Disputes concerning children: removal of legal aid

Year Published: 2014

A recent report has shown that the removal of legal aid for disputes concerning children has had a direct effect upon the justice system with a significant rise in the number of people acting without legal representation, known as ‘Litigants in Person’. This has created an adverse impact upon the courts’ administration and efficiency, and it is now considered to be a rarity that both parties are represented at court.

Unfortunately the report has shown that there has been a significant increase in the number of cases taken to court or contested where a settlement would have been previously more likely with legal representation. Many cases are proceeding to fully contested final hearings which requires significantly more judicial involvement and causes delay. This is coupled with a reduction in the number of people attending for mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

It is always better to try to negotiate arrangements for the children amicably and outside court. Often at court neither party are happy with the outcome and the court process can put significant strain on already difficult relationships. Court orders are less flexible than agreements, which usually work better for all those concerned – parents and children alike.

There are a number of options available to you when dealing with disputes concerning children, which need to be considered. We can assist in negotiating an amicable settlement outside court, or by referral to excellent mediators or collaborative lawyers. We can also offer assistance and provide guidance if you wish to make the application to court yourself without a lawyer being present.

For further information on disputes concerning children or any other family law matters, please contact a member of our Family team on 01625 442100.

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