The new family court and how it affects you

My name’s Andrew Isaacs, I am a divorce lawyer.

I’d like to talk to you today about Family Law, and in particular the Family Court. In April 2014 we had a big bang: Our President – the President of the Family Division – Sir James Munby – brought in a lot of reforms. And what happened was that instead of having a Magistrates’ Court, a County Court, and a High Court, we had one court that was unified – called the Family Court.

Now we still have High Court judges sitting in it, and Magistrates and District Judges sitting in it and Circuit judges. So on the face of it you would think ‘Well nothing’s changed’ – but things have changed and changes will continue to happen.

Now, the reforms that were brought in have not been fully implemented throughout the country yet. Some judges are set in their ways, and are not keen on new changes, and so despite the fact that the law says you have to do it a certain way, if at the end of the day a judge says ‘No’, then the answer is ‘No’, because the judge is the final arbiter in his own courtroom. Unless of course you appeal, and in my experience it’s better to get it right first time than to try to win on appeal.

Now what you have to bear in mind is that because things are constantly changing it creates a lot of uncertainty. Where there is uncertainty, there is some degree of confusion. Consequently it does mean that you probably need representation more at that time than you would do in other circumstances.

Now I am not saying to you that have to use a solicitor. You don’t. You can do things on your own if you choose to. I am hoping that if you do do that, this website’s going to help you because we’re giving you videos here, telling you things – giving you instant tips and tricks. But there are many, many ways in which a case can unfold. I know.  I’ve been doing this a long time. So what you need to do is be aware of the fact that we are living in uncertain times.

Lots of changes going on, and you need to just be aware of the political background – and I say ‘political’ with a small ‘p’, because that’s what it is, we are living in uncertain times, so bear that in mind. That’s the Family Court – it will be constantly developing and constantly changing, that is for certain.

And we’ll also see that the law in this country as determined by the High Court – the Court of Appeal – the Supreme Court is to some extent being reexamined by the President, and also by Mr Justice Mostyn, who are both approaching principles of law which have been fairly set and cast in stone, and are looking at them afresh – so there is a degree of change as well. So case law is quite important for you to keep abreast of that, so – but if you need to know where to find case law there are other videos on this website about that which I hope will be helpful to you – so we’re living in uncertain times.