Spotlight
Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Spotlight
Latest articles
Resolution issues Brexit notes for family lawyers ahead of IP completion day
Family lawyer organisation, Resolution, has issued two joint notes to assist family lawyers in England and Wales ahead of the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period at 11 pm on 31 December...
Online filing is real-time on New Year's Eve: practice direction change to accommodate EU withdrawal arrangements
I have heard that there will be an amendment to the relevant practice directions to provide that online applications received on New Year’s Eve after 4:30 PM and before 11:00 PM will count as...
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v AB
The issue in this case concerned AB’s capacity to make specific decisions about treatment relating to her anorexia nervosa. She was 28 years old and had suffered with anorexia since the age of...
EU laws continue until at least 2038 and beyond
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.  But in matters of law it fully leaves on 31 December 2020.  But EU laws will continue to apply, and be applied, in the English family courts from 1...
Remote hearings in family proceedings – how is justice perceived?
The motion for the recent Kingsley Napley debate:  “This House believes remote hearings are not remotely fair” was carried with a fairly balanced 56% in favour and 44% against....
View all articles
Authors

When ‘simplification’ risks becoming delay

Mar 13, 2020, 16:09 PM
Slug :
Meta Title : When ‘simplification’ risks becoming delay
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : Yes
Prioritise In Trending Articles : Yes
Date : Mar 6, 2020, 10:34 AM
Article ID :

The ‘fine detail scrutiny’ of The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is due to begin in March, when its Committee Stage kicks off. It follows the successful second reading in Parliament in early February.

It feels like it’s taken a long, long time to get even this far. And it has. Quite apart from last year’s intrusion of a general election into the passage of reform legislation, divorce law change has indeed been a long time coming.

So-called ‘no-fault’ divorce has for years been sought and campaigned for. National Family Mediation (NFM) is one of a number of organisations that long lobbied for current outdated laws to be replaced. We argued that the need for one party to show ‘fault’ before divorce can quickly happen fuels bad feeling and causes escalation of simple cases into major courtroom battles – which is good for nobody.


Combine these reforms with digitisation and you have a recipe that in theory streamlines the whole process and should in essence be a good thing.

But now is the time that wise government minds need to start looking at the Bill’s impact in the short- and medium-term.

Simplification of the law means we are likely to see an upsurge in pressure on the family justice system.

Yes, that’s a further increase following what we already know is a logjammed system since the huge rise in litigants-in-person, which followed the infamous LASPO Act of 2014.

So now is the time for justice ministers and officials to get out the calculators and begin allocating extra funding at what will be a pivotal time to support a family justice system that is already creaking.

The very last thing Ministers want is to see this popular legislation backfire, with overflowing courts unable to cope and parties to the divorce being left exposed and families left financially vulnerable all because the click of a button makes it possible. The danger is that without additional resources, what is supposed to be ‘simplification’ could end up with longer delays, and more distress and muddle.

Presumably the ambition of government is still to see more people making their own arrangements for their separation out of court. But the Bill as drafted allows little time for parents to seek the advice and guidance of professionals, and in particular family mediators. We know that divorce is an emotional and personal process and that people go through this process at different paces. So setting a clock running for the respondent to get their act together to sort things out in six weeks seems like a very tight timescale -  especially when experience shows that even the most organised would struggle to be in a position to agree a financial order in that timeframe.

So whilst government ministers are doing their sums, now is the time to give serious consideration to funding the MIAM free of charge for all. The recent Family Mediation Council survey showed that when both clients attend a MIAM meeting 73 per cent go on to mediate, and of that 70 per cent go on to reach full or partial agreement.

Now is the time to put in place this free, simple and easy-to-access service at a minimal cost that would save hundreds of thousands of pounds down the line.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
  • Mediation
  • no fault divorce
Authors
Provider :
Product Bucket : Family Law (General)
Load more comments
Comment by from