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Incoming Family Court President Misunderstands…..

This post from the excellent Reseaching Reform blog reveals worrying misunderstandings by the incoming President of Family Court Justice McFarlane. The original is here and is worth checking out, though I copy and past most below .. Incoming Family Court President Misunderstands nuances in care crisis  [1]

The next President of the Family Division, Justice McFarlane, has delivered a speech in response to the publication of the Care Crisis Review, in which he makes a series of blunders about the care system and the processes currently in use.

Whilst he rightly points out that the care system is in a state of crisis – CAFCASS figures for May 2018, record the second highest monthly figure for care applications ever received – McFarlane clearly fails to understand the complex nuances faced by children, families and practitioners inside the sector.

In his speech, which was written to coincide with the Review’s launch, he says, “thank heaven for…. the 26 weeks and the reform package that Sir James Munby so effectively introduced 5 years ago”. The result was that, when the rise in numbers began to kick in, the judges and the courts were “match-fit” to process and determine the applications in a timely manner.”

The truth is much less straightforward. Whilst the 26 week timetable was brought into effect to help speed up adoptions, primarily to prevent children from languishing inside the system, it did very little on that front, with many cases falling outside the suggested time frame, over and over again. Calls from inside the sector to remove the time frame, came from all corners – including a senior family law judge Researching Reform spoke with, who confirmed the worst: that the 26 week timetable was nothing more than a badge of honour for judges looking to get promotions, and was having a disastrous effect on truth and justice.

Social workers too, have begun to complain about the time limit, saying that it puts parents who are trying to turn their lives around in an impossible position, because the time frame is just too short for any real improvements to take place. Whilst the time frame gives judges the opportunity to speed through cases, and try to get matters off their desk, little else is being achieved. In reality, the time frame has done nothing for the Family Court’s problems, as it continues to be inundated with increasing numbers of care applications, or for children who could remain safely with their parents if time, and smart planning, were on their side.

Calling the system ‘Match-Fit’ is also telling. These cases are not matches, or sparring grounds for lawyers, though that’s how they are viewed by the legal sector. These cases represent people’s real lives, and the decisions made inside these courts will affect them and their children, forever.

More via Incoming Family Court President Misunderstands…..

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