Last night Researching Reform was very kindly invited by Young Legal Aid Lawyers to talk about how the family courts affect parents and children experiencing the system.
The conference was held at 39 Essex Chambers in London and was hosted by Tara Mulcair and Katherine Barnes. The audience was made up of young lawyers. The panel included Creighton & Partners solicitor Heather Thomas, and Garden Court Chambers barrister Malek Wan Daud.
Heather, who only represents families, spoke about the current gaps inside the system caused by budget cuts which made it harder for her to secure support for families and the legal challenges faced by women experiencing domestic abuse. Malek talked about the history behind forced adoption and the rise in litigants in person inside the family courts as legal aid cuts kicked in.
Researching Reform chose to speak about the unprecedented spike in child removals, the theories as to why there had been an increase in care orders and how families who just need support find themselves trapped inside the system with the threat of care orders looming over them. We explained how budget cuts and entrenched cultural practices created obstacles to accessing support and crucially, created a trend towards child removal.
We are very grateful to Young Legal Aid Lawyers and 39 Essex Chambers for giving Researching Reform the opportunity to amplify families’ voices at the conference, and it was a privilege to sit on a panel with such accomplished and passionate lawyers.