I have been perusing the Government's Families and Relationships Green Paper, which was published today. The interesting part from the point of view of a family lawyer was the section on 'Improving the family justice system', beginning at paragraph 4.29. Essentially, this comprises to the following:
- A 'comprehensive review of the family justice system', which will 'focus on the management and leadership of the family justice system and what can be done to promote informed settlement and agreement of family law cases outside of the court system' (Para 4.32);
- In order to ensure that everyone involved in family proceedings is aware of the benefits of mediation as an alternative means of resolving disputes, the Government will promote mediation online and 'will explore other means of reaching families with mediation information earlier' (Para 4.35);
- The Government will also seek views 'about whether mediation assessment should be made compulsory for parents who go to court to seek to resolve residence or contact disputes, where it is safe to do so' (Para 4.36);
- 'The Government will work with the Family Mediation Council to build on accreditation schemes for mediators' (how these will differ from existing schemes is not made clear) (Para 4.37);
- 'The Government will improve the information available for grandparents about the legal and other options available to them in seeking to maintain their relationships with their grandchildren' (Para 4.38); and
- The Government will remove the requirement for grandparents to obtain the leave of the court before making an application for a contact order (Para 4.39).