ABSTRACT. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of some trends in family life and family law internationally, with a focus on North America, Europe and Australasia. These trends include changes in the law concerning parenting after separation to encourage the involvement of both parents, the growth of non-marital cohabitation, and the sharp rise in the numbers of children experiencing their parents living apart by the time they are in their mid-late teens. This overview of trends then leads to some consideration of how family law systems can cope with the pressures that various demographic and social changes are creating. Courts in many countries are overwhelmed by the number of cases that come before them. This is reflected in the available data on increases in family law litigation. To promote access to justice, there is a need to rethink the role of mediation in the family justice system, to reduce discretion, and to develop more simplified procedures. pp. 37–69

Keywords: family law; parenting after separation; non-marital cohabitation; family instability; access to justice; mediation; discretion

How to cite: Parkinson, Patrick (2016), “Family Laws and Access to Justice,” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 8(1): 37–69.

Received 4 August 2015 • Received in revised form 4 September 2015
Accepted 5 September 2015 • Available online 1 October 2015


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