Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division in England and Wales, believes more couples who are separating should seek to settle their dispute outside of court, if at all possible, writes David Hodgson, a Partner and Joint Head of our Family & Divorce team.
As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog the Family courts are already fully stretched, and Sir Andrew says, “Delays are not helping.” In particular he expresses concern that the hostile language frequently used in court can make things worse and harm children in the process.
In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme, reported here, he says: “Some of the people who come to court, particularly to discuss disputes about their children, would be better served not coming to court.
“We are seen at the moment as the first port of call, but we should be the last resort for them where there aren’t issues of domestic abuse or protection or safe guarding.”
He believes in around a fifth of cases involving children, “[parents] would be better served by, at least first of all, trying to sort it out themselves in other ways,” and that children may be harmed by action in court.
“It is certainly recognised that to have a dispute that runs on in the court is highly likely to (harm) the child… and we’re already piloting new ways of working and part of that is that early on a social worker files what’s called a Child Impact Assessment.
“And the idea is to provide a wake-up call to the parents as to the impact of what they are doing on their child.”
Going to court should always be a last resort. An experienced family law solicitor understands how to de-escalate conflict and encourage all parties to resolve disputes constructively and outside of court.
I recently wrote here about the ways to resolve Family disputes outside of court.
As a member of Resolution, a Mediator, and a Collaborative Family Lawyer, I am committed to assisting my clients in resolving legal matters through Alternative Dispute Resolution methods (ADR). ADR is not appropriate in all cases, for example, where there is domestic abuse or one party seeks to control and hijack a particular process. However, in the right cases, most families benefit from the speed, confidentiality, and reduced costs provided by ADR methods as opposed to litigation.
By contrast cases in the courts are backed-up with delays and litigation is invariably an expensive option.
If you are affected by similar issues or would like to have a related discussion in confidence, please contact a member of the Family team direct or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us direct on 020 7091 2869.
The above is accurate as at 01 August 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.