The latest figures from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) show that in December 2014, it received a total of 918 care applications. This figure represents a 13% increase compared to the number received in December 2013.
Cafcass has also revealed that in December last year, it received a total of 2,735 new private law cases, which is a 4% decrease on December 2013 levels.
Cafcass represents children in family court cases, making sure that their voices are heard and that the decisions that are made about them are in their best interests. It supports or works with over 140,000 children in public and private law cases every year.
Family law organisation, Resolution, has commented on the latest private law demand figures, saying that they reflect the impact of the past few years of change in the family justice system.
“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 22nd April 2014,” explained Resolution spokesperson, Simon Bethel.
“This could mean one of two things,” he said. “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,” he added. “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.”
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