An Epidemic of Family Breakdown

The family justice system in England and Wales is overstretched and nearer to breaking point than it has ever been, a leading family judge said today.

Sir Paul Coleridge, who sits in the High Court as Mr Justice Coleridge, gave three related reasons.

  • Family breakdown is at epidemic proportions in every sector of our society, both indigenous and immigrant.
  • There is not the slightest sign of any serious, concerted, national or government effort to address the problem of family breakdown from the causation end.
  • The only weapon the country has to manage the problem of family breakdown – the family justice system – is subject to continuing neglect and squeeze.

The result of all this was that the mass of specialist expertise built up over the past 20 years was being put in serious jeopardy.

“We cannot allow this to happen,” he said in a speech to the Family Law Bar Association national conference in Bath.

“Children cannot be removed from their parents or have their lives interfered with by society via a system that is just too small for the job, is run on the cheap, is on the verge of breaking and is subject to chronic delay.”

This is not the first time that Sir Paul has spoken along these lines. But is anybody listening?

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