You are here

Child contact charity reports fall in solicitors’ referrals

16 October 2019

Add comment

The proportion of referrals from solicitors to the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) has fallen by 46 percentage points since 2009/10.

Referrals from solicitors have reduced from 67.8 per cent (6,729 out of 9,925) to 21.9 per cent (2,375 out of a 10,825) over the last decade.

The NACCC says the significant reduction in referrals from legal representatives is due to cuts to legal aid.

Over the same period, the number of parents self-referring to child contact centres has risen from 3.7 per cent of total referrals in 2009/10 (372 out of 9,925) to 35.8 per cent in 2018/19 (3,879 out of a 10,825), according to figures released by the charity this week.

NACCC provides spaces where children can meet the parents they do not live with and promotes the use of mediation and other services, so separating parents do not need to go to court to arrange contact with their children.

The statistics released on Tuesday (15 October) are a clear indication of the consequences of legal aid reforms for families experiencing separation, according to the NACCC.

The consultation process for legal aid reforms started in 2011 and came into force in 2013. Since then, legal aid for family law has only been available for a limited range of cases including domestic violence and international child abduction.

NACCC chief executive Elizabeth Coe (pictured) said: “We have noticed a huge change in source of referrals since legal aid reforms led to a reduction in provision for most family cases. Families who are going through a separation now often need to negotiate the family law system without the support of a legal professional.”

Sarah Avery, Cheltenham child contact centre manager, said: “We know that family separation is stressful for everyone involved and many parents now have the additional challenge of managing legal processes without support from a solicitor. The emotional strain this puts on individuals can be huge.” 

Categorised in:

Legal services Technical legal practice Family Divorce Mediation