Resolution’s call for reform for family justice – what does this look like?

With the general election fast approaching on 4 July 2024, many are pushing for reform.

Resolution (a body which represents family justice professionals across England and Wales) is calling for reforms to be made to our family justice system. Resolution’s ‘Vision for Family Justice’ (link: Vision for Family Justice | Resolution) provides a detailed outline as to Resolution’s proposals for change and reform within the family courts.

Resolution has numerous proposals to modernise the family justice system, all of which can be found using the following link: Vision for Family Justice | Resolution. Below is a snapshot of some of those proposals.

  1. Recognising the changing face of families.

It is now a trend more than ever for partners to have families together, or simply live together, without tying the knot. It is now essential therefore that the law in relation to cohabiting partners is modernised to reflect the current trend. Currently, there is little legal protection for cohabiting partners on separation. Resolution, therefore, calls for the law relating to cohabiting partners to be reformed. Further, Resolution calls for a cohabiting partner to have an entitlement of intestacy in the event of their partner’s death.

Resolution also calls for the legislative framework in Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 to be reviewed in various areas, one of which is the inclusion of the child’s welfare to be a factor that a Judge is required to consider.

In addition, Resolution has called for all types of family formation to be recognised in law, for example, where a child is raised by more than two parents.

  1. Helping families to find solutions.

Resolution proposes that there should be increased public funding for early legal information and advice. The aim is that with early legal advice and with a better understanding as to the next steps available at an early stage, many may be deterred from entering into the court arena. Furthermore, it is hoped that with early legal advice, non-court dispute resolution methods such as mediation may be more constructively used. This would save parties incurring the costs of court proceedings as well as ensuring that our court system is not overwhelmed.

  1. Protecting the vulnerable.

Resolution proposes that more work is done to support victims of domestic abuse when in the court arena. It is proposed that all family law practitioners should be screening their clients for signs of domestic abuse that may have been suffered.

Resolution also calls for children to be appropriately safeguarded when participating in Child Inclusive Mediation which will ensure that the child does not experience any form of trauma by participating in this exercise.

It is certainly a time for reform and change within the political arena, so why not within the family justice system as well? Resolution’s proposals encourage the law to become modernised, reflecting the current issues which are facing many today.