The Times recently published an article ‘Avoid courts to lessen the pain of family break-ups‘ quoting “We need to move away from legal disputes for separating families to help to build better relationships and cause less harm”. It also mentions the report by The Family Solutions Group and touches upon those recommendations.
The message emanating from the recommendations of the report by The Family Solutions Group is that the family courts are stretched beyond their limits. The adversarial legal system is failing many families particularly children. The group was set up by Mr Justice Cobb with a remit to consider the needs of separating families particularly before they turn to the courts. The country’s most senior Family Law Judge and President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane has endorsed the recommendations of the recent report. Family disputes, particularly those involving children, should not automatically be considered to be legal disputes.
Moore Barlow’s Karen Barham is a member of the multi-disciplinary group and her proposal to direct cases away from the courts is one of the recommendations of the report – “What about me?” – Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation. With its broad and deep expertise in working with separated families the group was tasked with bringing a new focus to improve the experiences of separating families including directing them away from the courts where it is safe to do so. Karen’s proposal for a Protocol of Part 3 of the existing Family Procedure Rules would do this. She goes further by seeking an amendment of the Rules thereby increasing the court’s power to order a case into a non-court process with costs orders being made against parties and/or their lawyers for failing to properly consider or engage in an out-of-court process (pages 159-163 of the report).
Every year around 280,000 children see their parents separate in the UK. How those separations are handled will affect the rest of their lives. All of Moore Barlow’s family law department are members of Resolution. This requires them to follow a Code of Practice and adopt constructive approaches designed to resolve issues rather than ‘add fuel to the fire’.
The department comprises a team of 14 (plus a trainee) thereby offering the full range of solution focussed approaches:
- 8 are also collaborative lawyers – Using mediation, collaboration or arbitration as an alternative to going to court
- 4 are also mediators including 2 who are full-time mediators – What is the mediation process?
- Karen Barham is also a Parenting Coordinator of which there are only 8 in the country on the Flip Faculty register. She is also qualified to meet with children in direct consultation.
- Early neutral evaluations and Private FDRs are regularly conducted
- Arbitration: two of the leading cases were conducted by Beverley Cullis, Mari Magnussen and Lynn Henderson.
The department is highly regarded for working hard for their clients, in a principled way which makes their approach and expertise much sought after. They have been recognised and ranked as Tier 1 both in Chambers UK 2021, The Legal 500 and commended in The Times Best Law Firms 2021.