Q&As

A party has been diagnosed with dementia and has been assessed by health care professionals as still having capacity to give instructions regarding divorce proceedings, but would find attending court very difficult. Could measures be put in place so that they do not have to attend court? Can a litigation friend be appointed even where a party still has capacity?

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Produced in partnership with Tori Adams of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 11/09/2019

The following Family Q&A Produced in partnership with Tori Adams of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A party has been diagnosed with dementia and has been assessed by health care professionals as still having capacity to give instructions regarding divorce proceedings, but would find attending court very difficult. Could measures be put in place so that they do not have to attend court? Can a litigation friend be appointed even where a party still has capacity?

It is usually the case in court proceedings that both parties will be present in court, however there is guidance in the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955, Pt 3A and FPR 2010, PD 3AA as to participation of vulnerable persons in proceedings and giving evidence.

FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 3A.4 provides that the court must consider whether a party’s participation in proceedings is likely to be diminished by reason of vulnerability. If it considers that it is, the court will consider the views expressed by the party who is vulnerable and can potentially give participation directions. There are a number of circumstances the court must have regard to when deciding whether to make participation directions, including whether the party suffers from a mental or physical disorder. Further guidance is given under FPR 2010, PD 3AA, including that the court should consider the ability of the party or witness to attend the hearing without significant distress.

If a court does decide to give participation directions, measures can be taken as set out in FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 3A.8, ie to:

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