Prorogation of Parliament and the impact on Family Law

‘‘Prorogation of Parliament’’ – How many times have you heard this phrase lately? The answer is probably a lot, and almost certainly in relation to Brexit. But did you know that the prorogation of Parliament is also impacting family law?

Prorogation is the term used for the formal end of a parliamentary session. It halts nearly all parliamentary business, including most bills and all motions and parliamentary questions. Now this is important to us family lawyers, as there are two very significant family law bills currently going through Parliament. The first is the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which among other things aims to protect and support victims and their families, defines in law what constitutes domestic abuse, prohibits perpetrators from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts, provides for new draft Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Orders and so forth. The second is the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which aims to introduce a system of no-fault divorce.

Now as a result of the prorogation, the family law bills will either be abandoned, reintroduced from scratch in the next parliamentary session or carried over so that the scrutiny already taken place will not go to waste. Unfortunately, we now know that only three bills will be carried over, and they do not include the family law bills. This has caused a huge amount of upset to a number of people, particularly those who have spent years campaigning for reform.

In terms of what happens next, it is sincerely hoped that the government reintroduces the bills after Parliament returns on the 14 October, and indeed Women’s Aid have demanded a clear, public commitment that the draft Domestic Abuse Bill will be brought back. We are yet to receive such a commitment for either bill. If the bills are reintroduced, it is hoped that they will swiftly make their way through the legislative process, although this seems unlikely in light of the ongoing Brexit situation. Both bills are long overdue. In particular, the Domestic Abuse Bill needs implementing fast to protect victims of domestic abuse.

For now, we can only sit back and wait for the Queen’s speech, and take comfort in the comments of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who recently hinted that the draft Domestic Abuse Bill will be returning. Sadly the future of the draft Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is less clear.

If you are impacted by any of the issues highlighted in this blog or would like advice on family matters, click here to speak to a member of BLM’s family law team.

Yasmin Khan Gunns

Yasmin Khan-Gunns, Solicitor, BLM

Author: BLM

BLM is an insurance risk and commercial law firm with both a domestic and international focus. We now work with an increasing number of clients, across more lines of business, in more locations throughout the UK and Ireland as well as across the world, than ever before. Our philosophy is to deliver positive outcomes for our clients and help them make their businesses more successful. Fundamentally we are helping them to reduce the time and money spent on managing risk and resolving disputes, whilst offering a practical, commercial and solutions driven approach to non-contentious business law. Our transparency of purpose, flexible approach and teamwork has allowed BLM to grow, whilst keeping our clients at the heart of what we do. We have established a deep-rooted presence in the general insurance sector, the London Market and amongst brokers. We also have a significant presence among corporate businesses many of whom are multi-national, the public sector and the health and care industry. BLM is widely recognised in client surveys and legal directories as a firm with “its finger on the pulse of the market” and as a “technical powerhouse”. OUR VISION To be an agile and creative law business in our chosen markets of insurance and commerce OUR PROMISE We provide solutions that are clear and concise; deliver a service that is consistent and reliable; and build connected relationships that are strong and enduring OUR VALUES Teamwork - We are in it together to support, implement and achieve Courage - We have the strength to challenge the conventional, be confident in our actions and inspire along the way Focus - We ensure clarity of purpose, total commitment, delivering a positive impact

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