April 22nd 2014 brought with it the new Single Family Court and a number of sweeping changes to the family justice system including compulsory MIAMS, different tiers of judges sitting alongside each other in the same Court building, changes to documentation used in divorce proceedings and the new Child Arrangements Programme to name but a few.
Section 10(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014 makes key changes to how applications to Court for private children issues and for financial remedy following divorce/civil partnership breakdown should be dealt with.
The Government has formally recognised that the adversarial court process is not always best suited to the resolution of family related issues, be those relating to children and/or financial provision following relationship breakdown.
From midnight last night (12.03.14) same sex partners who married abroad can register their union of marriage in England and Wales. Furthermore from today same sex partners can register their intention to marry and the first same sex marriages can take place in England and Wales from 29 March this year.
The passage of the draft legislation proved to be highly contentious amongst religious groups in particular and there are exemptions allowing some institutions to opt out of permitting marriages to same sex partners taking place on their premises.
The law commission has finally published it's report on matrimonial agreements and has recommended that the Government enact legislation to put pre nuptial agreements on a more formal legal footing.
Family Courts up and down the country are gearing up to deal with the proposed new changes to the law and also the procedure of private family children applications. It is envisaged that from 1st April this year (2014) Residence and Contact orders will no longer exist and instead arrangements for the care of children will be made under new Child Arrangements Orders. The intention is that this will assist parties to recognise that each parent should play an active role in their children's lives (save for circumstances where there are serious welfare concerns).
From April 2014, Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings ( “MIAMS”) for the first time will become compulsory and an absolute requirement for parties seeking to issue Children Act proceedings.
If you are starting 2014 with a heavy heart facing relationship breakdown, or you have on going and unresolved issues such as where your children will live and/or how you and your ex partner are going to sort out financial issues then why not consider the process of family mediation?
As DR week draws near it is hoped that further media support and coverage will be given to the topic of family mediation. There are big changes afoot in April 2014 which will hopefully finally cement family mediation as the requisite pre-court method to assist people in the process of family breakdown to avoid formal litigation proceedings. Court proceedings are financially and emotionally costly to both parties and where children are concerned lead to polarisation as opposed to constructive parenting.
1.Family Mediation is just like relationship counselling