Consultation on Children Cases in the Family Court – Interim Proposals for Reform

The Family Division of the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary is examining proposals to reform children cases in the Family Law Court.

The reform has been prompted by the rise in the number of public and private children cases in the Family Law Court, which has made meeting the statutory deadline for children cases difficult to meet. “Delays in decision making”, a note from the President of the Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, reads, “is likely to be contrary to a child’s best interests.”

The reform is aimed at either reducing the number of children cases, to enable the courts to deal with them more justly and efficiently or both.

The consultation has now closed. More information about the proposed reforms is available on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website.

some of the Core Recommendations include acknowledgement of the important role of iNDEPENDENT REVIEWING OFFICERS AND CONFERENCE CHAIRS

Local authority decision-making
1. To share good practice;
2. To promote a shift in culture to one of co-operation and respect that values and equally questions the contribution of all parties;
3. A renewed focus on pre-proceedings work and managing risk;
4. To develop more consideration of the factors relevant to good decision-making prior to legal gateway meetings;
5. Re-focusing of the role of local authority legal advisers and the use of the legal gateway meeting;
6. Develop and share good practice in driving positive challenge with the IRO / conference chair.

NIROMP Submission to Public Law Consultation

The National IRO Managers Partnership (NIROMP) welcomes this opportunity to respond to “Recommendations to achieve best practice in the child protection and family justice systems.”

Several of the report’s themes echo discussions that NIROMP are having at a local, regional and national level. Our Strategic Vision and Priorities (2019-22) document gives emphasis to areas of learning, the sharing of good practice, the use of strengths-based working and supporting the resilience of families and the workforce in these particularly challenging times.

We share concerns about the high numbers of children and families encountering the courts. We would like to see more work happening to support families earlier, a strengthening of pre-proceedings activities and a reinforcement of the ‘No Order Principle’, to avert the need for court involvement where this is both safe and possible.

Our networks operate across the nine government areas of England. We see through our networks that there are differences in the ways local authorities work with children and families across the country. We also see differences in the way that local authorities, the courts and Cafcass work with IROs and we would welcome more support to understand the reasons for and to address such variance. We would also welcome the opportunity for involvement in the Family Justice Council’s advisory bodies and boards.

NIROMP’s response to each of the questions listed in the consultation can be found on pages 2-14 of this document.

– National IRO Managers Partnership

related information

Please complete our brief (five minute) survey about how effectively the Cafcass and Independent Reviewing Officer Good Practice Protocol for Public Law Work is being implemented in your area: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/M5WVJ/

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