New Cafcass statistics show impact of family justice reforms

14 Jan 2015

The latest Cafcass statistics on private law demand, released on 14 January, reflect the impact of the past few years of change in the family justice system, say children law experts from family law organisation Resolution.

Resolution spokesperson Simon Bethel, who leads Resolution’s work on child law policy, comments:

“The Cafcass figures from April 2014 onwards show a month-on-month reduction in applications issued. This coincides with the introduction of compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) on 22 April 2014. This could mean one of two things. First, either the cost or inconvenience associated with this extra hurdle is putting people off the application process altogether, leading to potentially loss of contact between children and non-resident parents. Or, on a more positive note, it could mean that more cases are being kept out of court as they have been successfully resolved through mediation. With the latest MoJ statistics showing that mediation is on the increase one must hope this is a positive development. We’re working with Resolution’s family lawyers and mediators to gather data on mediation numbers and the impact of MIAMs to determine whether the Government’s push to promote out of court dispute resolution for family matters is beginning to have an impact.”

Resolution is currently conducting research with its members on the impact of the sweeping April 2014 reforms to family justice. In a survey of Resolution members about the first quarter from the introduction of the reforms, many family justice professionals believed that compulsory MIAMs were initially having little effect on mediation figures. 54% reported that only up to a quarter of all cases where a MIAM was attended proceeded to mediation and agreement.