The Family Law Language Project has recently launched online and across social media. The aim of the Project is to help make family law more accessible and reduce parental conflict by improving the understanding and use of language.
One of the key methods of doing this will be to identify and inform people about misuse of family law terms in mainstream media, particularly terms that can be used aggressively or raise the temperature in family proceedings. An often-misused term is ‘custody’ which has not been part of the law in England & Wales since 1991 but which is often misused by parents and professionals alike and which can cause conflict as parents think they have to ‘fight’ to be one who ‘wins’ custody. This language also reinforces the idea that disagreements about children must inherently be confrontational and that is damaging to the children involved and put unnecessary strain on the family justice system. There are numerous other examples.
The Project also wants to hear from anyone who has experienced an issue with language and family law whether from the point of view of a parent, child or professional. There must be lots of terms which the legal community take for granted but which can cause confusion and make people feel alienated from the system which is supposed to be there to help them.