The new Family Court came into effect on the 22nd April.

The idea for a system of unified family courts is not a new one and was recommended 40 years ago but has only now come into being.

The Family Court will be the family court for the whole of England and Wales but the reality is there will still be local courts dealing with family cases otherwise known as Designated Family Centres.

A lot of the changes are more technical in nature and will not impact on our clients. However, one important change is clients must now attend a family mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before starting court proceedings unless there are exceptional circumstances. This encourages parties’ to try and reach an agreement regarding financial and/or children issues and our experience is most couples want to try and resolve matters amicably and avoid court proceedings.

Furthermore, when starting divorce proceedings, a couple are no longer required to complete and file with the court a form setting out the arrangements in relation to their children which demonstrates the court’s approach in children cases which is to encourage parents to reach an agreement in the best interests of their children.

The emphasis in family law is always to try to settle matters at an early stage and the new changes are evidence of this. As a family department, we can advise our clients on all the options available to help them to try and reach an agreement and save costs wherever possible.

If therefore you would like advice in relation to these changes or any family law issue, please do contact me either by email, helen.taylor@henmansfreeth.co.uk or by telephone on 01865 781182.