The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, published his report on the state of the court system yesterday, but dedicated just one page to the family courts.
In the report, Burnett divides his comments on the family courts using private and public family law as sub-headings and gives a very brief outline of the Family Court’s current challenges and developments.
Burnett’s main concern in this section of his report is the ongoing rise in private and public family law cases, and he breaks down the number of applications since 2018:
The private family law sector saw 51,672 cases in 2018 and 13,687 cases in the first quarter of 2019, which represented an increase of 12% from the equivalent period in 2018 of 12,185 cases.
The public family law sector hosted 19,037 public law cases in 2018, and 4,460 cases in the first quarter of 2019.
The report mentions an update on the Private Law Working Group report looking at how to relieve the pressure on the court system and litigants. Burnett confirmed that the Group’s final recommendations would be published in early 2020 with a view to implementing changes as soon as possible, once the recommendations were released.
There is also an update on the Public Law Working Group looking at current workloads within the sector. Burnett said this Group’s final recommendations would be published by the end of the 2019, with the changes then being actioned as soon as possible.
At the end of the section on family courts, Burnett mentions an interesting project which aims to ensure that cases are managed and heard by an appropriate judge with the relevant knowledge and experience, but this pilot appears to be only for financial hearings, which is a shame.
You can read the full report here.
What the judges say…
A multijurisdictional study of court decision‐makers’ viewpoints. Child & Family Social Work. 2018;1–10. https://doi.org/ 10.1111/cfs.12600
“the majority of respondents in England (76%) and California, USA (71%) indicated changes needed at child welfare agency level”
Dr. Manhattan. said:
Cant see any of this making a scrap of difference to the abuses being perpetrated by Social workers in the family courts.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Exactly!, no difference what so ever.
The problem needs stamping out BEFORE getting to FC and the judges know this.
“Councils are increasingly turning to other types of court orders to remove children in child protection proceedings after senior judges warned social workers that care applications should only be used as a method of last resort.
The development was revealed by new Cafcass chief Jacky Tiotto, during an interview with Children and Young People Now (CYP Now) magazine.
According to Tiotto, there has been a marked increase in requests for orders for deprivation of liberty, secure accommodation and emergency protection during care proceedings, raising serious concerns about whether social services are making false allegations around service users’ mental health in order to remove children from parents.
Care applications however, dropped more than 5% from last year.
The drop has been attributed to a shift in social work practice, which now requires social workers to look at care applications and adoptions as the last port of call, rather than the first option in child protection proceedings.
Several senior judges have published judgments relating to child protections cases in order to raise awareness around the need to keep children with their parents wherever possible. The judgements were also made public to confirm the law and policy in this area, which makes it clear that removing children from parents must only happen if all other avenues have failed and only if that removal is genuinely in the best interest of the child in the case.
Despite the warnings, child protection professionals, perhaps desperate to keep their jobs as budget cuts continue to squeeze councils, now appear to be looking to other orders to secure removals.”