Is 6th April 2011 the end of divorce as we know it?


Well not quite but the new Family Procedure Rules 2010 which come into force on the 6th April do make some significant changes to terminology that may be confusing to you (and us lawyers!).

When petitioning for divorce, we will now be applying for a "matrimonial order", although the terms "decree nisi" and "absolute" will remain. "Ancillary relief" has gone, we will now be making "an application for a financial remedy".

Divorce Lawyers

The changes are not merely cosmetic. The rules have been given a Civil Procedure Rules style makeover and most importantly the courts power to control evidence and impose sanctions have been significantly boosted.

The most widely reported change has been the introduction of near compulsory mediation prior to the issuing of any family court proceedings.

The Pre- application Protocol for Mediation, Information and Assessment requires the Applicant to contact a family mediator before issuing proceedings and to provide the mediator with contact details for the Respondent.

In addition Part of the Family Procedure Rules gives the court the power to stay proceedings generally to require the parties to attempt Alternative Dispute Resolution. At Simpson Millar our Divorce Lawyers have always promoted a conciliatory approach to resolving divorce and family law issues, where this is appropriate. Now others will be required to do the same.

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Keep an eye out for fortnightly updates about significant developments in law, policy and sometimes a less serious take on the world of Matrimonial & Family Law.

This article was written by Emma Hopkins, Solicitor in the Family Law Team.

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