The Delivering Justice for Wales report published in May 2002 includes descriptions of various moves to support separating families and keep private law cases out of court.
The overall number of private law applications to court involving divorce and separation have increased by 39% in Wales, from 2440 applications in 2007 to 3390 applications in 2018. The Welsh Government and Cafcass Cymru have been keen to support approaches which support inter-parental relationships and potentially reduce the backlog of private law cases.
Following research commissioned to identify what services are currently supporting separating families and consider new options, they are now considering the benefits of a ‘one stop shop’ for separating families in Wales to access help and support, avoid the court process and reduce costs and stress – ultimately reducing inter-parental conflict and therefore minimising the harm to children of the separating family.
In 2020-2021 universal free access across all local authority areas in Wales was provided to three evidence based digital courses for families, developed by relationship charity OnePlusOne. The three courses are:
- • Me, You and Baby Too – designed to help new and expectant parents cope with the changes that could happen in their relationship when they become parents, and learn how to cope with stress and conflict constructively.
• Arguing Better – designed to raise awareness of the impact parental conflict can have on children and help parents develop better ways of managing stress and arguments together.
• Getting it Right for Children – designed to support separated parents, helping them to avoid the harmful situation of their children getting caught up in the middle of their conflict.
- An evaluation of phase one of Me, You and Baby Too found that couples who completed this course together saw a significant reduction in the level of conflict in their relationship and improved relationships with each other and their children.
- Although Wales has laws, court systems and family support services linked to those in England and different from Scotland, the detail including in the wide ranging report supporting increased devolution for Wales should ring some bells for those considering how Scotland can improve support for parents and children in separating families and reduce the need to go to court.