15.96We recommend that the courts should do more to put parents in touch with support services. More publicity and education of the public is needed to encourage families to go for assistance to local Family Service Centres or other agencies at an early stage of conflict or when problems are first encountered. (Paragraph 12.56)
15.97We recommend that the Family Court should provide information relating to court processes, support services and alternatives to litigation. Leaflets such as the Information Kit on Marriage should be available at the Family Court itself and in the lobby of the High Court Building. (Paragraph 12.59)
Information on mediation
15.98We recommend that information pamphlets should be available at the Family Court and the family services centres, which should include information on the availability of, and encouragement to use, mediation as an alternative to litigation.
15.99We recommend the introduction of a voluntary information session, which would be a service open to everyone. It would be attended by the parties before the filing of the petition in the majority of cases. It would encompass elements of the United States parent education programmes and the Australian information sessions.1388 (Paragraph 12.64)
15.100At the information session parties could receive information and advice about family support services and alternatives to litigation such as mediation. Information to educate parents on the psychological process of divorce and its effect on children would also be included, by way of oral presentation, video and information packs. The presentation would be made by persons with counselling and mediation training. Clients should also be informed by solicitors, the Legal Aid Department and the Duty Lawyer Service of the availability of information sessions. The information on such services could be contained in a pamphlet approved by the Family Court. (Paragraph 12.65)
Referral to information session
15.101We recommend that solicitors should be placed under an obligation to inform their clients about the availability of the information session. We recommend that the Family Court Judges should have the power to refer the parties to attend an information session. This would not be an order as such but would be a power to suspend further progress on the proceedings pending such attendance. (Paragraph 12.67)
Obligation on solicitors
1388 See chapters 8 and 10 for more information.