As of 22 of April 2014, all family-related court proceedings are handled by a new, single family court. The single family court has one central location with a specific family centre with nominated family judge and where the hearings take place. There is a single point of entry for the process of the entire single family court for issuing of proceedings for the whole area.
The magistrates and county courts will no longer be able to deal with family proceedings, although they can still be held at the magistrates or county court buildings, with some matters taking place at the High Court.
Before any court applications can be made, the applicants and respondents in family cases must attend a meeting where the family is informed about mediation and assessed whether the conflict could potentially be solved through mediation itself. The meeting is referred to as Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
Legal aid is available to cover the costs of arranging a mediator and legal advice can be given at any point of the mediation. In some cases, mediation might not be appropriate, such as domestic violence, child protection, urgent cases or if MIAM has previously been arranged and did not bring any results.
The mediation takes place no later than 15 days after the mediator has been contacted.
Child arrangement orders have replaced the residence and contact orders, which specify with whom and when the child lives with, spends time or has contact with someone.
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