The Law Society is urging the next government to restore legal aid for early advice after latest government figures showed 27,445 more children were trapped in limbo in the family justice system at the start of this year.

Family court statistics published by the Ministry of Justice yesterday reveal 6,510 children were involved in public law applications and 20,935 children in private law applications between January and March. A total of 103,676 children were caught up in the family justice system last year.

Society president Nick Emmerson said: ‘It is distressing that thousands of children have fallen victim to record backlogs in the family courts. The family courts are in a dire state. Children are forced to wait almost a year in limbo, as they are failed by a system that should aim to protect them. This has a damaging impact on the families and especially the children, as crippling stress and anxiety of an uncertain future is completely overlooked.’

Emmerson said the children must not be allowed to become collateral damage to a justice system in crisis.

‘Restoring legal aid for early advice in family matters would mean more families could resolve their matters outside the courts and those who still need to go to court would be better prepared for what will happen there.

‘The next government must also commit to taking forward the early advice pilot, which will help people resolve their problems earlier and therefore reduce the court backlogs. These measures would go a long way to relieving the pressures on the family courts and protecting children.’


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