Back

People are just giving up and not seeing their children

This was the disturbing comment made by Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution when interviewed by the Guardian

From the moment the government proposed the significant restriction and in most cases complete removal of publicly funded legal advice in relation to family matters, family lawyers had concerns regarding the impact this would have upon the family and the family law justice system. With recent statistics showing that for the first time ever over half of all parents who attended court in private law children proceedings did so without a lawyer to represent them, we query how long the court can continue to cope?  The assistance of a legal representative can reduce not only the time spent at the court appointment but also can assist in progressing the overall case.  Without this assistance parents are becoming increasingly frustrated and some are even giving up trying to pursue matters to a fair and happy conclusion which would be beneficial for the children.

Jo Edwards has suggested that the government consider providing legal aid for a single, initial meeting with a lawyer at the outset. During such appointments, family lawyers can provide detailed case specific advice regarding the process including benefits of considering mediation as an alternative option to court proceedings. Furthermore, they can advise regarding the actual court procedure, forms and Judges approach to cases.  However at this time it does not appear that the government is listening to the concerns raised by experts. 

WHAT CAN PEOPLE REPRESENTING THEMSELVES DO TO ASSIST THEIR CASE WHILST KEEPING COSTS AS LOW AS POSSIBLE?

  1. Refer themselves to a local mediation provider before attempting to start court proceedings in relation to children and financial matters. 
  2. Visit the HMCT website or their local court to obtain the relevant court papers. 
  3. Seek advice from a solicitor at the outset regarding the overall procedure/court’s approach.
  4. Thereafter, if they wish to represent themselves but require further assistance then they can seek further advice and representation from the solicitors on a pay as you go basis. 

Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors offer either a half hour or hour first appointment on a fixed fee basis. Thereafter they also offer further expert advice and assistance on a “pay as you go” basis where they can undertake particular items of work such as preparation of a certain document or representation at a certain hearing on a fixed fee which is agreed at the outset.