– commences hearingsThe much anticipated Family Court has finally commenced operations and is currently hearing cases.Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, announced on Tuesday in statement that the Family Division of the High Court has been established and began hearing cases since May 6, 2016.It has been almost five years since the Family Court building was completed and handed over to Government. Works were ongoing for over seven years to have the Family Court established and in operation, but this was been constantly delayed over the past years.For almost a year, the delays were blamed on the acquisition of furniture and the hosting of Commissions of Inquiries (CoIs) at the building, located in the compound of the Georgetown Supreme Court, overlooking King Street.Then more recently, revision of the Rules of Law had caused the opening to push back. However, in February, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams had laid over the completed Rules of Law, which will govern the practices and procedures of the Family Court. The rules were completed a while ago but some “necessary amendments” had to be made.The Chancellor acknowledged the numerous hurdles that had beset the functioning of the facility, noting that the Supreme Court will treat those as lessons learnt.The Family Court will hear and determine all proceedings which touch and concern family matters. The procedure of the Family Court will be governed by the Family (Proceedings and Procedure) Rules 2016 (FPPR).The main applications that could be made to the Court are for divorce, custody and access, division of property, maintenance, guardianship, parentage orders including paternity orders, protection of children, wardship, variation of an existing order and breach of orders. The Court is meant to encourage dispute resolution, including alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and therefore will facilitate a participatory approach to problem solving so that family disputes can be dealt with justly and expeditiously while ensuring the welfare of family members, especially children.The Family Court will be presided over by two judges. However, the FPPR will be applied by Judges who are assigned to the Berbice and Essequibo jurisdictions of the High Court where the Court shall receive and hear applications at the New Amsterdam and Suddie High Courts respectively.The Court has its own registry for receiving applications in family matters and includes a child friendly space in the form of a Children’s Waiting Room for parties who are required to attend the Court. The well trained staff of this new registry are geared to provide a customer friendly process for persons who attend at the registry and the Court.The Court will work in close liaison with the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) in matters affecting the welfare of children. In addition, it is expected that parties to family court matters will utilise the Mediation Centre of the High Court.Justice Singh expressed appreciation to the Government of Guyana; the United Nations Children’s Fund; the Government and people of Canada, as well as its diplomatic representatives in Georgetown, for the support readily given to the training of Judges and support staff in the anticipated work of the Family Court.