Regardless of the collapse of the public's faith in the Family Court as a viable means of resolving disputes, do members of the legal profession itself have any faith in the FC apart from as a source of income at the early stage of a dispute?
The firm of solicitors my family originally consulted back in 2001, regarding a developing dispute between the local authority and my family, suggested very strongly that we avoid dealing with the matter through the Family Court or the then-embryonic CAFCASS, precisely because of poor legislation coupled with corruption, expense, inefficiency, malpractice and especially the bias of the FC towards the LA. We therefore managed the dispute, with some success, via the NHS, carers' charities, and private healthcare. However, the LA suddenly insisted on pushing the matter into the Family Court, which led to solicitors, barristers, judges and “expert witnesses” being introduced, a move which completely wiped out the mutually tolerable evolved solution up to that point and transferred all the remaining family assets into professional fees. The result was the replacement of the solution with perpetual expensive litigation in the courts over trivia, loss and falsification of social worker records, perjury, dissolution of a marriage, some very bizarre second opinions, destruction of a functioning financially self-sufficient family, insolvency, and the entire family becoming dispersed and dependent on state benefits. The original dispute became re-activated, but now neither parent, now acting individually, can find any way of funding legal representation, as the public funding for solicitors (largely to sit behind barristers in court) is now so low that the local partnerships have withdrawn their solicitors from all family court work. Meanwhile the LA seems prepared to pay, from a seemingly bottomless fund, for its own legal team in order to meet, according to its own argument in court, government targets on social reform. From what I have read in the last few weeks, I realise that my experience above is far from unique, and indeed is being repeated every day. I welcome extension of press monitoring into the Family Court.
That original consultation eight years ago has proved devastatingly accurate. Yet only now is the government taking action, or pretending to do so, and only then under threat of publicity. What happened to standard continual quality improvement standards in all areas of business and public life? And how did the Family Court become an instrument for the imposition of government policy rather than a forum for managing or even resolving disputes?