FAQs: Family Proceedings and Courts


Is there a special court for family proceedings?

The Family Proceedings Court (FPC) is part of the court service of England and Wales, where private hearings are held relating to all kinds of family issues. For example, cases concerning divorce settlements, child welfare, and care proceedings. The court is headed by specially-trained magistrates who make the final decisions but there is also an appeals system in place.

What kinds of cases are dealt with by the family proceedings court?

The FPC deals with issues such as divorce, child maintenance, paternity rights and the amount of contact non-resident parents may have with their children. In addition, the court deals with adoption and with the various care and supervision orders for minors. Parties to the cases heard may be represented by their own family solicitors.

Is mediation compulsory regarding family cases?

Mediation is not compulsory but may it be helpful to have access to a neutral third party, particularly when cases involve children. The majority of divorcing couples must attend a meeting known as a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM), before proceeding to court. If a divorcing couple cannot agree on a financial settlement, a refusal to try mediation may be taken into account by the court. A mediator is not allowed to advise clients on the law, but family solicitors can give independent legal advice throughout the mediation process.

How does the court deal with cases involving children?

The law relating to children is governed by the Children Act 1989, which states that the welfare of the child is paramount.  The Family Proceedings Court also operates in a more informal manner, which may lessen children’s anxieties. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is an independent public body that looks after the interests of children involved in family court proceedings by means of qualified social work staff.

Can I obtain legal aid for Family Proceedings?

At present, legal aid may be available for those involved in family-related proceedings. However, strict financial conditions must be met in order to qualify for legal advice or legal help in court from a family solicitor. Children under 16 may be eligible for publically-funded help from a family solicitor, for example, if there is a conflict between the child and their parents.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on family proceedings, then Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist family solicitor free of charge. So if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local family law solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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