Proposed new Family Procedure Rules

Department for Constitutional AffairsOn the 30th August the Department for Constitutional Affairs published "A new procedural code for family proceedings", a consultation paper on the policy behind the proposed new Family Procedure Rules. The new Rules intend to achieve four 'key objectives': "modernisation of language, harmonisation with the Civil Procedure Rules, a single unified code of practice and alignment in all levels of court", and the paper seeks views upon how these objectives can be realised.

The paper includes some pretty fundamental changes to family procedure. For example, the proposed changes in terminology, which will (inter alia) see 'Decree Nisi' becoming 'Conditional Order' and 'Decree Absolute' becoming 'Final Order'. Respondents to divorces will no longer be able to file a freestanding petition, but instead will be given 21 days to make a cross application in the same proceedings. Applications for a financial/property settlement will no longer be included in the divorce petition (or 'application', as it will be called), so that petitioners (or 'applicants') will have to make a separate application for a financial order to ensure that they do not lose their right to apply after remarriage.

If you wish to give your views the paper includes a 43-question questionnaire and a section for you to give details about yourself. Responses must be sent by the 1st December.