I have had a somewhat stressful and hectic day today at Stowe Family Law LLP, with being out of the office yesterday and today being the last day before the weekend everything piled up. I doubt it will be my last stressful day in the job either. With the end drawing near now I have a little time to reflect on an article I read this morning in reference to the recommendation of a new Child Arrangements Programme. My phone buzzed this morning as my friend sent the article over to me, we had been discussing a topic close to this subject a couple of days ago and she thought it may be of interest to me. The article itself can be found at http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed120856.
The recommendation was made by the Private Law Working Group which was set up in August 2013 by the President of the Family Division. The main objective of the group is to ‘assist families to reach safe agreements where possible out of the court setting. If parents/families are unable to reach agreement, and a court application is made, the Child Arrangement Programme encourages swift resolution of the dispute through the court.’
The Private Law Working Group have also suggested some changes, which they believe are necessary, to the current practice and procedure of Private Family Law in relation to children. These changes being:
(a) The launch of The Family Court (specifically Allocation and Gatekeeping arrangements) in April 2014;
(b) The likely requirement for applicants to attend for Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (‘MIAMs’) (currently Clause 10 of the Children and Families Bill 2013), and the increased emphasis of dispute resolution outside the court process;
(c) The impact of the scope changes in public funding for litigants in private law cases, following the implementation of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 in April 2013;
(d) The likely change in terminology for private law orders (currently Clause 12 of the Children & Families Bill 2013).
Further the group aims to promote mediation; identify key resources for litigants to access the services they require e.g for mediation; to reiterate the important for litigants to attend mediation; work on and build the aspects that are currently working well; and generally meet the needs of those within the system.
The Private Law Working Group also came prepared a number of documents to accompany the Child Arrangement Programme which can be found at the end of the Family Law Weekly Article.
The recommendations appear to be a step in the direction of further improvement within the area of child law with the focus continually on the child. It will be interesting to see the recommendations in action. In the meantime the The President has welcomed all comments from anyone with an involvement or interest in the family justice system on these proposals.
Mediation appears to be a priority within the further recommendations and this is something Stowe Family Law LLP offer and something I am very interested in. Stowe Family Law Settlements is a specialist family mediation practice which offers high quality mediation services and can be found at http://www.stowefamilylawsettlements.co.uk/
For me however the end of the day is upon me and I am rushing off to pick my friend up from the train station before going to watch the Rugby in Leeds, something I have never done before.