Why family law is important
Family law

5 Reasons Why Family Law Is Important

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Walker Family Law
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Although taken for granted by many, and even disparaged by some, family law is a vital component of any civilised society.

But why exactly is that so?

Why family law is important

There are many reasons why family law is important, and it would be impossible to compile a complete list. However, the following are perhaps the five most important reasons, in no particular order:

1. Family law provides a mechanism to resolve issues on separation

Family breakdown is sadly a feature of any free society.

And a huge proportion of people, adults and children, go through family breakdown at some point in their lives.

In the financial year ending 2021 it was estimated that there were 2.3 million separated families in Great Britain, and 3.6 million children in those separated families.

And in many of those separated families issues will arise between the adult parties, over such things as finances and arrangements for children.

In most cases the parties are able to sort out these issues between themselves, but all too often they can’t. In such a situation family law provides a mechanism for the issues to be resolved, if necessary by court order.

And reaching a resolution is not necessarily the end of the matter. Agreements may not be kept to, and court orders may not be obeyed. Family law therefore also provides a mechanism for agreements and orders to be enforced.

2. Family law protects the rights of spouses on divorce

More specifically, one of those mechanisms relates to sorting out finances on divorce, known as ‘financial remedies’.

And a feature common to many cases where finances on divorce need to be sorted out is that there is a considerable imbalance between the parties, where one party may be in a far better position financially than the other, or one party may domineer the other, weaker, party.

In such situations family law will protect the weaker party, and ensure that they receive a fair settlement.

An example of this protection is that the law specifically avoids discriminating between the husband and the wife, and their respective roles within the marriage. Thus, for example, the contribution of a ‘home-making’ spouse will usually be considered to equal the contribution of a ‘bread-winning’ spouse.

3. Family law protects the welfare of children on parental separation

Apart from finances, the other big issue that crops up on family breakdown is of course arrangements for children, in particular regarding how much time they should spend with each parent.

And once again family law provides a mechanism to sort out those arrangements.

And the mechanism has a specific purpose: to protect the welfare of the children.

Family law may achieve this, for example, by ensuring that children continue to have as full a relationship as possible with both of their parents, or by ensuring that the children come to no harm as a result of any arrangements.

4. Family law protects victims of abuse

Domestic abuse is sadly a scourge that affects many families including, of course, the children.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales, for example, recently estimated that approximately 1 in 5 adults aged 16 years and over had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 years. That’s an astonishing 10.4 million people.

Family law provides protections for victims of abuse, including non-molestation orders to restrain future abuse, and occupation orders which may, for example, require an abuser to leave the victim’s home.

In 2021, the last full year for which figures are available, there were some 35,000 applications for these orders, resulting in the making of over 29,000 orders.

5. Family law protects the welfare of children at risk of harm

Lastly, we come to possibly the most important thing that family law does for society: protect all children from harm.

The law imposes upon local authorities a duty to investigate where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives or is found in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.

And if their enquiries lead to concerns that the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, harm then the local authority must take action.

This could result in care proceedings being issued. And if the family court finds that the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm then it will take steps to protect the child, which may include removing the child from its parents and placing them for adoption.

Ian Walker Family Law & Mediation Solicitors are award-winning family solicitors and are recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law & mediation, divorce, child law, and arbitration. For expert advice, please contact the team.