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  • Writer's picturekellygrigg

Children waiting a year for legal decision on living arrangements

McCurley: 'Entire family courts system is creaking'

The Law Society has renewed its call for fresh investment in the family justice system to help children left in legal limbo by worsening delays.

Data from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service shows children who have been removed from their parents by the state are having to wait an average of 46 weeks to get a final decision on where they will live. In 13 of the 42 Designated Family Judge areas in England and Wales, the wait is double the recommended government target of 26 weeks.

More than 80,000 children are presently caught up in private family law proceedings, according to court statistics. In 2022, the case duration in private family law was 44.9 weeks.

McCurley: 'Entire family courts system is creaking'

‘What is often missed in the debate around the unacceptable backlogs in our family courts is the impact on children,’ said Law Society president Lubna Shuja. 'Our members are telling us of instances where court delays are leading to increased tension between parties. This is undermining a collaborative and child-centred approach to family separation.'

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