UK moves to earlier resolution

12 Feb 2024: The UK Government has confirmed moves to earlier resolution of family disputes to reduce the “devastating impact” on children’s wellbeing that family courts can make worse. The outcome report and press release set out the details.

Families encounter a justice system that can, at times, reinforce conflict, pitting parents against each other to ‘win’ an unnecessary and destructive legal battle.

These are the conclusions of the Family Justice system itself based on wide consultation and growing evidence of the damaging effects of family conflict exacerbated by an adversarial legal approach:

“Family separation is rarely straightforward and often stressful – never more so than when children are involved. … Evidence clearly shows that these strung-out separations are especially damaging for children with effects that can last a lifetime.

“… More than 60,000 private law cases went through the family courts in 2022. … As of December 2023, the government-funded mediation voucher scheme has helped over 24,600 families to resolve their issues without resorting to court.”

Slowly but surely

The report features established projects including online and offline information and accessible support for families in dispute such as Family Hubs and the Reducing Parental Conflict Programme. Rule changes will help encourage early resolution for families before going to court or to mediation.

Children will be better protected from the impact of lengthy courtroom battles thanks to pioneering measures to help families resolve disputes as swiftly as easily possible.

For more information they provide links to the Early Intervention Foundation for: What works to enhance interparental relationships and improve outcomes for children? And to the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s research that collect data that family courts don’t: Uncovering private family law: Who’s coming to court in England? And on family mediation and how it works: Family Mediation Council.

In the UK, the system, the decision-makers, the services and the culture are slowly but surely making moves to earlier resolution for separating families.