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New Family Justice Courts to better resolve family conflicts

Judge-led approach aims to ease the pain and protect the vulnerable

Published on Aug 5, 2014 8:51 AM
 
The new Family Justice Courts will oversee divorce and other cases relating to painful and personal matters such as family violence, disputes over wills, adoption and guardianship, and custody and other family issues involving children. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

A new court will be set up to deal with family disputes in less acrimonious ways under a law passed in Parliament yesterday. The aim is to ease the pain, better protect the vulnerable and cut costs and delays in cases of family conflict.

The Family Justice Courts will oversee divorce and other cases relating to painful and personal matters such as family violence, disputes over wills, adoption and guardianship, and custody and other family issues involving children.

The new system seeks to replace the old adversarial approach - dominated by duelling lawyers - with a judge-led one, where judges specialising in family matters will lead and control the pace and direction of cases.

Among measures being introduced: Parents who plan to divorce must attend a "pre-filing" consultation with state-appointed officials unless they are able to agree on all matters concerning the divorce. Newly appointed "court friends" will assist those not represented by lawyers. And the court will appoint a representative where necessary to protect the interests of the child in bitter divorce disputes.

 
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