This article compares the role of family courts in England and Wales with those of Australia. The role now undertaken by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has been welcomed by the courts, but there has been continuous tension between the legal and social welfare functions of the family justice system. Cafcass has recently tried to remedy this by diverting cases away from formal hearings into a conflict resolution process, but this raises issues of legitimacy and has not been accepted by lawyers or the general public. Recent reforms in Australia, by structurally dividing public and private law, may have achieved a workable consensus that prioritises non-legal resolution over adjudication, which the author argues should be worth considering as a solution in England and Wales
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