Big Changes to come now the Children and Families Bill has Royal Assent


Earlier this month the Children and Families Bill was finally given Royal Assent, and will be made law by September this year. This change will see a major overhaul of the family law system, as well as the system for special educational needs (SEN).

Children and Families Bill

Family Services Set to Change

These include:

  • Requiring a meeting to discuss and consider mediation before applying for certain court orders – if exemptions don’t apply
  • Making it clear to separated parents that courts will take on the principle that both of them should be involved in their children's lives where the child's welfare is not at risk
  • Expert evidence concerning children in family proceedings is used when necessary to promote a just conclusion
  • Creating a 26 week maximum time limit for completing care and supervision proceedings – this can be extended in particular cases for up to 8 weeks at a time to ensure the process will be settled justly
  • Changes to the adoption system will also take place in terms of fast tracking the adoption process and promoting fostering – support will also be improved for adoptive families

Emma Hopkins Jones, an Associate Family solicitor at Simpson Millar LLP believes that any attempt to improve the family justice system should be welcomed, however she states, "these changes are coming in one year after legal aid was removed for most private family cases, meaning many will not get the advice they need about how the changes will affect them."

The Government still needs to do more to raise awareness of mediation services. "Many people are not aware that legal aid is still available for both mediation and advice from a lawyer once mediation is up and running."

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