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For years they said 10% of separations went to court - that was wrong!

FNF Action Results in Fundamental Re-interpretation of Family Court Data

Our Article 'Not 1 in 10' (but 38%) is Published in The Stowe Family Law Blog 

Until recently the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and others, periodically stated that just 10% of family separations resulted in court applications for Child Arrangements. A Government minister said the same thing just a few weeks ago, implying that is broadly ok as it is. Except that the information that they relied on for years was wrong. It was not a little wrong, it was a lot wrong.

In fact Cafcass have now re-calculated this to be 38%, almost four times as high as previous wisdom suggested. The Stowe Family Law Blog has published our article setting out how we came to realise the magnitude of this error, that had been allowed to define the narrative since a report, not designed to measure this, suggested it in 2003. 

The new figures shuld ring alarms with policy makers. The President of the Family Division, the chief family judge for England and Wales, delivered a speech on 5th April 2019 to The Resolution Foundation. In it he said this is

"a far cry from the previous comfortable urban myth based on a figure of 10%. It indicates a major societal problem..."

The debate about what to do about this can now be re-framed. You should contact your MP and tell them that this puts a fresh urgency on the need to review how family justice works in the UK. Use your own experiences of the failings of the system and ask them to contact the relevant minister to priorities this. Ask them also to include a reform of family justice in their party manifestos.

It's worth reading the whole passage of what Sir Andrew McFarlane said about this.

"For very many years I have heard it said that “only 1 in 10 couples” apply to court to determine the welfare arrangements for their children and that only 1 in 10 of those (i.e. 1% of the whole population of separating parents) get as far as a fully contested hearing. I have never accepted either limbs of this assertion. During the Norgrove Family Justice Review I repeatedly asked for data on this topic, but none was forthcoming. Recently all this has changed, largely as a result of work done by Teresa Williams, the Director of Strategy at CAFCASS. Drawing on other available data, Teresa has identified the following broad cohorts:

- There are around 8 million families with dependant children in England and Wales;

- Some 130,000 couples with dependent children separate each year;

- Of these, 50,000 end up in private law court proceedings.

These figures, which indicate that around 38% of couples need to go to court to resolve disagreements over how they should care for their child post-separation, are a far cry from the previous comfortable urban myth based on a figure of 10%. It indicates a major societal problem, with nearly 40% of parents unable to sort out the arrangements for their own child without the need apply for a court order."

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FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel


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