Family Courts – a Holistic Approach?


James Munby, President of the Family Division, has called for a one-stop holistic court system to deal with the real problems that modern families now face.

Families now almost have an infinite variety of forms, married, cohabiting and same-sex couples. Children are living in houses where their parents may be married or not. The unit may comprise of a single parent, two parents or more. The parents may or may not be the natural parents.

The current complex court system prevents the family courts from dealing holistically with family problems.

The courts are not, but perhaps should be, problem-solving courts. Drug and alcohol issues and physical and mental health issues are seen by the court daily. The court needs the power and, importantly, the resources to do this. Currently, the courts cannot direct that resources are made available, what is serves is provided, it can only seek to persuade.

James Munby stated “What is the objection to which this part of family justice reform ought to be aiming? My thesis is simple, though the road to achieving it will, I fear, be long and hard.

“We have somehow to create a one-stop shop in an enhanced revamped family court capable of dealing holistically because it has been given the necessary tools to deal with families’ problems, whatever they may be”.

Traditionally the courts deal with status relationship breakdowns and family finances, but now there are multiple difficulties and depravations – economic, social, education, employment, housing and health, to which so many children in their families are victims. “Family justice is surely about something much wider than mere lawyers law”.

So are changes afoot as a result of this? We would certainly like to think so but as with the justice system itself, it is likely to be a slow process.

There are of course already alternatives to the court process, for example, mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and roundtable meetings to name just a few. All of these offer alternatives to the court system which is slow, stressful and of course expensive. 


​If you would like further advice relating to these processes, please contact our Family Law department on 01708 229444 or email us using the form to the right to arrange a free initial consultation.This article was written by Sue Nash, Family Solicitor at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of June 2018.


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