My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the Minister with responsibility for children and families, the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and I wish to make the following statement to the House about our plans for a comprehensive review of the family justice system.
My hon. Friend and I have asked David Norgrove to build on his preliminary work in this area to undertake a comprehensive review of the family justice system. This review will examine both public and private law cases. In public law this means looking at how the courts, with other agencies, manage cases involving children and the public care system. In private law this means looking at contact and residence disputes between family members and will include considering how to increase the use of mediation when couples break up, and how best to provide greater access rights to non-resident parents and grandparents.
The review will also examine the processes involved in granting divorces and awarding ancillary relief, but will not extend to the law as it relates to the grounds for divorce or the amounts of ancillary relief that should be awarded.
The terms of reference have set this out in more detail and a copy has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The panel is today launching their call for evidence. The panel wishes to hear from children, families, professionals and representative groups involved in the family justice system. A series of questions have been posed to frame responses; a copy of these questions has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.