Monday, 17 July 2017

Family Procedure Changes

A clutch of changes in certain family cases come into force on 7 August 2017. For that, you can bless or curse (depending on whether you love them or hate them) the Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2017 SI 2017/741.

Matrimonial and Civil Partnership Petitions
You start off a divorce etc or civil partnership dissolution case with a petition. Unlike certain other documents you have to produce along the way, it hasn't been necessary to verify the contents of the petition with what is called a statement of truth. We are talking about a short sentence which makes it clear you have not not told a pack of lies and which you sign. If you have in fact told a pack of lies in the petition, the presence of the statement of truth means you may be held to be in contempt of court and for that you could be potted or fined or have your assets seized. Nasty. Well, as from 7 August, the petition will have to contain  a statement of truth although petitions without a statement of truth will still be accepted by the court if received before 5 September 2017 !!!

Financial Remedy Applications
If an application is made in matrimonial or civil partnership proceedings for some financial order (maintenance, transfer of the family home, pension share and the rest) there are three potential hearings - a first appointment at which the judge gives directions about such things as valuations of assets and disclosure of information which should have been provided but has not; then a financial dispute resolution appointment at which the judge will encourage and assist the parties to reach an agreement without the expense and acrimony of a contested hearing; and then, if there has not been a settlement at the financial dispute resolution appointment or following it, that dreaded contested hearing. Sometimes the parties or their lawyers will try and duck the financial dispute resolution appointment on the ground that it is a waste of time and money and that the parties are intent on fighting it out for a couple of days in court. As from 7 August there will be an even greater emphasis than now on that financial dispute resolution appointment taking place. The court will be obliged to order it unless there are exceptional reasons which make it inappropriate. For much, much more about how to deal with a financial case like this if you are involved as a party and how not to get stitched up, you may wish to consider investing in a copy of my book Breaking Law (plug, plug).

Finance after Overseas Divorce etc
The court may allow a party to apply to a  court in England and Wales for a financial remedy after a divorce etc or civil partnership has been dissolved by an overseas court. Permission for that is required. As from 7 August there is a change in that the default position will be that the permission application will not be notified to the other party and also the application will no longer be required to be heard by a judge in the High Court.