As we embark on a New Year, January is always a good month to look forward at the year ahead with anticipation as to what may happen differently than last year and what we’d like to see change. Because of this we thought we would share our thoughts on what we’d like to see change within the family law field in 2016. It will be interesting to reflect on this when the end of December comes (as we all know how quickly these years fly by) and see whether our thoughts were similar to any changes made.
Greater transparency in the legal process – its common knowledge that the legal process if often rather complicated and many have the perception that getting involved in a legal process, such as getting divorced, will be a drawn out and extremely expensive experience. This perception has been built up by some solicitors and legal advisors who take advantage of the system and their clients. We’d like to see regulation in 2016 to make it more difficult for these firms to take advantage in this way.
Courts to employ more staff – the introduction of the family centres last year was to create a central hub to improve services and speed up timescales with the courts. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and results have found that the system is now painfully slower than it was previously. In order for this new system to work, we believe the courts need to employ more staff to put the court time back to where it was before they changed the system.
To split the cost of divorce fees – we’d like to see the cost of divorce fees split into the separate elements; petition, decree nisi and absolute, rather than having one large up-front fee. Making it more manageable for clients to afford and making it more flexible to work with the different stages as clients pass through them.
No fault divorce – It’s no wonder that many divorces are flamed with animosity, with most divorces in this country requiring one party to blame the other for their marriage breakdown, it does not bode well for an amicable divorce. There are many marriages that have simply irretrievably broken down, so why isn’t this a good enough reason for wanting an amicable divorce rather than getting into the blame game – no fault divorce is now very much required within our legal process.
Equal property rights for cohabitees – with many more couples now choosing to cohabit together with their families rather than marry, we think it is only right to review the property rights for these couples. They should be treated no differently than married couples who live together and have equal rights when they separate.
Removal of fees for Government child support – those who use the Government Child Maintenance Service (‘CMS’) currently are charged for using this service. This unfortunately leads to many parents not seeking help from the service, which can mean that children suffer – this is not right. The Government may encourage couples to settle child maintenance payments between themselves, however, in reality there are many situations where this is not viable especially after a difficult divorce or if one parent has left without contact. However, this service could provide the support for many parents and in turn their children if the fees were removed, putting children at the forefront and ensuring they do not suffer from the consequence of their parents split.
So will our thoughts become actual changes? Who knows but we look forward with anticipation to how the year is going to play out but one thing is for sure we will still be here, to guide and advise you through your amicable divorce, doing all we can to help you through the process quickly, cost effectively and fairly.