New CAFCASS stats may show that parents are 'giving up' on family courts

News Release

14 Aug 2014

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has released new statistics showing that private family dispute cases involving children have dropped by 36%.

Resolution believes that this could point to parents ‘giving up’ on the court system as a result of LASPO and the introduction of compulsory MIAMS.

Simon Bethel, chair of Resolution’s Children Committee says:

“The 36% drop in new court applications for private family disputes involving children could be attributed to a number of factors. It could be that these cases have successfully been diverted to mediation or other forms of dispute resolution, with parties resolving the arrangements for their children without the need for the court.

However, given that we know that referrals to MIAMS and to publicly-funded mediation starts have plummeted by 38%, this may well not be the case. There has been a huge rise in unrepresented parties in family proceedings since the dismantling of family legal aid - 19,000 more parents appeared in civil courts with no lawyer in cases about children in the year after legal aid cuts. It should also be noted that the April-June period for these statistics also coincides with the introduction of compulsory MIAMs.

So these results may well instead show that parents are not finding their own way through the maze of options regarding their children when they separate, or that the extra hurdle of a compulsory, expensive MIAM is proving too much for many couples. Rather than receiving expert help to try and secure working shared care arrangements for their children, they are giving up. This drop in court applications could mean that there are more separated families where children are needlessly missing out on a relationship with one of their parents, which has long term repercussions for the child and for their family.”