The Family Law Act 1996 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that sets out the legal framework for family matters such as divorce, domestic violence, and child custody. The Act aimed to modernize and simplify family law, promote the resolution of family disputes through mediation, and encourage cooperation between parents in cases involving children.
The Family Law Act 1996 gives the courts and judges a number of powers, including:
Divorce: The Act introduced a new concept of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage as the sole ground for divorce. The court has the power to grant a divorce if it is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Mediation: The Act requires parties to consider mediation as a way to resolve their disputes before they can proceed with a court application. The court has the power to adjourn proceedings to allow parties to participate in mediation and to make orders for mediation.
Domestic violence: The Act introduced new measures to protect victims of domestic violence, including the power of the court to issue injunctions and restraining orders.
Child custody: The Act established the principle that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in any decision made by the court regarding the child’s custody, upbringing, and welfare.
Child contact: The Act introduced the concept of “parental responsibility” and established that both parents have a duty to maintain contact with their child after separation. The court has the power to make orders for contact and to enforce these orders.
Financial provision: The Act gives the court the power to make orders for financial provision on divorce, including maintenance payments, lump sum payments, and property adjustment orders.
Overall, the Family Law Act 1996 provides the courts and judges with a wide range of powers to resolve family disputes and protect the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.
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