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Proposed reforms to family justice system

The government's response to the recommendations of the family justice review panel includes reform proposals to help strengthen parenting, reduce the time it takes cases to progress through the courts, and simplify the family justice system.

 

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said:

'The reform of family justice and child protection is a critical priority for Government. Our reforms are ambitious and system-wide and particularly tackle the crucial problem of delay.

'More use of mediation, more effective court processes and more efficient provision of advice will help to create a family justice system which can better resolve these difficult emotional problems in the best interests of children and families.'

The government has accepted the review's recommendation that changes in education and the introduction of parenting agreements will help ensure better recognition of the joint role of parents within wider society.

It has also accepted the need to clarify and restore public confidence that the courts recognise the joint nature of parenting. The government will therefore make a legislative statement emphasising the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both their parents after family separation, where that is safe, and in the child's best interests.

Other key commitments in the government’s response include:

  • to consider how parenting agreements could be used to emphasise the need for parents to consider how the child can maintain a relationship with other close family members, such as grandparents,
  • to reduce expense and delay caused by the excessive use of expert reports, strengthening their quality and ensuring only essential reports are commissioned,
  • to reduce the amount of time spent by judges and courts scrutinising care plans, focusing instead on the core or essential components when making care orders,
  • to bring court social work closer to other court services by transferring Cafcass sponsorship to the Ministry of Justice, and
  • to create a single family court across England and Wales, with a single point of entry, to simplify the system and make it more accessible for families using the system.

 

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