes a lot higher up and starts with government targets, also the caffcass officers which are mostly ex-social workers from the local council who are definitely corrupt and normally pressured from the managers.
Unfortunately a lot of the judges and solicitors have not experience corruption from Social workers but only seen information presented to them in the court, which has been written by professionals with motives to get promoted and stay in a job.
Outcomes of the case are also pot luck what judge you get which means the court is probably not really corrupt, however the system leading up to case is definitely corrupt just like the criminal court who used to hang people for being witches.

Dr. Manhattan. - September 12, 2017 at 10:38am

“the system leading up to case is definitely corrupt just like the criminal court who used to hang people for being witches.”
Paul i couldnt agree more. but watch out for the Bolch backlash. he wont even acknowledge the Justice Pauffley story. strange isnt it.

Lolo - September 12, 2017 at 10:48pm

It seems like your only defence of the Family Courts being corrupt is the dictionary definition of the word.

My interpretation of corruption is very different.

Get a job with the local authority
(*comment moderated)

Y - September 12, 2017 at 10:49pm

15 years experience of the STAR CHAMBERS that were Abolished cerca 100 years ago. CORRUPT in the true dictionary description of the word ( and oh yes , they have been using language trickery and deceit to trap the unwitting for a very long time. legalese has nothing to do with natural basic law maxims . Corruption is not a broad enough description of these family torture chambers , when we are dealing with miscreants who worship mammon . They have put a price on the heads of the priceless and all involved unjustly enrich themselves on the back of destroyed natural and loving families for the sake of their own unjust enrichment . Perjury is rife, they rely on bluff false accusations based on assumption , presumption and hearsay. Family Tribunals are NOT courts, and unfortunately for their victims and survivors Iniquity is prevailing over Equity. No justice can be found in ‘courts’ of trickery and deceit . These miscreants are rich and we are poor in terms of CASH , as everything in the system is based on ability or lack of ability to pay huge sums to traitors and tyrants. In my informed opinion. We know the game, some of us at least, and the game is up. No Lawful action can come out of fraud, and fraud is rife. Extortion racketeers running amok . I would love to see the proof that I am wrong here. My Grandchild is Know in their in “professional” circles as ” The One That Got Away” , their own words not mine. They failed because of due diligence on our part and the involvement of American Dr’s who maintained their integrity at all times. The Forced Adoption agenda failed here. Despite their best efforts to fabricate lies to fullfill their agenda. There is no integrity whatsoever to be found in the multi agency private company draconian system , its all profit based for shareholders and stake holders here. Agenda is to destroy families including innocent families from our own experience and research . I am a former elected councilor with vast experience and have seen through it.

Paul - September 13, 2017 at 1:03am

If they are or not corrupt their is a ‘damaging’ perception that they are.
Where their is smoke their is fire as they say.
It is absolutly possibly to change the system to make improvements and put more safe guards in place to alter this perception.
Make no mistake this perception is chorosive. This undermines the respect people should have for law. Hence the low moral of the judiciary. That too is a problem.
Its in your (legal sector) interest to deal with the problem and tackle it head on.
You have serious perception problem.
Men in the family sector report and perceive (Bias)
Most people in the system perceive (corruption)
Denial is a complete waste of time.
System needs to modernise. Stamp out the bad eggs. You need to hold yourselves to impecable standards.
When an issue is raise during a case then it needs dealing with proparly. Not sweeping under the carpet.
Putting your fingers in your ears and stamping your feet and denying these things are taking place is not doing you any favours at all.
The Legal sector needs to take its PR more seriously.
Take action. Evolve. Improve. Deal with it !!!
Its not going away.
Why not have feed back forms after hearings. Guage from the source what people feel about whats taking place. Have independant observers.
Make the judges and solicitors record availible on line. Have a rating system. Even builders have these now.
Only way to combat corruption allegations is more transparency.
While courts are behind closed doors. The perception is entirely justified. Your perception of been corrupt is going nowhere.

Y - September 13, 2017 at 11:27am

respectfully bringing to your attention that the time on the latest comment is incorrect. I am typing this at 11.26 am . Very strange indeed .

CB - September 14, 2017 at 10:24pm

Not a court in the world can allow Evidence entering in there courts in the name of a child that has never existed, A childs birth certified name cannot be changed by Local Authorities, this is identity theft, YET this is what happens in 99% of child care cases, to stop the truth, entering the light of day within the proceedings, covering up for other professionals wrong doings, birth brain damage and being sued for negligence, etc, the lawyers we entrust, the system we entrust all stacked against parental rights and rights of the child these lawyers have no fear of consequences of their actions, slaves to the devils work

CB - September 14, 2017 at 11:23pm

May I also state
My Grandsons case was first held in [names removed],Criminal Lawyer same firm as the later Family Lawyer, Mother only childs name [name removed] (Missing out his birth certified middle name initial) Mother found innocent
I did not think anyone could be tried for the same case twice in this country by changing the name of the child??????????????
(*comment moderated)

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