FM Family Law launches voucher scheme for Family Mediation Week 2024

FM Family Law launches voucher scheme for Family Mediation Week 2024

FM Family Law is proud to be supporting Family Mediation Week this year which runs from 22 January to 26 January 2024. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of family mediation and the many benefits it can bring families experiencing separation.

Mediation is a way for you to discuss and resolve issues away from lawyers and away from court. The role of the mediator is to remain neutral, facilitate and support discussions, as well as to help explore various options. Where appropriate, family mediation can be a great option for you to take control, make decisions together and build a positive future for themselves and their family, particularly if there are children involved.

In support of Family Mediation Week, FM Family Law is pleased to announce that we will be offering a voucher scheme. The voucher will provide a contribution of £500 (£250 each) towards the cost of the first two joint mediation meetings. The voucher will be available on request and is subject to availability. Full details and terms below.

We have three experienced Resolution Family Mediators at FM Family Law: Sue Bailey, Christina Hale and Emma Wager.

If you would like to enquire about booking your mediation meeting with one of our mediators please contact us:

Contact us on 01223 826000 (Cambridge) or 01603 343660 (Norwich) to enquire.

You can also read more about our family mediation service here.

Terms and Conditions

  1. Each joint mediation meeting is charged at £500 inc vat (£250 inc vat per participant) for 90 minutes at the standard rate, thus the total cost for two joint mediation meetings at the standard rate would be £1,000 inc vat (£500 inc vat per participant).
  2. The voucher offers a total discount of £500 inc vat (£250 inc vat per participant) exclusively against the cost of the first two joint mediation meetings with FM Family Law, therefore the voucher will reduce the cost of each joint mediation meeting to £250 inc vat (£125 inc vat per participant).
  3. To qualify for the voucher:
    – The voucher scheme must be specifically requested at the time of booking;

    – each participant must have completed their initial intake meeting with their mediator;
    – should both participants agree to mediate after their respective first individual meetings, and the mediator considers the matter appropriate for mediation, then the first two joint mediation meetings will be arranged, invoiced and paid in advance.
  4. The voucher applies providing there are two joint mediation meetings or more. If in fact only one joint mediation meeting takes place, no refund is offered to participants as the £250 inc vat cost after applying the voucher is to cover the cost of the first two joint mediation meetings.
  5. The voucher does not apply to other work related to mediation or to further mediation sessions, the costs of which can be provided on request.
  6. If the first two joint mediation meetings over run the allotted 90 minutes (each) then the extra time will be invoiced after the meeting.
  7. The voucher has no cash value and cannot be transferred, or exchanged for alternative services.
  8. This offer is limited and subject to availability, and FM Family Law reserves the right to modify or withdraw the scheme at any time.
  9. Meetings will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.
  10. FM Family Law reserves the right to refuse or terminate mediation services if any participant breaches the terms and conditions outlined herein.

By participating in this voucher scheme, participants agree to abide by these terms and conditions.

Co-nesting following relationship breakdown

Co-nesting following relationship breakdown

WHAT IS CO-NESTING?

A living arrangement, colloquially referred to as ‘nesting’ or ‘bird-nesting’, and which we at FM Family Law consider is best described as ‘co-nesting’, involves continued co-parenting within the same ‘nest’.

Co-nesting is when the family home is kept as a home for the children, and separating parents take it in turns to live in the former family home and at alternative accommodation. This enables separating parents to continue to care for their children. It’s an arrangement  that we are seeing become increasingly popular. It can be used in the early stages of separation, also enabling parents to take their time to work out their longer term living and shared parenting arrangements.

 

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT?

Co-nesting can have many advantages, especially for children.  It allows children to maintain a sense of stability and continuity, making it less difficult for them to cope with their parents’ separation. They get to stay in their own rooms, go to the same schools, and have their own routines.  In that sense, it allows arguably a more child-centred approach to separation as a lot of the burden of adjusting and moving falls to parents and not their children.

When not at home, parents may choose to stay with friends or family, in a hotel, house-sit, rent a room in a shared house, or split the cost of a small apartment or house big enough for one person at a time. There may be financial advantages in the short term, as the family is not having to fund the cost of two households large enough for the children to stay in which is particularly prudent in the current cost of living crisis.

 

IS IT SUITABLE?

Co-nesting typically requires a high level of cooperation and communication. It  can be emotionally and financially challenging.  There needs to be some level of respect and trust between parents as they are co-existing in the same space, albeit at different times.  But for some separated parties, it can be a valuable child focused way to co-parent their children and maintain a sense of stability for their family.

Generally, co-nesting is more suitable where the separation is amicable and there is a good level of healthy communication between parents. It is unlikely to be appropriate in cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse or if there are safeguarding concerns.

 

TOP TIPS

There are a number of ways parents can set themselves up for co-nesting success.

 

1. AGREE GROUND RULES

Before the new living arrangement begins, parents should sit down and agree the ‘rules of engagement’, to include communicating their expectations, anticipated timeframe, preferences and boundaries (which may include agreeing that new partners may not attend the home).

Parties may decide to continue to have dinner together once a week in the family home, or simply agree that a civil and brief handover in the hallway when the other party returns home is all that’s needed.

 

2. CREATE A SCHEDULE

This could include a clear schedule for each parent’s time in the house and a schedule for activities and chores.  It is vital that both parents have a clear agreement about where each of them will be and when for the arrangement to succeed. The use of a parenting communication app, such as Our Family Wizard may assist with maintaining a healthy dialogue of communication.

 

3. INVOLVE THE CHILDREN

If the children are of an appropriate age, parents could involve them in the decision-making process and consider their needs and preferences. This would be usual for children of around 10 years of age and upwards.

 

4. HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

Parents should always have a backup plan in the event something unexpected arises. This can include in instances of sickness or issues with travel.

 

CAN CO-NESTING WORK LONG-TERM?

While it may sound like a positive outcome for co-parenting in the short to mid term, and at critical stages in a child’s life, it is unlikely that co-nesting will work effectively as a long-term solution.

It is inevitable that co-nesting maintains a level of connection between the adults, which of course may bring difficulty at a time when people may need to feel a sense of closure moving on or starting afresh. This may be exacerbated further when one party commences a new relationship, if not handled sensitively.

Co-nesting also fails to achieve financial separation between parties, which may leave parties feeling vulnerable and unable to achieve independence.

In the shorter term however parents who are able to agree a co-nesting plan for their children might be more successful in being able to navigate and agree some of the more challenging longer term aspects of their separation. Arguably, the value of a co-nesting plan provides an excellent foundation for separating parents to later embark on the next stage of their own lives after divorce or separation.

If you wish to discuss your co-nesting options, or the fallout of your separation in greater detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and I shall be pleased to advise further on whether this will work for you and your family.

Kerry Read

Kerry Read

Solicitor

01603 343669

Not to be reproduced without permission.

Note: The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.

Do you have rights for the children you’re looking after?

Do you have rights for the children you’re looking after?

Many children are raised by carers or relatives who are not their parents – for example, step-parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. However if this is you, you may not have legal rights and authority in respect of the child. This is because you do not have Parental Responsibility (‘PR’).  Consequently there can be legal and practical difficulties, for example schooling, medical treatment and other decisions which need to be made in respect of the child.

Relatives who do not have Parental Responsibility are not able to give authority to organisations such as schools, doctors and government departments to make decisions about a child or give authority for a child to e.g engage in an activity. Happily this legal problem can be overcome by the relative obtaining those legal rights, specifically ‘Parental Responsibility’ through a number of methods as explained below.

What is PR?

Parental Responsibility is all the rights duties and obligations which a parent has towards a child. In short it is the legal power of a parent to make decisions about a child. Parental Responsibility gives parents authority to make decisions when raising a child; such as taking a child to the GP or signing a school trip permission form, where that child should go to school, or should they follow a certain religion and where should they live. Every person who has Parental Responsibility holds this equally, no one person has more Parental Responsibility than another, regardless of who the child spends more time with.

Who automatically has PR?

This is always held by the child’s mother.

The child’s father will have Parental Responsibility if:

  • they are named on the child’s birth certificate; or
  • they were married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth; or
  • they have obtained Parental Responsibility by agreement with the mother or by applying to court.

How can I get PR for a child I am raising?

There are 4 methods

1. You can ask anyone who has Parental Responsibility to agree that you can also have Parental Responsibility. If everyone is in agreement, a form can be completed and sent to the court showing everyone’s agreement and the courts will likely approve this and make an order granting Parental Responsibility.

2. If not everyone who has Parental Responsibility agrees, you can ask the court to order that you should have Parental Responsibility. You would make an application to the court. The court will then look at the reasons for the application alongside the child’s welfare and decide if this is what is best for the child.

3. You can also apply to the court for a ‘Child Arrangements Order’ that the child ‘lives with’ you which automatically also grants you Parental Responsibility.

4. You can apply for a ‘Special Guardianship’ Order (SGO).

SGOs give an enhanced Parental Responsibility to the guardian. The holder of the Special Guardianship Order has the ‘final say’ over decisions relating to the child. They can also take a child out of the country for up to three months without the permission of any other people with Parental Responsibility.

SGO can also come with further support from the local authority. This can include financial support, counselling or respite support for the guardian(s).

If you are interested in applying for an SGO this will involve notifying the local authority as they will need to be involved and prepare a report. This report will look into the life of the child and your role as the proposed guardian and make recommendations. The courts will consider the child’s welfare when making their decision.

The specialist family team at FM Family Law are experienced in representing carers who do not hold PR. Please get in contact for further advice and assistance.

 

Caitlin Levins

Solicitor

Not to be reproduced without permission.

Note: The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.

FM Family Law launches innovative way of working with couples following a ‘one lawyer, two clients’ approach

FM Family Law launches innovative way of working with couples following a ‘one lawyer, two clients’ approach

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new and innovative way of working with couples going through divorce, dissolution or separation: Resolution Together.

 

Resolution Together is a model which allows couples going through divorce, dissolution or separation to get advice and help from one lawyer rather than each having their own lawyer. This model follows ground-breaking changes in the law which allow couples, for the first time, to make joint divorce applications.

 

Using the Resolution Together approach, we can support couples with achieving a financial settlement, arrangements for caring for any children and, where necessary, prepare legal documents for approval by the court. Resolution Together means overall costs are likely to be less, yet couples receive the same top-tier advice and professional guidance to achieve a consensual outcome in a dignified and amicable manner.

 

Our experienced family law experts supporting couples with this approach include Fiona McLeman, founding Partner of FM Family Law, and Christina Hale, Partner and Family Mediator.

 

Fiona and Christina are both experts in their field and highly regarded family lawyers. They both repeatedly receive personal recommendations as a true testament to their excellent reputations and client care.

 

Resolution Together offers lots of benefits to couples:

 

  • Cost effective – There is no duplication of work, and the fees can be shared and paid jointly by the couple.
  • Reduce delays – we will guide couples to reach their own agreement as soon as is practicable and help couples reach decisions, as well as advise on possible fair outcomes and options.
  • Tailored solutions – we will focus on the work needed to achieve each couples’ priorities and shared objectives.
  • Limit conflict – by meeting with one lawyer together as a couple, information is shared at the outset. This promotes trust and confidence rather than starting from a place where separate lawyers are instructed which can feel oppositional.
  • Defined process – The model involves initial individual meetings followed by a series of joint meetings that includes considering full financial disclosure, providing detailed legal advice and facilitated discussions aimed at reaching solutions that ensures the needs of the family are met. Once an agreement is reached, it can be drawn up by us in an agreed court order which will provide couples with security and finality.

 

We are excited to be launching this new service and look forward to helping more couples find the best solutions for them and their family.

 

If you would like to learn more about how Resolution Together could benefit you, please contact your local office:

Cambridge – 01223 355333

Norwich – 01603 443333

Newmarket – 01638 453700

FM Family Law supports Good Divorce Week 2022

FM Family Law supports Good Divorce Week 2022

FM Family Law are supporting Good Divorce Week this week, doing our bit to highlight the crisis in the family courts and raise awareness of the different ways families can resolve their disputes away from court – where it is safe and appropriate to do so. FM Family Law lawyers favour a non-confrontational approach and underpinning our core values is to encourage finding a solution together by exploring the full range of out of court resolution options. In every case, we provide clients with detailed information in respect of the full range of resolution options available to help them make informed decisions about the best way forward for them and their family.

All of our family lawyers are members of Resolution who commit to a Code of Practice that promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children. We are also mediators and collaborative lawyers and where we can we undertake resolution via arbitration.

Summarised below are some of the main resolution options which can avoid the need to go to court and are generally available to couples separating or divorcing.

Mediation

Mediation is a forum for discussing and resolving issues with your spouse/partner away from lawyers and away from court. The role of the Mediator is to facilitate and support your discussions, as well as help you explore various options. The Mediator does not give legal advice and their role is impartial and neutral.

Negotiations between lawyers

Letters and emails are written setting out your respective proposals and negotiating towards an agreed settlement. Negotiations and discussions can also take place by way of face to face meetings, which you would also attend (known as a round table meeting).

Arbitration

An arbitrator is appointed make a decision for you if you and your spouse/partner cannot agree. You and your spouse/partner must have legal representation. The arbitrator hears arguments from both sides about your case before making a decision. The decision is binding. Settlement can be achieved in a less formal atmosphere such as court, and it can reduce delays and minimise costs. You can find more information about arbitration here, or at http://www.resolution.org.uk/arbitration/ and at http://ifla.org.uk

Collaborative Law

This would involve meetings between you, your spouse/partner and collaboratively trained lawyers.  A Participation Agreement is signed by all confirming that everyone will work together for the benefit of each other and the whole family in order to reach an agreement. You agree formally not to involve the Court other than to endorse any agreement, when required.

You can find more information about the collaborative model at www.resolution.org.uk/collaborative

The team at FM Family Law are happy to discuss the options available for reaching an amicable divorce or separation. To arrange an initial meeting with one of our lawyers please contact us on 01603 44333333 (Norwich) or 01223 355333 (Cambridge).

Are your children travelling abroad with your ex?

Are your children travelling abroad with your ex?

It can often take a lot of trust and courage to come to terms with the children’s first trip abroad. You may have fears that your ex has not cared for them for that length of time before, that they may not return from the trip, or that your child is too young to travel without you. These are common concerns.

Here are some tips from Relate about how to manage the emotions surrounding travel, as well as the practical side of proceedings.

Source: https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-separation-and-divorce/living-arrangements/taking-children-abroad

Managing difficult feelings

  1. Try to remember how you managed difficult feelings when you first separated and draw on the same strengths.
  2. List your concerns – both practical and emotional ones. Sort out what feels most important to think about or act upon first.
  3. Without involving your child in discussions, try thinking about the trip from your child’s point of view. How might they feel if they miss out on an opportunity?
  4. Ask your ex to share any plans they have for the trip abroad, explaining that doing so will reassure you.
  5. Talk through how you feel about the trip with a friend or family member.

Practical Considerations

If you give permission it is very important to do the following:

  1. Ask for contact details for example, telephone number and address abroad and details of who else is joining them on holiday.
  2. Make sure your ex has contact details for the children’s doctor in the case of a medical emergency.
  3. Check your ex has travel and medical insurance that covers your child.
  4. Allow your child to e-mail/text/telephone you if they would like to.

Fiona also advises her clients going on holiday with their children to send a text to the other party to let them know of the children’s safe arrival once they’ve reached their destination. It takes little time and can be of significant goodwill and reassurance to the parent left back home alone.