Family Court changes post 31 March 2014

Family Court changes post 31 March 2014

On 31 March 2014, how the Family Court deals with Care of Children Act matters changed dramatically.  Now, more than ever, the focus is on parties resolving matters between themselves if the situation is non-urgent. For example, if you and your partner separated and you could not agree on how care and contact of the children would look, it was possible before 31 March 2014 that you could instruct a family lawyer and they would apply for a Parenting Order.  This is now not the case.  Now parties are expected to go through the “Parenting Through Separation Course and Family Dispute Resolution” process, with the intention of resolving the issue without ever darkening the door of the Family Court.  “Parenting Through Separation” has been around for a long time, but only now has it become mandatory before any application can be made to the Family Court. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is another new addition to the Family Court resolution process.  It is essentially mediation pre-Court.  Expert mediators will meet with the parties and assist them to move towards coming to a resolution themselves. In most situations now, if you have not taken part in “Parenting Through Separation and Family Dispute Resolution” process you cannot apply to the Family Court for a Parenting Order.  A new nationwide database records who has taken part in this process, so that this can be monitored if applications are made to the Family Court. Another big change is the change to the right of people to be represented in the Family Court.  Unless your matter is urgent, or tied in with another case, most...