Wednesday, October 17, 2012

GOV.UK - Family Law Resources


The shiny new GOV.UK website launched today, replacing the old Directgov and Business Link sites. I have had a brief look at it and thought it might be useful to set out some of the family law-related resources that it contains.

Before I begin, however, I have to report that in some places the site commits the heinous crime of referring to 'register offices' as 'registry offices'. I trust that this grave error will be corrected, and that the person or persons responsible will be dealt with with the utmost severity.

Whilst I have obviously not looked at it all, the site clearly contains a lot of information, on a large number of subjects. Its navigation, however, leaves something to be desired. There are headings on the home page, which in turn lead to pages with sub-headings. Thereafter, however, you are on your own, presented with a list of topics to scroll down. The list is (mostly) in alphabetic order, but that is not particularly helpful, as the first word in each topic heading is not necessarily a 'key' word for that topic. It appears that the thinking may be that most users should (or will) use the search function, at the top of every page, and this may be the quickest way to find what you want.

Most of the family law-related resources come under the main heading 'Births, deaths, marriages and care', which includes sections on 'Having a child and adoption' and 'Marriage, civil partnership and divorce'.

Family law-related topics in the first of these include Parental rights and responsibilities, Adding a father's name to a birth certificate, Child adoption and several sections on Child maintenance (which will obviously have to be updated shortly when the new scheme is introduced - it will be interesting to see how well the site is kept up-to-date).

Family law-related topics in the marriage, civil partnerships and divorce section include (apart from links to topics mentioned above): Get a divorce, Money and property when a relationship ends, Contact with grandchildren and Divorcing a missing husband or wife.

Elsewhere on the site there is other information that could also be relevant to family breakdown, including Housing and local services, Benefits and Court fees.

Lastly, note that I have not read all of the contents of the various topics mentioned above, so cannot vouch for their accuracy or usefulness. From what I have read, however, it seems that some topics may be somewhat limited in their detail. For example, the section on getting a legal separation makes no mention of separation agreements, which are obviously far more common than judicial separations. As always with advice sites, the difficulty is as much to do with what to leave out, as what to put in.

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