Lauren Preedy – Senior Solicitor – Head of Divorce Team
Experienced Legal Team
At Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors we have one of the most experienced teams of family lawyers in the South West.
Representing clients in Court is what we do and what we have all done throughout our careers.
The practice of Law is about Rights.
All Laws set out obligations and responsibilities that individuals or organisations or the state have toward others. They set out what rights people or organisations have against each other.
Often these rights compete against each other. For example a child has a right to grow up free from abuse. A parent has a right to a family life [free from interference from the state]. But if a parent is abusive toward their child [or it is alleged] the State [social services] will intervene to protect the child. The Court will then interpret various Laws including the Children Act 1989 and other rules to decide what to do.
Laws are written in a way which set out rules. They cannot cover every situation to which a rule might apply. They need interpretation to be applied to situations in our daily lives. The Court is assisted in making decisions by looking at decisions and guidance by the more senior Courts in other cases. But no two cases are the same and the Laws and guidance don’t always provide instant or easy answers. In Family and Children cases the Court often has a choice in what it decides to do. The Lawyers will try to persuade the Court to make a decision more acceptable to their client.
Call our experienced Family Law Solicitors, Divorce Lawyers or Mediators now
It is just the same with financial cases. The Divorce law sets out a range of factors the Court has to consider in making decisions. These have been subject to different interpretations over the years. What is also a surprise to non-lawyers, is that in a lot of cases, whilst there are a range of decisions a Court could make, the actual powers the Court has and Orders it can make are relatively limited.
The Court can only make decisions based on the evidence put in front of it and the strength of the arguments made by the parties.
The job of a good Solicitor is to understand what the dispute is about. It is to understand what their client wants to achieve. It is to gather evidence to support their client’s case. It is to understand the evidence being brought forward by the other parties’ legal team.
The Solicitor will advise their client about whether their objective can be achieved. If not, what can realistically be achieved? It is to find the best way to present their client’s case in Court. But it is also to seek to negotiate an outcome acceptable to their client if they are instructed to do so.
Keeping up to date
The Law is constantly evolving. We have invested in the best Legal Practice Support Service for Family Lawyers. This gives all of our team easy access to an extensive library and updated practice materials which means we are always up to date. These materials can be accessed by us anywhere with an internet connection.
We also invest in training and maintain accreditations.
Having such an experienced team also helps. It is very rare indeed that we will come across a problem that non of us has tackled.
Asking you the right questions
What is just as important is that you understand that your solicitor has the skills to understand what you really want; what you realistically want; what they realistically can achieve for you [which may be less than you want]; how much you can afford to spend. You need to have confidence in Your Solicitor and they need to be able to be honest with you about what is realistic. You then both need to discuss and agree the best way to achieve as much as is realistic.
We know the Law. What we need to do together is to set an achievable goal and agree a realistic plan to try and get there.
Legal knowledge is essential
Also essential are realism, good tactical sense, the ability to gather relevant evidence, the ability to communicate what you want, and finally the ability to keep costs under control.
Often negotiation is a better way to a fair outcome, but not always.
Going to Court
Below is an explanation about how the court process works
Things to remember
The Court will at all stages try to encourage the parties to find a solution to the dispute through mediation (except where there is a clear safety issue)
The above chart shows the different stages in a case. In complex cases, there can be a number of extra hearings.
The process is about gathering evidence and getting the case ready for a final hearing. It is about ensuring that the Judge has sufficient evidence to enable him/her to make a decision
The Judge could make a decision that neither party wants.
It is rare for one side to be ordered to pay the costs of the other side in a family case
How the costs build up
Cases always cost more than you think!
Initial quotes are based on the information available to the Solicitor at that time.
As the case progresses more information becomes available and the dynamic of a case can change.
The parties can forget that their Solicitors charge by the hour!
The costs are dependent on the actions of both sides. You cannot control the actions of the other side.
Is online mediation here to stay?
With the COVID restrictions which have been in place now for nearly a year, many changes to the working environment have taken place. We have adapted to online mediation. Meetings have been set up on line and parties to mediation
Family Mediation in a pandemic. The pandemic has, much like most other things at the moment, forced mediation online. There are benefits to this. For some it can be a much less daunting process when taken place remotely as individuals
Understanding fathers’ repeat appearances in care proceedings
Fathers are often the forgotten figures in care proceedings, sadly sometimes quite literally. It is therefore essential that we find out more about their role, particularly where there are recurrent care proceedings
Judge strongly criticises council’s failings in care case
A local authority has been strongly criticised by a Family Court judge for its long-standing failings whilst dealing with a care case involving four children.
Three of the children are now aged 17, 13 and 11 years old.
More separated families have child maintenance arrangements
Last month the Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) published its latest statistics relating to separated families and their child maintenance arrangements. The statistics say some interesting things about separated families in Great Br
In a much-anticipated judgment the Court of Appeal gives guidance on domestic abuse that the Family Court that they should take to allegations of domestic abuse in cases affecting the welfare of children.
Mixed messages from latest Family Court statistics
The Ministry of Justice has published its latest Family Court statistics for cases dealt with by the Family Courts, for the quarter October to December 2020, and the messages sent by the statistics are somewhat mixed.
Research provides insight into child applications made by mothers and fathers
We wrote here last month about research carried out by The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (‘NFJO’), which carries out research with the aim of improving the family justice system, into who is going to court to resolve children disputes