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Resolution’s manifesto

Resolution’s manifesto

Band Hatton Button has pledged its support for Resolution's family law manifesto which identifies key areas for change in the family justice system.

Resolution, which represents over 6,500 family lawyers and other family law professionals, has outlined six steps the government should take in order to improve the lives of separating and separated families across England and Wales.

There are currently around 118,140 divorces each year and almost half of divorcing couples have at least one child under 16.

Tracy Cross, who is a member of not-for-profit group Resolution and a partner and family mediator at Band Hatton Button, says changes are needed to make it easier for families to identify non-confrontational ways to resolve a dispute.

"The current laws around divorce and separation often act as barriers to finding constructive outcomes in separation," she said.

"The wholescale removal of legal aid has caused devastation for many families as fewer people are able to access legal support during their divorce or separation while major changes to the Child Maintenance Service have left many vulnerable children and families at risk of falling into poverty.

"Resolution's manifesto looks to bring consistency to our approach to separation and divorce by outlining key objectives that will help to minimise conflict and stress on those involved as well as minimising the impact on children.

"I was particularly pleased to see outlines for a Parenting Charter which would highlight the responsibilities of separating parents by clearly identifying what children should be able to expect during this difficult time.

"It can be easy for adults to forget what it's like to be a child and to get caught up in their own dispute. I have seen many cases where parents think that they are acting in their child's best interests when there are actually more constructive ways to come to an agreement.

"Children over 10 may be invited to take part in the mediation process, and as a trained family mediator, I have seen first-hand how important it is for some children to be able to express their own views in order to try and help parents make decisions."

The report also outlines a number of provisions which many family law professionals have backed for some time. The first of which is to remove the attribution of blame from divorce proceedings.

Tracy added: "At present, unless a couple has been separated for two years, one party needs to apportion some form of blame. This can often fuel conflict between parties and undermine attempts to resolve disputes outside of court.

"Secondly, I champion calls to modernise laws around rights for non-married couples. More families are choosing to live together without getting married and reforms are needed to cater for that.

"As Resolution members, the family law team at Band Hatton Button is committed to helping families find effective and non-confrontational methods to resolve family breakdowns and disputes and I am confident that Resolution's manifesto will help to raise awareness of the actions needed to improve the family justice system."

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