Lawyer Monthly - July 2022

33 JUL 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM NO-FAULT DIVORCE AND FAMILY JUSTICE IN THE UK for the Ministry of Justice, which supports divorcing couples in finding mutually agreeable solutions. This ultimately frees up space in the family courts, as most proceedings can take place outside of it. Since no-fault divorce was implemented in April, divorce enquiries have risen. In the week following the law change, there were 3,000 divorce applications, a huge increase on the average of 2,000 per week prior to the reforms. What this highlights primarily is the willingness of couples to go through their divorces more neutrally and reduce the bitterness, which can so often be a feature of the process. With the introduction of these latest reforms and funding, there is a new emphasis on focusing on the practicalities of divorces in a more constructive manner, away from the stressful environment of the court. What is also evident is the change in tone, and the realisation that divorce proceedings can take place more privately and more amicably. There will, undoubtedly, be couples who require court input. However, the backlog on the courts will begin to reduce, with more couples able to settle differences outside of court, particularly regarding children. In addition, the mediation voucher scheme gives up to £500 to help parents attending mediation come to more measured conclusions about the future of any children they have. The courts can then use their resources to reduce the backlog and cases that require court involvement. There is clearly a demonstrable need to reduce the number of families in the family justice system. Statistics from a Cafcass study show that in 2020/21, there were 97,496 children involved in private child proceedings. This is a marked increase of 23.1% on only 3 years prior for 2016/17 years. In the public law space, there were 146,129 children involved in proceedings in 2020/21, which had risen by 16.4%. Not only are these numbers clearly unsustainable, but the length of time taken for a case to conclude has reached an average of 45 weeks – a

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