April 13, 2023

Why journalists can now report on family law cases in court     

By Partner, Anthony Parrish from Jones Myers Children’s Department  

An unprecedented development sees journalists reporting in family law courts on cases which include the future and wellbeing of children whose parents are divorcing.    

Whereas the media could previously observe such hearings but only report on what a judge allowed, accredited reporters can now write in detail on cases, have access to some legal documents and interview families about their cases – providing their identify is protected.  

The move, part of a pilot scheme, aims to remove long-standing concerns about the ‘secrecy’ surrounding family courts, create greater transparency and build public confidence.

Covering private and public children law cases – the latter which involves local authorities – the 12-month pilot applies to family courts in Leeds, Carlisle, and Cardiff.

As a whole, our highly acclaimed Children’s Department sees the pilot as a favourable move in providing a positive insight within the media in helping the public understand the realities of the Family Court System – and for an unbiased approach to be taken.

However, this isn’t without some reservation about  how those who represent themselves in Court Proceedings may try to use the media to their own advantage. Particularly if they did this to portray the other party in an unfavourable light or put their privacy at risk.

In those situations, there would be concerns about how this could be managed safely, especially around the potential for Social Media platforms to be abused.

The new reporting freedoms could also see divorcing couples – particularly those with a profile in their community who are concerned about protecting their own and their children’s privacy – resolve matters out of the courtroom glare.

This can be achieved through alternative routes such as mediation or the collaborative process which help separating couples to find an agreed way forward in a constructive, positive manner.

Less costly, acrimonious, and drawn-out, these alternatives protect children being exposed to the fall out of their parents’ relationship. They prioritise children’s well-being and help the long-term interests of all those involved in the break-up.  

The specialisms of Jones Myers award-winning Children’s Team – which deals with every aspect of private and public children law – span residence, contact, relocation, international child abduction, adoption, and child protection.  

Dedicated to consistently delivering excellence, we act for parents and grandparents, we represent children, through their court appointed Children’s Guardians allocated by Cafcass. We also act separately for children of a significant age and maturity. 

Our extensive expertise also includes a Family Law Mediator, a Child Inclusive Mediator, Collaborative Family Lawyer and In House Counsel.    

More information on the new reporting freedoms can be found here Reporting in the Family Court (parliament.uk)    

For queries on children law, mediation, or other family law issues, call Leeds 0113 246 0055, Harrogate 01423 276104, York on 01904 202550. Visit jm2023.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

Jones Myers blog is ranked 8th in the UK’s Best 25 family law blogs and websites to follow in 2023.