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    7 tips for co-parenting through the summer

    Are you and your ex struggling to agree a schedule for the summer holidays?
    The long school summer break is drawing closer and if you haven’t already, it’s likely you’ll soon begin forming a plan to co-parent through the summer.
    The school holidays can be stressful for any family as parents juggle childcare, work schedules, and holiday plans. However, when you are trying to agree plans with your co-parent, following divorce or separation, things can quickly become complex and emotions can run high.
    Here break-up and divorce coach Claire Macklin shares seven tips for co-parenting success during the holidays.
    1. Plan ahead with your co-parent
    Don’t avoid or delay raising the subject, especially if you know it might be tricky to arrange. Bite the bullet and put forward your proposal. If communication is difficult, write an email with a clear proposal of plans and dates – and keep it calm, to the point and polite.
    2. Know what you want your relationship to look like in 1 year/5 years
    Consider what you’d like your relationship with your ex-partner to look like in the future. Are you on friendly terms with your ex, or would you be more comfortable with a distanced, but civil, relationship?
    Your vision can be a powerful reference point now as you navigate plans for the holidays. It can help to guide your words and actions and help you move towards the having relationship you want with your co-parent. Keep it in mind as you negotiate your summer plans to help you focus on the long-term goals. If your partner would be receptive to your vision, consider sharing it with them so that you’re aligned.
    If this is the first time you’ve had to negotiate holiday times, remember there will be other holidays in the years ahead. What you do now will set the tone for the years to come. How do you want to feel when you look back in 5 years’ time and you recall what you did and said?
    3. Take a helicopter view
    If you’re caught in a fight over the holidays, or there is an issue that is causing a problem, try this exercise and see what comes up for you.  Read it through from start to finish before you start, and perhaps ask a friend or your coach to go through it with you, for maximum benefit.
    First bring the issue to mind and summarise it in just a couple of sentences.

    What is your perspective? How do you feel? What do you want to achieve? What is important to you?

    Stand up and shake your body. Move into a different chair, or a different spot in the room.

    Imagine you are your ex. Really imagine being them, with their values, experiences, and views. What is your perspective? How do you feel? What do you want to achieve? What is important to you?

    Stand up again and shake your body.  Move again into a different chair or spot in the room.

    Imagine now that you are your child. Really feel into being them. What do they want? How do they feel?

    Stand up again and shake your body.

    Now imagine you are watching from a helicopter hovering overhead. You can clearly see and hear everything that you, your ex and your children have just said about how they feel. What do you notice? What one piece of advice would you give?

    Once you have stepped out of the helicopter, take a moment to take in all this information. How has your perspective shifted? What new insights have you gained? How could you use your new insights and perspective as you discuss your plans with your ex?
    4. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t
    Perhaps you recognise some of these thoughts:

    There’s no way I can have a calm, measured conversation about the holidays with my ex
    I’m worried about spending longer than a few nights away from the children
    I feel angry that I am missing time with them
    I have no idea what I’ll do with myself while they’re away, and I’m dreading it.

    While they’re all understandable reactions, notice that all those thoughts focus on the negative, on the problem. What if you could refocus on looking for solutions?
    How would it feel if you focused on what you CAN do and CAN have, rather than on what you can’t?
    Take back the power and choose to reframe your feelings and consider the value of time. When you change the way you think, and the questions you ask, you can transform how you feel.
    Ask yourself questions like:

    What can I do in that time that I couldn’t do before?
    What have I always wanted to do and never had the time?
    Who do I know who handles co-parenting well? What can I learn from them?
    Who can I arrange to meet up with to have some childfree time?
    What do I love to do and enjoy? When could I do more of that?

    Be open to opportunities. When you shift your focus onto what you can do instead of what you can’t, you can change how you feel about the time you have away from the children, and this will positively impact your discussions with your ex.
    5. Make the time you do have count!
    Whether you’re going away or not, make the time you do share with your children count.
    Sit down with your children, and plan some fun, exciting things to do together over the holidays. One of my clients sat down one Saturday afternoon with his children, and they created a holiday bucket list of places to go, things to do, people they’d like to see.
    Use the questions above with your children and see what ideas they come up with. They don’t need to be extravagant, or expensive. Just having two or three plans you’re all looking forward to during the summer will give you opportunities for quality time with your children.
    6. Create and record your new memories
    When you enjoy the plans you’ve made together with your children, take lots of videos and photos. Create a photo book of all the things you have enjoyed doing together so you can look back on them in the future.
    7. Your children will follow your lead
    Children are incredibly perceptive and will take their cue from you. If you are stressed and negative, it’s likely they will be too. Anger and resentment may make them feel conflicted and anxious.
    The good news is that if you make the most of the situation, focus on the positives, and are open to trying new things, they will be too.
    When you demonstrate to your children that you can work out a schedule with their other parent while also planning some fun moments with them, you are setting a fantastic example that they will remember for years to come.
    Find out more
    Claire Macklin is a UK-based Divorce & Break-up Coach helping people to separate with dignity and strength and redefine life after divorce.
    For more advice about co-parenting through the summer and beyond, or to contact Claire. visit
    Get in touch
    For legal advice to assist with formalising plans between co-parents, child arrangements and other family law matters, contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.
    Useful links
    Child Arrangements Orders – what you need to know
    Travelling abroad with children after divorce FAQs More

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    What is The Frozen Embryo Law In Texas?

    Modern reproductive technology has in recent years helped many parents who would have otherwise had difficulty having children. For example, in vitro fertilization is often effective for those who want to be parents but cannot do so through traditional means. The in vitro process involves harvesting mature eggs from the female and fertilizing them in the lab. Thereafter, they are often frozen to be used later. 
    However, a couple may divorce before the frozen eggs are used, and questions arise about what to do with the eggs or who owns them. This is why some Texas courts have addressed the matter recently. Our Dallas divorce lawyers at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, & Anderson can help with questions about this and other divorce-related issues.
    How Texas Views Frozen Embryos
    Laws about frozen embryos in Texas view the matter from a contractual point of view to decide who owned the frozen eggs before the couple divorced. When a couple decides to freeze embryos, they must sign a contract detailing how the embryos are owned in the event of a divorce. The document must be signed at the fertility center or in front of an attorney.
    Laws in this area stem from a case that eventually made it to a Texas Court of Appeals. It involved a couple who filed for divorce before their frozen embryos were implanted. The contract signed by the couple stated that the embryos had to be thrown out if they divorced. The Court of Appeals ruled that the contract had to be followed; the embryos should be destroyed.
    While this would seem to resolve the issue, there are still uncertainties in specific situations involving frozen embryos today. Depending on the circumstances, Texas legal experts say a court could rule on frozen embryo ownership during a divorce as follows:

    If the couple does not have an agreement that states what happens to the embryos after divorce, the court would not force one person to be a parent if they do not want it.
    If the couple has an agreement and the embryos go to one person, the Court could disregard it so one person is not forced to have children they do not want.
    If they agree that the embryos must be donated to another couple or for scientific research, the court could disregard it with additional conditions so one party is not forced to be a parent when they do not want it.

    Are You Planning To Freeze Embryos?
    If you and your spouse want to freeze embryos for later use, there are steps you can take now to reduce the chances of future disagreements. 
    First, before freezing the embryos talk about all of the possibilities with your partner. For example, talk about who would take possession of the embryos in case of divorce or what you would do with them if that happened. It may not be the most comfortable conversation, but it can avoid future complications by having a frank discussion now.
    Second, check the policies of the fertility clinic you intend to use; different clinics may view this matter in different ways. You may want to choose a different clinic if the policies of one do not meet your expectations.
    Third, talk to an experienced family law or divorce lawyer to help you determine how to handle the frozen embryo ownership. Planning in case of divorce, especially with such a potentially contentious topic, in this area is critical to ensure your rights and wishes are respected.
    Contact Our Dallas Divorce Lawyers Today
    If you have questions about divorce or how the Texas embryo laws affect you during or after a divorce, we understand your concerns. Our Dallas divorce lawyers at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, & Anderson can help, so call (214) 273-2400.  More

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    Introducing Stowe talks podcast series 2

    Our Stowe talks podcast series gives you access to expert advice from some of the best divorce professionals in the UK.
    In series two, family lawyers Matthew Taylor and Liza Gatrell are joined by special guests to explore issues including economic abuse, pensions and divorce, handling fear and uncertainty, overcoming loneliness and post-separation abuse. 
    With guests, Rosie Lyon, Ceri Griffiths, Tosh Brittan, Claire Macklin (nee Black) and Caron Kipping. 
    Take a listen
    Dealing with post-separation abuse 
    Divorce coach and domestic abuse specialist, Caron Kipping explains what post-separation abuse is, its impact, how to build the right support team, the power of reframing, and how to focus on what you can control to help build a positive future.
    Listen on Spotify
    Surviving economic abuse 
    Domestic abuse survivor, Rosie Lyon, explains what economic abuse is, the red flags, the support available, particularly in the banking system, and how people can safeguard themselves in the future. 
    Listen on Spotify
    Understanding pensions on divorce 
    Divorce financial planner Ceri Griffiths explains the different types of pensions, how to value one, the role of an actuary report, issues around offsetting, and pension sharing options.
    Listen on Spotify
    Overcoming loneliness
    Divorce Coach Tosh Brittan describes how loneliness can easily sneak up, how embracing it can help, and practical advice on dealing with it.
    Listen on Spotify
    Handling fear and uncertainty 
    Listen as Divorce Coach Claire Macklin (nee Black) shares tools to help you cope with the fear and uncertainty divorce brings, and take back some control. 
    Listen on Spotify
    Find out more
    Sign-up to our mailing list and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest Stowe talks, including our podcasts, videos and live webinars. 
    Find our show on Spotify  
    Watch our vodcast on YouTube  More

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    Making arrangements for children this Christmas

    With less than two months until Christmas, now’s the time to agree how your children will spend time with their other parent during the holidays.
    Christmas can be a time of tension for separated parents as they plan the festivities and plan where and how they’ll each see the children. 
    So, we asked our Regional Director for Yorkshire, Rachel Roberts, to share her advice for parents on taking the strain out of making child arrangements for Christmas. 
    Child arrangements and Christmas
    As we approach December, we see a flurry of clients getting in touch for help to try and resolve arrangements for the festive season. 
    Before I turn to my tips on how best to manage arrangements, there are a couple of key points from the Government and family law sector that are certainly at the forefront of my mind when advising clients.
    Last year, a leading family judge made it clear that parties should only be bringing disputes over children to court where absolutely necessary. The judge went on to criticise parents for asking the court to micro-manage children arrangements. The view from the court is clear – where possible you should be sorting these things out yourself.
    The Government have said that further lockdowns are unlikely and have been clear that restrictions do not prevent children from moving between separated parents, provided they are not self-isolating. 
    It seems unlikely that this will change, and CAFCASS (the government body that advises the court on children disputes) has stressed the need for children to maintain their usual routine.
    All that said, it is naive to think that difficulties will not arise, and the following guidance may help avoid unhappiness at Christmas.
    Tips for making child arrangements during Christmas 
    Preparation is key
    If you do not have plans in place, now is the time to start. Talk to your ex-partner and agree on arrangements that work for you all.
    Some clients I have worked with agreed that the children would spend Christmas Eve at one home and then return to the other for lunch on Christmas Day.
    Other clients decided that they would spend the whole festive period with one parent and the next year spend it with the other, alternating between the two.
    It is a personal choice based on what works for your family, but also the age of the children, location and how amicable you are.
    Be prepared to be flexible as plans may need to change. 
    Focus on the children 
    First and foremost, put the children at the heart of the plans you make. A different type of Christmas can still be a good Christmas. Talk about the positive: two Christmas Days, two sets of presents etc.
    Make sure you share your plans with the children. Depending on the age of the children, ask them what they would like? Older children need to feel they have a voice. 
    Once in place, sharing plans with the children means they know where they will be throughout the holiday, and the routine will make them feel safe and secure.
    Creating a visual plan can help as dates can be difficult for a child to understand. One client created a Christmas themed wall planner for their younger children. A tech-savvy teenager may prefer a joint Google calendar.
    Be fair to the other parent
    If this is your first year as a separated parent, this will all feel very raw and difficult. It is likely that you will both be dreading not spending Christmas entirely with your children. 
    Even though it can be difficult, try to think about the impact of any plans on your former partner. Ask yourself if you would be happy with the proposed arrangements next year? If the answer is no, then maybe they should be reconsidered. 
    Stick to the plan
    This year may require a certain level of flexibility, but where possible, it is important that, whatever arrangements you come to, you both stick to the plan. 
    Last-minute changes can cause feelings of disruption and uncertainty for children. And, whilst flexibility is an essential part of positive child arrangements, it is important to maintain consistency and provide stability.
    Get advice early, if needed
    Christmas is chaotic and organising a co-parenting schedule on top of everything else is never going to be easy, especially if communication between you and your ex-partner is difficult. 
    If you are struggling this year, take advice from a family lawyer who can try to assist in negotiating an agreement. 
    If you cannot reach an agreement, mediation can help as the presence of a 3rd party often eases tensions and result in finding common ground. 
    Mediation is still taking place via video conferencing, and many of our clients have reported that it is easier than being in the same room as their former partner.
    Court proceedings are possible but should be used as a last resort, and, due to the current strain on courts from the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that you have any prospect of a contested hearing before Christmas. 
    Hopefully, these tips, combined with some careful planning, compromise and putting the children first,  will help you and your ex-partner move forward towards a harmonious Christmas.
    Get in touch 
    If you would like any advice on child arrangements during Christmas, or other family law issues, please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist divorce lawyers here. 
    This article was previously published and has since been updated.  More

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    September Stowe talks webinars

    Stowe talks is a range of support tools including podcasts, videos and webinars, designed to help people going through a relationship breakdown and all the multi-faceted challenges this brings.
    Supporting children emotionally through divorce
    Thursday 22nd September 17:30 – 18:30
    Join Stowe talks webinar with family lawyer Sarah Barr Young and guest Sarah Weller a family relationship coach and parenting consultant as they discuss emotional support for children through divorce and separation including:

    What are the fundamental concepts for children’s well being
    How to talk to your child about divorce and create a positive vision
    What are the main stressors for a children and how you can help them
    Finding a successful co-parenting model even if you aren’t currently parenting on the same page
    What to do when your ex-partner doesn’t show up to co-parent
    Q&A opportunity to ask your questions.

    Book your free place on the Supporting children through divorce webinar

    Supporting male survivors of domestic abuse
    Thursday 20th October 17:30 – 18:30

    Join our family lawyers Jake Mitchel and Sarah Barr Young and they welcome guest Tom Nash, Divorce & Business Coach, to explore the challenges of male domestic abuse, available support for male victims of domestic abuse, as well as:

    The different types of domestic abuse
    The challenges & issues for male survivors
    The signs & red flags of male domestic abuse survivors
    What can friends, family and colleagues do?
    How to access the available support
    Q&A opportunity to ask your questions.

    Book your free place on the Supporting male survivors of domestic abuse webinar

    Understanding economic abuse and how to deal with it

    Wednesday 30th November 17:30 – 18:30
    Join us and special guest Rosie Lyon a prominent campaigner for better financial and banking support for survivors of domestic abuse as they discuss how to:

    How economic abusers operate
    How it can impact your financial future
    Rosie’s personal experience of abuse and how she overcame the challenges
    Guidance on how banks deal with economic abuse
    Practical tips to navigate banking
    Support available for survivors
    Q&A opportunity to ask your questions.

    Book your free place on the economic abuse webinar More

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    The Best Parenting Tips Archives

    Effective parenting tips for toddlers to teens. Information to help you develop good parenting skills. Best parenting tips from a variety of experts on topics such as single parenting tips, attachment parenting, parenting styles, and discipline.

    July 21, 2022 by Scarlet While team-building activities are often associated with workplaces, they’re also beneficial in strengthening family bonds. Spending quality time together is invaluable during the formative years and can spark strong family relationships that last a lifetime. First, I will elaborate on the benefits of team building games. Then I will provide some key considerations to keep in … [Read more…] about Family Team Building Activities: What You Need to Consider
    June 20, 2022 by Scarlet Let’s talk about Mindful Based Parenting. Specifically, what it means and how it can help bring calm to the chaos of parenting. I will share some key mindful parenting strategies to help you incorporate this new practice and a checklist to keep you on track. The idea behind this Mindful Parenting Checklist is to help you adopt some new parenting habits that will make your … [Read more…] about Mindful Parenting Quotes and Checklist
    May 23, 2022 by Scarlet There are a lot of challenges that parents of autistic children face. One such challenge is the fact that special needs children often get pushed aside when it comes to their education. This may happen when their diagnosis information has not been properly shared or when the school district is short on resources. An autism parent advocate is someone who is checking to make sure … [Read more…] about How To Be An Autism Advocate
    May 12, 2022 by Scarlet Congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your new baby. You must be ecstatic about the big day! Yet, do you know which kinds of clothes you should have in your hospital bag? If not, continue reading as we discuss the most vital clothes you must pack for the baby’s delivery. First I will discuss the details of the essential baby clothes for hospital bags. Then I will provide a … [Read more…] about List Of Essential Baby Clothes For Hospital
    April 28, 2022 by Scarlet Date nights are all about enjoying each other’s company.  In the beginning, couples are often so excited to do things together that date is just a formal excuse to see each other.  After marriage and kids, date night takes on a new meaning.  They become a chance to reconnect with just the two of you as a couple and do fun things together. They are no longer about getting to … [Read more…] about 20 Date Night Ideas For Parents
    April 6, 2022 by Scarlet A weekly family meeting is a great way to keep your family bonded. You can discuss family rules, upcoming events, and share information that everyone needs to know. However, unless you have a family meeting agenda, everyone will be off-topic and not paying attention, making it a big waste of time. That is why I have included plenty of family meeting ideas and a sample agenda … [Read more…] about Why A Family Meeting Agenda Is Essential [Template Included]
    March 30, 2022 by Scarlet You set goals for your personal achievements, goals for your work, and goals for fixing up your home so why wouldn’t you set objectives for your family? Goal setting is a great practice that keeps you aiming higher and achieving more. It is hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. Family goals are worth setting because they help unite everyone under a … [Read more…] about Family Goals [Examples and Goal Setting Worksheet]Next Page » More

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    9 divorce myths debunked by a divorce lawyer

    There are some common myths about divorce that remain steadfast despite being unfounded and incorrect in the eyes of the the law. Stowe managing Partner Amanda Phillips-Wylds debunks the top 9 divorce myths.
    Top 9 divorce myths
    When you decided to get divorced you might have heard or read lots of conflicting stories about what to expect about the process. It can feel very confusing. Based on my years of practice, I have put together a list of the 9 most common misconceptions I hear from my clients to help you reset your expectations and move forward with clarity.
    Myth 1 – Divorce always ends in court battles which leave spouses angry and bitter.It is very rare for spouses to have to attend court. Since the arrival of no-fault divorce spouses can no longer object to divorce proceedings being filed. Court intervention would only be necessary if couples are unable to settle disputes over financial claims, but this is still a last resort and before they get to this stage, they will have had to have tried other options such as mediation.
    Myth 2 – Divorce is always expensive.Costs can escalate quickly when it comes to resolving financial claims, especially if spouses cannot agree and take the case to court. However, they can undertake the divorce proceedings themselves to avoid incurring legal fees, alternatively many solicitors offer a fixed fee to act in divorce proceedings which will not be disputed.
    Myth 3 – Celebrities are special and so get ‘quickie’ divorces.The court processes divorce petitions in the order in which they are received. No divorces are singled out to be rushed through.
    Myth 4 – Assets are always shared equally on divorce.The starting point for division of assets is a 50/50 split, this is known as the ‘yardstick of equality’. However, it will not be appropriate in all cases to share the assets equally. There is no set formula which the court uses to make a decision, rather it has a list of factors it must consider and give weight to before arriving at a fair split. These include:

    the welfare of any minor child
    the income, earning capacity, and property each of the spouses has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
    the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the spouses has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
    the standard of living enjoyed by the family
    the age of each spouse and the duration of the marriage
    any physical or mental disability of either spouse
    the contributions which each of the spouses has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including contributions in looking after the home or family
    the conduct of each spouse, if that conduct is so bad that it would be unfair to disregard it
    and finally the value of any benefit which a spouse will lose by reason of the divorce e.g. a pension.

    Myth 5 – Once you receive a Final Order that’s it.Unless there is an approved court order dealing with the financial claims spouses have as a result of their marriage, then either spouse could make a future claim against the other’s assets, even several years after they have been divorced. Having a Final Order does not end financial claims. There must be a court order that provides for a clean break.
    Myth 6 – There is an automatic right for the mother to have the children living with her upon separation.Upon separation it is for the parents to decide who the children will live with and how much time they will spend with the other parent. A court will not become involved unless the parents cannot agree, and they ask the court to make the decision for them. If a court does become involved its decision is based upon what it thinks is in the best interests of the child, and it has a checklist of factors to measure this against.
    As society changes, parenting roles are evolving from traditional norms and in more and more cases, fathers are taking a greater role in the care of their children, it is no longer unheard of for children to live with their father upon separation. There is no ‘standard’ arrangement for parents to follow when agreeing how much time children will spend with their father or mother once a relationship has broken down.
    The arrangements may differ during holidays and term time, and they normally evolve over time and as the children grow older. 50/50 shared care is becoming a more common arrangement between separated parents.
    Myth 7 – The parent with ‘custody’ of a child has greater rights than the other.Who a child lives with has no bearing on each parent’s role in making important decisions in the child’s life, or their role in caring for the child provided they each have parental responsibility.
    If both parents have parental responsibility, they both have an equal say in all the important decisions in the child’s life, for example in relation to education, medical treatment, religion, and property. The child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility for the child. The father will have parental responsibility if he was married to the mother at the time of the birth, if he is named on the child’s birth certificate, or if he has a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or an order from the court.
    Myth 8 – If they are not receiving child maintenance, the parent with whom the child is living can stop the other parent seeing the child.There is no legal basis to stop the parent who must pay child maintenance from seeing their child if they stop paying. The remedy is to contact the Child Maintenance Service for a calculation.
    Myth 9 – Unmarried women have rights over property as Common Law Wives.There is no such thing as common law marriage in the UK, and so there is no automatic right to share assets between unmarried couples upon relationship breakdown. If a couple is going to cohabit or buy a property together it is important for them to obtain legal advice on what shares they will each have in that property and how this will be recorded.
    Get in touch
    For more information about divorce or separation please do get in touch with our Client Care Team using the details below or make an online enquiry More

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    Mediation and the Family Courts backlog

    The Family Justice System is currently undergoing significant changes to try and reduce the strain and backlog faced by the family courts.
    The introduction of no-fault divorce and extended funding for mediation for disputes concerning children (£5.38million this financial year, raising the total invested in the scheme to £8.68million since March 2021) demonstrates a continued commitment to resolving matters away from the court arena. 
    The Family Mediation Council (FMC) voucher scheme introduced in March 2021 provides families in England and Wales with a £500 voucher to put towards the cost of mediation. The vouchers can be used by parents attending meditation to discuss the care of their child or children. By enabling divorcing couples and parents to resolve their disputes without litigation, it will enable the court to utilise its limited time on cases that require the adjudication of the court.  
    The emphasis on mediation and no-fault divorce is reflective of the desire for most separating couples to deal with the practical consequences of their separation in a private and constructive way. 
    Since the introduction of no fault divorce, the number of divorce applications have increased; HMCTS received 3,000 divorce applications in the week following the introduction of reforms in April, which is a 50% rise on the weekly average. 
    This demonstrates people’s desire to wait for the law to change, so that they can proceed in this new neutral non-adversarial way.  There is no longer a requirement to provide a reason for the marriage coming to an end, giving people greater respect for their private life, as well as removing the blame element of divorce previously seen. 
    This change in law sets a more amicable tone from the start, and therefore places people in a better position to make decisions about the children and their finances.
    Cafcass statistics show that in 2020/21, there were 97,496 children involved in private children proceedings, an increase of 23.1% since 2016/17. In public law, there were 143,129 children, an increase of 16.4% since 2016/17, with cases taking an average of 45 weeks to conclude. 
    These increases are not sustainable, for the courts or for the families facing long delays. The need to reduce the number of families in the Family Justice system is vital. The focus on solutions achieved through agreement benefits both families, and the Family Justice System, and the court are increasingly robust at encouraging parents to consider alternatives to litigation. 
    Recently in the case of Re B (a child) (Unnecessary Private Law Applications), his Honour Judge Wildblood QC said:
    ‘Do not bring your private law litigation to the family court here unless it is definitely necessary for you to do so,’ he said. ‘You should settle your differences (or those of your clients) away from court, except where that is not possible. If you do bring unnecessary cases to this court, you will be criticised, and sanctions may be imposed upon you.’
    The commitment to further funding for mediation follows research that mediation helps families reach solutions and outcomes that are best for their children. 
    The FMC conducted a survey which showed that mediation is successful in over 70% of cases. The funding enables parents to access mediation in circumstances where it would otherwise be unaffordable, and encourages people to proceed with this option. 
    It has raised the profile of mediation, as FMC research further showed that after an initial meeting, three quarters chose to mediate, and that 
    “This is despite the fact that many don’t know anything about mediation, or think their partner is so unreasonable that mediation will never work”. 
    It should not be surprising to hear that parental preference is to reach an agreement, rather than battle it out in court, and ultimately receive an order imposed upon them by a Judge who doesn’t know them or more importantly their child. 
    Most parents are acutely aware that while their marriage or relationship has come to an end, their relationship as parents has not. And however, hard it may be for them as an individual, as a parent they want to do the best for their child. 
    The option to attend mediation provides parents with the opportunity to communicate, explore the issues, discuss the options and resolve the matters that are important to them. 
    A Judge is unlikely to hear arguments on the appropriate amount of screen time for a child, the choice of gifts each parent buys for their birthday, or how the parents will explain to their child about their new routine now that their parents live apart. 
    All these things can be discussed and agreed upon in mediation. As one Judge said recently: 
    “I cannot order people to be nice. However, in mediation, parents can discuss matters and hopefully improve their communication so that they have the tools to resolve disputes, thus avoiding court now and in the future. The court must make decisions in the best interests of the child. However, court proceedings are often protracted, emotionally and financially expensive, and consequently damaging to the child and their parents. 
    Mediation is not appropriate in every case, nor is it always possible for parents to reach agreements. We need our Family Justice system to work effectively and efficiently for those families. 
    For example, in cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse, safeguarding concerns such as drug or alcohol abuse, parental alienation or protracted disputes. The court is a finite resource, but there must be access to our Family Justice System. 
    Lord Neuberger said access to justice “has a number of components. First, a competent and impartial judiciary; secondly, accessible courts; thirdly, properly administered courts; fourthly, a competent and honest legal profession; fifthly, an effective procedure for getting a case before the court; sixthly, an effective legal process; seventhly effective execution; eighthly, affordable justice.”
    The focus on dispute resolution options, such as mediation, is not designed to take away access to justice, but to create a Family Justice System that provides families with options to resolve their disputes in a way that is most appropriate for their circumstances. 
    The introduction of no-fault divorce and continued funding for mediation enables the focus to move from conflict and confrontation to communication and solutions, and enables our Courts to work more effectively for those who need to litigate. 
    Previously published on LawNews More