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The Child Arrangements Programme

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Walker Family Law
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The Private Law Working Group and the The Child Arrangements Programme

It looks like there is going to be more change in the world of family law. This time I think it should be for the better.

The Private Law Working Group

In August 2013 the President of the Family Division set up the Private Law Working Group under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Cobb (who I remember instructing to act in cases when I was a newly qualified Solicitor working in Kent)

The Private Law Working Group has now reported. Its Report recommends the replacement of the Private Law Programme with an entirely new Child Arrangements Programme. Eh? In other words it proposes that the Courts take a different approach to cases concerning children, where Social Services are not involved.

Where Social Services are involved, these cases are called “Public Law”. Where there is no social services and the cases are normally between parents, the cases are called “Private Law”. (incidentally the names may have to be revised; there is speculation that Michael Gove would like to privatise child protection, in which case everything could be called “Private Law” !) This for now is about cases about contact and residence etc.

The basic gist is that it is proposed that greater efforts are made to encourage mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. This sounds like a good idea to me.

These changes could come into force as early as next spring.

Here are the relevant documents

Here is a link to the relevant part of the website

To save time, here is a PDF to the plan and a PDF of the procedural flowchart.



Respond to the Consultation

It is said that the President would welcome and value all comments from anyone with an involvement or interest in the family justice system on these proposals. Comments should be sent to Nicola Massally ( and Joanna Wilkinson (

Comments on the draft Guidance on Allocation and Gatekeeping should be sent by 2 December 2013 and on everything else by 6 January 2014 at the latest.

I have sent my comments in. These are in a separate post