Claire Tyler: Relate and the Judge Speak Out

17 JUL 2008

Claire Tyler, Chief Executive, Relate

Persuading policymakers that family breakdown is a major problem for our society, and that there are things we can do about it, is a crucial part of my job. Marshalling evidence drawn from research and our clients' experiences is part of this, as is building partnerships with organisations who feel the same way. Nevertheless, it can sometimes feel like an isolated position, caught between doom and gloom predictions that we are on an inevitable downward spiral on one side, and what can sometimes seem like real policy neglect of couple and family relationships on the other.

It was, therefore, both surprising and heartening to read Coleridge J's recent speech to the Resolution annual conference (see May [2008] Fam Law 388). Surprising because, although he works in the family courts, he spent a good proportion of the speech talking about what happens to those families who do not become involved in the legal system, as well as those that do. And heartening because while he did not held back on the diagnosis of the problem, calling family breakdown as 'catastrophic as the meltdown of the ice caps', he made it clear that there are steps that can be taken to reverse the effects and stem the tide of families made miserable by conflict and breakdown.

Mr Justice Coleridge's calls to action divided into three areas: more support for family relationships; services for those couples who are separating; and education for young people to build stable relationships in the future.

For the full article, see July [2008] Family Law journal.

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