All-Party group

The process of initiating an all-party group in the UK parliament was initiated in December 2022.

APPG for Separating Families / Family Court Reform.

What is an APPG?

“All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.”

Draft remit

To promote changes to the law and practice relating to separating parents and the care of their children which would:

  • prevent or reduce unnecessary damage to the relationships between  children and their parents arising from family court proceedings
  • achieve more agreement outside the family court system
  • reduce delay and financial cost to both those parents and also to the state.

Existing problems

Note: the material below has not been agreed by the APPG. It is here to give a flavour of the questions it will cover. The APPG will appoint its own chair and officers and decide its own agenda.

Harm to children

  • Additional ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)
  • Unnecessary separation from a parent

Harm to parents

  • Polarisation promoted
  • Increased suicide risk
  • Financial cost

Court problems

  • High and rising costs
  • Delays
  • Increasing numbers
  • Increasing accusations of abuse

Vicious cycle

The costs, delays and polarisation of the court process aggravate disagreement, leading to greater demands on the Family Court process.

Approach

The APPG will invite a range of evidence from both those professionals expert in the process, those with experience of other jurisdictions and from parents who have used the service.  We will:

  • clarify the problem
  • create an explanation
  • propose changes to judicial practice and law (if necessary)
  • promote those changes as appropriate

Preliminary questions

  1. What safe ways are there to divert separating couples from court to alternative services which help them come to agreement?
  2. Are there ways to reduce the length and cost of proceedings while maintaining the quality of the process?
  3. Is it possible to maintain safe contact with both parents from the start of proceedings to maintain the bond?
  4. Are the risks of harm to the child being exaggerated?
  5. Is the system biased against the non-resident parent?
  6. Is the way the court process is funded providing financial incentives which drive the parties apart and prolong the proceedings?
  7. Are terms such as ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ adding to polarisation?
  8. Can we enable anonymised research to measure the effectiveness of the system?

Mailing list

See the current mailing list here: Total 25: 9 MPs, 16 peers