I was very concerned to recently read that official government statistics appear to be indicating that between April and June 2017 there had been 13,029 more private law cases appearing before the family courts when compared to last year. In many of these cases the parties are said to be unrepresented.
Since the changes brought to legal aid in 2012 the Courts have seen an increase in the number of parties choosing to represent themselves. This can have its problems. Firstly, resolving family disputes with an application to court never provides a good basis for parties to be able to work out their differences going forward. This is particularly true when considering children matters. If the parties are able to reach decisions between themselves without the assistance of the Court, it will ensure smoother arrangements going forward.
Seeking prompt legal advice at an early stage can be the key to resolving issues quickly with the co-operation of the other party; either by way of solicitor led negotiation, which could result in the preparation of a Parenting Agreement, or through a referral through to mediation in which parties are able to enter into face to face discussions to try to resolve their issues. It is the child who benefits from this collaborative approach if the parents are willing.
It is important for any party to fully consider all of their options before taking the often unnecessary and stressful action of applying to the Court for an Order.