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Cafcass trials new child arrangements pilot scheme

The Ministry of Justice, in partnership with Cafcass, has announced a new pilot scheme to take place in family courts in North Wales and Dorset. One main aim of the pilot is to help separated families to agree arrangements for their children, rather than engage in acrimonious litigation. The pilot scheme also claims to 'boost' the voice of the child at every stage of the process, ensuring that the child is listened to and their views taken into account when decisions are made about their futures.

Another key aim of the pilot scheme is to better support victims of domestic abuse. The pilot scheme improves information sharing between different agencies such as the police and local authorities and allows Judges to review the background of the case from the gathered information before a hearing even takes place. Judges will then be able to request more documentation as they consider necessary. The purpose of this aspect of the pilot is to avoid the background and circumstances of the case being debated in the courtroom, which is thought to 'exacerbate conflict' between parents. The intention is also to spare victims of domestic abuse the trauma of having to 'unnecessarily repeat their experiences.'

Justice Minister Lord Wolfson QC said:

"This government is doing everything we can to protect victims, make them feel safer, and give them greater confidence in the justice system.

These pilots will help ensure victims of domestic abuse aren't further traumatised by the court process and that better decisions are made about their and their children's lives.

This, alongside our landmark Domestic Abuse Act, will ensure that victims are loudly heard and fully supported."

For the full announcement and further details about the pilot scheme, click here.

For Cafcass' response to the announcement of the pilot scheme, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers