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Private Law Pilot welcomed by Family Care Solicitors

View profile for Pamela Walsh
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As we all know the Covid 19 pandemic has affected all walks of life including the Family Courts and those who work within them. 

Family Law Injunctions and Child Care Cases prioritised by Courts

When the country went into lockdown back in March so did the Family Courts with court time being reserved for urgent priority cases such as Care cases, Family Law Injunctions and only the most Urgent Children cases.  Naturally, a backlog of Children cases developed over these months causing a delay in listing many First Hearings and Dispute Resolution Appointments (FHDRAs) where families wanted decisions to be made about where children were to live and who they were to spend time with. Where parents could not agree the Court was being asked to decide. The government guidance on children moving between their parent's homes often did not assist.

Whilst many court staff, judiciary and legal representatives were homeworking and using remote conferencing methods with only exceptional hearings taking place on a face to face attended basis, the remaining cases started to back up causing a very worrying backlog.

Greater Manchester Family Law Courts

In the Manchester area the backlog in the courts had reached such a point that Her Honour Judge Singleton QC, Designated Family Judge for the Greater Manchester Family Courts has introduced Private Law reforms to the process. The new strategy to manage the situation was implemented on 28 September 2020 which will run for 12 months when its success will be reviewed.

Whilst some remote Children hearings were taking place during the height of the pandemic the court lists had to be reduced.  It was also found that these remote hearings were less successful in achieving a compromise than attended hearings and so the judiciary aspired to hearings being attended and run as safely as possible.

Pamela Walsh, Family and Child Care Solicitor for Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd explains, “First Hearings and Dispute Resolution Appointments are very important.  They can be quite daunting especially if clients are wanting to sort out Child Arrangements.  A lot can happen at these hearings and you could argue that these appointments are the most important hearings in a case.  If compromise and agreement cannot be reached and the case progresses on a contested basis it can cause delays in normal situations so with Covid19 causing even longer delays it has become a very stressful long wait for many families.”

Top Tips for Separated Parents have been designed by CAFCASS to help people.

“As a Family and Child Care Solicitor in Oldham I hope this new reform will enable the most urgent cases to be dealt with more quickly. The court has recognised the need for some flexibility based on the needs of a specific case.  I really welcome the Pilot for Greater Manchester”, she adds.

For further information or advice on Child Care please contact the Family Child Care Team or if you want advice on a Divorce and Family matter please contact one of our Divorce and Family Law Solicitors - both available on 0161 785 3500 or email enquiries@pearsonlegal.co.uk

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.