Court Delays Leave Kids In Limbo After Parents Split
Posted on 8th August 2023
Court delays leave tens of thousands of kids in limbo after parents split
Data shows that children removed from their parents were having to wait an average of 46 weeks to get a final decision on where they would live. In 25% of areas, the wait was double the recommended government target of 26 weeks, with the longest delays in east London and Norwich, both of which had waiting times of 60 weeks in the first three months of this year.
The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said children involved in private family law cases waiting for decisions on living arrangements after their parents had separated also faced similar delays. Court stats showed there are more than 80,000 children caught up in proceedings, with the average case duration last year being 44.9 weeks.
Lubna Shuja, president of the Law Society, said "What is often missed in the debate around the unacceptable backlogs in our family courts is the impact on children. They are suffering the very real consequences of months and sometimes years of uncertainty about their future, preventing them from having the stability they need to thrive."
Only one area, Worcester, hit the 26 week target, according to the stats published by CAFCASS. CAFCASS said it had 31,961 open children's cases at the end of May, affecting 52,276 individual children.
Cris McCurley, a member of the Law Society's access to justice committee, said, "The entire family court system is creaking after years of austerity cuts and neglect.".
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We have been taking decisive action to improve waiting times in the family courts, with over 3,000 more private law cases reaching conclusion in 2022 than in 2017, and are investing £24m in our landmark mediation scheme to prevent disputing parents from needing to go to court in the first place – while also investing millions in early legal support for those who do need to see a judge.”
Share this post: