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The government has announced major reforms to the family justice system which it says will tackle delays, streamline processes and rebuild trust.

According to ministers, the changes in education and the introduction of parenting agreements which the review recommended will help ensure better recognition of the joint role of parents within wider society.

The government has also accepted the need to clarify and restore public confidence that the courts recognise the joint nature of parenting. It therefore intends to make a legislative statement emphasising the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both their parents after family separation, where that is safe, and in the child's best interests.

The government is mindful of the lessons which must be learnt from the Australian experience of legislating in this area, which were highlighted by the Review and led them to urge caution. It will therefore consider very carefully how legislation can be framed to ensure that a meaningful relationship is not about equal division of time, but the quality of parenting received by the child.

The government has also announced that it will simplify the family justice system to help separating couples reach lasting agreement speedily, if possible without going to court. It will make it mandatory for separating parents who propose court action to resolve a dispute about their child to have an initial assessment to see if mediation is something which would be suitable instead, to help them agree on the arrangements for their child.

It will drive culture change and better cross-system working through the establishment of a new family justice board, accountable to ministers, made up of senior figures representing the key organisations who play a role within the system and who will have a clear remit to improve performance.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said:

'The reform of family justice and child protection is a critical priority for government. Our reforms are ambitious and system-wide and particularly tackle the crucial problem of delay.

'More use of mediation, more effective court processes and more efficient provision of advice will help to create a family justice system which can better resolve these difficult emotional problems in the best interests of children and families.'