Changes to the Family Procedure Rules: how this will impact you

Amendments to the Family Procedure Rules, which came into force on 29 April 2024, introduce a wider definition for Non-Court Dispute Resolution. The hope is that these changes will promote early resolution outside of court, relieving pressure on them and resulting in quicker and less costly outcomes for our clients.

The Family Procedure Rules regulate the process and procedures within the family courts and the current rules have been in effect since 2010. On 29 April 2024, amendments to the Family Procedure Rules came into force which encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve financial and children-related issues outside of court. 

The Changes 

The amendments introduce a wider definition for Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR), which not only covers mediation, but also other methods of dispute resolution such as arbitration, collaborative law, evaluation by a neutral third party, and private financial dispute resolution.

Although a Mediation Information and Assessment Hearing (MIAM) is already a requirement in family matters concerning children and finances on divorce, there were previously exemptions available to the parties. However, the new rules tighten the exemptions and limit the circumstances in which they may apply. Now, parties who fail to engage with NCDR risk facing cost sanctions, meaning that the Judge may order them to pay their partner’s legal fees if they fail to participate in NCDR without a valid reason. The exceptions to the requirement for NCDR are likely to be very limited.

The Courts will also be given the power to adjourn proceedings so that a couple can participate in NCDR, if the Judge considers it appropriate for the case. This applies irrespective of whether the couple agrees to NCDR, so will leave the couple with limited options but to engage with the process.


The changes to the FPR are a welcome change by many practitioners of family law. The hope is that these changes will promote early resolution outside of court, which can be expensive, time consuming and further polarise separated couples. Shifting the focus away from court proceedings will, hopefully, allow and encourage separated couples to explore the options available to them before they resort to court intervention. Parties and legal practitioners must give careful consideration to alternative dispute resolution methods, because they will not be able to dismiss or bypass them without providing a justified reason as to why it is not appropriate in their case.

Any decision not to proceed with NCDR will be scrutinised by the court. 

Ultimately, with NCDR being promoted, it is hoped that the amendments will relieve pressures on the courts and result in quicker and less costly outcomes for our clients.

At Judge & Priestley, we will always try to achieve a client’s goals without court intervention if that is possible. We take a tailored approach to each client and can advise which method of NCDR would best suit their particular circumstances. Of course, in some circumstances, particularly in cases which involve domestic abuse, issuing court proceedings and having the court intervene may be the best and quickest way to reach a resolution. 

Written by Ellis Crow (Trainee Solicitor)

If you have any enquiries regarding divorce or finances, please contact a member of our Family team on  020 8290 0333 or email for a free initial consultation with one of our family experts.

For further information on our Family Law services, click here.

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