Column: More can be done to solve the stressful backlog of cases currently affecting family law cases

It will probably be many more years in the future before we can look back and really try to make sense of the early 2020s, writes legal expert Jonathan Corbishley from Derbyshire Family Law.

By Jonathan Corbishley
Sunday, 19th June 2022, 5:00 pm

The events have made what seemed a fairly stable world feel extremely fragile and the knock-on effects we are all seeing, means many of us will see our general lives and working world in a place we could never have imagined a few years ago.

In the area of family law, we are no different, and right now here in the middle of 2022 the family courts are in a difficult state.

There are currently almost 59,000 cases waiting to be heard, and there are many voices within the family law community saying much more needs to be done to prevent unnecessary delays causing extreme stress to families hoping to resolve complex issues and move on with their lives.

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Jonathan Corbishley, legal expert at Derbyshire Family Law Group.

To try and alleviate this backlog, mediation vouchers are now being offered to try and reduce the number of cases going to court.

The voucher scheme being offered by the Family Mediation Council on behalf of the Ministry of Justice provides a £500 voucher to put towards the cost of mediation for families in England and Wales.

So far 8,400 vouchers have been used since March last year. Of these cases, 65 per cent reached a whole or partial agreement, which is good to hear.

Over the next year or so, over 10,000 families will be helped by these vouchers, but it is far from a magic bullet.

Cases that go to family courts are invariably complicated on so many levels, in a very sensitive field.

Before mediation many couples are in a toxic situation where they are barely communicating. The need to press on with the message that mediation is a solution is right, but also investing in the family courts to unclog the system is paramount.

Families can be torn apart through difficult legal processes, so working to remedy the situation is good not only for those working in family law but for society in general.

Quality family law experts like ourselves feel it is only right to use platforms like this to let the public know the state of play.

The challenges impact all of us, but pressure must be kept on the Government to ensure we continue to have a legal system fit for purpose.

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