The Ministry of Justice has released a report which explores the longer-term outcomes of conciliation, two years after the original intervention. It examines the longer term impact of conciliation on re-litigation, contact patterns, co-parenting, contact problems and adult and child wellbeing.
The key findings of the report were:
Two years following conciliation the great majority (79%) of cases had an agreement about contact and were closed.
More children were having overnight contact and the overall amount of contact per child had increased since the initial conciliation intervention.
However, during the two years following the intervention the majority of parents had required further professional intervention and 40% had been involved in further litigation. Around 60% of agreements made at the original conciliation meeting had been changed or had broken down by the two-year follow up.
Two years on from conciliation parental relationships had improved a little for some. However, this improvement was modest and the majority of parents continued to report a negative relationship that had not improved since the original conciliation meeting.
At the two year follow up the wellbeing of parents had improved significantly and was at a similar level to community samples. However, this improvement was not apparent in children
The report concludes that although conciliation is an effective way of reaching agreements and restoring contact over the short-term, it has a limited impact on making contact work for children in the long-term.
The report goes on to recommend the development of a more relationship-based or therapeutically-orientated interventions in addition to conciliation which would target parental attitudes, help them work together as co-parents thereby improving the quality of contact.