chapter  17
20 Pages

Making Contact Orders Work

However, none of these is likely to be an abso lute panacea: when parents separ ate it is optimistic to expect them, or even a major ity, suddenly to agree about their chil dren’s future living arrange ments, includ ing arrange ments for chil dren to see their non-resid ent parent. Thus the new CAO already carries within its philo sophy the seeds of failure, since the new CAP of the Family Court, estab lished in April 2014, emphas ises private order ing through the ‘PAs’ encour aged by the FJR and based on a Parenting Plan facil it ated by Cafcass and/or medi ation – which can still be funded even though most private child law cases can obtain legal advice and/or repres ent a tion only if one of the excep tions to LASPO 2012 cuts is estab lished. This in turn relies heavily on:

(i) the cooper a tion of the parents concerned in both the philo sophy of private order ing; and (ii) agree ment between separ ated spouses or ex-part ners (who possibly are already also divorced,

perhaps with some acri mony, if they were married), and in either case follow ing a separ a tion because they could not get on! The take-up of medi ation in the 18 months since LASPO was imple men ted in April 2013 tells its own story about the like li hood of this initi at ive succeed ing, since these figures have fallen dramat ic ally – accord ing to Christina Blacklaws they have ‘fallen off a cliff’1 – whereas numbers of LIPs have swollen, para lys ing the court process, as parties have appar ently thought it better to take their chances before a judge. Possibly, at least numbers of medi ations under taken may now begin to rise, follow ing the govern ment’s announce ment in August 2014 that there will be further finan cial help for an initial medi ation session, but natur ally this does not address the poten tial lack of parental cooper a tion.