Family Law – What to expect in 2024
31st January, 2023
The Year 2023 saw some significant changes in Family Law, many of which reflect our societal progressions, which prove old systems to be outdated.
In this article, we will outline what the key changes have been, and what we can expect from these changes in 2024.
Launch of the Transparency Pilot
There has been a long debate regarding the transparency of family courts. On the one hand, many have campaigned for the process to be more open, so people can understand the process and know what to expect. However, this has caused tensions with those who feel confidentiality and privacy should be maintained when solving these sensitive issues.
Now, with recent changes in legislation, journalists, reporters, and bloggers can attend family court hearings (with consent), report on what happens, and be given access to certain documents from the case. The 2023 Transparency Pilot also allows individuals to talk to reporters, bloggers and journalists about their own cases. This will be piloted in the Central Family Court in London, Leeds and Birmingham to begin with.
The question of whether proceedings should be open to the media is a complex. Striking a balance between transparency and privacy is the most important thing to ensure the integrity of the legal process while protecting the well-being of the individuals involved.
In 2024, we predict a shift to Private ADR to protect people’s privacy.
Marriage and Civil Partner Minimum Act
Until now, the minimum age of marriage in the UK was 16, allowing 16 and 17 year olds to marry with parental consent. In 2023, the minimum age has now increased to 18, regardless of parental consent.
A welcomed change in the law for legal practitioners. This change in the law is to protect our children, with a particular emphasis on forced marriages. There will be no requirement to evidence coercion it will automatically be a criminal offence.
Family Mediation Voucher Scheme Extended
Following Covid-19, the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme was introduced, which provided vouchers of up to £500 towards mediation costs to separating couples, encouraging them to resolve issues outside of court. In 2023, it was announced that this scheme will be extended to April 2025.
Our divorce solicitors predict that in 2024 we will continue to see more cases successfully solved through mediation . The Courts are over stretched with hearings not being listed for 6 months or more in Private Children proceedings, this will help ease the burden of the Courts in 2024.
Opening up of the HFEA Register
In 2023, the first children conceived through egg, sperm and/or embryo donation were able to request contact or apply for information regarding their donors.
We expect there to be a rise in individuals who have curiosities surrounding their donors to explore this further in 2024 and urge those individuals to seek support beforehand
Launch of the Online Procedure Rules Committee
Summer 2023 saw the introduction of the Online Procedure Rule Committee, which was launched to help guide judges. Legal representatives and Litigants through online court procedures. Included in the committee is Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division.
In 2024 our divorce solicitors expect to see more family law proceedings handled online rather than through paper application.
Family Law Support from Ward Hadaway
In 2024 and beyond, our solicitors are committed to resolving complex issues in a way which suits you best.
Rest assured we stay aware of current legal developments, exploring avenues such as ADR and other methods to safeguard your privacy and family.
Get in touch with one of our expert Divorce Solicitors today, to see how we can help.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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