Major changes to the Family Justice System proposed – we would like to hear your thoughts

We had news yesterday of the feedback from the Family Justice Review which proposes some MAJOR changes to the way that the Family Justice system is organised including the creation of a single Family Justice Board and the integration of the work of Cafcass as part of a new Family Justice service.  There is now an opportunity to comment on the recommendations of the Family Justice Review and we would love to hear your thoughts as we prepare our response.In brief, the Review found that the current system is too complicated, with overlapping structures and a lack of shared goals and objectives, causing harmful delays for vulnerable children and adults.

In its interim report, the panel recommends:

  •  A new family justice service led by a national family justice board, to draw the key functions of agencies together and see children and families all the way through the justice system with “greater support and more efficiently”.
  • Court social work services should form part of the family justice service, subsuming the role currently performed by Cafcass.
  • The creation of local family justice boards, as part of the family justice service, to replace existing arrangements.
  • A unified family court system, streamlining services to replace the current three-tier system, creating more flexibility for family hearings.
  • Specialist judges who hear cases from start to finish to ensure consistency and confidence in the system.
  • Investment in systems to manage cases and to give information about how family justice operates.
  • The panel is also calling for a public law system that works more quickly with a bespoke timetable for resolving each child’s situation should be established within a maximum allowed time limit for all cases to minimise the damage caused by uncertainty.
  • It recommends there be less reliance on “unnecessary” expert reports that can cause delay, when these are not in the best interests of the child.
  • There should also be a simpler service for families that are separating, aimed at helping them to focus on their children and to reach agreement, if possible, without going to court.

Full details of the proposals can be found in the report, which is available at the link below.

The proposals are now subject to a 12 week consultation, to close on 23 June.

We will certainly prepare a response and would very much welcome your feedback.

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