Cafcass Statistics Show Real Impact of Reforms
Cafcass figures released last month have revealed the real state of family law justice reforms over the last few years.
Losing Access to Your Children
From April 2014 onwards, the figures show that month on month, applications to the court by parents in relation to custody and access have reduced. Resolution spokesman, Simon Bethel puts the change down to a number of possibilities. On the one hand, Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) were made compulsory in April 2014. This introduced an extra step for people wanting to take their contact and residence issues to court, it also means an extra cost.
This could be leading to children potentially losing contact with a parent or constant arguments that can't be resolved because the parents feel they have no access to the courts. This is dangerous for children as an increasing amount are now growing up away from one parent altogether.
On the other hand, the reason for the decline could be more people resolving their disputes through mediation
. Legal aid is still available for mediation for people on low incomes even where it is not available for legal advice and representation in court proceedings.
Bridging The Gap
Simpson Millar LLP offer a £118.80 (incl of VAT) Children Service which includes a referral to mediation and general advice on the court process. We also offer an 'Access to Justice' scheme and set fees if you feel your case requires a bit more assistance. Everything is upfront and transparent with invoices sent out monthly. This can be invaluable if the issues cannot be solved through mediation.
Find out more about our costs
Justice is not as inaccessible as you might think
For the cases that are still eligible for legal aid, such as those containing domestic violence
, mediation is usually deemed to be unsuitable and cases will still be handled by the court.
From our own experience, the change to the family justice system has had a huge impact to families on the ground. Before the changes, there was a surge in parents filing for court applications while they were still covered by legal aid. Following on from the introduction of tighter restrictions, there have been many people who are put off from pursuing cases because they feel they cannot afford the cost where legal aid was now out of the question.