A move has been a foot for many a year whereby successive governments have tried to find a family friendly way to deal more effectively, with family disputes over children! Some cases have dragged out over many weeks and months and of course costs have spiraled out of control. So sooner rather than later something had to be done.
The news today provided an insight to the new system and its implementation and l have added an extract or flavour of what has been published!
Extract of published proposal:-
Proposals to change the culture of family courts and speed up cases in England and Wales have been published. The plans include a single family court run by judges and magistrates to replace the current system where judges sit in multiple court buildings. Family courts often deal with child custody cases following divorce or separation. The “time-wasting” use of expert witnesses is to be cut substantially. There will be a time limit of 26 weeks for all but exceptional cases involving children’s futures. Last spring, the average case took 57 weeks, falling to 51 weeks in the last quarter. The Mail hopes that the issue of secrecy in family courts is addressed: “But would it be asking too much if he might address the veil of secrecy that hangs over family courts – all the more worrying, since the numbers of children in care have surged by 10,000 to 30,000 since the horrifying Baby P case in 2008? Yes, children’s identities must be protected. But transparency and publicity are always the strongest shields against miscarriages of justice.”
The fact that we are looking at reducing time taken to process these cases seems on the face of it, an excellent way but by cutting the time in these types of cases, leads to problems! The wasted time as it has been called provides the judges with a broader picture of certain cases,as a number of key facts, do not always come to light until late into the case! This golden opportunity would be lost and mistakes on custody of vulnerable children, may well be awarded to the wrong person. This may lead to further court cases, causing further trauma for both the child and the other parties concerned.We are not simply dealing with cases of theft or even a simple divorce [ Not that these cannot be long drawn out] but in these cases a young, vulnerable child!
The second point is the issue relating to secrecy and to numbers of children in care, is it not better that a child is put into care, either short-term or long if the welfare of that child is threatened. Let us be honest with ourselves at this point, do we not live in a precarious world of bad if not in some cases evil people. Who prey on these types of children as a vent for some twisted ideas, laid upon them by their parents or lack of good parental control! When l was young we called this ” falling in with the wrong crowd” well it has got worst not better! So some veil of secrecy must be up held as protection against these types of people and much worse using cases like this to further their own ends! We all know how much money can be made with a good story, some unscrupulous journalists hang onto a story like a ” dog with a bone ” holding on to every bit of it, just to make their facts fit a story!
Finally and the reason for my heading for this story and what is behind it all! Whenever changes to policies in government take place they have a monetary aspect, as l said by the fact cases drag out over many months! The related costs of ” legal aid” can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and it all has to be paid for by the good old taxpayer! Well in these austere days for some, our politicians can make us feel better with words like, WE CARE, WE WANT TO HELP and my favourite WE WANT TO SAVE THE TAXPAYER MONEY! So by proposing SWEEPING changes and a DRASTIC overhaul they will be able to save money, for WHO and at WHAT COST!
This could lead to SWEEPING AWAY THE LEGAL AID SYSTEM so if you can pay and remember the costs for private legal services are much higher for the legal eagles. Then with no system of help for the less well off, we will see a lot more miscarriages of justice in this country.
So l for one look for many more of these ” Sweeping Changes and Drastic Overhauls ” and will report as l see them occurring!
- Fees introduced for Family Court disputes (radionz.co.nz)
- Grant allows Collier Legal Aid lawyer to represent children in court cases (naplesnews.com)
- When the Family Court goes beyond the call of duty (thepunch.com.au)
- At long last: a sane judge making a sane judgement in a family court (punishmentwithoutcrime.wordpress.com)