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What's New? > News & Press Releases > Introducing the Single Family Court

22

May 14

Introducing the Single Family Court

By: Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter

April 22 brought about a major change as far as family law is concerned, by the introduction of the Family Court system under the Children & Families Act 2014.

All family-related issues are dealt with under the umbrella of the new 'Family Court'.

The new court structure means that the Family Court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is just that. There is now no distinction between different court levels.

Cases will be heard in the Family Court sitting at, for example, Cambridge, Peterborough or Bury St Edmunds.

The biggest change that will affect parties to divorce proceedings it is no longer a requirement to produce a separate document with the divorce petition setting out the arrangements that have been made between the parties for the children.

The court now leaves the arrangements to be worked out between the parties. In the event of parties not being able to agree these arrangements, they are first of all required to attend what is known as a mediation, information and assessment meeting (MIAM).

Mediation is the process where separating couples are able to discuss issues with the assistance of a trained individual.

If mediation is considered appropriate, then the other party will be invited to attend.

If that party refuses to attend, or if mediation takes place and the parties cannot reach an agreement, then permission is granted to issue a formal court application.

Under the new Act, it is possible for the matter to be listed before a lay magistrate or a district judge depending on availability or the complexity of the case. Financial applications are now also dealt with in the same way.

You have to attend a MIAM appointment to see if matters can be mediated before any application can be made to the court for an order. If it is not considered appropriate for mediation, or mediation fails, then an application can be sent to the court.

Any orders now made in respect of childcare issues between families will be called Child Arrangement Orders and there will be no reference to the residence of a child or contact to a child. Although this is an administrative change, it will potentially affect everyone who uses the new Family Court process. The idea is to streamline the entire court process.

The change in law does not affect the ability for people to deal with marriage breakdown by trying to negotiate using lawyers either in the traditional way or in the collaborative process, both of which Rachel Compton or myself can offer you.

We are also able to provide fixed fee initial appointments. Call 01353 662203 or visit www.wardgethinarcher. co.uk

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.