The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, who is also Head of Family Justice, recently provided his latest overview of the current state of the family justice system.
The lawyers in our Family & Divorce Department also heard an update from the President first-hand when he spoke at the Resolution National Conference in April.
The President has said that addressing the burden on the Family Courts is his number one priority and it is hoped that this will improve the system for all those involved in family justice. There is a new national Civil and Family Service Centre at Stoke on Trent which is now taking on more of the work of the Regional Divorce Centres.
The President noted that feedback on the Pilot Scheme for the Financial Remedy Court at Birmingham continues to be positive. The aim of the scheme, which should eventually be rolled out nationwide, is to ensure that financial remedy cases are heard by Judges who are experienced in that area of law.
Furthermore, the President has shared his view that the Family Court should be making fuller use of technology particularly to conduct short hearings by telephone. It is hoped that this will provide a more cost effective and convenient way of dealing with certain matters.
The President has stressed that any change in public and private Children Act proceedings must be developed in partnership between all professionals involved in children proceedings, and should not be “imposed from above”.
Finally, the President has also announced that there will be a transparency review of the Family Courts, following which it will be decided whether the current degree of openness should be extended, rather than reduced.
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