35 JUL 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM NO-FAULT DIVORCE AND FAMILY JUSTICE IN THE UK In saying all this, mediation is not always the most appropriate course of action. In cases, for example, where there are allegations of domestic abuse, child safeguarding concerns or parental alienation, these must be brought before the court. The family justice system needs to work efficiently and effectively for these cases and be accessible to those who need it. The family court is, unfortunately, not infinite, and access to it can be protracted and expensive. Access to the justice system is multifaceted and requires several components to make it work: • A competent and impartial judiciary • Accessible courts • Courts that are properly administered • A competent and honest legal profession • An effective procedure in place to get the case before the court • An effective legal process • Effective execution of this legal process • Affordable justice This last point is distinctly important in the discussion of the mediation scheme. Government investment in this area is vital in ensuring that everyone who needs access to the justice system can afford it. It cannot be confined to the wealthy. Some may argue that the focus on mediation and other dispute resolution services is purely designed to take away access to the justice system. This is not the case: increased funding in this area creates a family justice system that helps support families and finds solutions to their problems in accordance with individual circumstances. It seems that the changes to divorce proceedings – no-fault divorce being the most notable – in recent months is shifting contentious divorces to the sidelines in preference of more amicable decisionmaking processes. Hopefully, over the coming months and years, we will see improved access to facilities and reduced strain on the family justice system. The mediation scheme will allow more people than ever before to work through differences to find the best outcome for the child, filling in the gaps that the court cannot get to. Amanda Phillips-Wylds is a managing partner and Head of Thames Valley for Stowe Family Law. She is a resolution accredited specialist with particular experience in resolving mid-to-high-value financial disputes on divorces involving complex issues such as business assets, overseas assets, fraud and interveners. Her practice also includes advice on prenuptial agreements, applications to vary maintenance, disputes regarding arrangements for children and cases involving cohabitees. In addition to this, she holds the Law Society’s Family Law accreditation. Stowe Family Law is the UK’s only national law firm completely devoted to family matters. With its team of over 80 lawyers, the firm provides services concerning divorce, mediation, prenuptials, child custody and many other aspects of family law.