With the summer fast approaching, many divorced and separated parents will want to take their children on a well-deserved summer break.

However, whether you can legally take your children abroad without the consent of the other parent, or anyone else with parental responsibility, will depend on your individual circumstances.

Should I seek the consent of the other parent?

If there is a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) in place and you are the parent with whom the child is to live, then you can legally take your child out of the UK for up to one month without the consent of the other parent. You can do this as many times as you wish, as long as each individual trip does not last longer than one month.

However, we would always advise that, where possible, you seek the consent of every person with parental responsibility in any event to keep things amicable and so that the other parent, or persons with parental responsibility, are made aware of your plans.

A parent who is not named in the CAO as the person with whom the child should live must seek the consent of the other, before the child is taken on holiday.

What is parental responsibility?

(PR) is defined in the Children Act 1989 as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”. The gestational mother (the mother who carries the baby to term) will automatically have PR.

The biological father will obtain this if he was married to the mother at the time of the birth, is named on the birth certificate, has entered into a “parental responsibility agreement”, has applied to the court for a “Parental Responsibility Order”, has been appointed as a guardian, has obtained a CAO or has married the mother after the child is born.Young girl surfing in Devon

Can the other parent stop me from taking our child on holiday?

Even if there is an existing CAO in place, if the other parent objects then they can make an application to the court for a “Prohibited Steps Order” for the court to decide whether the holiday should go ahead.

When considering such an application the court’s paramount consideration will be the child’s welfare. Generally, courts do consider that a holiday is in the best interests of the child and they will not look favourably upon a parent who withholds their consent to “score points” against the other.

What if there is no CAO in place?

If a Child Arrangements Order has not been made then in theory, either party can take the child abroad without the consent of the other. However, we would warn against doing so as you may be faced with an application for a “Prohibited Steps Order” or even charges of child abduction, should you proceed to take them out of the country without consent or a court order.

Under the Child Abduction Act 1984, it is an offence for a parent of a child or any person with parental responsibility, to take or send their child out of the UK without the consent of all the persons with parental responsibility or permission from the court. This does not apply where there is a CAO in place (see above).

Top tips

  • Always get consent in writing from every person who holds parental responsibility for the child, in good time.
  • If you have written consent, take a copy of this with you to the airport as some airlines check that the child being taken abroad is not being trafficked.
  • If you are concerned that someone plans to or has already taken your child abroad without your consent, then seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Your solicitor will then give your further guidance on your options.
  • If the other parent (or those holding PR) refuse their consent, then consider making a “Specific Issue Order” for the court to decide the issue. Again, your legal advisor will be able to provide you with further advice.

Should you require any further information or assistance with the above then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team, who will be pleased to assist.

Imogen Powell is a Solicitor with Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors which is a leading Family Law Solicitors Practice in the South West, with offices in Exeter, Taunton, Honiton and Weston-Super-Mare and consulting rooms in Yeovil and Bridgwater. Here Imogen discusses whether parents are able to take their children on holiday following divorce or separation.

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Imogen Powell is a Solicitor with Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors which is a leading Family Law Solicitors Practice in the South West, with offices in Exeter, Taunton, Honiton and Weston-Super-Mare and consulting rooms in Yeovil and Bridgwater. Here Imogen discusses disagreements over who will keep the family pet after a divorce.

Pets on divorce

There is a lot to think about when couples get divorced. Who will start off the paperwork? What will happen to your home? Where will the children live? How will the matrimonial finances be divided? Often, in addition to these “larger” questions, couples will also need to consider what happens to their family pet(s) i.e. who gets to keep the cat?

What factors will the courts consider?

Under the law of England and Wales, pets are seen as “property”, much like other household items or amenities such as your car or your sofa. Unlike with children, there is no such thing as “custody” or “residence” of a pet, and so when deciding on who will get to keep Mr Fluffy, the court will often look at the following factors:

  • Who paid for the animal?
  • Whose name is the animal registered in?
  • Who cares for the animal?
  • How much does it cost to maintain the animal and can that spouse afford this after the matrimonial finances have been divided?
  • How much is the animal worth? Does it produce any income?

What can I do to avoid a dispute?

If agreement cannot be reached between them, couples can end up spending thousands of pounds in legal fees, fighting over their beloved pets.

One only has to look at more “high profile” cases, such as that of Ant McPartlin and his wife Lisa Armstrong, who are allegedly battling over who keeps Hurley, their chocolate Labrador, to see how easily costs can mount.

Therefore, if you are in any doubt about the future care of your pets or wish to avoid expensive arguments in the future, it may be worth considering getting a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up if you intend to marry, or a post-nuptial agreement if you are already married.

What if I am not married but am co-habiting with my partner?

If you are not married and are in a relationship, then the laws surrounding divorce and financial settlement will not apply. There is no such thing as a “common law marriage” and so couples fighting over pets will usually have to resort to making an application in the civil courts.

How can I avoid a dispute in the future?

As with married couples, if you wish to avoid future disputes then you should consider having a cohabitation agreement drafted up, which will deal with who owns what at the time the agreement is drafted, what financial arrangements you wish to make whilst you are living together and what will happen to your finances and assets on the event the relationship breaks down.

Where the agreement is properly drafted, the terms are reasonable and each party has received independent legal advice, a court is more likely to uphold the terms of the agreement in the event of a dispute.

If you require any assistance or further information in relation to a matrimonial dispute, or the drafting of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or cohabitation agreement then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team, who will be happy to help you.

 

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Imogen Powell is a Solicitor with Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors which is a leading Family Law Solicitors Practice in the South West, with offices in Exeter, Taunton, Honiton and Weston-Super-Mare and consulting rooms in Yeovil and Bridgwater. Here Imogen discusses the importance of pre-nuptial agreements in appropriate cases.

The Amazon divorce

The world’s richest couple, Jeff and McKenzie Bezos, have recently made public the details of their divorce and financial settlement.

The details of their split and consequent financial settlement have been the subject of speculation for the media, public and lawyers for months since it was announced that the couple would be divorcing earlier this year, particularly as the parties did not enter into a pre-nuptial agreement.

For those not in the know, Jeff Bezos is the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, the online retail giant established in 1994, a year after the parties were married. Until the divorce and subsequent financial settlement, Jeff and McKenzie were the richest couple in the world, with Jeff’s estimated net worth totalling approximately $137 billion.

The divorce settlement

The parties have now revealed on Twitter that they have reached agreement in relation to their finances. As well as 75% of her stock in Amazon and the voting rights in her shares, McKenzie has relinquished all of her interest in the Washington Post and Blue Origin to Jeff.

Although the divorce was dealt with in America, in England and Wales the starting point for long marriages would usually be a 50:50 split.

The court will however look at a wide range of factors when determining the financial division under section 25 if the Matrimonial Causes Act 1925, such as the financial resources of the parties, their financial needs and obligations, the standard of living enjoyed before the breakdown of the marriage, the age of the parties and the duration of the marriage, any physical or mental disabilities of either party, contributions made towards the family, the conduct of each of the parties and any benefits each party will lose the chance of acquiring. Thus, after taking all of these factors into account, the resulting division of the parties’ finances may not necessarily result in a 50:50 split. In the case of Jeff and McKenzie Bezos, the overall split was far from 50:50, although specific details of their settlement or their negotiations have not been published. However, McKenzie will still retain a 4% state in Amazon, worth at least $35 billion.

Why a prenuptial agreement?

For those non-celebrities without billions in the bank, a pre-nuptial agreement may still be worth considering, particularly if they are concerned about how their finances will be dealt with on separation, they have children from before their marriage whose interests they wish to protect, or if they wish to preserve certain assets or to avoid potential dispute in the future.

Pre-nuptial agreements stipulate how the parties hold their assets and how these will be divided on the event of a separation. Where the document has been drafted correctly, the parties have taken independent legal advice, there was full financial disclosure, there was no fraud, misrepresentation or undue pressure and the terms of the agreement are ‘fair’, then a court will usually seek to uphold the agreement, although it is impossible to complete oust the jurisdiction of the court and make a completely legally binding document that the court must follow. However, they can and do often help to alleviate animosity and protracted court room battles in the event of divorce. The parties know where they stand right from the beginning of the relationship and certain assets can be preserved and protected from claims by the other party in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Circumstances can change however and so it is important to review the agreement regularly and/or on the emergence of certain events such as the birth of a child.

If you require any advice or assistance in relation to pre-nuptial agreements, financial settlement or divorce then do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our experience team who will be pleased to assist you

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Divorce Lawyer Imogen PowellExeter Family Law Solicitor and Divorce Lawyer Imogen Powell discuses No Fault Divorce

For the past 50 years in England and Wales there has been only one ground for divorce: that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

In order to evidence this irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, one must rely on one of five supporting ‘facts’, namely ‘adultery’, ‘unreasonable behaviour’, ‘two years separation with consent’, ‘two years desertion’ or ‘five years separation’.

Thus, if a married couple wish to obtain a divorce without waiting two years, they must show that one of them is at fault, either by establishing that their spouse has committed adultery, has deserted them or that their behaviour has been so unreasonable they cannot be expected to remain married to them.

Archaic Divorce Laws in England and Wales

This archaic system of establishing fault has long been condemned by prominent members of the judiciary, lawyers, politicians, family law organisations such as Resolution and relationship charities, who have argued that the use of fault is damaging to couples and often to their children. Critics of the current system have argued for many years that the current system of blame triggers or exacerbates parental conflict and does not protect marriage or deter divorce.

The need to establish blame can often lead to increased hostility between couples, who are already facing potentially one of the most stressful times of their lives and can often result in extensive and acrimonious courtroom battles which may have been otherwise avoided.

Reform of Divorce Laws at last?

Following a campaign spearheaded by Family Lawyers organisation Resolution which showed overwhelming support for no fault divorce and a consultation paper published last autumn which received over 600 responses, Justice Secretary David Gauke has confirmed that the procedure for divorce will now be reformed. Whilst many of the details will need to be ironed out, the proposals for reform will potentially include:

  • the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as the sole ground for divorce;
  • the removal of the five “facts” required to evidence the irretrievable breakdown of marriage and the need to live apart or to provide evidence of misconduct;
  • the introduction of a new notification process which can be triggered by one or both parties; and
  • the removal of the ability for one spouse to contest the divorce application except in very limited circumstances e.g. where jurisdiction is contested.

Nuffield Foundation report on Divorce

A new report from the Nuffield Foundation has shown that the Ministry of Justice’s proposal to establish a ‘no fault’ divorce is in line with the system in place in several other jurisdictions around the world, including Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Finland, California, Colorado, Spain and Sweden.

This report highlights that there is an international trend away from requiring any ground at all, along with recognition that a divorce must be granted where one of both parties insists that the marriage is over. Interestingly, the report shows that in Spain, Finland and Sweden there are no grounds or evidence which need to be demonstrated in order to obtain a divorce. In Germany, California and Colorado, the petition itself is taken in practice as evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Where now for the law on Divorce?

So where does this leave the law in England and Wales? Whilst no formal timescales have been established as of yet, it does appear that the government are aware of the need for change as quickly as possible and it is hoped that a bill detailing the reform may be put to MPs as early as May 2019, in line with the new parliamentary year. Watch this space…

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Imogen Powell

We are very pleased to announce the arrival of Imogen Powell as the latest addition to our team.

Imogen Powell qualified as a solicitor in 2018 having trained with another south-west regional practice.

Imogen is a Devon local having grown up in Torbay before gaining a first class degree at the University of Exeter. This was followed by gaining a distinction in her legal practice course at the University of Bristol.

We have been impressed by Imogen’s friendly and approachable nature. Imogen has already demonstrated that she is very bright and we are confident that she will become an outstanding family lawyer with the support of our highly experienced team. Imogen is committed to maintaining the high level of client care which are practice demands.

Imogen Says

I am excited to join Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors. I am looking forward to working with such an experienced and supportive team. Everyone is very friendly. I am looking forward to being part of the ongoing long-term growth of the practice.

Ian Walker says

We are delighted to welcome Imogen to our team. Imogen has had a sound training and joins us with good legal knowledge and skills and she has the right personality to succeed. We expect that as her experience increases she will grow into being an outstanding Family Law Solicitor/Divorce Lawyer.

Recruiting outstanding talent to our team is important for the long-term growth of our practice and it will assist us to meet the needs of our clients even better.

Family Law Specialist

Imogen will be working both with our specialist divorce team and with our specialist children team. At this stage in Imogen’s career it is fundamental that she assist clients across the full breadth of our practice.

Contact Imogen

Contact Imogen at imogenpowell@familylawandmediation.co.uk

Join our Team

In 2018 we have;

  • Renewed our Legal Aid Contract
  • Successfully achieved the Law Society LEXCEL Practice Management Standard (previously we have been accredited to the Legal Aid Agency’s SQM standard)
  • Added to our team such that we are 9 specialist family lawyers in March 2019
  • Stretched the areas of practice to include Torbay and further into Somerset and North Somerset.

We successfully use cloud based IT including SOS connect case management and we subscribe to Lexis PSL.

We are a happy and friendly team of experienced family law specialists.

We are open to adding further to our team in 2019.

If you are a Devon and Somerset based family lawyer (or want to be) and want to be part of our journey please email ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk – fee share consultant or salary, equity prospects for the right candidates.

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Divorce and Cohabitation Specialist ExeterDivorce and Cohabitation Specialist

We are delighted to announce that specialist family law solicitor Fiona Griffin has joined our team as a consultant.

Fiona qualified as a Solicitor in 2000  Most of Fiona’s career has been spent assisting clients in Somerset and North Somerset, most recently as Partner and Head of Family Law for several years with John Hodge Solicitors in Weston-Super-Mare.

Divorce and Cohabitation Specialist

Fiona specialises in divorce and finance cases including cases with net assets of several millions.

Fiona is a Resolution Accredited Specialist Solicitor with specialist accreditation in Financial Relief and Cohabitation.

Fiona is also a Collaborative Family Law specialist.

Committed to Resolution

Like our other lawyers, Fiona is a committed member of Resolution and she is well known and well respected in our local legal community. Fiona is a member of the Somerset Resolution Committee.

We are Excited to have added Fiona Griffin to our team

Ian Walker says:

We are delighted that Fiona has decided to join our team.

Fiona is a very experienced family solicitor. She has particular expertise in divorce and finance law and cohabitation disputes.

Fiona’s addition to our team will mean that we will have 9 family solicitors and legal executives from January 2019. This makes us one of the largest and most experienced teams of family lawyers in the South West.

Fiona, David Howell-Richardson, Sandy Powell and Kim Stradling have all been partners and heads of the family departments at previous practices. This gives us exceptional strength and depth within our team.

We will also have more capacity to see and act for clients in Taunton and Bridgwater, which is really exciting.

Fiona is a pleasure to work with. She already knows most our lawyers very well and she will be a great addition to the team.

Fiona says

Everyone here is really friendly. I am very impressed by the use of cloud based technology at Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors.

I am really looking forward to 2019. Having seen Ian Walker Family Law and mediation Solicitors grow as an outsider, I am really excited to be joining the team.

Contact Fiona

Contact Fiona at fionagriffin@familylawandmediation.co.uk

Join our Team

In 2018 we have;

  • Renewed our Legal Aid Contract
  • Successfully achieved the Law Society LEXCEL Practice Management Standard (previously we have been accredited to the Legal Aid Agency’s SQM standard)
  • Added to our team such that we will have 9 specialist family lawyers in January 2019
  • Stretched the areas of practice to include Torbay and further into Somerset.

We successfully use cloud based IT including SOS connect case management and we subscribe to Lexis PSL.

We are a happy and friendly team of experienced family law specialists.

We are open to adding further to our team in 2019.

If you are a Devon and Somerset based family lawyer (or want to be) and want to be part of our journey please email ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk – fee share consultant or salary, equity prospects for the right candidates.

No office politics!

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Ian Walker - Lexcel standard solicitorsIn December 2018 our organisation and working practices were independently audited and we were awarded the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark known as Lexcel

Lexcel provides a flexible, supportive management framework to promote a quality management approach and client service in how to run a legal practice. The framework helps practices develop consistent operational efficiencies and client services, manage risk effectively, reduce costs and promote profitability. It is the most appropriate Standard for the legal profession as it was written by solicitors for solicitors.

Elements of the Lexcel Standard

Lexcel sets the required standard in seven different areas:

  1. structure and strategy,
  2. financial management,
  3. information management,
  4. people management,
  5. risk management,
  6. client care, file and
  7. case management.

Lexcel scheme rules outline the design, principles and governance processes of the scheme.

Independently assessed

Lexcel is independently assessed and demonstrates our commitment to consistently deliver services that meet client expectations, improve overall satisfaction and assist regulatory compliance. Lexcel Accreditation is re-assessed every year.

We were already accredited through the Legal Aid Agency’s Specialist Quality Mark (SQM). There is some overlap between Lexcel and SQM, but in our view, SQM is more a minimum standard, whereas Lexcel is broader and is a better framework for ongoing practice improvement.

We submitted our application for Lexcel accreditation in October 2018 and were successfully audited at the start of December 2018.

Very positive feedback

Our audit report included the following from our assessor:

  • This was a hugely positive initial assessment visit which provided extensive evidence of compliance with the Lexcel standard even at this early stage
  • Overall, I was extremely impressed by the way that the practice has been able to adapt their policies, procedures and plans to meet the requirements of version 6.1 of the standard
  • This visit did identify a small number of minor non-compliances but these largely concerned the contents of the Office Manual and associated reports [Resolved by the time we broke up for Christmas]
  • Throughout the firm I was impressed by the excellent morale and positive attitude of the members of the firm and how they are looking forward to the continuing growth and development of the practice
  • It was also good to hear how positive people are about the move towards paperless working and how everybody, without exception, is clear about the potential benefits of that change
  • A number of suggestions are made for further improvement, all of which relate to making already good systems better

A milestone for our practice

Gaining the Lexcel standard is important for us because it shows that we have financial, management and client care systems in place which are comparable to much bigger and longer established competitors.

Gaining Lexcel is a big step forward for the practice as it demonstrates that we are now a fully established and quality practice and will assist us to improve the reach of our services.

As an exercise, all of our team were involved in the preparation for audit and most were interviewed. We all have a stake in the successful outcome.

We are proud to display the Lexcel logo on our website as a demonstration of the quality of our practice.

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Nicole Phare - Child Law and Divorce Specialist
Welcome to Nicole Phare – Child Law and Divorce Specialist

We are delighted to announce that specialist family law solicitor Nicole Phare has joined our team as a consultant.

Nicole finally qualified as a Solicitor in 2005, but has a career in the law which goes back to 2000. Most of Nicole’s career has been spent assisting clients in Torquay and wider Torbay and South Devon.

Child Law and Divorce Specialist

Nicole has a wealth of experience in representing children and parents in complex cases involving social services.

Nicole also specialises in divorce and finance cases including cases with net assets of several £millions.

Committed to Resolution

Like the our other lawyers, Nicole is a committed member of Resolution and she is well known and well respected in our local legal community. Nicole is a former colleague of Ian Walker from when they were both with Tozers.

We are Excited to have added Nicole Phare to our team

Ian Walker says

We are delighted that Nicole has decided to join our team.

Nicole is a very experience family solicitor. She has particular expertise in child law and with divorce and finance law. 

Nicole’s addition to our team will mean that we will have 9 family solicitors and legal executives from January 2019. This makes us one of the largest and most experienced teams of family lawyers in the South West.

We will also have capability to see and act for clients in Torbay, which is really exciting. 

Nicole is a pleasure to work with. She already knows most our lawyers very well and she will be a great addition to the team.

Nicole says

Everyone here is really friendly. I am very impressed by the use of cloud based technology at Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors.

I am really looking forward to 2019. Having seen Ian Walker Family Law and mediation Solicitors grow as an outsider, I am really  excited to be joining the team.

We are able to assist clients in Torquay

Contact Nicole at nicolephare@familylawandmediation.co.uk

Join our Team

In 2018 we have;

  • Renewed our Legal Aid Contract
  • Successfully passed our first audit for the Law Society LEXCEL Practice Management Standard (previously we have been accredited to the Legal Aid Agency’s SQM standard)
  • Added to our team such that we will have 9 specialist family lawyers in January 2019
  • Stretched the areas of practice to include Torbay and further into Somerset.

We successfully use cloud based IT including SOS connect case management and we subscribe to Lexis PSL.

We are a happy and friendly team of experienced family law specialists.

We are open to adding further to our team in 2019.

If you are a Devon and Somerset based family lawyer (or want to be) and want to be part of our journey please email ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk  – fee share consultant or salary, equity prospects for the right candidates.

No office politics!

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It is always nice to receive good client feedback.

Here is the latest feedback we have received about Karen Elliott (this week)

Many thanks for your final letter and cheque, and a big thank you for the lovely card you included with it, so thoughtful.

I appreciate your kindness and am truly grateful I found you to represent me during this challenging time in mine and xxxx’s life. without your help and advice I don’t think I’d be in this position now and I thank you once again..

Things are settled now and I feel at peace with the whole situation, (former partner) and I are managing to communicate better. 

Anyway life goes on.. xxxx and I are happy and that’s all that matters.

Wishing you all the best in 2019 Karen..

(And a very big bunch of flowers was also received by Karen from the same client)

Another client commented:

Karen dealt with difficult conversations and offered constructive advice in a way which meant it was all much easier than it could have been with a less sympathetic person. Everything was clearly explained…

And a former client from several years ago has also reinstruct to Karen.

It is always very pleasing to receive the good feedback. The above are good examples of the feedback that we regularly receive about Karen’s work.

I appreciate all feedback from all clients. There are inevitably occasions where things haven’t gone completely according to plan. If a client has not been 100% happy, then I need to understand from their perspective what the difficulties have been. We can then as a team learn from this and improve what we do.

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Ian Walker - Resolution Dispute Resolution Conference 2018On the 11 and 12 October 2018 travelled to Nottingham to attend Resolution’s annual Dispute Resolution Conference. The aim of the conference is to bring to together family law experts in dispute resolution to share their experiences and to discuss and learn about the latest ideas for innovation and promoting best practice.

The Resolution Dispute Resolution Conference is organised by Resolution’s Dispute Resolution Committee, of which I am a member. (Although I hasten to add that I was not on the conference organising subcommittee).

There were around 160 – 180 delegates from all around the country. It is always enjoyable to catch up with friends and colleagues and to meet other like-minded professionals. The majority of the delegates are either mediators, collaborative family lawyers or family arbitrators or like myself all 3 (as well as being practising specialist family law solicitors and barristers).

Promoting collaborative family law

Amongst the topics discussed were promoting collaborative family law as the normal way of family law practice.

Sadly we are not quite there yet, with collaborative family law being the normal way of family law practice with some lawyers practising within family law still taking a litigious approach which can exacerbate family difficulties – and which is avoidant of the use of family mediation, collaborative family law and arbitration

Other topics included; Innovation in family law/mediation/collaborative law/arbitration; better preparing clients for stressful meetings including by encouraging clients to make use of techniques such as mindfulness and by accessing counselling; working together with complimentary professionals (such as financial advisers and children experts) and integrating working together in different aspects of practice; better assisting families to implement children court orders achieved through court proceedings (often with high conflict) or mediation and assisting couples to better work together in order to avoid returning to court.

Amita Sehgal – dealing with stress and anger

The Henry Brown Lecture (named after Henry Brown – Henry is a pioneer of the use of family mediation in the UK and who incidentally trained me as both a family mediator in 1996 and a civil/commercial mediator – Henry is now enjoying his retirement) was given by Amita Sehgal who is a couple psychoanalytic psychotherapist accredited by the British Psychoanalytic Council through the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology. This considered the impacts of dealing with stress and anger and steps that could be taken to minimise the negative impacts of these.

Resolution Dispute Resolution Conference 2018Jo Berry and Patrick Magee – Building Bridges for Peace

The highlight of the conference was undoubtably the keynote address given by Jo Berry and Patrick Magee of Building Bridges for Peace.

Jo Berry is the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry MP who was amongst those killed in the bombing of the Grand Hotel, Brighton by the IRA (Irish Republican Army) on October 12, 1984. Patrick Magee is the man who planted the bomb and who was convicted and sent to prison for that act.

Jo described how within 2 days of her father being killed she resolved to find something positive out of what had happened and to bring meaning to and even understand those who had killed her father.

Jo and Patrick met 16 years later after Patrick was released from prison as part of the Northern Ireland peace process. The charity Building Bridges for Peace was launched in Brighton in October 2009 on the 25th anniversary of the bombing.

Building Bridges for Peace works to enable divided communities and the general public to explore and better understand the roots of war, terrorism and violence. Jo and Patrick promote dialogue and mediation as the means to peace.

Jo Berry and Pat Magee have given talks in Palestine, Lebanon, Rwanda and throughout the UK.
There is a quote on the Building Bridges for Peace website http://www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org/ from Terry Waite CBE which is worth repeating;

To be a subject of a grievous wrong is always wounding and painful and can frequently provoke anger.

However, anger, if allowed to fester is like a cancer of the soul. It does more harm to those who hold it than against those whom it is held.

Jo Berry knows from personal experience what it is to have to face deep suffering as her father was blown up in a IRA bomb. She has let go of personal need for revenge and empathised with Patrick Magee, the man responsible for planting the bomb.

To hear her speak alongside the one who killed her father is a living demonstration of the transforming power of reconciliation when two people who have been on different sides truly listen and can see each other’s humanity, an example this sad world so desperately need.
Terry Waite CBE – humanitarian and former hostage

It was particularly inspiring to hear Jo and Patrick speak on a day that was in fact the 34th anniversary of the bombing.

Terry Waite’s words encapsulate the importance of the work of Jo and Patrick not only in the theatre of political conflict but also in the theatre of personal conflict.

Anger in personal conflict

As family law practitioners we are very often assisting clients who have been wronged and who are angry with their former partner who they feel has caused them that wrong.

The anger and pain is very often a two-way thing. Unresolved anger can play out in making it much harder to reach objectively reasonable outcomes and can be compounded by further anger generated through the process of divorce/separation and having orders/outcomes imposed. A couple’s children can be caught within this conflict and this can be very damaging indeed. This can play out in children being psychologically harmed, losing contact with one parent or family members (sometimes with parental alienation) or not receiving good role modelling to equip them to deal with resolving disputes in their own lives in the best way.

I would strongly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to listen to Jo and Patrick speak then you should take this up. What they have achieved together, both on a personal level as well as through their wider work is truly inspiring.

The delegates to whom I spoke, all left thinking about how they could better assist their clients through their own personal conflicts.

Conclusion

I left the conference re-energised that as a practice we are clearly on the right track in terms of how we are trying to assist our clients and over the next few months we will be reflecting further upon how we can make improvements to our service and to supporting our team to do this.

I am already looking forward to the 2019 Resolution Dispute Resolution Conference.

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