Views on how the family justice system can do its best to protect children and help families to work through their disagreements are being sought by a panel of experts.

The Family Justice Review Panel, appointed by the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education, and the Welsh Assembly Government, today launched a Call for Evidence so that anyone with an interest in the family justice system can contribute their views on how it can work better in the future.

This is part of a fundamental review of the system announced by the Government in the coalition agreement. The review will be comprehensive in scope including looking at how to improve use of mediation and provide better access rights to non-resident parents and grandparents. The Call for Evidence is seeking views on key areas of the family justice system including:

  • how to have a more user-friendly and child-focused system
  • the best methods of resolving family disputes
  • using alternatives to legal process
  • how the system is governed, managed, and funded.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said:

Family relationships play a very important part in a child’s development and wellbeing. Sometimes relationships break down and that is when families need extra help and support, especially children, who can often be caught up in the centre of disputes. The courts also have a very important role to play in protecting vulnerable children when their parents can not look after them.

The proposed review needs to go further with renewed urgency. It will have broader scope including access rights for grandparents and non-resident fathers.

We need to simplify the family justice system and get rid of the bureaucracy that surrounds it to make sure it is working for the benefit of children, and promoting good family relationships. As part of this call for evidence we will listen to the needs of children going through difficult family relationships.

For more information see the relevant pages on the Ministry of Justice’s website.