Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm

Family Law Journal: May 2014

In the second of a two-part consideration of the role of the mediator and MIAMs, Andrew Baines highlights the advantages and disadvantages of mediation and the court process

Part one: 'Outlining options' (FLJ135)

Sometimes it is difficult to make a choice, especially where the options seem to be beyond compare. Consider choosing between a night out at the cinema or the theatre? They each have their advantages and disadvantages. But how do you choose between the excitement of the live performance over the perfection of the recorded image? Finding a common frame of reference usefully allows comparisons to be made. For example, if the common frame of reference is ‘which is nearest?’, you may get a different answer from the frame of reference which asks ‘where are we best able to obtain an insight into Shakespeare’s treatment of women?’ Similarly, a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) needs to provide a common frame of reference if parents are to be able to assess the relative benefits and disadvantages of mediation and the court process. Further, that frame of reference needs to be acceptable to those awaiting the outcome of the MIAM – lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and judges.

Camilla Thornton outlines the courts’ approach to income such as bonuses and how this may be reflected in an order for periodical payments

It is eight years since the decision in Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] established the principle that the resources of the marriage should be shared and that (per Baroness Hale, at para 144):

Marwa Hadi looks at the latest developments in statutory child support

It started with the best of intentions, and the concept enjoyed universal support, but the statutory child support scheme has had every piece of ‘surgery’ imaginable. Are the latest developments a facelift or something more fundamental? The Child Support Agency (CSA) was created with the intention of assessing, collecting and enforcing maintenance arrangements payable by parents in relation to children not in their primary care and has attracted severe criticism in the past. It is this criticism that has led to reform. Although most family practitioners are aware that reform has taken place, the rather piecemeal introduction has resulted in some confusion for practitioners and parents alike.


In the conclusion to a two-part analysis of periodical payments, Sonny Patel discusses the courts’ approach to the duration of orders

Part one of this article (‘Calculating need’, FLJ135 p22-24) summarised the legal framework within which the courts make decisions about the quantum of spousal maintenance following divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership. As the quantum of maintenance is being assessed, consideration must also be given to how long those payments will be made for.

Tara Deegan sets out two of the key developments in the family justice system: compulsory MIAMs and the introduction of the single family court

Some of the biggest changes to the family law justice system took place in April 2014. Reforms set out in the Children and Families Act 2014, amending the pre-action protocol in the Family Proceedings Rules 2010, provide that prior to commencing court proceedings to resolve a dispute over children or financial matters, an applicant will first be required to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). The changes follow the review of the family justice system in 2010/11, during which David Norgrove, chair of the Family Justice Review committee, stated that there was support for compulsory assessment for mediation.

Withers LLP

Suzanne Kingston, Adele Pledger and Paulina Sandler examine whether the long-awaited Law Commission recommendations on marital agreements will result in change, or business as usual

We have waited with bated breath for the Law Commission’s report on matrimonial property, needs and agreements since 2009. It finally arrived on 27 February 2014 (see, but what does it mean?