Family law marked as ‘stable’ area of litigation

Embracing Non-Court Dispute Resolution in Family Law: New Rules and Their Impact


As of 29 April 2024, wide-reaching changes have been introduced to the Family Procedure Rules (FPR) regarding non-court dispute resolution (NCDR). These changes are designed to encourage early resolution of private children law and financial remedy cases through methods such as mediation, arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party such as a private FDR, and collaborative law. This blog explores the new rules, their implications, and how they will impact family law proceedings.

The Court’s Duty and Powers

  • Consideration of NCDR: The court must consider NCDR at every stage of the proceedings and determine whether it is appropriate.
  • Open discussion of NCDR: Parties are required to submit a form to the court and the other party setting out their views on using NCDR.
  • Encouragement of NCDR: The court encourages parties to obtain information about NCDR and consider using it. It can give directions to facilitate NCDR and adjourn proceedings to allow NCDR to take place.
  • Cost Penalties: In financial remedy cases, failing to attend NCDR or a MIAM without good reason may lead to cost penalties, where the non-compliant party might be ordered to pay or contribute towards the other party’s costs.

Family Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs)

  • Requirement to Attend a MIAM: Before making a relevant family application, parties must attend a MIAM, unless exempt.
  • Conduct of MIAMs: Only authorised family mediators can conduct MIAMs. They provide information about NCDR processes, the potential benefits of NCDR methods, and assess suitability.
  • Exemptions: Situations such as domestic abuse, child protection concerns, urgency, or previous MIAM attendance may exempt parties from attending a MIAM. The exemptions have been tightened through the new rules.

Benefits of the New Rules

NCDR methods are structured to facilitate quicker resolutions compared to traditional court processes, reducing the emotional and financial toll on the parties. These methods are private, ensuring that sensitive family matters are not exposed to public scrutiny, preserving the privacy of the individuals involved. NCDR also fosters cooperative problem-solving, which can help preserve relationships, especially when children are involved.


The amendments to the FPR represent a strong shift towards NCDR in family law, making it almost compulsory. Prioritising NCDR will hopefully reduce the burden on the courts, reduce costs for the parties, and promote more amicable settlements.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.