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Increase in divorce and care proceedings cases

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New figures suggest that there has been a rapid rise in the number of divorces and separation cases as well as an increase in the number of child care proceedings.

Experts commenting on the research by law firm Mishcon de Reya believe the increasing rate is alarming and claim the family court welfare system is struggling to cope with a large backlog of cases. There is also concern about the negative emotional impact such a lifestyle change has on any children involved if care proceedings are required.

The detailed research shows that more than half of parents going through divorce and separation went to court to challenge issues relating to their children. Many cases also required care proceedings which can cause children a great deal of distress. The figures suggest that some have turned to drug and alcohol abuse and truancy after seeing their parents pitted against each other in court.

“The court system is becoming more and more clogged with litigants who are fighting over emotional issues which the courts cannot police,” said Sandra Davies, a partner at Mischon de Reya, who regularly take on family law matters.

Last month Cafcass, the family court welfare service, published quarterly figures showing a 60% rise in public law case requests, with 4,236 requests made between April and September compared with 2,608 in the same period last year. Cafcass’ Chief Executive Anthony Douglas has admitted the organisation is struggling to cope.

The debate comes as both the government and the courts have emphasised the need for more families to undergo mediation and avoid the courts. Legal Aid Minister, Lord Back is particularly keen for families to see a court case as the last resort.

“The breakdown of a family is an extremely distressing time for all involved, particularly children. Mediation is proven to provide a much quicker and less traumatic process than appearing in a family court and so provides a more satisfactory conclusion for all involved as a result.”

But mediation has its detractors; many claim it fails to work in the best interests of children.

Sandra Davies holds this view: “Mediation is mandatory in order to get legal aid but it’s much more of a box-ticking exercise.

“The better way is to try to encourage parents to focus on their children in a less acrimonious and confrontational atmosphere, to reduce pressures on the courts, and avoid pressures on Cafcass.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

November 17, 2009 at 9:50 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with ,

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