Family Law. Speed up the process and protect children

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We need to put a stop to the unjustified withholding of child contact to an innocent parent and recognise the harm it inflicts on children. 

We urge the government to adopt the suggestion of an early first ‘triage’ (early intervention) type hearing to take place within seven days of any court application, to expedite the information being made available by social services and the police direct to the court. The court should then make urgent decisions about making safe arrangements for contact if appropriate and determining what has or has not happened.

One of the main problems with Family Courts at present is that there is significant delay built into the system which creates its own problems. It takes eight weeks to get a preliminary hearing as the court insists on getting police and social services checks through Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) before it makes any orders. 

Many months can pass before Orders are made. If a child hasn’t seen their other parent for five or six months due to these delays, they may well express a view that they now don’t want to see them at all. This means that the justification for no contact changes from fear of domestic violence to acquiescing to the child’s wishes.

Background

These issues were raised in our Westminster Dialogues in 2017. Chaired by Jo Edwards, Partner at Forsters and with The Rt. Hon Sir James Munby in attendance, Norman Hartnell, Managing Director of The Family Law Company gave the keynote speech arguing for early triage and a redefining of what constitutes "harm" to children in PD12J. 

We are grateful to Norman and the team at The Family Law Company for working with us on this important petition. Please do sign and comment. In the light of the MOJs announcement of a review the time is right to better protect children (and parents) having to go through the family courts. 

OnlyMums & OnlyDads are a registered not-for-profit CIC supporting parents through divorce / separation. They recently edited 101 Questions Answered About Separating With Children ISBN 978-1-9164315-1-5 (Bath Publishing).