Family Law and Mediation news in East Devon
Honiton based Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors have become one of a handful of new providers of advice and representation in Family Law cases through Legal Aid. The Specialist Practice was founded by East Devon resident Ian Walker at the start of 2013.
The 1st April saw major changes to Legal Aid. Under the changes, legal aid is still available to parents in cases involving Social Services and to those who have been subjected to domestic abuse or who need to protect a child. There are new detailed rules specifying what evidence of the abuse is needed before someone can receive advice and assistance about divorce and child contact and money issues. Most families, who would have received legal aid, will now be expected to find solutions through attendingmediation.
Legal Aid is more widely available for mediation and for legal advice in support of the mediation process. Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors is the only Family Mediation Service contracted with the Legal Aid Agency that is based in East Devon. Ian has been a Mediator since 1996 and is one of Devon’s longest qualified Mediators.
In the Legal Aid Tender, Solicitors and Mediation Services had to bid for contracts on an office by office basis. Firms are only able to offer Legal Aid from offices approved in the tender process. What has resulted is a further reduction in the number of offices offering Legal Aid. Following the Legal Aid Tender, Ian Walker’s Honiton office is one of only 7 Solicitors Offices in East Devon contracted to offer Family Law Legal Aid (3 are in Exmouth and 4 are in Honiton). There are no longer any Solicitors offices contracted for Legal Aid in Axminster, Chard, Ottery- St-Mary, Seaton or Sidmouth.
Ian Walker says “I expected this to happen. I have lived in East Devon for 15 years and I used to be Partner in what was at the time arguably the strongest Family Law team in Devon (I was based in Exeter). Over the years I have seen firms increasing expect clients to travel into Exeter. When I decided to start my own practice I felt that there would be a demand for a specialist practice in East Devon; early indications are that I was right. I carefully chose our location at East Devon Business Centre, Heathpark, Honiton because it is easy to access (next to the A30) and has loads of free parking. Seeing a Solicitor or Mediator can be stressful without also having to trawl through traffic into Exeter and then having to find somewhere to park!”
“I am very proud of our achievement in gaining a contract. It has been a lot of hard work. We have demonstrated to the Legal Aid Agency that we are a quality service. We were already the only family mediation service that is based in East Devon that has a contract to provide legally aided mediation. This new contract allows me to continue to assist parents in cases involving children and domestic abuse, concerning which I have many years’ experience. I provide a full family Law Service including divorce and financial cases.”
“The greater emphasis on mediation is also better for families and especially children. Mediation is generally better and cheaper than going to Court, but be warned, not all mediators are the same. The basic training is only 9 days and it takes years of practice to become truly skilled. There are a lot of junior mediators out there. If you visit my website, you will find lots of useful information including what to look out for when choosing a mediator (if you needed to find one other than me!)”
“I have a long history of promoting best practice (I am a former member of the Law Society Family Law Committee, and Chair of Devon Resolution. I am currently on the Governing Board of the Family Mediators Association). I am not aware of any other Solicitor in Devon who holds more accreditation standards than me; Law Society Child Law and Family Mediation; Resolution Specialist; and as a Civil/Commercial Mediator. I also introduced Collaborative Family Law to Devon. I am someone who likes to get things done (not many Solicitors have started their own business), I am a parent, and I help my clients resolve their cases in a fair, child focused and cost effective way.
Please take a look at my website www.familylawandmediation.co.uk at or give me a call on 01404 819098”