Last year the Government ran a consultation seeking views, particularly from family justice professionals and mediation service providers, on resolving private family disputes earlier through family mediation.


The consultation proposed supporting parents to resolve family matters without court involvement, including pre-court parenting programs and compulsory mediation attempts. Encouraging mediation before court application was another proposal, promoting amicable resolution for individuals involved in family matters. Those avoiding reasonable mediation efforts could face penalties, including covering part/all of the legal costs of the other party.

The Government has now published its response to the consultation.

No compulsory mediation

The central proposal in the consultation was the introduction of the compulsory mediation requirement, in appropriate cases.

But the Government has decided against introducing such a requirement.

The Government proposed exemptions to mandatory mediation, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse, seeking feedback on the proposal.

However, many respondents to the consultation were concerned that the proposed exemptions would not be enough to adequately protect survivors of domestic abuse from being required to attend mediation when it is not suitable or safe for them. An example of this is where they do not fully realise that they have experienced domestic abuse.

In the light of these responses the Government has decided not to introduce the requirement “at this time”.

Mediation bolstered 

The Government is enhancing mediator roles in dispute resolution by improving domestic abuse screening and mediator training.

The Government aims to encourage mediators to provide child-inclusive mediation and increase the uptake of this service among families. One barrier to this which was mentioned in response to the consultation was that some mediators have been unable to apply for the enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, to provide some assurance to families that they are safe and can be trusted to carry out child-inclusive mediation. The Government is therefore working with the Family Mediation Council to develop guidance for mediators to help them access this service and ensure they can apply for the enhanced DBS check. They aim to boost child-inclusive mediation by providing guidance, ensuring a safe and secure process for families and mediators.

The Government pledges ongoing support for the Mediation Voucher Scheme, offering £500 towards eligible cases’ mediation costs. By March 2025, the Government’s £23.6 million investment will aid 24,600 families, resolving issues without resorting to court.

Early legal advice for parents 

Many respondents to the consultation considered that the lack of free, publicly funded, family law legal advice was a barrier to early dispute resolution, saying that providing funded access to early legal advice would improve the information available to parents, allowing them to make better informed decisions about their dispute, and potentially leading to improved outcomes for parents and their children.

Government plans pilot for tailored legal advice aiding parents facing challenges in child arrangements, aiming to support effective resolution. The pilot, which the Government plans to launch in specific regions in England and Wales by summer 2024, will seek to demonstrate the benefits of high-quality legal advice for families looking to resolve their issues through the courts and, where court is deemed necessary, better prepare them for the court process.


Government pilot to evaluate impact of funded early legal advice, aiming to expedite dispute resolution and court-based solutions.

Lastly, the Government has announced that it will expand its ‘pathfinder’ courts pilot. Pathfinder courts in Dorset and North Wales pilot an investigative, child-centred approach, reducing adversarial procedures and enhancing support for parties.

The Government says that the pilot will be extended to South-East Wales and Birmingham in April and June 2024 respectively and then, subject to the findings of an evaluation and decisions at the next Spending Review, it intends to roll out the new approach to all courts in England and Wales.  

How can we help?

For further information on how we can help, please see our Family Mediation page.

Walker Family Law is an award-winning family law practice, recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law mediationdivorce lawchild-law and arbitration.

Please contact us if you require any further information.

We wrote here back in September 2022 about the scourge of delay in court proceedings concerning children, with particular reference to private law proceedings between parents regarding arrangements for their children.

Sadly, the latest statistics show that the scourge of delay in child proceedings, (and in private law children proceedings and public law children proceedings) (i.e. proceedings involving the local authority)) has not gone away.

In fact, the problem in relation to private law proceedings has hardly improved at all.

Crisis in the family justice system

In December the Ministry of Justice published its latest quarterly statistics for the Family Court, for the period July to September 2023. The statistics showed that in that period it took on average 45 weeks for private law cases to reach a final order, i.e. case closure.

In September 2022 we reported that such cases were taking an average of 46 weeks to reach a final order. That was the highest value since 2014, when the quarterly Family Court statistics were first published.

The Law Society, the representative body for solicitors, warned that the statistics “show a growing crisis in the family justice system”.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “There were more than 80,000 children caught up in the family backlogs last year. We are seeing similar numbers this year. It is unacceptable that thousands of children are waiting almost a year to find out who they will be living with long-term because of delays in the family court system.

“Delayed justice can cause significant harm to the wellbeing of both children and parents by preventing them from having the stability they need to thrive. Research shows that children involved in private law proceedings are more likely to experience depression and anxiety.”

Negative impact on children

The latest Family Court statistics did not include data for the timeliness of public law cases.

However, such data was included in the annual report and accounts of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (‘Cafcass’, which looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings), which were published in December.

The report covers the year to March 2023, and shows that in the final quarter of that year (January to March 2023) the average length of public law care and supervision proceedings was 46 weeks, which was 10 weeks longer than reported for the same period in 2020.

It should of course be noted that the Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a requirement that public law proceedings should be completed within 26 weeks, a target that is clearly not being met in very many cases.

Cafcass says that delays “continue to have a negative impact on children”, and that: “Delay for children as a result of longer case durations is now the single most pressing issue for the family justice system.”

Cafcass reports that it has prioritised reducing delay, although an Ofsted inspection of Cafcass in January 2023 concluded that delayed proceedings in most instances are outside of Cafcass’ control, citing a range of reasons, including a lack of court time, constrained court administrative capacity and local authority delays.

What can be done to reduce delay?

Sadly, there is little that families involved in public law proceedings can do to reduce delay in their cases. As Ofsted indicated, the answer primarily lies with providing greater resources for courts and local authorities.

But whilst similar considerations apply regarding court resources in private law proceedings, parents involved in such proceedings are able to take steps to reduce delays.

For one thing they can ensure that they comply with the timetable set by the court, in particular for filing evidence.

But they can also avoid court proceedings entirely, by seeking an out of court solution, for example via family mediation, collaborative family law or arbitration. Resolving matters out of court will not only be quicker for them, but will also of course reduce the pressure on the court system for others.

How can we help?

For further information on how we can help, please see our Expertise pages.

Walker Family Law is an award-winning family law practice, recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law mediationdivorce lawchild-law and arbitration.

Please contact us if you require any further information.

As is well known, the primary piece of legislation concerning the law relating to children is the Children Act 1989. But there has since been other legislation passed in relation to children law, including legislation that amends the Children Act itself. One such piece of legislation, and one of the most important since 1989, is the Children and Families Act 2014 (‘the 2014 Act’).

The 2014 Act is a lengthy statute, running to 140 sections and seven schedules. While we can’t cover all details here, the Act significantly impacted arrangements for children, addressing three crucial aspects.

Compulsory MIAMs

It has long been recognised that family issues should best be resolved out of court, preferably by agreement.

Since the 1990s, mediation has been recognized as one of the most effective methods for couples to reach agreement.

The problem is that many couples are not aware of mediation, or that their case is suitable for mediation.

In about 2011 this was recognised by the introduction of Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings, or ‘MIAMs’ for short.

The MIAM informs the couple about mediation and assesses the suitability of their case for this process.

But initially attendance at a MIAM was not compulsory.

The 2014 Act changed that by stating that anyone wishing to make an application to the family court must first attend a MIAM, unless they are exempt from doing so, for example because they have been a victim of domestic abuse.

Presumption of parental involvement

One of the more controversial reforms of the 2014 Act was an amendment to the Children Act.

The amendment introduced a requirement that, when considering an application to the court in relation to a child, the court must presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the involvement of both parents in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare.

The reason that this was somewhat controversial is that it didn’t go as far as some people wanted. In some quarters, particularly those interested in fathers’ rights, it was argued that there should be a presumption that the child should spend equal time with each parent, unless there was a good reason why this should be so.

But the presumption of parental involvement didn’t say that. In reality, it is commonly believed that it had minimal impact on the courts’ decisions concerning children.

Child arrangements orders

The last change in the 2014 Act that we want to mention is perhaps the most significant.

Again, this change amended the Children Act.

The Children Act introduced the terms ‘residence’ and ‘contact’, to replace the old terms ‘custody’ and ‘access’, which were considered to be outdated, particularly the word ‘custody’, which inappropriately implied physical ‘ownership’ of a child.

By 2014, the terms ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ were deemed outdated, with ‘residence’ implying a higher status for the parent with the order. It was thought that this perceived status made it more difficult for parents to resolve matters by agreement.

The Children and Families Act 2014 replaced ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders with the ‘child arrangements order’ in the Children Act.

A child arrangements order regulates with whom a child lives, spends time, and has contact, specifying when these arrangements occur.

Thus what was once called a ‘residence order’ is commonly referred to as a ‘lives with’ order. The term ‘contact’, still present in the definition of a child arrangements order, is commonly used for the non-residential parent.

How can we help?

For further information on how we can help, please see our Expertise pages.

Walker Family Law is an award-winning family law practice, recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law mediationdivorce lawchild-law and arbitration.

Please contact us if you require any further information.

It goes without saying that family law-related issues should be resolved by agreement if possible, rather than through the courts. But often the parties need help to reach agreement. This is where family mediation comes in. Family mediation is a voluntary process of assisted negotiation, where an independent, professionally trained, mediator helps couples resolve issues. Family mediation typically involves a number of meetings between the couple and the mediator. So what happens at a mediation meeting?

Before we answer that we should briefly mention another type of meeting related to mediation: the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, or MIAM for short.

MIAMs

Before making an application to the court all applicants must first attend a MIAM, unless they are exempt.

The MIAM is a first meeting with a mediator, to explain how mediation works, and to assess whether the case is suitable for mediation. If the case is assessed as being suitable then the couple can decide whether they want it to be referred to mediation.

Essentially, the MIAM aims to inform those considering court action about mediation’s existence and assess its suitability for their case.

What happens at a mediation meeting?

Mediation meetings can involve the couple and the mediator meeting face to face in the same room. They can also take place as an online meeting. It is even possible for the couple to be in separate rooms, if that is preferred.

Exactly what happens at a mediation meeting will vary from one case to another, and will depend upon the type of issue that needs resolution – an issue relating to arrangements for children or an issue relating to finances and property on separation or divorce.


Generally, the mediator assists the couple in identifying agreed matters and resolving issues that require further discussion and resolution.

The meetings are entirely confidential.

Note that even if the mediator is a lawyer they will not provide legal advice, save to indicate in general whether a proposed solution is likely to be approved by the court.

The mediator will however indicate to the parties when they might need independent advice upon a particular matter. (Note that the parties can take legal advice at any time during the mediation process.)

In the course of the meetings the mediator will seek to ensure that both parties have an equal say, and that any proposed solution is fair to both parties and any children involved.

If the meetings lead to an agreement, the mediator documents it and provides each party with a copy. Note that the agreement is not legally binding, but can be incorporated into a binding court order, if appropriate.

And if the mediation is not entirely successful, the mediator will provide the couple with a written summary of the outstanding matters, and what action the couple should take next.

How long does mediation take?

There are no hard and fast rules as to how long the mediation process will take. The duration depends on the specific case, including the issues and their complexity.

In general, however, the process might typically involve three to five meetings, each lasting between one and two hours.

The meetings will usually be spread over a number of weeks, although more complex cases may take several months.

Note that mediation concerning finances and property may take longer, as the couple will need to make full disclosure of their finances before the mediation can proceed, so that both parties and the mediator know exactly what is involved.

For more information about family mediation, and how we can help, visit our family mediation page.

How can we help?

For further information on how we can help, please see our Expertise pages.

Walker Family Law is an award-winning family law practice, recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law & mediationdivorce lawchild-law and arbitration.

Please contact us if you require any further information.

The 16th to the 23rd of January is Family Mediation Week 2023. Family Mediation Week is organised by the Family Mediation Council (‘FMC’), a not-for-profit organisation that maintains a professional register of family mediators. Its aim is to raise awareness of family mediation and to highlight the advantages of mediation for separating families.advantages of mediation

Our Family Mediators are Lisa Holden and Ian Walker, both of whom are accredited to provide Family Mediation by the FMC.

So, what exactly is Family Mediation, and what are its advantages?

What is Family Mediation?

The first thing to note is that mediation is nothing to do with reconciliation. This is a common misconception, probably caused by the similarity of the two words. Mediation is for resolving problems after it has become clear that the relationship has ended.

Mediation is a way of resolving disputes over arrangements for children or finances following the end of a relationship, without having to ask a court to decide the matter.

Mediation is a process where the dispute is referred to a trained mediator, who will mediate between the parties, to help them resolve the dispute by agreement.

Mediation is purely voluntary – it will only take place if both parties agree, and will stop if either party wishes to withdraw from the process.

The process will usually involve one or more face-to-face meetings, and if agreement can be reached the mediator will prepare a written summary of the agreement at the end of the process. The agreement may then need to be incorporated into a court order.

The mediator cannot provide legal advice to the parties, but the parties may seek legal advice of their own, at any stage of the process.

Mediation does involve a fee, but legal aid is available, subject to means.

The Advantages of Mediation

Mediation has many advantages over going to court, including:

Less conflict and stress – Using an adversarial process, contested family court proceedings can greatly increase the conflict between the parties, and be extremely stressful for all concerned, including any children. Mediation, on the other hand, helps to reduce conflict, and is far less stressful.

Improves communication – Mediation encourages the parties to deal with each other, which can lead to long-term improvement in the way that they communicate. This is especially beneficial where there are children, as obviously the parties may need to communicate with one another for years to come.

Quicker and simpler – The mediation process is much quicker than going through court. Contested family court proceedings relating to child arrangements, for example, are currently taking 45 weeks on average. Mediation will usually take much less than that. And the process is far simpler than the complicated process involved in court proceedings.

Cheaper – As mentioned above, mediation does involve a fee, but it is still going to be very much cheaper than contested court proceedings.

Flexible – Court proceedings involve a set timetable, imposed by the court. In mediation, on the other hand, the process is entirely flexible, with the parties setting the agenda, for example as to how many meetings will be involved, and when they will take place.

The result you want – Mediation is all about resolving disputes by agreement. This means that you will get the result you want, rather than have the court impose a decision that neither party may want.

Private – Lastly, the mediation process is completely private and confidential. You do not have to ‘air your dirty linen’ in a courtroom, or risk confidential information being made public.

In short, if you are involved in a family dispute in connection with arrangements for your children or sorting out finances on divorce then you should give very serious consideration to referring the dispute to mediation, rather than going to court.

Ian Walker Family Law & Mediation Solicitors are award-winning family solicitors and are recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law & mediation, divorce, child law, and arbitration. For expert advice, please contact the team.

Next week, 28 November to 2 December, is ‘Good Divorce Week 2022’. As specialist divorce lawyers, we’re delving into what Good Divorce Week is all about and why an out of court divorce settlement might be the right route for many married couples looking to separate.

What is a Good Divorce?

Consideration for an Out of Court Divorce Settlement

Good Divorce Week is an annual awareness campaign run by Resolution, the community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve

issues in a constructive way. All of our lawyers are members of Resolution and subscribe to the Resolution Code of Practice.

The term ‘Good Divorce’ may seem rather contradictory. After all, how can the breakdown of a marriage possibly be considered a good thing?

Well, the campaign isn’t really to do with the breakdown of the marriage. Rather, it is to do with how the parties go about dissolving the marriage, and dealing with any issues that arise, in particular regarding arrangements for children and finances.

The aim of the campaign is to encourage divorcing couples to resolve those issues in a way that reduces conflict, thereby in turn reducing the costs involved (both physical and psychological) for all concerned especially, of course, the children.

In short, divorce doesn’t have to be a lengthy, expensive and stressful process.

And each year the campaign has a particular focus, related to the aim of the campaign. This year the focus is to highlight the crisis in the family courts and raise awareness of all the different ways families can resolve their disputes away from Court – where it is safe and appropriate to do so – and how Resolution members guide families through that process.

Why Consider an Out of Court Divorce Settlement?

For some time now the family courts have been in crisis, in terms of the huge caseload they are having to deal with, which in turn means cases are taking much longer than they should.

Only this month HM Courts & Tribunals Service published shocking figures regarding the backlog of cases in the family court, which now tops 110,000 cases.

The figures showed that the number of open private law cases (i.e. family cases not involving social services) stood at 85,706 in August, and that the average time for these cases to be dealt with was 43 weeks.

And for public law cases (i.e. children cases involving social services) the delays are even worse. In August 24,719 such cases were outstanding, and the average time for them to be completed was 45 weeks (it should be remembered that public law cases are supposed to take no longer than 26 weeks).

Clearly, as Resolution are suggesting, these figures provide even more reason for divorcing couples to resolve their disputes out of court. But how exactly is that done?

Ian Walker Director/Solicitor/Mediator /Arbitrator Law Society Children Panel and Mediation Accredited
Ian Walker Director/Solicitor/Mediator /Arbitrator Law Society Children Panel and Mediation Accredited

How to Settle Divorce Out of Court

The simplest way to resolve a family dispute out of court is of course to settle it by agreement with the other party.

But sadly, that is not always possible, even when a constructive, non-confrontational, approach is adopted.

So if you can’t agree matters direct with your (former) spouse, what other out-of-court options do you have?

Well quite a few, actually.

You could, for example, try Family Mediation, where both parties agree to refer their dispute to a trained mediator, who will assist them to discuss and resolve the issues that they wish to resolve. We offer a Family Mediation service, or can advise you throughout the process if your matter is referred to a mediator elsewhere.

Another option is Collaborative Family Law, which is a sort of cross between Mediation and traditional Solicitor/Solicitor meetings. Again, we offer a Collaborative Family Law service, helping and advising you throughout the process.

A further option is Arbitration. Arbitration is a process whereby the parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint a suitably qualified person (an “arbitrator”) to adjudicate a dispute and make an award, which is legally binding. Once again, we offer an Arbitration service for children disputes, or can advise and assist you through the process if your matter is referred to an arbitrator elsewhere.

Furthermore, for anyone going through separation or divorce, our Divorce Support Club is a free service aimed at helping people who may be finding the process overwhelming. Within the Divorce Support Club, you’ll find information across a wealth of topics to help guide you through your own situation.

Ian Walker Divorce Lawyer Photo headshotHow can I find a good divorce lawyer?

I have been a Divorce Solicitor/Divorce Lawyer since I qualified as a solicitor in 1992.

In 2013 I founded my own practice. We now have offices in Exeter, Honiton, Taunton and Weston-Super-Mare. We also have consulting rooms in Bridgwater and Yeovil. We will shortly be opening a further office in Torquay.

When I founded Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors it was just myself and a computer. In the space of a little over six years we have grown into a team of nine divorce lawyers/family solicitors. We are now one of the most experienced family law teams in Devon and Somerset.

When marriages break down

The breakdown of a marriage is a sad and emotionally challenging time. Each of the couple will have entered the marriage with the best of intentions. Each will have hoped that the marriage would last. Sadly, too many marriages end in failure.

There are all sorts of reasons for this. Couples grow apart or find that over time they become incompatible. Sometimes one of the couple will become abusive. Sometimes the pressures of life are just too much, and each will pull in different directions.

It is often the case that one of the couple concludes that the marriage has broken down irretrievably before the other. They may have grieved the end of the relationship and made plans to move on before the other is aware. This can mean that when the difficulties come to a head that one of the couple is in a very different place emotionally to the other.

It is not unusual for one or both of the couple to have feelings of anger, betrayal, sadness, grief, depression at the breakdown of a marriage. One or both may well have anxieties about what the future will hold.

Child doing jigsaw - divorce lawyerIf the situation is difficult for the adults, it is often much worse for their children. At least the adults have some control over what happens next. Children are often caught in the middle between parents and have their own uncertainties and anxieties about what the future will hold and why mum and dad no longer get on.

The importance of a good divorce lawyer

Divorce has legal implications. Marriage is a legally binding contract. Ending the marriage involves obtaining a court order – the Decree Absolute. Achieving a clean break or other financial settlement also involves obtaining a court order. These court orders should be obtained.

Where child arrangements are concerned a court order can also be obtained to determine what the child arrangements should be. Such a court order will give certainty, but it is not the best outcome.

The best outcome for children and their parents is that the child arrangements should be agreed between their parents and that these should be reasonable and flexible and where both parents support the child’s relationship with the other parent and the parents work together and communicate well. This is often easier said than done.

When someone chooses a divorce lawyer – they want to achieve fairer outcomes and they do not want to make a difficult situation worse.

A good divorce lawyer should be able to assist their clients to make good choices and to help support them through a difficult time in their lives in a way which is as painless as possible – both emotionally and financially.

What do I need to look out for when finding a good divorce lawyer?

I would say that there are several things that you need to think about when looking for a good divorce lawyer.

Negotiation skills

Going to court over child arrangements or about financial arrangements can be very expensive and never helped anyone get on better with each other.

Most financial settlements are achieved through negotiation. The best arrangements for children are also achieved through negotiation. Therefore, you should look for a solicitor who is able to demonstrate their negotiation skills. Ways in which this can objectively be demonstrated are by the solicitor being qualified as a mediator or collaborative family lawyer or if they work within a team where good negotiation is clearly embedded in the firm’s DNA.

Negotiation choices

It is not good enough in this day and age simply to say that our default position is to make an application to the court and to negotiate – essentially at the door of the court.

In financial cases, negotiation cannot really start until financial disclosure has taken place – but there are choices about how the negotiation might be conducted. The skill of the lawyer is to assist their clients in finding the best process for them.

Mediation

We are supportive of mediation. This involves referring the client to third party mediator (or one of our mediators acting neutrally for the couple) and providing legal advice in support of the mediation process. With mediation the couple will negotiate themselves – but are supported in doing so.

This is a good option but is not the right thing for everyone. Sometimes one of the couple will find the other overpowering and sometimes one or both of the couple will have difficulty saying yes to what is a reasonable final outcome (in part because they are in the habit of saying no to each other). Mediation works best where there is a confidence in each of the couple and they understand what they need and what the other needs and are prepared to make compromises.

Our team includes experienced mediators in both myself and my colleague David Howell Richardson. We encourage the use of mediation by the rest of our team.

Divorce lawyers meetingCollaborative family law

A better process is in our view collaborative family law. This is an out-of-court process – because the couple make a commitment to negotiate solutions without going to court. The collaborative law process proceeds through a series of confidential meetings. The core participants are the couple and their collaboratively trained lawyers. Additional professionals such as accountants or financial planners or child consultants can be brought into the meetings and work with the couple parallel to the meetings in order to assist the problem-solving approach. We think that this is the best process. Both of the couple are supported by their solicitor and disagreements between professionals can be talked through so that the couple are better able to make pragmatic decisions.

Within our team, both myself and my colleague Fiona Griffin are collaborative family lawyers. I was one of the first to train as a collaborative lawyer in Devon and Somerset back in 2005.

Young girl surfing in DevonFinding the best outcome

Progressive practice means recognising that negotiations sometimes don’t get all the way to a final agreement. However, combining mediation or collaborative family law with arbitration is away to bridge any final gaps. Arbitration is another form of dispute resolution where a couple choose to instruct a private judge called an arbitrator to determine any outstanding issues in a way that is legally binding. This process fits well with mediation and collaborative family law.

Both mediation and collaborative family law are talking solutions. This is particularly important when there are children. The best outcome for children require parents to continue to talk to each other. Negotiating and agreeing solutions together should improve outcomes for a couple’s children.

Talking processes can be difficult at first – because of underlying emotions and a lack of trust, but the rewards of success should normally mean that these difficulties should be embraced and overcome (which is why in our view collaborative law is better – because the couple are better supported)

Experience

Experience is important – but is not the be all and end all. Practitioners can get into bad habits or become set in their ways. They may have been reluctant to embrace mediation or collaborative family law because they think that court-based solutions are the only solutions.

A younger solicitor with less year’s post qualification experience may be more committed to progressive practice than an older solicitor.

Nothing should be taken for granted. All I can say is that within my team I demand a commitment to progressive practice from everyone.

The divorce puzzle Panel membership

Family law solicitors are accredited by the Law Society and by resolution. Both have robust accreditation schemes. Having a panel membership is a way of demonstrating expertise and competence. These do not necessarily demonstrate a commitment to progressive practice – but they are a factor which should be taken into consideration.

Transparency about costs

The days are long gone when clients should not expect to have a straightforward conversation with their solicitor about costs.

In 2018 the Solicitors Regulation Authority introduced a requirement that solicitors provide some transparency over pricing. The requirements were limited and only applied to a small number of types of work/processes. It is often hard to find the required information on firm’s websites.

We have always been open about our charge rates. We have always published our base charge rates on our website. Few firms do this. We do not understand why there should be any mystery.

We also recognise that as well as transparency clients want pricing choices. We are very open to working to fixed fees and two other pricing options. Getting fixed fees right is important and this is not something that can really be done properly at an initial meeting. This is because until contact is made with the other party – and there is greater clarity over what needs to be done – and what process will be used to try and achieve an outcome – there are too many unknowns. What we can do is commit that as soon as the situation becomes clearer – we will offer a client a range of pricing choices from proceeding based on hourly rates as well as fixed fee choices.

Meeting with a divorce lawyerClient experience and technology

We recognise that the world around us is evolving and the technology through which we deliver our service is better than it was five years ago and much better than it was 10 or 15 years ago.

We have recently adopted a client engagement tool which also sits on our website. This enables clients to provide us with a lot of information prior to their initial meeting with us. In the past the first half-hour of a meeting with a client would have involved asking lots of questions. This time can now be reduced – so that more time can be spent talking about the issues and options from the outset.

This is just one thing that we do. We do however recognise that some clients want to be able to undertake some tasks themselves – in order to keep costs down. We are very happy to have an open discussion with the client about who does what – when it comes to scoping out the work to be undertaken by us.

Another thing that we do is her that we subscribe to the best family law practice support service – which provides us with an extensive library and database and practice support tools which would have been unimaginable (and completely unaffordable) 15 years or so ago.

Whilst we are happy to share some of what we do in a post – there are other things which we will share with a potential client after they have made contact.

But the bottom line is that best practice for service delivery doesn’t stand still and good family law solicitors/good divorce lawyers will move with the times

Prizes and awards

Some firms invest heavily in public relations and enter the ever-increasing number of awards that are around. These awards are not necessarily judged by practitioners or relevant practitioners and certainly there are many firms that don’t enter or don’t have the time to enter.

As our practice has been growing, we have invested our time in other matters which we believe are more worthwhile – such as achieving the Law Society Lexcel Practice Management Accreditation. This is not an award based on a 1000 word also submission but where our practice is independently audited over two or more days to an extensive standard set by the law society. We would take the view that this is a better measure.

Making the choice

Ultimately you need to find someone that you can work with and have a rapport with.

To assist potential clients, know who we are – we have included on our website short video clips so that you have the chance to meet us on video before you meet us in person. We hope this How can I find a good divorce lawyer article has helped with your search.

If you have more questions about how to choose a good divorce solicitor you can see some common FAQ’s over on this page

If you would like to know more about us and to meet one of our team in person then please use the contact form below.


Contact a Good Divorce Lawyer in our team

 

 

Error: Contact form not found.

Rights of Women

Rights of Women is a women’s voluntary organisation committed to informing, educating and empowering women concerning their legal rights.

The organisation is based in London and was founded in 1975. They seek to influence policy by undertaking original research, preparing responses to policy documents from Government and other sources. Rights of Women  organise conferences on women’s rights, and hold public meetings. They want women’s voices heard at every stage of public policy formulation.

In addition Rights of Women  offer free confidential legal advice to women on through their own advice line. Their website contains a lot of useful information and a link can be found here; Link to Rights of Women Website

Challenging the rules restricting Legal Aid

Rights of Women were recently successful in being granted permission to challenge the evidence requirements often referred to as the ‘domestic violence gateway’ to legal aid in many private family law cases.

The Law Society has supported their challenge (brought by the Public Law Project on their behalf) over the lawfulness of Government changes to legal aid which are preventing victims of domestic abuse from getting legal aid for family cases, even when it is clear there has been violence, or there is an ongoing risk of violence. Rights of Women argue that this is not what parliament intended.

A full hearing is expected before the end of the year

(more…)

Are we the right Family Law Solicitors or Family Mediators for you?

What follows is a short piece which formed the basis of our Advert in East Devon’s Midweek Herald Newspaper in January 2014.

We regularly advertise in the Midweek Herald because it is a free newspaper that is delivered to homes in Honiton, Seaton, Axminster, Colyton, Beer and Ottery St Mary. It can also be found in Sidmouth. Our main office is in Honiton, although we are also able to see clients by appointment at our branch offices in Exeter and Taunton, so the Midweek Herald is a natural place to advertise. As an East Devon resident, Ian has been reading the Midweek Herald for quite a number of years.

Family Law and Mediation Experts in East Devon

Ian Walker has been a specialist Family Law Solicitor since 1992 and a Family Mediator since 1996. Ian has worked for Solicitors Practices recognised as amongst the best in the South West. Ian has a long commitment to good Practice and has served as a Member of the Family Law Committee of the Law Society, which promotes good practice and Law Reform. (more…)

Reception at Exeter County Court on 4th December 2013

This is a quick post to say thanks to all those who made our Mediation reception at Exeter County Court such a success.

Thank you to His Honour Judge Tyzack QC for his kind and encouraging words to us all. Thanks to District Judges Arnold and Waterworth for their time and support.

It was brilliant to see so many friends.

It was really great that everything came together so nicely. Whilst it was my idea, the workload was shared between is.

The Mediation Services who took part were; (more…)