Long and Swann publish action plan to support better outcomes for separating families

Date published: 05 August 2021

Ministers Naomi Long and Robin Swann today published a joint Action Plan aimed at helping parents achieve the best possible outcomes when settling arrangements for their children.

Justice Minister Naomi Long

The Private Family Law Early Resolution Action Plan recognises the impact uncertainty and conflict can have on children’s wellbeing and aims to help parents who have separated or who do not live together to identify the most appropriate tools for resolving issues relating to their children and to reach decisions as early as possible.

Speaking at the launch of the Plan, Naomi Long said “All too often sensitive and emotional issues relating to the care of children are resolved in the adversarial court environment when they could be resolved more simply and consensually outside it.”

“Some parents do need the support of the courts to settle issues relating to their children but for most there is another way and we want to support them to reach early consensual agreements to ensure the best possible outcomes for their families. The Action Plan aims to ensure that is achieved. It also aims to ensure the best possible outcomes by supporting the early resolution of disputes which do come before the courts.”

Minister Swann said “A secure family environment, certainty, low parental conflict and having a positive relationship with both parents can play a significant part in ensuring the wellbeing of children and young people. The Action Plan we are launching today aims to support parents to make arrangements which take account of the needs and wishes of their children as early as possible to minimise the impact conflict and disruption can have on children’s long term outcomes.”

Initial steps under the Action Plan will include building evidence on alternative dispute resolution in family cases, developing information and tools to improve children’s understanding of how and why decisions are reached for them and to enhance parents understanding of options for resolving issues relating to the care of their children. 

A video explaining the benefits of reaching decisions outside court has already been produced and is available on the NIDirect website

Further information on the action plan is available at the publication section of this website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Private Family Law Early Resolution Action Plan is brought forward with the aim to helping parents to take control of arrangements for their children and resolve disputes as early as possible using the most appropriate mechanism for their circumstances. The Plan sets out the Departments aspirations for the remainder of the mandate but the Plan is expected to evolve over time as the Departments work with justice and health and social care partners to identify the most appropriate means of supporting parents to achieve the best outcomes for their families.
  2. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email at: press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top