According to a survey of our service users, on average £23,000 is spent (per parent) on legal costs in family disputes. These disputes typically escalate to absurd levels, largely because they take place behind closed doors and are egged on by our adversarial legal system which cannot help but divide people into winners and losers.
We believe that separated parents would behave very differently when resolving their disputes in an open court. They would be deterred from drawing out proceedings into lengthy battles with allegations and counter-allegations, and costing sums they (and the state) can ill afford. Could it not be a simple matter to reach a reasonable, responsible parenting agreement – especially if that entails the parents doing what they had been doing perfectly well for years before separation? Children suffer far more from these battles than they would if their parents’ protracted debates were shortened by several years by being exposed to public scrutiny.
Our current experience is of a closed system that inadequately serves the children and families it is meant to protect.
We believe that, with adequate safeguards for children and vulnerable adults alike, transparency will lead to great improvements in family dispute resolution, possibly taking many cases out of court altogether. Currently the public don’t realise how ineffective the family justice system is at producing good outcomes for the difficult cases that turn to it. Nor are they aware of how the hidden and adversarial system actually escalates many family disputes instead of resolving them