It may pay to hold off starting a Family Court application for a financial remedy in divorce and other matrimonial proceedings until 4 June 2018. That's because a new fast track procedure will apply to certain applications made on or after that date which could lead to a faster resolution. Faster = less aggro and, if lawyers are involved, less expense.
Which applications will be covered by the new fast track? Principally, applications for maintenance orders only (periodical payments they are called by the law, judges and lawyers) and applications for variation (up or down) of maintenance orders provided that the applicant is not asking for the court to capitalise what would otherwise be future payments and order a lump sum to be handed over and the monthly maintenance to stop. Apply for maintenance plus a transfer or property or a lump sum and the fast track will not be triggered.
The new fast track procedure is modelled on the existing shortened procedure which is sometimes overlooked and should catch variation applications. The main feature of the new procedure is that the court is encouraged to decide the case at the very first hearing with these words: 'If the court is able to determine the application at the first hearing, it must do so unless it considers that there are good reasons not to do so.' That first hearing will will take place no later than ten weeks after the application has been issued.
Revised application forms will have to be used in place of the current forms A and A1 to make clear whether the application is a fast track job or is for the rest is what will be known as a standard procedure case.
You can thank (or curse) the Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2018 SI2018/440 for the changes. A new Practice Direction to supplement the rules is in the pipeline.
For tactics and tips on making or opposing a matrimonial type application do have a look at Breaking Law.