In recent years, there has been a gradual decline in disputing parents issuing court proceedings under Section 8 Children Act 1989.

Section 8 orders are more commonly known as contact orders and residence orders, amongst others. Therefore, an order under Section 8 will regulate where a child should live and how much contact they should have with each parent.

In February 2014, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) have reported an 11% decline in new cases as compared to this time last year.

The decline in new cases could be explained by an increased use of mediation or collaborative lawyers, as these forms of alternative dispute resolution become more readily available and accepted as cheaper, quicker and a more amicable way of resolving disputes regarding children.

In addition, April 2013 saw drastic cuts in the availability of Legal Aid funding for these types of applications and funding is only available in very limited circumstances.

Many parents are extremely keen to settle matters out of court to avoid litigation which is costly, both financially and emotionally. There is strong evidence to suggest that those parents who reach an agreement between themselves are generally happier with the outcome as compared to having a decision imposed on them by a court.

Jane Tenquist, Head of Family Law, is a qualified Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer. All of our family solicitors are members of Resolution, an organisation which commits them to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way.

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