Is Family Law in need of reform?
Across the country, practitioners, including solicitors at Sintons, are supporting families dealing with issues like divorce and separation, arrangements for children and financial disputes, both in and out of the court process.
We are hampered by a combination of factors, to include out of date statutes, and the family courts being massively overstretched, resulting in significant delays for the people trying to access it.
It is fair to say that whilst the make-up of family life in England and Wales has changed, our laws have not kept pace.
Resolution has recently launched a paper setting out their vision for change which includes recognising that the law in relation to cohabiting partners on separation needs to be reformed. Cohabiting couples currently have very little legal protection when they separate and it is proposed that cohabitants who meet certain criteria, indicating they are in a committed relationship, would have a right to apply for certain financial remedy orders if they separated.
Resolution supports all types of family formations being recognised in law. The social realities of children and families who fall outside the scope of the law needs to be met with an appropriate legal reality. The surrogacy laws are also in need of reform.
Resolution suggests and supports more public funding for early legal information and advice. The solicitors at Sintons will always support clients receiving early information, early signposting and will always be ready to discuss dispute resolution options, when couples separate.
Resolution also suggests that co-parenting programme should happen earlier, and rather than couples being forced to attend a mediation information meeting, they should alternatively have access to broader and more rounded advice on options, processes and their legal rights and responsibilities. The Advice and Information Meetings (AIM’s) should always take place early in the process before any application to the court is considered
Much more needs to be done to support and protect victims of domestic abuse in the family courts, and whilst it is agreed that the recognition of domestic abuse in the court process has come a long way, there is still a long way ahead.
Finally, Resolution suggests that family law needs to be fit for purpose.
Hopefully in time, family law will more adequately reflect the current society in which we live. Given the current anomalies and difficulties, it is often vital that separating couples resolve their differences constructively by agreement, to ensure their respective settlements reflect their particular requirements. As dispute resolution specialists, the Family Team at Sintons can discuss at a very early stage, the available and appropriate process options when couples separate. This will ensure that despite the deficiencies of the current legal system, clients are immediately signposted towards the most appropriate way to resolve all issues that arise when a relationship comes to an end.