District Judge Nicholas Crichton who is the driving force behind the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in London has described the Government’s demand for rigid adherence to a 26 week time limit in chil care proceedings as “a tyranny”. He stated that process is overtaking outcomes and it is clear that the matter is serious and may hold prejudicial results.
The Judge said “we know parties who have successfully had their children return home, but who would have had them adopted under the 26 week timetable – it’s as tough as that”.
He further states that he does acknowledge the need to be quicker in care cases and to be more efficient but the pendulum has swung too far. He went further and urged Solicitors to appeal decisions where Judges have failed to recognise where significant harm will be done to families and children by strict adherence to time limits.
Naomi Angell, who the Chair for the Law Society’s Family Law Committee stated that the 26 week time limit did not have to be statutory but it had helped to stop drift in some cases.
On the other side of the coin, a Ministry of Justice spokesman defended the time limit saying that “excessive delays can have a damaging effect on already vulnerable children. We are changing the law to bring in a 26 week time limit for child care proceedings so there is a much clearer focus on the child and their needs and cases don’t get caught up in unnecessary delays. The legislation will need to tackle delay in all cases, whilst allowing sufficient judicial discretion to extend the time where necessary to resolve cases justly”.
At Ringrose Law, we have a number of experienced Solicitors and members of the Childrens Panel that are able and willing to assist parents both pre-proceedings and during proceedings. If you need any assistnace with Child Care Proceedings, contact the Ringrose Law Family Team.