Getting divorced is never a simple, pain-free process – especially when children are also involved. Emotions run high, agreements can be stressful, and children are often in the thick of it. However, thanks to the Children and Families Act being granted Royal Assent last month, vulnerable children will be at the very centre of the family justice system, and therefore be much better protected from now on.
The change in law came into effect on the 22nd April 2014 and is all about ensuring parents receive more support, and delays are kept to a minimum so that everyone, especially the children, are protected by a much more efficient family justice system. So what exactly has changed that will ensure children’s welfare is kept as a priority?
As a result of the Independent Family Justice review which took place back in 2011, a number of recommendations were made. This has resulted in an in-depth look at the family justice system and the way it functions. As such, the Children and Families Act 2014 is making changes to the way the law works in order to implement the recommendations that were made in the Family Justice Review.
The Act includes measures such as –
1. Couples that are separating will now need to attend a meeting which will allow them to find out about mediation. This meeting has to be attended before the couple can take financial or child custody disputes to court. Exemptions do, however, apply – in the case of domestic violence for instance.
2. Separated parents will be made fully aware that the court will be ruling by the principle that both parents should be actively involved in the lives of their children and their upbringing. This applies as long as it is in line with the safety of the child and their welfare.
3. When family proceedings involve children, and expert evidence is involved, that evidence is only used in order to resolve the case fairly. Furthermore, it must also take into account any factors which may impact on the child’s welfare.
4. Where the care and supervision provisions of children are involved, there is now a maximum time limit of 26 weeks for these to be put in place. This can only be extended if there is a need to ensure the proceedings are resolved justly.
All of these new rulings have been set in stone in order to make sure any disruption to any children involved is kept to a minimum when their parents are going through divorce proceedings. It’s about keeping negative effects to an absolute minimum, and ensuring that children will always be at the heart of the proceedings.
So, if a case does have to go to court, any child involved will now be much better protected by the rulings of the Children and Families Act 2014. Ultimately, with the handling of proceedings being improved, delays being reduced, and care cases needing to be completed in 26 weeks, it looks like the welfare of children has become a top priority.
The legal framework for family law in the UK is complex and wide-ranging. Only by having the expert assistance of a family law solicitor at your disposal can you be sure that your interests are being represented effectively. Contact us today to see how Wiseman Lee can help you with your situation.