I explained this week’s momentous changes to the family law system in today’s Yorkshire Post:
THIS week the new single Family Court came into existence. It will deal with all family proceedings, with only a few matters being reserved for the High Court.
The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has said, “these are the largest reforms of the family justice system any of us have seen or will see in our professional lifetimes”. Taken as a whole they amount to a revolution.
Part of the changes cover how public law children’s cases, such as care proceedings, should be managed, and how the courts should deal with disputes between parents over the arrangements for their children. The enactment of the Children and Families Act 2014 covers both public and private children’s proceedings.
A further provision still to come into force has been added to the Children Act 1989 which states that the court should presume that the involvement of both parents within the child’s life is in the best interest of the child, unless this is disproved. This involvement may be direct or indirect and does not necessarily mean the division of the child’s time between the parents.
Also new is the statutory requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before making an application to the court in relation to family proceedings.
This forms part of the Government’s attempts to speed up dispute resolution and reduce the number of proceedings which find their way to court.
Something has to be done to reduce our overcrowded courts clogged up by self representing parties who know little of the law or procedure. The over population of the courts system by Litigants in Person, which I suspect is due not only to the removal of Legal Aid but the impact on pockets of the recession too, has led to the erosion of lawyers from the courts. Courts need lawyers to function, remove them and the courts get clogged up with people who’ve got no idea what they’re doing yet are seeking an outcome one way or the other, as is their right.
Read the full article here.