Grandparents are sometimes put in very difficult situations, even more so when a couple breaks up and grandparents are restricted or forbidden to have contact with much loved grandchildren.
The 22nd April sees major changes in family law brought about by the Children and Families Act 2014. There are too many changes to detail but the main ones that are likely to be of interest are set out below.
Applications will not now be made to the local Family Proceedings or County Court as there is now one national Court known simply as The Family Court. Applications are made to the designated family centre for the area (Leeds locally), where the application is issued and a decision made as to which local hearing centre and what level of Judge will deal with the case.
A Statement of Arrangements form as to children is no longer needed as the Court no longer consider the arrangements for children in divorce proceedings.
A Court issue fee will no longer be needed for injunctions to protect from domestic abuse.
Private Law Children
The Court will start from a presumption that unless the contrary is shown, that it is in the child's welfare for each parent to be involved in their life. This is not however a presumption of equal division of time or a child living with both parents on a shared basis.
Residence and Contact Orders no longer exist but are replaced by Child Arrangement Orders. These orders will state
• With whom and when a child is to live with a person (old residence orders)
• With whom and when a child is to spend time with or otherwise have contact with a person (old contact orders)
In most cases unless specific exclusions apply a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) should be attended with a mediator before proceedings can be issued. Legal aid may be available for that meeting.
Public Law Children – Care or Supervision Orders
Cases must in most cases be determined within a 26 week time limit.
There are new rules as to post-adoption contact and who can apply.
For further specialist help and advice contact us www.harringtonfamilylaw.co.uk
Our practice deals with divorce, and the most upsetting and worrying aspect for our clients is how to help the children manage the trauma of the marriage breakdown. Clients can often cope with their own emotions, but the prospect of breaking the news to the children is often more painful than their own emotions.