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The Children and Families Act 2014

The Children and Families Act comes in to force on the 22nd April 2014.

The aim is to produce ‘child focused thinking’ in family courts. However what will the Act mean to you?

Parental Involvement

Section 11 of the Act inserts four paragraphs into the Children Act 1989, regarding the further involvement of parents in the life of a relevant child.

This change to the Children Act establishes the expectation that both parents of a child should remain involved in that child’s upbringing in some way. Section 11 will mean that the court will have to consider more carefully any application which may lead to a parent not having involvement with his or her child.

Child arrangements orders

As of 22nd April, ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ are no more! They are replaced by ‘child arrangements’. The idea is that parents will feel that they are equally involved, and will work together for the child. This means certain orders must be drafted very carefully to ensure the outcome is what you intended.

Mediation

Section 10 of the Act introduces a mandatory requirement to engage in mediation before starting court proceedings. So what is mediation? Mediation is a process by which couples negotiate face to face about the arrangements for their future with the help of a neutral third party – a mediator.

Mediation is a great way of keeping matters amicable and can reduce costs long term. However if you do not want to mediate it is important to discuss your concerns with a solicitor.

The new Act will bring in many changes to the way that the Courts deal with family law, and the above is a summary of a couple of the main changes. If you have a family issue, it is important to get legal advice as most ‘DIY guides’ on the internet will not be correct.

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