Speaking as one who is having enormous difficulties managing my own caseload I was interested to learn yesterday of a novel approach being adopted in the Stoke area to managing the deluge of cases in which domestic violence allegations are made and which would ordinarily be listed for a fact finding hearing. The pressure on the courts is such that Cafcass Officers are apparently being instructed to express an opinion on allegations and counter-allegations made by parents in order to assist the court and avoid the need for a hearing. In my view this is very dangerous territory. This is an effectively judicial function for which Cafcass Officers have no training and unless they are extremely careful they run the risk of making judgements without having the full facts or the skills to challenge the evidence being presented to them by one or other parent.
Has anyone else come across this approach in other parts of the country? The District Judge in the case in which the issue emerged expressed disapproval of the practice for reasons which will be obvious to family practitioners. He also picked up another important practice issue: the welfare checklist has been deleted from the new style analysis & recommendations pro forma with the obvious danger that the statutory criteria may end up being ignored by those charged with advising the court.
My ex-wife has a new partner – can I cut my maintenance payments? - ASK A FAMILY LAWYER In this regular column, Stowe Family Law solicitors answer readers’ questions on different legal issues. Today’s query goes to Jennife...
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