Increase in Private Law Children Applications to Court

Increase in Private Law Children Applications to Court

Cafcass (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have reported an increase in private law applications relating to children during June of some 29% compared to the same period last year.  The number of applications for May 2013 represented the highest number of applications ever recorded for an individual month.

On 1st April 2013 the availability of legal aid was, for most cases, stopped. The Government hoped that mediation was the answer, at least for the less complex cases, and that people would be able to reconcile their differences through the mediation process. It is perhaps a false hope, and there are many individuals who are unable to reach agreement for many different and valid reasons. At best, mediation can only be seen as one of a host of different dispute resolution tools.

But why are the figures on the increase. Well, one school of thought is that many, who would have been eligible for legal aid, are forming the view that they cannot afford a solicitor, and are not taking legal advice. Thus, they are not being made aware of the availability of mediation, nor the fact that legal aid remains available for mediation if the individual qualifies financially, and are instead they are just going ahead and issuing an application in court.

The application fee alone now stands at £215 (as from the 1st July), although it is possible to apply for fee exemption or remission if your financial circumstances allow.

The knock on consequence of this increase is that the Court timetables will be delayed, as the sheer volume of cases means that matters have to wait in an ever increasing queue before being heard by the Court. It will be interesting to see for how long this apparent trend continues.