Mission statement:

The Family Law Society was founded in 2004 to promote equal parenting and to assist parents who had lost contact with their children. We actively lobby the powers that be encouraging them to bring about a shared parenting culture with a Shared Parenting Act at its centre. Shared parenting makes sense because when you are in a relationship and have children you share the care of them so why should it be any different if the relationship breaks down? Why should there be a winner and a loser in the Family courts? The Family Law Society campaigns to bring about equality of the sexes in the eyes of the law.

Information about Family Law proceedings  

If your relationship breaks down and you have difficulty maintaining contact with your children you may need to go to court either to make an application for contact or care of your children or you may need to defend an action by your ex-partner. If you need to make an application you should make contact with your local Family mediator. You and your ex will be invited to a Family mediation session. If your ex declines you can then make an application to your local Family court using a C100 form for contact or care of your children. If you on a low income you can submit a EX160 fee remittance form to have all court fees waived or you can seek the services of a Legal Aid solicitor.

If you are doing the application yourself you are termed a litigant in person in which case you will need to submit three copies of the C100 form.

The first hearing you will be a directions hearing which is a housekeeping hearing where witness statements are called for and Cafcass (Court and Family Support Service) are generally appointed to compile a Section 7 Welfare report. There are two types of hearing Public Law and Private Law proceedings. Public Law proceedings involve Social Services and Cafcass officers as Guardians of the children concerned. Private Law proceedings are between ex-partners.

There may be a number of directions hearings before the Final Hearing where cross-examination of the parties and professionals takes place before a judge makes a judgement on the matter in hand.

There are 3 main governing Acts of Family Law proceedings. 

Children Act 1989

Human rights Act 1998

Children and Families Act 2014

The Children Act provides a Welfare checklist for children’s wishes and feelings to be taken into account in Family Law proceedings. 

The Family Law Society provides a helpline for anyone going through Family Law proceedings or anyone requiring assistance with a Child Arrangement Order.

The Children and Families Act 2014 brought in the concept of a Child Arrangement Order which replaced residence orders. You can now make an
application for sole care or shared care under a Child Arrangement Order. 

The Family Law Society can assist parents whose children have been abducted by their ex-partner. We provide a tracing service.

The Family Law Society are Key Stakeholders of Cafcass. We have spent many years trying to persuade Cafcass that shared parenting is the
way forward.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) currently sees around 100,000 children each year.
CAFCASS’ welfare reports hold a lot of sway in the Family Courts as judges often follow the recommendations as regard residence and contact contained within them.
Currently CAFCASS Children and Family reporters are not accountable for the contents of their reports under CAFCASS’ Complaints Policy. Their reports go into the courts as the finished article. The methodology of CAFCASS reports are often suspect. CAFCASS officers frequently make medical comments in their reports yet they are not medically trained.
How they gather their information and the interpretations they put on it is open to question. CAFCASS officers see the participants of Family Law Proceedings for only a limited time yet they make recommendations which have far reaching consequences.
Parties to Family Law Proceedings should be given the CAFCASS report in draft form pre-trial so that they can then question the content of it with the report’s author and they should be able to make a complaint against the content of it. CAFCASS officers are only human they can make mistakes. At the moment CAFCASS’ Complaints Policy rules out the prospect of human error.
There is a growing frustration with the operation of the Family Courts. Too often CAFCASS fuels conflict in the Family Courts. It would serve as a good quality control measure if parties to Family Law cases could complain about the content of CAFCASS reports. CAFCASS would gain real feedback about the quality of its service if it allowed complaints about the contents of its reports.
I am a Key Stakeholder in CAFCASS but it is not listening to my concerns about its Complaints Policy. CAFCASS currently excludes about 50% of all complaints it gets because they are about the content of its reports and not the conduct of its officers. Anthony Douglas the Chief Executive of CAFCASS is firmly entrenched behind CAFCASS’ Complaints Policy and it will require legislation for him to budge.
There is hidden horror in the Family Courts. CAFCASS should be subject to the most vigorous inspections. Sadly CAFCASS does not accept that its methodology for constructing welfare reports could be suspect.
Too often false allegations are taken by CAFCASS officers as the truth and are include in their reports as facts. CAFCASS officers should not be immune to questions about the content of their reports. The Family Courts are supposed to be informal yet they are often a bear pit.
CAFCASS owes a duty to our children to be more open. Currently CAFCASS officers are known as the untouchables. There is an urgent need for reform in the Family Courts.
It is wrong that there is often open discrimination against fathers in particular by CAFCASS officers. Too many children lose contact with their non-resident parents because of CAFCASS reports. CAFCASS must engage with its consumers more if it is to progress to being a modern service with the welfare of children at its heart.
By Brian Hitchcock

International Child Abduction 

If your child is abducted by your ex-partner you should immediately contact the police and the Charity reunite or the Family Law Society helpline. Time is of the essence when a child is abducted. If your child is still in your country the police can alert all airports, seaports and in thecase of the UK the Channel Tunnel authorities.

If you are having problems with contact with your child in a foreign country you should contact reunite and the Family Law Society. We can help you regain contact as can reunite.

The Hague Convention on Abducted Children governs issues of residence and contact in all of its signatory countries. It is administered by the Central Authority in each country that has signed the convention. In the UK the Child Abduction Units of the Official Solicitor and the Foreign and Commonwealth office are the Central Authority. The Office of the Official Solicitor deals with Hague Convention cases and the Foreign and Commonwealth Child Abduction Unit deals with non-Hague cases. This model is replicated around the world.  Victims of abduction can get Legal Aid. Too date the Family Law Society has found every child we have been asked to look for and
reunited them with their parent who suffered the abduction.

For stranger abductions you should contact the police.

The Family Law Society helpline operates 24/7 365 days a year. 

Private Law proceedings are between ex-partners.

Public Law proceedings are where Social Services are involved in making an application for a care or adoption order.

In Public Law proceedings for a care or adoption order Social Services have to prove that the threshold has been met.

If you are on low income you can qualify for Legal Aid.

At the final hearing you or your legal team have the opportunity to cross-examine social workers and other professionals involved in your case.

If you wish to complain about the Social Services report you can raise a stage 1 complaint against the social worker which is dealt with by their manager. If you remain unhappy you can raise a stage 2 complaint which is dealt with by a independent investigator. If you are still unhappy you can raise a stage 3 complaint which is dealt with by a independent panel. The next stage if you are still unhappy is to raise a complaint with the Local Council Ombudsman. 

You should think carefully about the cross-examination questions you want to pose to social workers and other professionals. 

Cafcass has a far inferior complaints procedure compared to Social Services because they deal with all complaints in-house with no independent element.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is gender neutral. The National Crime Statistics are appalling. 

Last year there were 1.3 million women victims and 665,000 men which is shocking. The knock on hidden effects on children and families in general are shocking.

What should you do if you are a victim of domestic violence. Firstly you should report the perpetrator to the police then you should phone the National Centre for Domestic Violence on: 08448044999. They will help you obtain an injunction against the perpetrator. If a person breaches the terms of an injunction they will be committed to prison for contempt of court. You can also contact them through text “NCDV” to 60777 and you can make an online referral: referdirect.org.uk


Freephone  0800 9 702070

Website: www.ncdv.org.uk

Then you should seek the advice of lawyer and obtain an occupation order on your home. 

Don’t think that perpetrator will reform they won’t once a perpetrator always a perpetrator. 

The Mankind Initiative Charity helps men who are victims of domestic violence with a helpline  01823 334 244. Their website address is www.mankind.org.uk

Women’s Aid www.womensaid.org.uk

If you are on benefits you will qualify for Legal Aid to obtain the services of a solicitor and barrister.  

The NSPCC should be contacted 0808 5000 over concerns about children. 

The police should be told of child abuse. 

There is a disparity in funding between male and female victims. There are very few refuges for men and their children .

Homelessness is a big problem for men and women after family breakdown.