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What is Early Interventions?
The Early Interventions project is the blueprint for a new model Family Court system. It is a major reform meeting the legitimate expectations of children and parents.
The Early Interventions project has strong across-the-board-support: from the judiciary, senior lawyers, eminent child development experts, parenting groups and politicians.
The Early Interventions reforms were approved in October 2003 by the DCA Minister, Lord Filkin, on behalf of Government. The Early Interventions package of reforms was announced in the 2004 Green Paper Parental Separation as the Government’s flagship strategy.
But nothing happened.
So the Early Interventions reforms - which everyone wants - which have been approved - and which would resolve the ‘family law problem’ - are gathering dust - at the same time as the authorities are scratching their heads, wondering how to solve the problems in family law.
The answer is easy: reinstate Early Interventions.
THE NEW MODEL COURT SYSTEM: EARLY INTERVENTIONS
Under Early Interventions, the Courts take the view that there should be reasonable contact unless there is a ‘good reason’ to the contrary.
This reverses the way the courts currently work:
The Existing System
The current legal process provides for an extended course of litigation, commencing after the first Directions Appointment, to see if contact should - perhaps - be gradually increased.
Typically, the Court will not consider raising contact above the low level which triggered the issue of proceedings - until the first substantive hearing, many months later. The resultant litigation, which may continue for years, is on the basis that almost all contact can be stopped for almost no reason.
This concept provides inexhaustible ammunition for rolling litigation.
This is a one-parent model of family justice.
The Proposed Early Interventions System
The Early Interventions process is geared to the reinstatement (or initiation) of reasonable contact before the first Directions Appointment.
The Early Interventions legal system is ‘front-loaded’.
Parents are informed of the proper outcome for the main categories of dispute from the moment that they first approach their lawyers.
The probable result of the case - reasonable contact in the absence of good reason to the contrary - is made clear to parents before the litigation starts.
This ‘foreknowledge of outcomes’ provides a powerful lever to encourage early agreement, pre-court, on a proper schedule of contact.
Early Interventions is a two-parent model of family justice.
THE EARLY INTERVENTIONS PROJECT
It is Equal Parenting Alliance policy that the Early Interventions Project should be adopted as a pilot project immediately.
How it could be started now?
The Early Interventions Project was approved by the Government in 2003.
It was just never implemented because nobody understood what they were doing!
America, Norway and New Zealand have had versions of the Early Interventions system for decades
The Early Interventions Project is similar to a plan implemented in Florida which was designed to resolve contact disputes before they reach court through pre-emptive and pre-hearing parenting plans, parent education and contact-focused compulsory mediation.
It has proved to be a success in reducing costs, delay and in producing enhanced outcomes with enforcement being a rarity.
The Early Interventions Project is the brain-child of Oliver Cyriax, a retired solicitor who provides legal advice for parents involved in contact litigation.