Independent organisation Cafcass (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) is trialling a new process alongside the Ministry of Justice.
The trial, taking place in Dorset, aims to improve procedures to help families make new arrangements for their children following the parents’ separation.
Cafcass looks after the interests of children during family legal proceedings. Its family court advisers prepare reports in respect of care and supervision cases as well as adoption applications. The advisers are also asked to assist the court in making arrangements for children during divorce or separation proceedings when the parents cannot reach an agreement between themselves.
As part of the trial, judges will be able to review information and request more documentation earlier in the process, before a case reaches court. This helps avoid extensive arguments in the courtroom, which tends to increase conflict between parents.
More emphasis will be placed on investigation and looking at allegations of domestic abuse and other harmful behaviour, rather than courtroom argument.
Cafcass Assistant Director in Dorset, Spencer Hird said: “I am delighted that we have the opportunity to trial this new process in Dorset. We hope that as a result children and families will have a tailored service with fewer hearings before the final court decision, reduced delays and fewer meetings with family court professionals.
“Cafcass is committed to getting things right for children and families and supporting the pilot of this new process for child arrangements is a positive step towards improving private family law proceedings.”