The Family Solutions Group (FSG) is a multi-disciplinary group with practical experience of working with separated parents and their children outside of the court arena. In early 2020, the Honourable Mr Justice Cobb set it up as a sub-group to the Private Law Working Group.
The FSG was asked to consider what is needed, within existing legislation, to improve the experience of families who separate before any application is made to the family court. The theme woven through all discussions was the need to restore the child to the centre in systems that currently operate largely for parents.
Families who need the court are governed by the ‘Family Justice system’. Recommendations for improving their experience have been made by the Private Law Working Group (click here to see the pdf) and the Ministry of Justice Risk of Harm Panel Report (click here for the report in pdf format).
There are many families who experience difficulties following separation but who do not need the protection or intervention of the family court. We suggest these families should be supported by a multi-disciplinary ‘Family Solutions system’, away from an adversarial court system which may only add fuel to the fire of the breakdown At present, there is no political oversight or coordinated responsibility for these families, to foster conditions in which young people thrive. The FSG speaks into the needs of the separating family outside of the court context, so that their needs, and specifically the needs and rights of children whose parents live apart, may be addressed.
The FSG report ‘What about me? Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation’ was published in November 2020.
View the webinar which launched the Family Solutions Group report – November 2020
Following the report’s publication, the FSG continues to meet as a voluntary, not-for-profit group with a shared set of values and aspirations, focussing on the needs and rights of children whose parents live apart as well as their separated parents.
What About Me? report contributors:
Helen Adam (Chair) – Mediator, Solicitor (non-practising)
Karen Barham – Mediator, Parent Coordinator, Solicitor
Caroline Bowden – Mediator, Solicitor
Charlotte Bradley – Solicitor, Mediator
Elizabeth Coe – National Association of Child Contact Centres
Adrienne Cox – Mediator, Solicitor (non-practising)
HHJ Martin Dancey – Designated Family Judge for Dorset
Dr Jan Ewing – University of Exeter
Claire Field – Parenting Apart Programme
Patrick Myers – DWP Reducing Parental Conflict Programme
Beverley Sayers – Mediator, FMC board member, Therapist
Anna Sinclair – Cafcass Cymru
Judith Timms OBE – National Youth Advocacy Service
Jane Wilson – Mediator, Solicitor (non-practising)