Family Law Reform


Family Law Reform

Family Law special issue

This page brings together the essential information regarding the forthcoming family law reforms. It will be kept fully up-to-date with all the latest news, analysis, legislation and cases. If you have any questions or suggestions or would like to contribute please contact: editor@familylaw.co.uk

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News and analysis | Practice Guidance and Views | Family Procedure Rules | Legislation | Cases
Non-court dispute resolution | Related products | Useful links


In 2011 the independent Family Justice Review made a significant number of recommendations for reforming the family justice system, aimed at cutting delay and improving the way the system functions as a whole.

As a result of these recommendations, the family justice system is currently undergoing a period of significant and wide-ranging reform, described recently by the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, as a ‘once in a lifetime' event.
Sir James has spearheaded many of the changes as outlined in his 11 'Views from the President's Chambers' originally published in Family Law.

Single Family Court

A single Family Court will be created on 22 April 2014. On the same day, the majority of the family justice provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014 will come into force.

When the new Family Court comes into operation it will be able to deal with all family proceedings apart from a limited number of matters which will be exclusively reserved to the High Court. At the same time family proceedings courts will cease to exist.

Magistrates' courts and the new single County Court will not be able to deal with family proceedings. However, as the Family Court can sit anywhere in England and Wales, it will be possible for it to sit in county or magistrates' court buildings.

Children and Families Act

The Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) received royal assent on 13 March 2014. It covers both public and private children proceedings.

In public law proceedings, amongst other matters, it imposes a 26-week deadline for care and supervision proceedings (as piloted since July 2013), it scraps the 28-day time limit for interim care/supervision orders and it introduces new provisions regarding post adoption contact.

In relation to private law proceedings it introduces controversial new subsections into s 1 of the Children Act 1989, adding a presumption of parental involvement, which was hotly debated, and contact and residence orders have been scrapped - in their place are child arrangements orders.

The requirement to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) is now embodied in legislation (CFA 2014, s 10) as well as rules about expert evidence in FPR Pt 25 (CFA 2014, s 13). The CFA 2014 gets rid of the requirement for the court to consider on divorce/dissolution whether to exercise its powers under the Children Act 1989 and therefore the Statement of Arrangements (Form D8A) is scrapped.

Child Arrangements Programme (CAP)

The final version of the CAP and its accompanying Flowchart have now been published.

The Private Law Working Group (PLWG) was set up by the President of the Family Division in August 2013 under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Cobb. The PLWG was tasked with designing a report to create a more accessible system with a greater emphasis on the pre-proceedings stage and alternative dispute resolution.
In November 2013, the PWLG submitted to the President of the Family Division the draft Child Arrangements Programme, and supporting materials. These documents were widely circulated to the judiciary and family justice professionals, and were published in December [2013] Fam Law 1594 and 1608.

The Final Report to the President was published in March 2014 at [2014] Fam Law 541.

Public Law Outline (PLO)

The final version of the revised PLO and its accompanying Flowchart have now published and are expected to be implemented in public law cases from 22 April 2014.
The PLO applies to all care and supervision proceedings and was designed to emphasise advocacy preparation.

A new and revised PLO (which has been piloted since July 2013) streamlines the documentary requirements on issue. It also provides further guidance on the principle relating to the Timetable for the Child, and how this needs to work with the overall framework of the PLO and the timescales of the various stages within it. In addition, the overly cumbersome original PLO forms have also been streamlined and simplified.

Non-court dispute resolution

The term ‘alternative dispute resolution' has been replaced with the term ‘non-court dispute resolution'. There is a new FPR 2010, Pt 3 and the requirement to attend a MIAM before making an application has been strengthened and given statutory force - the requirement is now set out in statute (CFA 2014, s 10). There are, of course, other forms of non-court dispute resolution including collaborative law and arbitration, which has been given the President's seal of approval in the case of S v S (Financial Remedies: Arbitral Award [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam), [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming), reported at April [2014] Fam Law 448.

Transparency

On 16 January 2014, Sir James Munby P published Practice Guidance: Transparency in the Family Courts: Publication of Judgments on publication of judgments for judges in the Family Courts.

The aim of the Guidance, which came into effect 3 February 2014, is to improve public understanding of the court process and confidence in the court system. The Guidance will have the effect of increasing the number of judgments available for publication. It distinguishes between two classes of judgment: (1) those that the judge must ordinarily allow to be published; and (2) those that may be published.

The President will be issuing shortly, for discussion and comment, further draft Practice Guidance dealing with the next step, namely the disclosure to the media of certain categories of document, subject to appropriate restrictions and safeguards. See further the 10th View from the President's chambers: the beginning of the future.

Same Sex Marriage

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force 13 March 2014.
It allows same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies, as well as religious ceremonies, where the religious organisation has ‘opted in' to conduct such ceremonies and the minister of religion agrees.

The Act also protects religious organisations and representatives who do not wish to conduct marriages of same-sex couples from successful legal challenge.
It also enables civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage and allows married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.


News and analysis

Family Law Reform
NEW 'Once in a lifetime' reform of the family justice system comes into effect
NEW The family law reforms in practice - a view from the crystal ball
NEW David Hodson on International Family Law: Standardised orders and the future delivery of family law services
NEW Public Law Outline and public law proceedings materials
NEW Child Arrangements Programme and private law proceedings materials
NEW Justice redefined – or justice diluted?
NEW Family justice redefined? Family justice after reform
Fees for domestic violence injunctions to be scrapped
Family Justice Council Interdisciplinary Conference: Family Justice Redefined?

Single Family Court
NEW The single Family Court - essential update
Single Family Court - family justice system reforms
Cafcass: The rule of three - changes to the family courts
Cafcass: A culture of urgency in the family courts
View from the foot of the Tower: Renewals of section 38 orders
Evidence, Practice and Procedure: The view from the President's window; run up to the family court
Case management and the family court: Part 1: case management defined
Case management and the family court: Part 2: application to join in proceedings
The Financial Remedies Unit at the Central Family Court
Evidence, Practice and Procedure: A new family court

Children and Families Act
NEW The Children and Familes Act 2014 - essential update
Children and Families Act 2014 gains royal assent
Staying Put one step closer to law in England
'Shared parenting' legislation amendment places child welfare before presumption of equal access

CAP & PLO
NEW Public Law Outline (PD 12A) - essential update
NEW Child Arrangements Programme (PD 12B) - essential update
NEW PD 12A - Public Law Outline
NEW Public Law Outline Flowchart
NEW PD 12B - Child Arrangements Programme
NEW Child Arrangements Programme Flowchart
Laspo
Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012: LASPO reviewed
Overly exceptional funding: the LAA and Article 6

Transparency
New Practice Guidance to increase transparency in Family Courts

Same Sex Marriage
Same Sex Marriage - essential update
Planning same sex weddings - what you need to know


Practice Guidance and Views

NEW 11th View from the President's Chamber: The Process of reform: on the cusp of history
President's speech to FLBA
View from the President's chambers: the beginning of the future (10th View)
Provision of Justices' Reasons in Uncontested Cases
Practice Guidances of 16 January 2014 on Publication of Judgments: Transparency in the Family Courts and in the Court of Protection

 

Family Procedure Rules

NEW Consolidated version of the FPR 2010
NEW Court Bundles (PD 27A) - essential update
NEW Practice Direction 27A - Family Proceedings: Court Bundles (Universal Practice to be Applied in the High Court and Family Court)
The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2014
The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2014
The Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2014
The Family Procedure (Amendment No.3) Rules 2013


Legislation

NEW Family Proceedings: The Children and Families Act 2014 (Transitional Provisions) (SI 2014/1042)
NEW The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (Family Court: Transitional and Saving Provision) Order 2014
NEW The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (Commencement No. 10 and Transitional Provision) Order 2014
NEW The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2014
The Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2014
The Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2014
The Family Court (Composition and Distribution of Business) Rules 2014
The Justices' Clerks and Assistants (Amendment) Rules 2014
The Children and Families Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2014
The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (Family Court: Consequential Provision) (No.2) Order 2014
The Family Court (Constitution of Committees: Family Panels) Rules 2014
The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (Consequential, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Order 2014
The Child Arrangements Order (Consequential Amendments to Subordinate Legislation) Order 2014
The Family Court (Contempt of Court) (Powers) Regulations 2014
The Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Use of Armed Forces'Chapels) Regulations 2014
The Children and Families Act 2014 (Commencement No. 1)
The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2014
The Justices' Clerks and Assistants Rules 2014
The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (Family Court: Consequential Provision) Order 2014
Children and Families Act 2014
The Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Registration of Shared Buildings) Regulations 2014
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Consequential and Contrary Provisions and Scotland) Order 2014
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Jurisdiction and Recognition of Judgments) Regulations 2014
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2014
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional Provision) Order 2014
The Civil Partnership (Registration Abroad and Certificates)(Amendment) Order 2013
The Foreign Marriage (Amendment) Order 2013
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Commencement No. 1) Order 2013



Non-court dispute resolution

NEW MOJ Family Mediation video
NEW MIAMs - essential update
NEW Changing concepts of justice and private family law: views on theory and practice
Fewer, more diverse clients are presenting at MIAMs, research finds
MOJ publishes exceptional case funding statistics
Parents shun mediation for the courts - Part 1
Parents shun mediation for the courts - Part 2
Charlotte Sanders: Arbitration in family cases - the way forward?
IFLA Arbitration Works! S v S [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam)
S v S [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam), [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming), reported at April [2014] Fam Law 448
The information deficit


Cases

Re B (Care Proceedings: Appeal) [2013] UKSC 33, [2013] 2 FLR 1075, reported at August [2013] Fam Law 946
Re B-S (Adoption: Application of s 47(5)) [2013] EWCA Civ 1146, [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming), reported at December [2013] Fam Law 1515
Re NL (A Child) (Appeal: Interim Care Order: Facts and Reasons) [2014] EWHC 270 (Fam), [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming), reported at April [2014] Fam Law 427
View from the foot of the Tower: Just the facts, ma'am
Re E (Brussels II Revised: Vienna Convention: Reporting Restrictions) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam), [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming), reported at April [2014] Fam Law 425
A Local Authority v DG and Others [2014] EWHC 63 (Fam), [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming), reported at April [2014] Fam Law 432
Re A (Intractable Contact Proceedings: Human Rights Violations) [2013] EWCA Civ 1104, [2014] 1 FLR (forthcoming), reported at December [2013] Fam Law 1519
Re C (Due Process) [2013] EWCA Civ 1412, [2014] 1 FLR (forthcoming), reported at April [2014] Fam Law 461
Re W (Adoption Order: Leave to Oppose); Re H (Adoption Order: Application for Permission for Leave to Oppose) [2013] EWCA Civ 1177, [2014] 1 FLR (forthcoming), reported at January [2014] Fam Law 12
Re TG (Care Proceedings: Case Management: Expert Evidence) [2013] EWCA Civ 5, [2013] 1 FLR 1250, reported at March [2013] Fam Law 264
Re H-L (Expert Evidence: Test for Permission) [2013] EWCA Civ 655, [2013] 2 FLR 1434, reported at October [2013] Fam Law 1252



Related products

May Family Law Special Issue - Family Justice Interdisciplinary Conference: Family Justice Redefined?
NEW Family Court Practice 2014
The Modernisation of Family Justice
Assessment of Parents within Care Proceedings
Family Mediation

 

Useful links

Legislation
Judiciary
Ministry of Justice
Family Justice Council
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