The Financial Remedies Working Group established by the President of the Family Division has published its first report.
The legal term ‘financial remedies’ refers to family court proceedings which involve money, for example maintenance. Sir James Munby announced the formation of the group earlier this year in his 12th View from the President’s Chambers, saying:
“Their task will be two-fold: to explore ways of improving the accessibility of the system for litigants in person, and to identify ways of further improving good practice in financial remedy cases.”
And now we have its first report, albeit in an initial publication form designed to stimulate discussion and comment on the topics raised. Despite its preliminary nature, the report’s conclusions strike me as straightforward and helpful.
Its four chapters examine a number of key financial issues concerning unrepresented litigants in person, legal procedure in family law and aspects of arbitration, amongst other topics.
Amongst its many recommendations, the report suggests that applications for financial orders should be separated from divorce proceedings themselves. It states:
“The group agrees with and endorses the President’s view that “ it surely makes sense to have completely separate files for divorce petitions and financial remedy claims ”. Ideally they should proceed as free-standing financial remedy applications.”
This recommendation is in line, the report continues with the “sensible” plans of HM Court and Tribunals Service to process undefended divorces and civil partnership dissolutions in administrative centres rather than family courts. To quote the Working Group:
“This is a recognition of the fact that the vast majority of divorces/dissolutions are now little more than rubber-stamping exercises.”
Read the report here.