Policy Activity & Consultation Responses

Our members have been at the forefront of policy development and calls for law reform, most notably in calling for the introduction of no-fault divorce.

Words by Rachel Rogers, Head of Policy

At the heart of our work is looking at further ways to improve the family justice environment in which our members work, to help you provide more support to the people you help every single day.

We are often playing a long game and working in a challenging policy environment dominated by world events, other areas of domestic policy and a lack of resources – this is not unique to us, it is the same for other NGOs. Although progress may seem slow, and there is often some disconnect between what we are calling for and what government or others are able to do, our policy activity plays a vital role in promoting our members’ constructive approach to family law and what the family justice system needs to deliver for families and children.

Monitoring and responding to developments around the early resolution of private law arrangements, the Law Commission’s review of financial remedies law and the Ministry of Justice’s review of civil legal aid will be central to our policy work going forward, whatever the make-up of the next government, and very much sit alongside parts of our own Vision for Family Justice.

Working with the President of the Family Division

In 2023, Resolution worked closely with the Ministry of Justice and the President of the Family Division, providing input based on our members’ experiences on a number of issues, not least the recent consultation on early resolution of family disputes.

Resuming in September were the bi-monthly meetings with the President. He is keen to hear from practitioners and offers huge support and encouragement to Resolution and our Vision for Family Justice. He readily acknowledges that the all-too-frequent delays and issues within the court system are unacceptable and have an adverse impact on the families we represent. It is great to have his listening ear and a voice at the top level.

Cohabitation Reform

It’s crucial that policymakers understand the value of Resolution’s voice as we continue to shape the future of family justice, putting Cohabitation Reform, access to early legal advice and the wellbeing of children top of our agenda.

An integral part of the move to no-fault divorce was receiving cross-party support, and we hope that will be replicated as the call for cohabitation reform progresses.

A couple of months ago saw us take a big step towards this with the commitment to reform announced by Emily Thornberry MP, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with all parties as we work to make our Vision for Family Justice a reality.

Resolution continues to call for further reforms to the family justice system, to reflect the needs of modern families, and to ensure that more steps are taken to help separating families minimise conflict and reach lasting solutions, in particular focusing on the needs of children.

Promoting Early Legal Advice

The Family Law Reform Group oversaw the preparation of Resolution’s response to the Ministry of Justice on “Supporting earlier resolution of private family law arrangements” which would potentially have lots of impact on our members, co-ordinating one response bringing together the views of various committees. Members of the Group participated in Ministry of Justice roundtable discussions including on pre-court support and out of court dispute resolution.

Our response guarded against proposals to force people into mediation whilst highlighting the benefits of out of court dispute resolution including, but not limited, to mediation.  The Government does not now propose to change the law to require parties to attempt mediation before making of a private children or financial arrangements application to court.

Jo Edwards, Chair of the Group, gave evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee to help inform that Committee’s response to the Government on earlier resolution.

The Group, working together with our committees, also responded to the Family Procedure Rules Committee consultation on “Early resolution of private family law arrangements”.

In 2023, The Family Law Reform Group also:

  • responded on behalf of members to Ministry of Justice proposals for increases to some family court fees, resulting in a proposed increase in the divorce application fee being dropped.
  • led Resolution’s engagement with the Law Commission on its review to examine the laws on finances after divorce and the ending of a civil partnership.
  • supported the work of other Resolution Committees including the Legal Aid Committee.

In 2023, Resolution responded to the following consultations: