New Family Procedure Rules 2010
On 6 April 2011 the Family Procedure Rules 2010 came into effect. These new Rules which apply to Family Court Proceedings consolidate and in some cases revise the practice and procedure to be followed in such proceedings.
Many of the standard Court forms have been amended to take account of the new Rules and in some cases to simplify the procedure.
One of the key factors of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 is the introduction of an "overriding objective" which is applicable to all family proceedings. The overriding objective is to enable the court to deal with a case justly having regard to any welfare issues involved. Dealing with a case justly includes as far as practicable:
a) ensuring that it is dealt with expeditiously and fairly;
b) dealing with the case in ways which are proportionate to the nature, importance and complexity of the issues;
c) ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;
d) saving expense; and
e) allotting to it an appropriate share of the court's resources while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases.
The parties to the proceedings are also required to help the court to further the overriding objective.
One significant change to the court procedure brought in by the Family Procedure Rules 2010 is the requirement in most cases for a person wishing to make an application to the court for a financial order or an order relating to children to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before proceedings are commenced. The purpose of the meeting is to consider with a Mediator whether the dispute may be capable of being resolved through mediation.
There are certain exceptions which are as follows:
a) the other party is not willing to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting;
b) the Mediator is satisfied that the matter is not suitable for mediation;
c) there have been allegations of domestic abuse and such allegations have resulted in a police investigation or civil proceedings within the last 12 months;
d) one party has been declared bankrupt (in financial cases);
e) the parties are in agreement;
f) the whereabouts of the other party are unknown;
g) the proposed application is to be made within existing proceedings;
h) the application is being made without notice to the other party;
i) the application is urgent due to risk to life, liberty or physical safety of the applicant;
j) delay in making the application could cause significant harm to a child, the risk of a miscarriage of justice or unreasonable hardship to the applicant;
k) there is current Social Services involvement;
l) three local (within 15 miles) Mediators and have been contacted and none can conduct a meeting within 15 days.
In addition to the requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, the court must also consider at every stage in proceedings whether an alternative form of dispute resolution is appropriate and may adjourn the proceedings for this to take place.
We at Pinney Talfourd have a panel of approved Mediators to whom we refer work. We can refer you to a Mediator for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting and some of the Mediators we use are not charging for this initial meeting. If you attend mediation and it is considered suitable and the other party is willing to attend you can proceed with mediation rather than making an application to the court. If your case is not suitable for mediation or the other party is unwilling to attend, the Mediator will sign a form which will then allow you to proceed with your application through the court.
At Pinney Talfourd we have always endeavoured to find the best solution for individual clients and have therefore been recommending mediation to clients in appropriate cases for several years. Our specialist Family Team will continue to advise you as to alternative routes to take rather than court proceedings, whether that be mediation or the collaborative family law process.
If court proceedings do need to be commenced our specialist team are able to fully guide you through the process and procedures to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.
Visit our Family Homepage to find out more about our services.