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Private family cases slowing down claims Resolution

The average duration of private family law cases has increased, a legal organisation has claimed, since major changes were made to the family law system last year.

In a poll of Resolution members, 40 per cent claimed private family law disputes (ie. those between individuals) now take longer to reach a conclusion.

No less than 56 per cent claimed the courts are now slower to issue legal orders and 52 per cent agreed that it takes longer for private family cases to be allocated a specific court date.

The survey was held to mark the first anniversary of the reforms, which included a mandatory 26 week timetable for care cases; a centralisation process referred to as the ‘single family court’ and compulsory ‘mediation information and assessment meetings’ (MIAMs). People planning to take a family dispute to court are required to attend the latter in order to assess whether or not their case would be suitable for mediation.

Stowe Senior Solicitor Helen Miller said:

“In my experience court schedules are now sometimes so full it can take months for the next stage in a case to be listed for a specific case.  Unrepresented litigants in person can mean additional court time and this can lead to the frustration of additional costs for the represented party in a case.”

She added:

“Delays can mean that delicate family cases may sometimes take many months to resolve, and in cases involving children the courts will then have to consider whether further disruption is really in their best interests when the final hearing rolls around. The effect on the children is always the most important thing.”

Helen concluded:

“In my view, there is a danger that people will start taking matters into their own hands more and more – removing children without permission and deliberately prolonging the process to establish themselves as primary carer, then arguing that, irrespective of the rightness or wrongness of the situation, any change back to the former situation would no longer be in the children’s best interests.”

Resolution represents more than 6,000 family lawyers across England and Wales committed to “a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    “The average duration of private family law cases has increased, a legal organisation has claimed, since major changes were made to the family law system last year.”
    My relative was involved in a divorce where all legal representation was available – it was a pretty simple case but it took the best part of TWO YEARS and everybody did very well out of it (lawyers, barristers, psychiatrists, Uncle Tom Cobley and all) except for the two people getting divorced.
    In fact due to the reality that one party can take the other party to court continually with effectively frivolous demands without having to pay more than their own costs the court effectively makes money for its professionals in allowing one party to financially punish the other and so in their case it is STILL going on, there seems no end to it. They go to court again for a ridiculous residency review in the next few months and the divorce was years ago. The only people winning financially are the lawyers.
    Did we hear any major concerns about such cases from Resolution ? Of course not, because everybody professionally involved is making good money.
    The only reason we are hearing Resolution squeaking now about the time being taken is because its members are making less money as a result of the withdrawal of Legal Aid.
    Follow the money.

  2. Wistilia says:

    MOJ figures show that ‘unrepresented’ litigant cases are of ‘shorter’ duration.

    The ‘longest’ cases are when lawyers are representing each party.

    Bogus claims by Resolution.

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