April 2014 marks the advent of a single Family Court. At present there are various levels of Judges so it is therefore important to ensure that each case is allocated to the correct level which in turn is hoped will be managed by a specific team when cases are submitted.
The Family Court will include all levels of Judge and there will not be the transfer between Magistrates and County Court as there is at the moment. This should enable cases to be heard quicker and in less time which will hopefully make the process easier for all users.
Other key changes being introduced are: –
- Attendance at a MIAM (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting) will be a prerequisite before making an application to the Court (unless there are specified exemptions such as domestic violence). This means that if parties are intending to deal with matters relating to their children or finances they will need to consider mediation in the first instance rather than litigation.
- It will be presumed that both parents should be involved in the life of their child/children and that this will be in the child’s/children’s best interests – unless of course there is an exception indicating that one parent is unfit to care for the child/children.
- Contact and Residence Orders will be replaced by ‘Child Arrangement Orders’ which will specify with whom a child spends time with and when and how they are to do so.