24th Mar 2022

FLiP Sponsors Landmark Event: Taking the fight out of family separation

FLiP sponsors Landmark Event: Taking the fight out of family separation: Finding safe and supportive solutions for all

We were delighted to sponsor yesterday evening’s (23rd March 2022) landmark event for the Family Solutions Group “Taking the fight out of family separation: Finding safe and supportive solutions for all”.

Paddy O’Connell of BBC Broadcasting House moderated the event which was attended by Suella Braverman, the Attorney General. The Attorney General agreed to follow up on the event by convening a meeting to encourage coordination among all relevant government departments dealing with families.

Our distinguished panel of speakers included Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, Siobhan Baillie MP, Dr Jan Ewing, Helen Adam, Chair of the FSG and Adam Colthorpe of Dads Unlimited. Our audience included representatives from charities, policy makers and shapers, academics and family law professionals.

This event was a call to action for the Government and for society more generally to move away from treating family separation as legal issue and to focus instead on supporting separating families away from the doors of the court unless there is real need to do so. A film quoting children and young people whose parents live apart was shown, reinforcing the importance of putting the welfare of children of separating parents at the heart of any proposed change.

Our speakers called for co-ordinated policy and funding within Government to support separating families; for the provision of early intervention and support within the community for separating parents and children; and, for the use of a new, less combative language around family separation. Reflections included:

  • Which government department should have responsibility for separating families? It is evident that the family justice system is not the right place for all families.
  • Teachers have a huge role to play in supporting children affected by family separation.
  • If you want families to move away from using the family justice system, you have to provide supported alternatives which are accessible and affordable. We need a multidisciplinary service to provide that early intervention.

The FSG’s call to action: 

  • Government must focus its policy and funding on keeping child welfare at the centre of any family separation. A ‘family solutions system’ is long overdue, so only those who need a court order access our ‘family justice system’.
  • Parents and children should be offered early information and support at the start of the separation process, so needs can be assessed, and the right route chosen.
  • Wider society should be persuaded to dial down combative and ‘fighting-talk’ language when describing family separation.

Take a look at the video which was shown at the event.

 

We look forward to hearing more about what the government will do now to take forward the radical changes suggested at last night’s event.