21st May 2024

The Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2023

The Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2023 came into force in April 2024, with the primary aim of encouraging early non-court dispute resolution (NCDR) in the vast majority of private family matters.

The changes seek to ensure that save in certain circumstances (where there are domestic violence or child protection concerns) the parties make reasonable attempts to mediate and try to reach an amicable agreement, with an application to the Court being a last resort.

According to the figures published on the government website, every year, approximately 55,000 families end up in protracted Court proceedings which can add further stress, anxiety, costs, and delay to the already difficult task of resolving the child arrangements or division of finances upon separation.

The Courts are to now take a more robust approach to encouraging NCDR, and have a duty to consider, at every stage in the proceedings, whether NCDR is appropriate. Further, there is an expectation that the parties explore NCDR alternatives to litigation in the family Court.

The key changes provided by the amended FPRs include:-

  • The parties are to complete a form (at least 7 days before the first hearing in financial remedy proceedings and private law children proceedings) clearly setting out their views on NCDR.
  • The Court can (without the parties’ agreement) encourage them to undertake NCDR where the Court timetable allows sufficient time to do so (r3.4(1A). The Court also has general powers to adjourn proceedings specifically for that purpose (r4.1).
  • In financial remedies cases, where the parties have failed, without good reason, to engage in NCDR, the Court can depart from the general starting point that there should be “no order as to costs” (r.28.3(7)). i.e there could be costs implications of not trying to resolve matters through NCDR.

There are various forms of NCDR including mediation, arbitration, collaborative law or evaluation by a neutral third party (such as a Private FDR – Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing). You can see more detail on these on our website at:


We can of course discuss and advise you on the various ways of resolving matters without an application to the Court, and which form of NCDR may be most appropriate for your specific needs and the nature of your case.

There will always be some cases where, in the circumstances, there is no alternative to Court, for example where there are significant domestic violence issues or a non-compliant opponent requiring Court direction to provide relevant financial disclosure. However, it remains to be seen whether the new rules will bring a culture change in positively exploring NCDR and thus reduce the number of cases stuck “in limbo” waiting for the Court’s determination.

Our team of family lawyers are experienced in resolving matters amicably and members of Resolution, an organisation which promotes a non-confrontational approach to family cases.  If you are seeking advice in this area, please do get in touch with Emily Bower on 01730 268211. Your call will be completely confidential.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.