Single Family Court is Introduced in the UK

The 22 April 2014 is when the most noteworthy modifications to family law in recent memory have taken effect. This is when the new single Family Court was introduced and is also when the bulk of the requirements in the new Children and Families Act 2014 began.

The purpose for the changes is to make it simpler for individuals to gain access to the appropriate avenues of the justice system. A key change for the public is there will no longer be a need to determine in which court to make an application. All submissions will now be processed to the Family Court at one point of entry, which will then be assigned to the appropriate judge for consideration. In most cases, this will take place at the Designated Family Centre. If there are children involved in the case, more often than not it will take place local to where the children reside.

A major benefit of the new Family Court is it will mean consistency with the same judge. This is in stark contrast to how it was in the past, where different judges would be involved at varied points and some may have missed out on crucial information presented to a previous judge that could have a direct impact on the final judgement.

From a real-world point of view, some family court forms have been modified to mirror the modifications to the law, but we are told that courts could still consent to some previous forms of law for a regulated period during the transition.

The most note-worthy development introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014, is the institution of the presumption of parental involvement – an opinion preserved in law that it is in the best interest of a child’s to have a regular, ongoing association with both parents. There is no longer any notion of “residence” (where a child was to live) and “contact” (defining how much time a child should spend with the non-resident parent). These terms are superseded by an abridged “child arrangements order.”
Regardless of these apparent refreshing changes, separation is a very unnerving change in their own lives and the lives of their children. If you are in the process of separation or divorce and want to know how these changes could potentially affect you and your children, our specialist lawyers in our Altrincham offices can talk you through your options and help you to decide which option would be the right decision for your situation. Please contact us on 0845 548 1007 for a free 20 minute consultation.