The landscape of private law children disputes is changing rapidly. Changes in legal aid have resulted in a significant increase in the number of litigants in person appearing before the court. Now, draft Child Arrangements Programme, together with the Children and Families Bill 2013, has been designed to create a more accessible system with a greater emphasis on the pre-proceedings stage and alternative dispute resolution. It is intended to operate within the new model for justice in the unified Family Court which comes into existence in April 2014, and will replace the Pre-Application Protocol (PD3A) and the Private Law Programme (PD12B).
This article will provide an overview of the draft Child Arrangements Programme, with a critical analysis of the proposals contained within it, and reflect upon how it may work in practice.
The full version of this article appears as a Newsline Extra item in the March 2014 issue of Family Law.
Online subscribers can access the full article here.