Last week the long awaited Family Law Reforms came into force. The purpose of such reforms being to improve the manner in which parents, the family court and judges approach the sensitive issues relating to children primarily. It is hoped the changes will help to alleviate the often difficult experience that parents encounter by placing continued emphasis on the need to find a way forward by agreement without a judge having to decide the child arrangements for them. It is felt the best people to determine such arrangements must be the family themselves and there is to be greater focus on listening to the child's wishes and views on when and how they wish to spend time with their parents. The child's wishes will be considered having regard to their age, understanding and whether the child should be involved in the decision making. There will be great caution exercised to ensure the child does not feel they have the casting vote or being made to shoulder the responsibility for the actual decisions being made.
It is hoped the reforms will bring a more accessible and friendly court for the user. The cooperation of parents in the process will be expected throughout the same and mediation and other forms of dispute resolution like collaborative law must be properly considered before being able to start non-urgent court proceedings. This will be achieved by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
QualitySolicitors Dunn & Baker are able to offer family mediation or collaborative law whether as a pre-cursor for proceedings or independent of the proposed court process. The use of mediation or collaborative law can often provide a less financially and emotionally expensive approach to a difficult family situation. In both processes the focus is on the need to find a mutually acceptable way forward, where the court is an unhappy last resort and which places the child or children at the very centre of the decisions to be made.
Head of the Family Department,
Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer