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Is Court Really Necessary for Settling Disputes Regarding Your Children?

on Thursday, 11 July 2019.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, recently reported that many court hearings involving children could easily be avoided, and that cuts to legal aid have resulted in more parents representing themselves.

The concern is that they are doing so without having the benefit of legal advice or representation which is then having a knock-on effect on the courts.

Sir Andrew McFarlane's Observations

He recently acknowledged that cuts to legal aid have led to more parents representing themselves in court. He went on to say that "what it means for the court is that the judges and magistrates are often having to interact with these individuals directly, and that’s a different skill set from interacting with a professional lawyer". This can mean that both court hearings and the court process can take considerably longer.

He also recommended a public education programme advising parents on how to parent after separating. He suggested that parents take full responsibility to sort their problems out, most specifically when there are children, for their children's benefit, and that they be educated about other ways of resolving their problems rather than using the Court forum.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

Whilst we appreciate that seeking legal advice can be expensive, navigating the legal process alone can be daunting. It can feel incredibly overwhelming when ultimately your actions in court can be the difference (in extreme cases) between seeing or not seeing your child.

With that in mind, we recommend that anyone who is experiencing issues with negotiating the arrangements for their children, should seek advice from a family solicitor before taking any steps towards litigation.

Whilst some people prefer to have a solicitor by their side every step of the way, this does not always have to be the case. We have worked on matters previously where our clients have primarily dealt with matters themselves, however, we have worked with them in the background to provide advice, help and guidance as and when required, and can step in if required. Our clients have found this approach to be both cost-effective and beneficial in terms of having an expert on hand as and when they need them.

Ultimately, the willingness of parents to negotiate and communicate effectively will determine how quickly an agreement is reached and determine whether the matter requires court intervention. Having the support and advice of a legal advisor from the outset can also have a great impact on how matters progress.

If you would like any further information on how we can help you deal with matters involving your children, please contact Sam Hickman on 0117 314 5435 or Lucy Barr on 0121 227 3715, or complete the form below.


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