Sunday, 26 September 2010

Family Law Reform

The Custody Minefield publishes its reform proposals for the Government's Family Law Review.
We are proposing:
  • The removal of CAFCASS from private family law proceedings with the exception of their role in supporting Family Assistance Orders;
  • No more s.7 reporting by CAFCASS (of questionable quality, and too prone to delays);
  • In the event of serious allegations, that proceedings be elevated to a public family law arena, with the threshold for investigations to be according to s.47 and subject to the guidance of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families;
  • Social Workers (including CAFCASS) not to offer opinion or attempt to 'find fact', but to keep to the recording of observations;
  • Hearings to be in Chambers, not full court;
  • The removal of inaccessible language;
  • Greater support for adults with communication related disabilities;
  • The abolition of legal aid in private family law proceedings;
  • The repeal of s.54 of the Access to Justice Act 1999;
  • The repeal of s.12 to s.19 of the Legal Services Act 2007;
  • Automatic recognition of parental responsibility for fathers without the need for a court ruling;
  • The merger of CAFCASS and Social Services;
  • The abolition of the concepts of 'residence' and 'contact' and replacing them with parenting time orders;
  • An presumption of shared parenting following parental separation;
  • Rights of audience for McKenzie Friends;
  • That relocation applications should only be granted where relocation is proven to be in the child's best interests;
  • Revisions to the Welfare Checklist;
  • The abolition of the Office for Judicial Complaints and Judicial Ombudsman, and Ofsted to be responsible for complaint handling;
  • The judiciary to be subject to to independent monitoring and assessment;
  • The limiting of judicial discretion;
  • The abolition of Family Justice Councils;
  • The Ministerial Oveersight of President's Directions;
  • Where psychological investigations are to be determined, only forensic psychologists to express an expert opinion (and not judges, psychotherapists or social workers).
... and one or two other improvements too!