Big Changes In Family Law

April 2014

For those who do not know, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Crime and Courts Act 2013 bring in a number of fundamental changes to the area of Family Law with effect from 22nd April 2014.

  1. A single family Court has been established in England and Wales although in practical terms hearings will still tend to be heard in the County or Magistrates Court buildings in your area.
  2. Terminology in the area of issues and disputes about children, is changing once more with the introduction of “Child Arrangement Orders” rather than “residence or contact”. This is to try and move away from the concept of one parent ”having” the children and the other merely “seeing” them.
  3. There will now be a presumption of parental involvement in the life of every child although this can be direct or indirect involvement. This may help many more non-resident parents to maintain contact with their children.
  4. There is now a Revised Private Law programme and Public Law Outline which sets out the expectations and processes in applications relating to children. By way of example. if the Local Authority starts Court proceedings about children, the process should be completed in 26 weeks and the rules about evidence are much tighter.
  5. There will now be a requirement for anybody proposing to make an application to the Court for the majority of issues relating to children and/or finances, to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before issue, this with a trained mediator except in certain specific cases as outlined in Practice Direction 3A, the link for which is given below. The individual who would be the Respondent to any such application is also expected to attend a MIAM.
    www.justice.gov.uk/court/procedurerules/family/practice_directions/pd_part/03a
    The aim is for parents to try and resolve matters in a more neutral environment and one in which they, rather than a Judge, make decisions about their lives and children.
  6. There will be more emphasis placed by the Court on the preparation of Parenting Plans and links are given below to two separate websites which give more information about this and in particular the areas that may need thought when parents decide to separate:-
    www.cafcass.gov.uk/new/2014/march/plan-for-parents-to-help-put-child-safety-first.aspx
    www.splittingup-putkidsfirst.org.uk

Here at Brain Chase Coles we can assist you individually in providing legal advice on these changes and how they may affect you. We can also offer mediation to couples through Haymarket Family Mediation. Sheila Parkes has been practising mediation for over 18 years and is recognised by the Law Society as an accredited mediator and also by the Legal Aid Agency to offer MIAM’s. Unlike the majority of legal issues in the area of Family Law, there is still Legal Aid available for mediation for those who satisfy the relevant criteria set by the Legal Aid Agency. See the link below if you want to check whether you might be eligible.

www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid

For further information or assistance, please contact Sheila Parkes on 01256 354481 or sparkes@brainchasecoles.co.uk.

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