The Centre for Social Justice launches proposals for wholesale reform of family law
At the Palace of Westminster today (13 July 2009), Iain Duncan Smith MP, founder of the Centre for Social Justice has launched the report “Every Family Matters” of the CSJ Family Law Review. It contains 130 recommendations covering broad policy and specific detail of law reform. It is probably the most far reaching review of English family law for several decades.
The Review comprises leading lawyers, academics, policymakers and experts working with children. It saw over 150 consultees including senior judiciary and many interested parties and lobbying organisations, considered the law and procedure in other countries, took written evidence and two members travelled to Australia to investigate their Family Relationship Centres. David Hodson was chair of the Review.
Downloadable from this site (via our home page) are its final report, the executive summary and a separate document containing its full recommendations. Also downloadable is the speech by David Hodson at the launch and a Key Family Law Factsheet
More details of the Centre for Social Justice can be found at http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk
Some of the recommendations include:
- strong government encouragement to pre-marriage information
- creation of Family Relationship Hubs based on the Australian model of FRCs, to act as a focus for family support services
- greater reference to couple relationship education
- requirement for all parties commencing family court proceedings first to receive information regarding out-of-court methods of resolution including mediation, implications and consequences of proceedings including for children, costs and other aspects of court proceedings
- three month cooling off period, period of reflection and consideration, at the commencement of the divorce process
- binding prenuptial and other marital agreements
- significant reform of financial provision on divorce
- amendments to the Children Act to provide for the significant involvement of both parents in the lives of children
- greater automatic rights for grandparents
- opposition to cuts in legal aid and to reinstate opportunities for representation for those who cannot afford it, through legal aid, interim lump sums and litigation loans
- ongoing appraisal of the impact of domestic violence
- other steps to support and encourage family life and strengthen marriage
The CSJ Family Law Review had produced an interim report in April 2009, European Family Law: Faster Divorce and Foreign Law This 24 page report looks to challenge the divorce trend that has been reinforced by the European Union. The paper looks at four major themes:
- Remove lis pendens from European Family Law which encourages international couples to rush the divorce court to gain financial advantage over each other
- Keep individual countries’ own family law rather than a universal law imposed by Brussels
- The country with the closest connection to the international couple should deal with the proceedings
- Encourage Brussels to slow down its programme of European Family Law reform to take in to account traditions of family life and law around Europe.
Posted on 13 July, 2009 by David Hodson