There is new hope for parents battling drug and alcohol addictions with the introduction of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) to the South West, from the beginning of November.
The Children and Families Act 2014 states that care proceedings should be concluded within 26 weeks. For those parents who may have spent many years battling drug and/or alcohol addiction, 26 weeks gives them very little opportunity to turn their lives around. Furthermore, due to very limited resources, there is a distinct lack of appropriate support available. Consequently many children are permanently separated from their parents because their parents have experienced difficulties in overcoming addiction.
Unlike the traditional family court, the FDAC provides access to a team of specialists, including doctors, nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists. This means parents are able to access appropriate help and support in order to overcome their drug and alcohol addictions. Furthermore the FDAC recognises that it may not be realistic for those with long standing drug and alcohol dependency to be able to completely overcome it within 26 weeks. Therefore cases in the FDAC may run beyond 26 weeks.
In addition to therapy and detox programmes, parents will undergo regular drug and alcohol testing. They will also meet with the same judge every 2 weeks to discuss their progress. These meetings generally take place without lawyers and other parties being present and so are less intimidating than traditional court hearings. Furthermore the Judges who are selected to be part of the FDAC receive specialist training, meaning that they have a far deeper understanding of, and empathy for, the issues faced by parents in overcoming addiction.
The FDAC was initially introduced in London 7 years ago, where it has been incredibly successful in helping families affected by these issues stay together. Initially in Devon it is being introduced as a pilot scheme, which will offer help to 25 families in the first year. At The Family Law Company we are really positive about the introduction of the FDAC. We believe it will offer parents battling addiction a better chance of being able to care for their children long term than the traditional Court process.