Family courts ‘running up a down escalator’ due to increase in cases

In recent years, particularly since 2016 onwards, the family Courts in England and Wales have seen a sudden surge in private law childcare matters. Sir Andrew McFarlane (The President of the Family Division of the High Court) compared the process of the overloaded Family courts to “running up a down escalator”.

Recent reports tell us that the result of such an increased demand in applications means that the Courts are becoming strained and overburdened as their time is being stretched to its maximum in order to hear more cases. This is leading to some lengthy delays which can be very frustrating for those involved in proceedings.

After a recent review of the Family Court system, it was found that in most cases it would be more beneficial for families to avoid an application to the Court altogether and settle issues outside of Court. Reports suggest that in the region of 25-33% of family law cases do not involve safeguarding issues, such as domestic abuse, and applications can simply be as a result of a dispute between the parents. Further, the outcome of a case may not necessarily be the most desirable for the parties involved and a better more flexible agreement could have been formed through other dispute resolution methods, such as mediation. This is because only a limited amount of the Court’s time can be afforded to any one case. The advantage of out of Court resolutions such as mediation is that any arrangements can be more flexible and will often offer a better solution while avoiding any resentment that can occur from Court proceedings. The Court will always say that they seek to focus attention on the parents to be able to work together in the interests of their children and that an application to the Court should always be a last resort.

For more information regarding mediation or the Court process in relation to children matters, do not hesitate to contact our experienced family team at McCarthy Bennett Holland who will be pleased to assist.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please contact our Head of the Family Department, Gillian Lavelle if you wish to discuss any of the above further. Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors


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