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Brian Cantwell, The Children and Families Consultation Group, Hexham. There is a current move towards diversion and dispute resolution in private law proceedings, given considerable impetus by the President's private law framework. There has been a considerable shift in the practice of CAFCASS away from s 7 reports and towards a new settlement-seeking approach to new referrals to the agency.
The principles underlying dispute resolution are not challenged, but in this article the author raises a number of concerns connected with the current emphasis on dispute resolution. In particular, there is a risk that the role of the court in adjudication could be undervalued, or that CAFCASS may be in danger of going down the 'one size fits all' road. Looking in detail at the nature of parental disputes, the author queries how the courts, and the services that work with the courts, might develop clarity and rigour in matching the service to the needs of the family, with particular reference to the emotional welfare of the child(ren) concerned. There is a spectrum of conflicts and the underlying emotional issues in family disputes are also important. The author looks at what assistance might be best suited to families involved in different types of conflict and suggests that if a family can be placed at a particular point on the spectrum of conflict, then an appropriate process can be applied. For the full article see August  Fam Law.
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