Previously only sitting magistrates with over two years’ experience could apply for the role.
Following a sift of applications, suitable candidates will be invited for interview during July or August.
Family magistrates hear cases involving the welfare and upbringing of children and make decisions about whether children should be removed from their parents and placed in foster care, or ultimately for adoption.
They also hear the majority of disputes between separated parents about their children, and will encourage parents to agree the arrangements for their children if they do not live together. They may also enforce child maintenance orders and can make orders to prevent domestic abuse such as non-molestation orders.
Chair of the Advisory Committee, David Laing, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, said: “Decisions made in the Family Court can have a profound effect on the children involved so the role of Family magistrates is both highly responsible and deeply rewarding.
“There is no such thing as the ‘right sort of person’ to be a magistrate.
“We hope that people from a wide range of backgrounds who care about helping young people in their communities will consider applying.”
Magistrates will be selected and recommended for appointment solely on merit by the Advisory Committee for Northamptonshire, Leicestershire & Rutland and Lincolnshire, the public body responsible for interviewing candidates and responsible for recommendation for appointment to the Lord Chief Justice.
Applications are welcome from any person who meets the eligibility criteria and who believes they have the following six key qualities:-
• Good character
• Understanding and communication
• Social awareness
• Maturity and sound temperament
• Sound judgement
• Commitment and reliability
Applicants do not need any formal qualifications or legal training: magistrates get full training for the role and sit with a specially trained legal adviser as well as independent assistance from a family court adviser or children’s guardian.
For further information and application forms, visit www.gov.uk/become-magistrate/apply-to-be-a-magistrate.
Family courts are held in private but information including videos is available online at www.advicenow.org.uk/going-family-court
The next recruitment period for magistrates to the Criminal Court will open in September 2020.