Major changes to the way in which family matters are dealt with such as divorce, domestic violence, adoption and Local Authority intervention cases have come into force impacting thousands of families in England and Wales.
Coming into effect on 22nd April, the shake-up of the Children and Families Act will affect an average of 270,000 family cases a year and include a new 26 week limit to successfully complete care proceedings cases in situations where children are being taken into care which will significantly speed up the process.
Another change is the introduction of a single Court which replaces the previous three tier Court system and divorcing couples dealing with contentious issues, such as children and financial matters, having to go to mediation before they are allowed to progress matters to the Courts.
Tony Broadley, partner in Linder Myers Solicitors’ family team commented: “The changes signal one of the biggest reforms in family law history and have been brought in with a view to both taking the pressure off the overloaded Court system and also to help families resolve very upsetting issues more quickly. The new limit of 26 weeks to complete care cases should, in theory, minimise the upset and disruption for the children involved but this will be quite a challenge for Local Authorities and whether this will work in practice remains to be seen. The simplification of the Court system in cases where children are being taken into care is a welcome change.”
The amendments to the Children and Families Act form part of the Government’s Social Justice Strategy.
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