UK Parliamentarians in both Houses have asked questions of Government on the back of Resolution’s most recent “Good Divorce Week”.
In oral questions in the House of Lords on Wednesday (6 Jan) Baroness Deech warned of a “disaster unfolding in the family courts” as 41% of recent divorcees say they suffered mental health episodes, information which came from Resolution’s recent YouGov survey. Baroness Deech called for the government to improve capacity in the family courts as well as improve the experience of litigants.
Lord Farmer echoed Resolution calls for early legal advice and support to be offered to separating couples as this would “mitigate the pain of divorce and consequential mental ill health they (litigants) and their children frequently experience”.
Lord Faulkner said the feelings of depression and anxiety among divorcees are exacerbated when they are worried whether they can afford professional or legal advice. He warned that litigants without funds to access advice would end up representing themselves, sometimes with disastrous results.
Responding for the Government, Lord Stewart of Dirleton said the Government is continuing work to develop the family hub model to “ensure that they improve outcomes for children and families with children.” He went on to say that the Government “will use the opportunity of revising the online divorce application process to improve the signposting of relevant support services.”
Elsewhere, the Chair of the Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob Neill MP, tabled a series of written questions about the need for early legal advice and the impact of divorce & separation on mental health. This followed Resolution’s contact with Sir Bob during Good Divorce Week, where he supported the organisation’s campaign on social media.
In response, Alex Chalk MP, Family Justice Minister, said “We want to encourage positive, non-confrontational approaches to resolving problems before they reach the courts. This includes separating parents who are in conflict. This Government is committed to ensuring couples and parents can navigate the family justice system and understand the different options available to resolve their disputes, including out-of-court options such as mediation where they are safe and appropriate.”
Resolution commissioned the YouGov research for Good Divorce Week 2020 which took place last November. A survey of more than 1,000 divorcees found increasing rates of mental health episodes associated with separation alongside a rise in ‘DIY’ divorces.