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News - 22 April 2014

New family Courts and justice reforms.

 New family Courts and justice reforms.

 
As part of family justice system reforms, the new combined Family Courts have come into being in England and Wales. As part of these reforms, it includes new time frames for cases where children are taken into care and compulsory mediation awareness sessions for separating couples.
 
There are about 270,000 new family cases each year dealing with issues such as local authority intervention, divorce, domestic violence and adoption. 
 
A review carried out in 2011 found that vulnerable children were having their "futures undermined" by excessive delays, with care and supervision cases taking an average of 56 weeks.
 
The reforms address a range of issues including: 
Care cases are normally completed within six months in a single Family Court, which replaces the current three-tier court system in family cases
Separating couples must attend a mediation awareness session before taking disputes over their finances or their children to court
Limits on the amount of expert evidence that can be used in cases involving children, only being permitted when it is necessary to resolve the case justly
 
Justice Minister Simon Hughes said it was "a hugely important change" to what had been a "very dysfunctional system".
 
But the chief executive of the Family Rights Group charity said some of the changes could "work against children".
 
Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes told the BBC that under the previous system "the battle over children went on for weeks and weeks and months and months absolutely against the interests of the child". 
 
But Family Rights Group chief executive Cathy Ashley said the reforms were a "hotch potch".
 
"There are some positive measures, but also some provisions will potentially work against children", she said, raising concerns about safeguards when care proceedings are speeded up.
 
Lavinia Newman, Founder of ABDS and a qualified Mediator comments:
“Removing a child from its parents and placing it in local authority care, is arguably the most draconian thing that the state does to a family. It is critical that care proceedings are conducted as comprehensively and efficiently as possible in the courts.”
 
For those who are looking for a more personal approach on a range of business related issues, contact us at ABDS.
 
ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900 E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net
 
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