Cafcass has published new research that shows for the first time the scale of private law cases that come back to court. Our research considers why these cases return and how some cases may benefit from alternative dispute resolution.
The research shows that 30% of the 40,599 private law applications involving Cafcass in 2016-17 had been to court before. The majority returned within two years, and almost a third had been to court at least twice before.
100 of the returning cases were explored in detail to find out why they came back to court. Four principal causes for returning cases were identified: safeguarding concerns raised by parties; high conflict between adults; changes in life circumstances; and the child's wishes and feelings.
Welcoming the research, Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas said: "Cafcass data is a valuable resource that helps us build a picture of the complex circumstances bringing private law cases back to court.
"We hope the research will inform sector understanding of the rise in private law applications and help us identify ways to work with children and families in complex cases in a way which brings about a much earlier safe conclusion that is in their best interests."
The findings will contribute to ongoing improvement of Cafcass' response to complex cases, including its new High Conflict Practice Pathway and its Positive Parenting Programme.