29 April 2024

From Monday 29th April 2024, new rules come into force which could see more family legal disputes being resolved away from the courtroom.

Unless certain exemptions apply, parties currently must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before an application is listed in respect of Children's Law proceedings and financial proceedings, but now parties will be actively encouraged, throughout the proceedings, to make more use of non-court resolutions.

Now when parties attend a MIAM they have to be provided with information about the principles, process and different models of mediation and other methods of non-court dispute resolution such as arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party and collaborative law.

Whilst the court cannot compel parties to attend non-court dispute resolution, at every stage in the proceedings the court will have a duty to consider whether non-dispute resolution is appropriate.

The court can ask the parties to file a form setting out their views on using non-court dispute resolution as a means of resolving matters and Judges could take parties’ conduct in relation to attending non-court dispute resolution into account when considering whether to make a costs order. Needless to say, the court will be strongly encouraging the parties to engage in alternative options.

The aim is to reduce pressure on overwhelmed family courts which are struggling to list cases in a timely manner due to the current workload. There is an expectation on the separating couple as well as practitioners and the courts to continually assess whether there is an alternative to court. Some exemptions still apply, such as domestic abuse, which remains a significant exemption to attending a MIAM.

As members of Resolution, our family team at Battens is committed to promoting a consistent approach to family issues that considers the needs of the whole family, and we can discuss the range of non-court dispute resolution options with you.

If you would like to discuss new law changes with our team, don't hesitate to get in touch with our Family Law department by giving them a call on 0800 652 8373.

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