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Are parents over-relying on courts to solve disputes?

The Nuffield report highlights concerns over access to justice.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Report “uncovering private family law – who is coming to court in England” was published earlier this year (2021). It makes for very interesting reading, as Beverley Morris, partner and head of the Family Law team at Lodders Solicitors explains.

Analysing applications in relation to children issues, the applicants tend to be in their late 20’s and early 30’s.  This is somewhat surprising and may change in the coming years, with couples having children later in life, and the average age for having a child increasing year on year.

There is a clear link between deprivation and private children law applications, where nearly a third of the mothers and fathers involved in the proceedings live in the most deprived areas.

There is also a worrying trend that many of the applications are not new court applications – almost a quarter are cases that are returning back to the court, i.e. where parties have been before the court and have secured orders, but – for whatever reasons – those orders are not working.

The challenges of ‘litigants in person’

The Nuffield report highlights concerns over access to justice, with most applicants being litigants in person, which presents its own difficulties and challenges for the Courts. Processing applications where parties have no legal representation is adding to the court workload.

In nearly 80% of the cases, the child concerned is aged between one and nine years.

Many judges acknowledge that the pressure on the judiciary is immense and there is a significant shortfall in the number of judges available to process this workload.

This all comes at a time when a recent (October 2021) headline in the Law Society Gazette reads “Court backlog will remain a problem for years to come – National Audit Office”.  

These are challenging times for all involved in the family justice system. 

Lodders’ specialist Family Law team understands the needs of children and appreciates the impact that their parents separating or divorcing can have on them. Beverley Morris and her team combine in-depth legal knowledge with an outstanding level of client care to help resolve family disputes and mitigate the impact on all parties.

If you would like to speak to one of our Family Law team members, please send us an email or call us for assistance and we will pleased to help.

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For help with a legal problem or more information on any of our services at Lodders, please get in touch with our friendly team. You can contact us via the number or email address below, or fill in the form and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Emily Brampton, Lodders Solicitors

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