New laws for child custody and access arrangements

The Children and Families Act 2014 has established new laws and guidance to help decide where children should live or spend time if their parents have separated and are going through divorce. Here are the key points >>

The new Children and Families Act 2014 wraps up arrangements for residence and contact (access) in new vehicle: a Child Arrangements Order.  This determines and regulates arrangements relating to with whom a child is to live or spend time with. 

Family mediation requirements

The 2014 Act also requires that parents applying to the Court must first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

This gives both parties the opportunity and support to resolve any issues and agree arrangements for children together, without having to resort to the time, expense and stress of Court proceedings.

Of course, the law cannot force people to mediate, but separating parents must now submit to a formal assessment to determine if mediation would be feasible. 

Often the divorcing parties are surprised by how much they have been able to achieve during mediation and the benefits this has for the children and family.

Protecting the rights of both parents during divorce

Section 11 of the Children and Families Act 2014 also introduces and supports the concept of parental involvement.  

The Act states that Courts must operate on the basis that each parent should continue to be involved in their children’s lives, as long as it is safe to do so and does not put a child at risk of harm. 

Changes in Court Services

In other big change, the Crime and Courts Act 2013 created the single family court.  This effectively merged the family proceedings court with County Courts and also various aspects of the High Court’s family work to form a single Family Court.  

When a parent or their representative issues an application to the Court, case is allocated according to the level of Judge required to hear it.

These changes have caused a lot of upheaval in the Family Law field but the changes may well simplify the system for the better in the future.  

Advice about family matters

If you would like to discuss this or any legal issue affecting your family, please contact our Family Law team on 023 9224 6722.