The long -awaited report by Mr Justice Ryder on the future of the family courts has landed….

The Judiciary were asked by the government to offer their perspective on the Family Justice Review, which was published last year, and this final report, compiled by Mr Justice Ryder, who was appointed to look at the problems inside the family justice system, analyses the issues and offers a judge-centric view.

There is a good summary of the report over on Jordan’s Family Law, but the report is merely a plan of action and at this time, does not really elaborate as to how judges are going to tackle the cultural problems inside the system, other than to explain the structural ways in which they hope to do this.

The  final report explains that a single family court will be created, that the new processes and shifts in culture will be judge-led, so that effectively judges will have a great deal more influence than they do at the moment and that child welfare really needs to be pragmatically prioritised, and not just paid lip service to. The report also highlights the need to help litigants in person and to make sure the playing field is level.

It’s a macho report, with a strong focus on good evidence-based practice, adherence to regulations and procedure and a focus on making sure children are at the centre of all decisions. It’s sexy, but whether or not we’ll fall in love with it, will depend on how rigorous senior judges are about implementing ethical procedures, avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring that they and everyone who works in the system, understand and can communicate with children. There is one final battle – that of the modern judge versus the dinosaur. We have yet to see whether the system will entertain a truly organic and cutting edge approach with solid, traditional wisdom, or whether sabotage of the sensible lies afoot.

We are with you, Mr Justice Ryder. For now.

Many thanks to Shaun O’Connell at Southern Family Aid for very kindly emailing the report over to us.