The Court system is moving ever more towards delivering services online.

 We have seen introduction of an online divorce procedure and many forms and documents all have to be sent to the Court in an electronic format.  Transition to fully “paperless” family law has not yet happened but the Court system is at least attempting to lead the way.

As part of its drive for efficient use of Court resources, the Family Court have developed a system of “Financial Remedies Court”. Essentially, a lead Judge in each zone, or area of the country, covered by a network of Courts will be responsible for ensuring only Judges with appropriate training and expertise will deal with Financial Remedy cases.

What is a Financial Remedy case?

This category includes the financial orders made following a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, as well as Orders for financial provision for children whose parents were not previously married (known as Schedule 1 proceedings).  It also includes enforcement of financial orders, for example, getting an order for the sale of property in order to deal with an unpaid lump sum or an attachment of earnings order in respect of unpaid maintenance.

Each lead Judge will help implement national guidance in their area, with the aim of ensuring consistency of outcome across the country.  They will also manage an allocation system to make sure cases at the right level of Judge are heard according to their complexity.  This move towards specialisation should  be welcomed in the legal profession and will go some way to reducing the potential for different outcomes arising from similar cases.

As part of the publicity surrounding the launch of the Family Remedies Court, plans for a virtualised appeals process for represented parties and for early Directions Hearings in financial proceedings during divorce are to take place on line.  Getting the digital infrastructure in place for a truly modern justice system has to be a priority.

The civil justice system is in the throes of a fundamental shift towards digital working.  There has been a large amount of publicity about the introduction of virtual Courts where disputes are resolved via an online portal, not necessarily in real time.

Financial and practical costs of getting busy professionals into the same Court room at the same time are substantial and far from necessary on many occasions.  Where a Judge has to assess the witnesses credibility, an online, non real time procedure would be inappropriate but if a Judge is for example, being asked to chose between a selection of different business valuation experts where there is no need for a Court room.

There are concerns, particularly over the ability of usage of IT for some citizens and whether this will all be deliverable and happen.

However, the Family Judiciary is keen to move with the times and deliver a modern efficient justice system but there are still big hurdles to overcome.

If you require any advise in relation to matters of financial remedies / money claims arising out of your marriage / civil relationship issues , child finance  please do not hesitate to contact any of our specialists at our office at Boston, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Grantham and Newark.

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