The Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) received Royal Assent on 13 March 2014 and much of it came into force on 22 April 2014.
Whilst there are many changes that the Act makes the key changes are as follows:
- There is now a requirement that the person applying to court attends a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAMS) before making certain applications which include applications under the Children Act and also applications for Financial Orders in divorce proceedings;
- In applications which relate to children, the Courts are to take account of the principle that BOTH parents should continue to be involved in their children’s lives as long as it is safe to do so;
- New types of order are introduced for the care of children namely “child arrangements orders” which will define where children are to live and with whom they will spend time with. These orders replace Residence and Contact Orders, which had in turn replaced the concepts of custody and access;
- The courts are encouraged not to order review hearings in children matters but to make a final order whenever possible. Whilst this does not mean that further applications cannot be made to the court, what it does mean is that the court order will be final unless and until any party makes such an application;
- In addition to these procedural changes, the Act also brings into existence a single Family Court in England and Wales which will deal with all cases saves for those which invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court, often involving warship or incapacitated/vulnerable adults; and international cases involving applications for relief under The Hague Convention or Brussels II;
- The country will be divided into geographical areas judicially led and managed by a designated family judge. This means that there will be a single point of entry for all cases and the judge will decide which court any particular case will be allocated to. There will also be centralised and unified administration of all family cases.
Practitioners should note that some procedures have been changed along with a number of the court fees payable.
Should you require more information, please contact Alison Green at our London office on 02072400521.