Major changes to the family justice system, which have been described as the most significant reforms for a generation, came into force on 22 April 2014.

The reforms include:

  • The creation of a Single Family Court, which replaces the 3 tier system of the High Court, County Courts and Family Proceedings Courts.  The Single Family Court will deal with all family cases, except for a few types of case which will be exclusively dealt with in the High Court.  The aim is to simplify and streamline the process of applying to court in connection with family disputes.


  • Private law cases concerning children are to be dealt with under a Child Arrangements Programme (CAP) which will be aimed at helping families reach safe and child focused out of court agreements.  In cases where agreement is not possible, the CAP encourages a swift resolution of disputes through the court.


  • There will be a legal requirement on a person to attend a meeting to find out about mediation before they can make certain applications to the Family Court, such as cases involving finances on divorce and children.  There will be certain exemptions from this requirement, for example in cases of domestic violence.


  • In private law cases concerning children, Residence Orders and Contact Orders will be replaced by a Child Arrangements Order.  This will be an Order regulating the living arrangements for a child and the amount of time they spend, or otherwise have contact with, each parent or any other person.

The intention is that the courts should be the last resort for people involved in family disputes (except in cases involving urgency and safety).  If agreement cannot be achieved, it is hoped that the new streamlined Family Court will help parties reach a resolution without the delays which have previously dogged the family justice system.

For further information or advice on family related matters please contact:

John Shurvinton
Manminder Chhoker 

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