Aspects of family law have evolved over the years to simplify processes, reduce complications, and minimize stress for all parties involved, from couples separating to their children. Recently, various tweaks and changes have been introduced to improve transparency, prevent blame, and speed up the divorce process. Keep reading to learn about the most recent changes in UK family law.
A Pilot Scheme for Family Law Reporting
Family Courts in Cardiff, Carlisle, and Leeds have launched the Transparency Implementation Group Reporting Pilot from 30th January 2023. Running for twelve months, the pilot scheme allows respected journalists to attend one of the above family courts to report on disputes between parents about childcare or contact arrangements.
The goal of the pilot scheme is to improve transparency within family courts to increase trust in the family justice system and place more scrutiny on judges’ and lawyers’ actions. You can learn more details about the new scheme here: https://grantstephensfamilylaw.co.uk/
Bear in mind, strict confidentiality and anonymity rules are in place to protect children and family members. If the pilot scheme is successful, it may be introduced into family courts across England and Wales.
The No-Fault Divorce
The no-fault divorce is one of the biggest family law changes in recent years, eliminating the blame game between a married couple. Following the passing of the Divorce Reform Act, the no-fault divorce was introduced in England and Wales on 6th April 2022, allowing couples to apply for a divorce without attributing blame to one or both parties, such as adultery or unreasonable behavior.
It is a landmark change for family law in the UK, as it follows 36 years of campaigning and will create smoother divorce proceedings for all parties. Thanks to the no-fault divorce option, all it takes is one or both parties to file a court statement that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The Minimum Age for Family Marriage
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 came into effect in February 2023 after receiving Royal Assent. The new law has increased the minimum age for marriage to 18 years old in England and Wales, meaning 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer be able to wed with their parents’ consent. The age increase has been introduced to protect vulnerable children and stop young people from marrying before they are ready to do so.
The Relaunch of the Public Law Outline
In December 2022, Sir Andrew McFarlan, the President of the Family Division, announced plans to reconnect with the Public Law Outline. The goal is to ensure any court cases involving children’s care are processed by the courts within a 26-week period. The average care case took approximately 44.4 weeks in 2021. Relaunched in January 2023, the Public Law Outline will result in faster processes for all children involved in care cases.
Many positive changes are helping to transform UK family law for the better in 2023, from improving transparency about cases to minimizing blame during divorce proceedings.