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How do the recent family law changes affect me?

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Family law changesThe Children and Families Act 2014 came into force on 22nd April 2014. The new legislation makes important changes to how the courts deal with applications relating to children.

Compulsory attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting

It is now compulsory for any person wishing to issue an application to the court relating to children to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The purpose of this meeting is to discuss with a mediator whether it would be appropriate to attempt to resolve the dispute by mediation, without involving the court.

There are exemptions to this requirement, namely if there has been domestic violence, if there are child protection concerns or if the matter is urgent. If none of the exemptions apply then it will be necessary to attend the MIAM before making an application to the court. If none of the exemptions apply, and the person issuing the application has not attended a MIAM then it is to be expected that the court will simply adjourn the proceedings and direct that the person applying attends a MIAM.

Child arrangements orders

The court will now no longer make ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders at the conclusion of proceedings. Instead, the court will make a child arrangements order which sets out the arrangements for the children. This order will specify which parent the children will live with and how often they will spend time with their other parent.

Although the terminology has changed the underlying principles remain the same. The children’s welfare, their ‘best interests’, will remain the court’s paramount consideration.

If you are in dispute regarding arrangements for your children it is crucial that you seek specialist legal advice. Your legal advisor will be able to discuss with you whether you will be required to attend a MIAM prior to issuing court proceedings and will refer you to a trained mediator where necessary.

For more information, or to discuss any aspect of family law, contact Janine Hutson on 01772 258321 or at janine.hutson@harrison-drury.com


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