Reforms to prioritise children’s wellbeing in family courts

children welfare reforms Thrings lawyers

New measures to improve the efficiency of family court dispute resolution and protect children have been unveiled by the government. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s happening and when?

The government has announced new reforms to family courts in England and Wales, aimed at prioritising the wellbeing of children during family disputes. These measures encompass access to early legal advice, increased mediation, and improved support for domestic abuse victims as well as children.

How will it affect me?

Clients undergoing family separations stand to benefit from these changes. Early legal advice can help to fast-track agreements on child arrangements whilst reinforced mediation and improved support mechanisms can often reduce lengthy courtroom conflicts, minimising the potential for long-term harm to children.

Mediation can assist parties in reaching a solution that works for them rather than having to navigate the court process, with the announcement coming at the end of Family Mediation Week which you can find out more about here.

For those dealing with court processes, improved procedures and information sharing aim to minimise conflict, providing children with more opportunities to express their thoughts on decisions affecting their future.

Key points from the Governments press release:

  1. Early legal advice: Families will have access to early legal advice which will assist them in getting to know the various alternative options for resolving family disputes;
  2. Mediation voucher scheme: This scheme is set to continue. Nearly 25,000 families have already benefited from the government-funded mediation voucher scheme, aiding resolution to disputes without resorting to court;
  3. Pilots to better protect domestic abuse victims: Successful pilots in North Wales and Dorset are set to be expanded, focusing on reducing conflict and improve information sharing between various agencies in order to protect victims of domestic abuse;
  4. Child-centric approach: The reform will emphasise avoiding lengthy courtroom conflicts to spare children from long-term harm;
  5. Collaboration with the Family Mediation Council (FMC): The government will work on improving domestic abuse training for mediators. The government is hoping to assist the FMC developing screening tools to identify victims early in the process.

Victoria Tallis, Solicitor in the Thrings Family team, said: “Handling disputes through family courts can be stressful experiences, especially where children are involved and is it’s a positive sign to see their wellbeing prioritised by the government with these changes.

“By opting for routes that can help separating families find a more amicable resolution, this can significantly reduce the impact it will have on children and we would always encourage divorcing couples, wherever possible, to consider options such as mediation as the initial step.”

Thrings Family lawyers are experienced in all areas of the law that are close to home. Whether it is marriages and pre-nuptial agreements, or divorces and separations, they will put your best interests first, taking the time to get to know you so that you are supported with sound advice tailored to your needs. To find out more, get in contact.


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