Senior family judge slams withdrawal of family legal aid

Nicola Furmston Cropped

A senior family judge in Wales has commented on the damage being caused to children in the court process as a result of the removal of legal aid for family cases in 2013. Where parents cannot afford to instruct a solicitor to conduct their case in relation to a child’s arrangements post-separation. This is leading to fewer cases being settled at an early stage, misunderstandings by parents as to how the process works and a higher level of acrimony between parents. These problems combined are damaging children for whom parental cooperation and a speedy end to court proceedings are fundamental. Nevertheless the government has no plans to reverse the position, relying instead upon the mediation process to filter out as many disputes from the court system as possible. The problem is that mediation is not a panacea for all, with certain issues, such as alcohol abuse, mental health issues and domestic abuse, being reasons why mediation may be unsuitable.

Nicola Furmston is a family law solicitor who specialises in mediation at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich

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