A single Family Court dealing with divorce and custody cases comes into effect today (22/4/14) as part of Government plans to speed up official proceedings. The court will replace the three separate tiers that currently deal with family proceedings and justice system in England and Wales. There will also be a new 26-week time limit for care proceedings, expert witnesses can only be called when necessary and compulsory family mediation meetings.

Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes said this morning that Family Courts are being brought in because children caught up in the middle of a custody battle, care case or divorce have been “failed by the system”. He believes cases are held back by the “three different types of court” they could be heard at. He said: “You could go to the Magistrates Court for something and the County Court for other things and the High Court for other things. You find it’s a really long process, then you find it was often a very confrontational process. So in the end the children suffer the most.”

This morning Natasha Brittan discussed on TV show Daybreak how sitting down with her estranged husband and an impartial referee with legal knowledge helped them have an amicable divorce. She said; “It just made everything more respectful, kinder and we did not want, or certainly I did not want my divorce to define the rest of my life. We just wanted to look after our children, our wider circle of friends and family.”

At Jordans mediation is used as a way of solving disputes and disagreements between partners that may result from the breakdown of a relationship. We have found that for many couples, mediation is a preferable and more effective way of resolving disputes, such as disagreements over property, finances or children, than attempting to resolve them through the court system.

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