Family justice requires not only a legal framework within which personal obligations are regulated over the life course, but also a justice system which can deliver legal information, advice and support at times of change of status or family stress, together with mechanisms for negotiation, dispute management and resolution, with adjudication as the last resort.
The past few years have seen unparalleled turbulence in the way family justice systems function. These changes are associated with economic constraints in many countries, including England and Wales, where legal aid for private family matters has largely disappeared. But there is also a change in ideology in a number of jurisdictions, including Canada, towards what is sometimes called neo-liberalism, whereby the state seeks to reduce its area of activity while at the same time maintaining strong views on family values. Legal services may become fragmented and marketised, and the role of law and lawyers reduced, while self-help web based services expand.
The contributors to this volume share their anxieties about the impact on the ability of individuals to achieve fair and informed resolution in family matters.