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In August 2013 the President of the Family Division set up the Private Law Working Group. The group consists of judges and other people who are involved in family law work. The group is expected to make recommendations to the President in relation to the resolution of private law disputes concerning children “in the most optimal and efficient way”.
The group has now published its report and recommends the replacement of the Private Law Programme with an entirely new Child Arrangements Programme. The Programme known as the ‘CAP’ applies where a dispute arises between separated parents about the arrangements concerning children. It is designed to assist families to reach safe agreements where possible out of the court setting. If parents are unable to reach an agreement, and a court application is made, the CAP encourages swift resolution of the dispute through the court.
In this respect, the group says that it has sought to devise a programme which:
(a) Places a greater emphasis on Mediation and out of court dispute resolution services for resolving low risk disputes concerning children;
(b) Identifies key resources for litigants to access such services currently;
(c) Reinforces the (likely) imperative for most Applicants to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment meeting) before issuing an application for a court order;
(d) Preserves and builds on the aspects of the existing private law procedure which are believed to work well;
(e) Adapts the arrangements for resolution of private law cases to fit the new model for family justice in The Family Court;
(f) Aims to ensure that private law cases are allocated to the right tier of judge;
(g) Meets the needs of a system populated by a high number of Litigants in Person.
As you will see there is a huge emphasis on keeping disputes out of court where possible.
According to last year’s survey carried out by Resolution (an organisation of family lawyers and other professionals who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters), the majority of Britons believe that putting the child’s interests first and avoiding conflict are the top factors to consider when going through a divorce and separation.
Family Law Partners help separating couples understand and explore non-court based methods of resolving issues arising on the breakdown of a relationship such as Mediation, Collaborative Law or through expert third party help (e.g. counselling, parenting after parting workshops etc). It should be your last resort to go to court.