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The New Family Procedure Rules (FPR) – What You Need to Know

Insights27th June 2024

On 29th April 2024, substantial revisions to the Family Procedure Rules (FPR) were implemented, significantly affecting family law proceedings in England and Wales. The aim is to foster the early settlement of private family law disputes without court intervention. Mine Penfold, Paralegal in our Family Team offers a concise summary of the key changes to the FPR and their implications.

Key Changes

Definition of Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR)

The most significant amendment broadens the scope of NCDR to encompass various out-of-court methods:

  • Mediation: A neutral mediator facilitates communication between parties.
  • Collaborative Approaches: Parties collaborate to identify mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Arbitration: An arbitrator delivers binding decisions.
  • Private Financial Dispute Resolution: Parties resolve financial matters privately.

Parties are now encouraged to explore these alternatives prior to initiating court proceedings.

Filing Views on NCDR

When making an application to the court, both parties (you and your former spouse/partner) must file a form expressing their views on NCDR. Judges are now proactive in endorsing out-of-court resolutions and possess enhanced authority to mandate alternative dispute resolution methods. Non-participation in NCDR without justifiable reasons—excluding instances of domestic abuse—may lead to cost sanctions against the non-compliant party.

Limited Exemptions for Mediation

Attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is almost always required before making an application, except in serious circumstances. Judges have the discretion to pause proceedings if they deem NCDR to be more suitable.

Your Options

Prior to court application, it’s advisable to consult with a solicitor who can elucidate the various NCDR methods and assist in selecting the most appropriate one. Alternatively, arranging a MIAM with a family mediator can help explore NCDR possibilities. The objective is to reach amicable resolutions while minimizing court involvement.

How can Blackfords Solicitors help?

Our private family team, here at Blackfords LLP boasts extensive experience and can offer detailed explanations of NCDR options. We ensure you comprehend mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law, aiding you in making well-informed choices.Each situation is unique, and we tailor our recommendations to fit individual needs. Whether it involves financial disputes, child arrangements, or divorce proceedings, our personalized advice guarantees the most beneficial course of action.

We urge clients to seek our advice early to make informed decisions and discover effective solutions. For an initial consultation with one of our solicitors, please contact us at 03330 150150 or email familyteam@blackfords.com.