Many family law cases involving children will require longer than 26 weeks to reach a resolution, the Magistrates Association has warned.
Mr Justice Ryder proposed a 26 week timetable for most family law cases in his report Judicial Proposals for the Modernisation of Family Justice, published last year.
In a recent submission to an all-party parliamentary group examining the forthcoming Children and Families Bill, the Association said it supported the principle of a 26 week timetable but sounded a note of caution.
“… based on the complexity of a number of contested cases before the court it is likely that many cases will not be concluded within this restriction.”
Magistrates would work hard to realise a 26 week timetable through efficient case management, said the Association, but a greater emphasis on preparatory work by local authorities would reduce the burden on the courts.
“Not only would this reduce the number of cases reaching court but would ensure that applications are brought correctly. This would include working with the family, a better understanding by the parents of what is involved, identification of and work with extended family members, and detailed assessments being carried out.”