CAFCASS see a drop in the number of court cases throughout August

Amanda Crowe - Barker Gotelee

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) works to support the interests of children involved in both public family law cases – for example, care applications – and private disputes between family members. CAFCASS have recently reported that In August 2014, the organisation received a total of 2,516 new private law cases. This is a 37% decrease on August 2013 levels. They also reported that since the beginning of April 2014, CAFCASS has received 13,400 new private law cases. This represents a reduction of almost 40% compared with the same period last year.

There could be a multitude of reasons for this drop in court cases. One such reason could be that parties are now required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before they make a court application. The purpose of the MIAM is to explain to each party all other forms of alternative dispute resolution available to them. It might be the case that more parents after having their MIAM session are choosing to use such schemes like mediation or arbitration to resolve their issues without resorting to the court system.

Another reason could be that parents simply can no longer afford the legal fees associated with court, and therefore are either trying to agree an arrangement with their former partner, or are suffering in silence. Since the changes to legal aid in April 2013, legal aid is almost now completely unavailable for family matters, with some exceptions depending upon the circumstances of each individual matter.

Everyone would hope that the drop in cases is to do with the former rather than the latter. Only time will tell if this is really the case.

Amanda Crowe is a divorce solicitor at Barker GoteleeSolicitors in Ipswich.

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