New Single Family Court Included in Latest Family Law Changes for April 2014

Some of the most significant changes to the family justice system in England and Wales for a generation have been implemented from this week including the introduction of a single family court.

The introduction of a Single Family Court replaces the current three tiers of court for family cases, previously being the Family Proceedings Court, County and High Court.

In cases involving Children’s Services issuing proceedings for children there is a 26 week time limit for completion of the proceedings.

When couples separate there is a mandatory provision that they attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) before making an application to the court.

There are also changes to the way children are dealt with in private family cases, with the removal of terminology  like ‘residence’ and ‘contact’, which were felt to be the cause of much dispute.

The new measures are welcomed by many as they should encourage as many cases as possible to be resolved through non-court based processes (collaborative practice, mediation, arbitration and the like) whilst ensuring that the more complex cases that need judicial input are dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

All of the above are important steps forward for family law, the reforms have been in the planning and consultation process for a long time and I am sure there will be more reforms in the future to assist families.  With the cuts to legal aid it is now reported that 50% of court users are litigants in person as they are unable to afford legal representation.  It is hoped that the changes will improve the processes.

If you require legal advice in relation to a family matter please contact our specialist family solicitors on 0800 037 4628.


Gill Carr

About Gill Carr

Gill Carr is an Associate Solicitor within the Family department at Forbes Solicitors. Gill’s blogs cover his specialisms of child protection, acting for both parents and children together with family members. Gill also advises and comments upon forced marriage, divorce, separation, child arrangements and financial matters. Gill writes about current legislation and case law relating to family law.
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