A large fall in the number of new private family law cases has prompted Resolution, formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), to make clear its concerns that parents are increasingly taking the legal issues involved in a separation into their own hands.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) statistics reveal that there was a 36% fall in the number of private family law cases in July 2014, compared to last year.
Following the coming into force of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 in April 2013 (LASPO), legal aid has been unavailable for the majority of private family law cases. Family lawyers, including the Law Society’s family law committee chair, have voiced concerns that the lack of funding has left parents without affordable access to the courts.
Explaining the Drop in Family Law Cases
Although mediation has kept its public funding, a switch to this form of alternative dispute resolution cannot be explain the drop in private family law cases. Concurrent Ministry of Justice figures show that the number of cases being referred on to mediation has also fallen dramatically.
Resolution has explained that a lack of legal access may be inducing parents to simply give up on legal process completely, causing some to go as far as to abducting their own children. Generally, the drop in court applications implies that there now exist more families where children do not sustain relationships with one of their parents. This phenomenon has long-term repercussions for a child’s well-being.
Professional Advice on Family Law Issues is Still Essential
Professional advice and assistance is in many cases essential to the lawful resolution of separations between parents in a family with children. With sound advice, parents may realise that they are indeed entitled to legal aid, for instance in domestic violence cases. In all cases legal advice is invaluable in terms of drawing up legal documents between separating parties. Furthermore, many parents may be unaware that mediation is also funded via legal aid.
In addition, with proper legal advice a separating parent may be prevented from taking action which may be potentially illegal, thereby rendering him/her liable in court proceedings in the future. In this sense, legal advice taken early in the separation process can save costs in the long run while helping the individual parents with their decision-making.
Family lawyers at Rollingsons are accredited by Resolution which seeks to provide constructive and non-confrontational advice in its resolution of family disputes. Resolution maintains a code of practice where financial issues are kept separate from children, the latter of which take priority in any case.
For specialist family law advice please contact Jeetesh Patel via e- mail JPatel@rollingsons.co.uk or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.