20% of Family Disputes Don’t Belong in Court
BY JOSEPH MULLANE
Courts are not the best place to resolve relationship disputes, says the President of the Family Division of courts in England and Wales. He reminds parents that many disagreements about how to share parenting of children after divorce or separation don’t belong in court.
Mediation can offer a different way to solve a conflict. It is faster and cheaper than litigation and empowers the parties to maintain a constructive relationship in the future.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of courts in England and Wales, has issued a blunt reminder to parents that courts are not the best place to resolve “relationship disputes” which are at the root of many disagreements about how to share parenting of children after divorce or separation.
Sir Andrew was speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Broadcasting House programme on the 24th July. Talking about the time that cases take in court, McFarlane said:
“Research shows consistently that if you’re the child of parents who are at odds with each other, whether or not they are coming to court, that is unhealthy. It does your head in to put it in straightforward terms. The hostile, adversarial language used in family court often made things worse and needs to change.”
Shared Parenting Scotland supports Sir Andrew McFarlane’s view that the adversarial approach of family courts in parenting disputes damages parents and children, proposing that the courts should aim to move away from the adversarial “winner takes all” approach of so many child “contact and residence” cases.