The Ministry of Justice has published a summary of the results of a 2012/13 of the Crime Survey for England and Wales relating to the family justice system. For this survey around 35,000 adults in England and Wales were interviewed and topics covered their experience and perception of the family justice system and mediation.
The results of the survey showed that overall both experience and perception of the family justice system is positive with adults being aware of the options available to them.
Direct experience with mediation or the family justice system was low, with 1% of the interviewees having used mediation and less than 1% of the interviewees having experienced family court procedures within the 2 years prior to the interview.
Of those with experience of the family justice system, the majority felt that they had been treated fairly, they were kept well informed and they had been treated with respect throughout the proceedings. This is very positive feedback for the family justice system.
Being kept informed of how the process works greatly reduces the stress levels that are experienced at a very sensitive time. Being treated fairly and with respect also makes the experience less threatening and gives the adults involved confidence in the system and the decisions made, especially those that involve children.
Other findings of note in the survey revealed that 53% of adults were aware that mediation was an alternative to court when couples separate, and 75% of interviewees could identify at least one of the issues that the family justice system deals with. 38% of respondents were able to identify that the family justice system would decide which parent the children should live with, but far fewer interviewees were aware that the family justice system was also responsible for decisions surrounding whether or not a child should be taken into care.
Overall, the survey found that confidence in family legal proceedings was high and that adults are well informed of the options available. This is a good sign that the family law courts are working in the interests of all parties involved.