With 2020 being a year most of us looked forward to waving goodbye to, we welcomed 2021. What positives can we take from the last year in family law and what can we expect from 2021?
2020 saw the biggest changes to the legal system for many years. With courts and solicitors’ offices closed, we all turned to the virtual world for our client meetings and court hearings.
Despite the initial closure causing delays in the courts, ultimately it has made for improved efficiency with the creation of the court’s Cloud Video Platform where cases can be held virtually and (providing there are no technical hiccups) can all run to time. E-bundles are now used, saving resources and enabling Judges access to them from their own homes.
As there have been delays in the family courts we have seen a rise in the use of Private Family Dispute Resolution Hearings (Private FDRs), which in our experience has led to an increased chance of an agreement being reached without the need for a final hearing.
What to expect from family law in 2021
Family law left the EU as the Brexit transition period ended (11pm 31st December 2020).
This means that EU regulations will no longer apply to any family law cases that begin after 11pm on the 31st December 2020. The main area of family finance law this will impact will be the jurisdiction of the English courts to be able to hear a case that involves an EU national.
Watch this space as we will provide a more detailed update once we have further guidance in due course.
New Family Procedure Rules 2010 Practice Direction PD 41C.
A further development of the court’s working remotely will see this new practice direction coming into force, allowing for online appeal proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court using an online case management system that can be used in specified circumstances. This will make the process a lot easier and hopefully quicker leading to costs savings.
The implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act better known as the No Fault Divorce Bill.
This will provide that a statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably will be all that is required to petition for divorce, thus avoiding the need to rely on any facts to prove that the marriage is over. This is a long awaited update to the divorce process where there is no need to blame one party for the divorce.
What else can you expect from family law in 2021?
No doubt we will also see more adaptions of the court being able to work remotely and hopefully enable them to clear the backlog and work more efficiently in the long run – so watch this space. As you can see there are some big changes afoot this year and therefore, it is important to take legal advice in relation to your divorce and the resolution of your finances to ensure that you are progressing your divorce in line with the latest legal changes.