Checklist on Divorce

At Anthony Gold, we know that any divorce is stressful and that there are 101 things to think about. This will be just as much practical as technical, especially if there are children. Below is a checklist to consider when going through the separation process.

Divorce checklist

Money

In relation to the finances, some of the tasks will be set out in the court order that is drawn up. For example, how to deal with the ownership of property, bank accounts, investments, pensions and debts. However, there are other important practical points to consider which are included in the following non-exhaustive checklist:

  1. Agree if any maintenance/works needs to be done to a property and agree costs before the spouse moves out (eg. roof or boiler repair)
  2. Check and/or change any beneficiary nominations under your pension
  3. Check and/or change the nomination under any death in service benefit from your spouse to an alternative beneficiary
  4. Close or transfer joint accounts to sole name or open a new bank account if needed
  5. Close any joint credit cards
  6. Check life policies and change the beneficiary if appropriate
  7. Check medical cover for or as a spouse and whether it covers you both after separation and up to decree absolute
  8. Change any key passwords and separate financial paperwork/ID docs
  9. Notify DVLA and car insurer if you are moving
  10. Notify banks/pension providers of new address
  11. Notify vet and insurer if pets relocate address and amend microchip details
  12. Notify GP of change of address
  13. Apply for single person’s council tax
  14. Change utility bills
  15. Check what benefits you may be entitled to
  16. Consider if a change of name is necessary to ID documents
  17. Change locks to a property once ownership transferred
  18. Redirect post
  19. Change your Will or make a Will
  20. Amend or make a new Power of Attorney

The Children

You do not have to obtain a Court Order or even draft an agreement in relation to how you will care for your children. Although you may find written agreement helpful. Here is a checklist of practical items you may wish to consider:

  1. Notify childminder/nursery/school of any address change/contact details and status of parents’ relationship and ensure documents are copied to both parents if possible
  2. Notify childminder/nursery/school of who will pick up and drop off the child and when
  3. Purchase new sets of clothes/uniform/shoes/toys/books/medicine so that both homes are equipped if something is forgotten
  4. Agree any medical/health/allergy treatment that may be necessary (eg asthma inhalers) and when that is to be administered
  5. Agree on the GP and dentist to be used
  6. Work out dates/holidays/special occasions with reference to a calendar and who will hold or attend parties
  7. Work out if parents’ evenings/school events are to be attended separately, together or alternately
  8. Agree contact with grandparents and wider family members if they are to provide a caring role
  9. Consider using a parenting app such as “Our Family Wizard” or paper diary if communication is difficult

If you are thinking of separating, you should always take legal advice as to the implications, risks and protections you should put in place. If you would like further information, please contact the family team at Anthony Gold LLP at mih@anthonygold.co.uk.

 

Fact-Finding Hearings In Private Children Proceedings

A “fact-finding hearing” (FFH) is the first limb of a split hearing, which is a hearing divided into two parts. In the first half, the Court makes findings of facts on issues identified by the parties or the Court and recorded in a Scott Schedule. During the second part, the Court decides the case based on the findings.

When is a fact-finding hearing held?

An FFH is not always necessary. Practice Direction 12J of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 contains detailed guidance on determining whether it is necessary to conduct a fact-finding hearing with respect to allegations of domestic abuse.

The Practice Direction has been tested and clarified in two noteworthy cases, starting with H-N (2021) EWCA Civ 448, which was a Court of Appeal decision.

The latest case on the subject is K and K (2022 EWCA Civ 468) which came before the Court of Appeal on 2 March 2022 before, amongst others, Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division.

The basic facts were that the father and mother married in 2005 and separated in August 2017. There were three children, a girl aged 12 and twins (boy and girl) aged 9. The father had regular, unsupervised contact with all three children before difficulties arose. He issued a C100 in 2019 complaining of parental alienation and seeking a child arrangements order. His application was filed in December and he used the urgency of Christmas arrangements to claim an exemption from attending the mediation information and assessment meeting (‘MIAM’).

The mother then filed a C1A form which made several relatively minor allegations against the father and she did not object to unsupervised time with the children. However, when she later spoke to the safeguarding Cafcass officer she alleged rape and, Cafcass advised the Court to consider a fact-finding hearing.

The main focus of K and K was to give general guidance on the correct approach to FFHs whilst endorsing the earlier case of H-N.

Summary of the Court of Appeal’s approach:

  1. Parties will be criticised if they do not attend MIAM appointments.
  2. The FHDRA (first hearing dispute resolution) is meant to be an opportunity to consider dispute resolution as the name suggests.
  3. The Court must ascertain at the earliest opportunity whether domestic abuse (in all its forms) is raised as an issue which is likely to be relevant to the welfare of the child/child arrangements. Fact-finding hearings will only be needed if it is.
  4. The finding that the father raped the mother during the marriage was unsafe and the judge had failed to consider all the evidence in the round.
  5. The judge should have focused on the allegations that most fundamentally affected future child arrangements, namely whether the father was demonstrating coercive and controlling behaviour which affected the children’s welfare.
  6. Whilst some inappropriate behaviour was made out, the generalised allegation of coercive and controlling behaviour was not, particularly financial control.
  7. The appeal was then allowed and the case sent back to a circuit judge for a decision as to whether a fresh FFH hearing was required based on the principles of K and K and H-N.

The protection or welfare of a child

In accordance with H-N, it was emphasised that a fact-finding hearing would not necessarily be required, even where domestic abuse was alleged. It was critical to identify at the earliest possible stage the real issue in the case and how any conduct would impact on the welfare of a child.

The very clear approach was based on FFHs being a major judicial determination which inevitably introduces delay, postpones any interim determination and is likely to be prejudicial to a child’s welfare as well as to the future relationship of the parents.

“All judges hearing children cases will know that there will almost inevitably be emotional fall out following the separation of adults who have been in a close relation­ship. Whilst the Court will not hesitate to adjudicate upon parental behaviour where this impacts upon the protection or welfare of a child, it is not for the Court to hear about, much less to resolve, issues between the parents relating to their time together, unless to do so is likely to be necessary for, and proportionate to, the resolution of a dispute relating to the protection or welfare of a child.”

No-Fault Divorce and the DDSA 2020

No-Fault Divorce represents a huge change to divorce law in England and Wales. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA 2020) comes into effect on 6 April 2022.

From that date onwards couples going through divorce will no longer have to make allegations about conduct, adultery or wait until they have been separated for at least two years.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act

DDSA 2022 simply requires one party (or both on a joint basis) to provide a statement that their relationship has irretrievably broken down, known as “no fault divorce”.

There will be no option to defend the divorce.  There are slight changes in terminology and the (current) petitioner becomes the “applicant”.  A decree nisi is known as a “conditional order” and a decree absolute is known as “a final divorce order”.

In some cases applicants may start a joint application but find they are unable to continue amicably.  In those circumstances the joint applicant wishing to proceed as a sole applicant, must give 14 days notice to the other party of their intention to seek a conditional order to be made into a final order.

How Long Will Divorce Take?

DDSA 2020 sets a timetable so that, once an application has been issued, there will be a minimum 20 week period from the date of the application to the making of a conditional order of divorce.  This gives the parties time to reflect and to resolve arrangements over children and finance.  There is also a minimum six week period after the grant of a conditional order before the final divorce order.

Any application for the cost of a non disputed (standard) divorce will need to be made on a separate form known as D11.

Finally, the online portal will not accept new applications from 4pm on 31 March 2022 until the new system arrives on 6 April 2022.

No-fault divorce FAQs

For further information please contact Kim Beatson: kim.beatson@anthonygold.co.uk 020 7940 4000.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

Parenting not positioning after parting

We need to change the culture that gives the impression that when parents separate, their difficulties and relationships are legal or formal. The system needs to always emphasise that parents should not be disengaged from the normality of parenting their children as they did before, but now just within two households, not one.

There have been some significant advances that sow the seeds of hope that we are going in the right direction. But this campaign is a long and hard one.

Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation

Several things hold us back. In the last month, in the media and amongst the parents I work with, I must have heard the phrases ‘custody’ and ‘access’ repeated over a dozen times. I have been working in family law for 30 years, and these terms were abolished before I started. Whilst a cultural shift away from such negative views of family life is never going to be easy, it is encouraging that The Family Law Language Project has recently been launched to try to tackle this.

Over a year ago, a report came out called: What About Me: Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation. It set out that the way forward for parents should be centred on meeting their needs primarily away from the court, with a multidisciplinary approach and political oversight.

The hope of the President of the Family Division, on the report’s launch night, was not to see so many parents come through the legal system. “We in the court only know parents exist when they’ve issued an application and walk through the court door and often it’s too late then. They’ve got a mindset that they want a resolution based upon court processes, judges and the rest and it’s very difficult then to manage their expectations, to divert them somewhere else.”

Addressing Potential Problems

The report made clear that steering parents away from considering their issues as being legal ones only applied where there were no safeguarding concerns. The families at risk of harm still very much need to have the court as a safety net.

For all other parents, perhaps asking a few tough questions can help address where problems may lie:

  • are your children at the centre of any decisions made about their lives?
  • do your children feel and are loved and cared for by both parents?
  • do your children have contact with both sides of their families, including any siblings who may not live with them, as long as they are safe?
  • do your children have a [proper] childhood, including freedom from the pressures of adult concerns, such as financial worries?

These questions have been adapted from the wording of The Parenting Charter. The charter itself is preceded by a reminder of why it is needed. ‘Conflict is damaging, especially conflict happening between the two people your children love best in the world. Our Parenting Charter sets out what children should be able to expect from their parents if they are separating and what separating parents need to do in the interests of their children. At times of family difficulty, it is easy for adults to forget what it is like to be a child, distracted as they may be by feelings of hurt and fear for the future.’

Mediation and Parenting

Mediation is one way of helping parents come into a space where they can talk just as parents. Even if court proceedings follow, nothing said in mediation can be used against them (unless for safeguarding reasons). That allows parents to look at their roles through the lens of their children’s wellbeing alone, and not as though their issues with one another need be viewed as a form of legal battle.

Caroline Bowden

csb@anthonygold.co.uk

Family Mediation Week takes place from 17 January 2022 and Anthony Gold is offering free mediation information meetings (MIAMS) for the whole of January.  For more information please contact either Michelle Howarth at mih@anthonygold.co.uk or Jordan Ridley at jri@anthonygold.co.uk or by telephone on 020 7940 4000.

Financial Consent Orders in Mediation

One of the criticisms that have historically been levelled at mediation is that it does not provide finality for family finances. That is not true or fair at this point, as mediators can set out a full pathway to a final settlement, especially since they can now provide the first draft of a document that can be turned into Financial Consent Orders – a binding court order.

Back in the summer of 2019, family mediation’s governing body, the Family Mediation Council, (FMC) gave the green light to this change. There has perhaps been less publicity about this evolution in how mediators work than might have been expected.

Financial Consent Orders before 2019

Traditionally mediators only drafted very top-level financial agreements. These basic summaries of intent then had to be reshaped by solicitors into much tighter and more detailed legal wording, as they had to fit the formalities of a draft court order. Sorting out long term financial arrangements, especially relating to property and pension issues, can be very complex. A draft court order, which then has to be approved by a judge, must be as well drafted as if a judge themselves had handed down the same terms after a fully contested hearing.

Before 2019, many solicitors would struggle with the expanding and reshaping process of the ideas formed in mediation. There was often not enough detail from the mediator’s memorandum to make every part of the arrangement watertight. This would mean having to have secondary negotiations of the fine-tuning and the details. As indeed ‘the devil is in the detail’, some arrangements fell apart at this stage. It was frustrating for participants who thought that they had ‘sealed the deal’, to find themselves being presented with choices, with both naturally wanting the option more favourable to them. It is also not hard to see how, if they are already experiencing an element of ‘buyer’s remorse’ about the overall terms, they may decide that even a minor extra concession or two would be a step too far.

 

Financial Consent Orders since 2019

Over the last few years, since being approved by the FMC, mediators themselves can draw up the first draft of the financial consent order. The mediation participants are taken through the drafting details that are needed during the meetings, based primarily on the judicially approved standard precedents. The initial draft of the consent order, based on these mediated discussions, will then be included in the mediator’s normal memorandum. So the only difference is not one of structure, but of providing a more granular level of detail in practice. There are two advantages to this approach.

Less negotiation and drafting

Firstly, the solicitors who advise the individuals about the ultimate terms of the consent order will need to do much less additional negotiating or drafting of new terms that were not discussed before. This will mean that there will be less threat of undermining the progress contained in the main provisions that were agreed in mediation.

 

Greater client agency

The second advantage comes about because, previously, the parties could feel more marginalised during the drafting of the secondary terms by their solicitors. The dynamic shifted around with the solicitors being in control of this process, not the clients themselves. These clients can now have greater agency throughout, as the mediator will take them through the more nuanced or technical issues whilst they are there together and facilitate a resolution to any issues that arise from them. It is much better to spot issues that make the proposals unworkable or unpalatable in mediation, than when the mediation process has come to an end.

A better outcome for mediators and clients

Of course, the parties must be allowed to make any amendments to the draft created by the mediator even after it has left the mediation process. It is hoped that these changes will now be minor, rather than a complete reworking or unravelling, as the parties have invested so much in the process of considering the detail already.

So mediation can indeed lead clients through to getting a consent order, providing a full and binding outcome on financial matters. It can be an arrangement that is truly tailored to their individual needs, as the participants have been able to be so involved in all stages, from working out the main ideas to considering the workable legal terms that will make their settlement watertight.

Caroline Bowden

csb@anthonygold.co.uk

Family Mediation Week takes place from 17 January 2022 and Anthony Gold is offering free mediation information meetings (MIAMS) for the whole of January.  For more information please contact either Michelle Howarth at mih@anthonygold.co.uk or Jordan Ridley at jri@anthonygold.co.uk or by telephone on 020 7940 4000.

Technology in International Mediation and Child Abduction

The image of a typical mediation meeting would traditionally involve participants sitting around a table. Covid-19 has shown us how mediation meetings can be adapted and can take place remotely. At Anthony Gold, even prior to the pandemic, we would routinely undertake mediation with clients who were based in different geographical locations (national and international mediation) which would prevent face to face mediation and in cross-border matters.

Remote Mediation

Remote mediation has been eased over the years with changes in technology and affordable products on the market utilising the internet which has enabled free video-based communication. Mediation can take place over Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or even FaceTime. The varied types of communication also allows different forms of mediation such as shuttle mediation to take place remotely.

These facilities have enabled separating couples and parents who live a distant from one another or who are in different countries, a mode of communication without the cost of, and the time involved in travelling, and being away from work for a significant period of time, which could be a huge concern for those who are self-employed.

The ability to undertake remote mediation in international cases is of great value in cross-border cases, whereby separated parents and mediators who are based in different countries can mediate online by way of video technology.

 

Technology, International Mediation, and Child Abduction

In our experience, remote mediation in international matters has been of huge benefit where speed is an issue, urgently re-establishing indirect contact with a child who has been unlawfully removed or retained and in international and national relocation cases. Issues concerning culture, language and even gender can be addressed when selecting a mediator. The voice of the child can also be raised in the mediation process.

Urgent discussions can take place in a safe and confidential environment addressing matters such as:

  1. The return of a child or their living arrangements
  2. Contact with the absent parent (both direct and indirect)
  3. Financial arrangements and maintenance
  4. Who will pay for flights
  5. Which parent will be responsible for travel
  6. How will school holidays be divided
  7. Which university will children attend
  8. Whether children will be registered in bilingual schools
  9. The religious and cultural upbringing of a child
  10. Dual passports
  11. Addressing any criminal proceedings which might be underway

Should there be a short court hearing to address specific issues to bring matters to a swift conclusion.

If an agreement is reached and recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding and the agreement is reflected in an order of the court so that it is legally binding, consideration should be given to obtaining a mirror order in the foreign jurisdiction.

For effective international mediation, you should consult a specialist mediator with a conscientious approach to the paperwork in a situation where there may be little by way of international recognition or enforcement.

Family Mediation Week

Family Mediation Week takes place from 17 January 2022 and Anthony Gold is offering free mediation information meetings (MIAMS) for the whole of January. For more information please contact either Michelle Howarth at mih@anthonygold.co.uk or Jordan Ridley at jri@anthonygold.co.uk or by telephone on 020 7940 4000.

Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings Explained

What is a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting?

The initial meeting during the mediation process is called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting, commonly referred to as a MIAM or a first meeting. The primary aim of a MIAM is to provide essential information and to have a discussion separately and confidentially with each participant prior to the mediation process commencing.  It is not a mediation session.

A MIAM session is confidential. Anything discussed in a MIAM with a participant will not be shared with the other participant, nor will it be disclosed to the court if court proceedings are issued later.  Exemptions will apply on the point of confidentiality if there is a real risk of harm or abuse or an unlawful activity.

Only information that has been agreed to be shared with the other participant will be disclosed.

 

Who must attend a MIAM?

Intended court proceedings:

The compulsory requirement to attend a MIAM applies to any individual who intends to issue proceedings for a relevant family court application. The requirement to attend applies to both the intended applicant (the individual who commences court proceedings) and to the intended respondent (the individual who has to respond to the issued court application).

The intended applicant should provide contact details of the intended respondent to the mediator so that the mediator can discuss the purpose of a MIAM with the respondent.

Intended settlement out of court:

Even if the participants to mediation intend to settle their dispute out of court via the mediation process, both participants must attend a MIAM separately with the agreed mediator prior to the mediation process commencing.  This will allow an assessment  to take place as to whether mediation is suitable.

 

What to expect during a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting

The mediator should provide you with sufficient time and attention so that you are able to:

  1. discuss your situation,
  2. understand what mediation is,
  3. how mediation works,
  4. what options are available to you, and
  5. for the mediator to properly assess whether mediation is suitable.

The purpose of attending a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting is to essentially explore whether mediation or any other form of family dispute resolution is suitable for you and your circumstances.  This could include collaborative practice, solicitor-negotiation or arbitration.

By attending a MIAM session, you are not signing up to the actual mediation process.  This is only done, once each participant and the mediator have signed the Agreement to Mediate form after the MIAM sessions.

At the end of the MIAM session, the mediator will inform you if mediation is deemed suitable or not.  You will also be provided with an opportunity to consider whether you wish to proceed with the mediation process or consider an alternative form of dispute resolution.

You might also be provided with information specifically to your circumstances which could include information on the effects of separation for children, debt management, counselling, accommodation, benefits and other personal professional support services.

 

Must you mediate and attend a MIAM?

There will be cases where it is deemed that mediation is not suitable or appropriate.  This is usually in cases where there is domestic abuse although domestic abuse should not in itself be a bar to mediation.

This is so, provided the appropriate safeguards and structures are put into place including the use of shuttle mediation.  However, your ability to negotiate freely should not be hindered in any form.  If it is, mediation is not appropriate.

Other exemptions also exist and the mediator should discuss if any of these apply to you during the MIAM.

 

How long is a MIAM?

A MIAM usually lasts for around 45 minutes to an hour in duration.

 

How much does it cost to attend a MIAM?

If you are entitled to legal aid, then the MIAM and mediation sessions will be free.  If you are not eligible to legal aid, then there will be a charge for the MIAM session.

Mediation Awareness Week takes place from 17 January 2022 and Anthony Gold is offering free mediation information meetings (MIAMS) for the whole of January. For more information please contact either Michelle Howarth at mih@anthonygold.co.uk or Jordan Ridley at jri@anthonygold.co.uk or by telephone on 020 7940 4000.

 

What happens after the first MIAM?

If each participant and the mediator agree that mediation is appropriate, then the first joint mediation session will be arranged.

Please note, that all information received by the mediator during the mediation process will be shared with each participant, although the information will remain confidential outside of the mediation process.

You can, and are often encouraged, to take legal advice from a solicitor whilst the mediation process is underway.

If court proceedings are to be issued, only mediators accredited by the Family Mediation Council (accredited mediators) can sign the relevant court form to confirm that you have attended a MIAM.

 

Can Mediation Information Assessment Meetings be done remotely?

MIAMs can be conducted remotely and certainly have been during the pandemic. However, subject to restrictions, you should consider whether a MIAM should take place on a remote basis or whether an in-person assessment would be more beneficial for a proper assessment as to suitability.

Mediation Awareness Week takes place from 17 January 2022 and Anthony Gold is offering free mediation information meetings (MIAMS) for the whole of January.  For more information please contact either Michelle Howarth at mih@anthonygold.co.uk or Jordan Ridley at jri@anthonygold.co.uk or by telephone on 020 7940 4000.

Family Mediation Week – Something to Celebrate

I attended a wedding a while ago where the atmosphere was tense rather than joyful because the bride’s parents had divorced ten years previously and animosity between them was still apparent from the seating plan.

Marriage, as an institution, has been steadily declining since the 1970s and the UK divorce rate is estimated at 42%. Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type year on year. Whatever the relationship, a bad feeling lingers after an adversarial separation which continues to spoil the atmosphere of family gatherings in future years.

So what can a separating couple do to make sure they attend their children’s celebrations without ruining the happy day?

 

Mediation is the obvious dispute resolution option.

It is a civilised way of resolving separation and relationship issues, such as the timing of divorce, grounds for a divorce, parenting arrangements and finance. It has nothing to do with reconciliation or counselling. A trained mediator meets with a couple and helps them identify the areas of disagreement and explore the areas for settlement. The process is confidential and both parties are encouraged to take independent legal advice. Ultimately, they take control of their own separation.

A good example is a mediation I conducted recently with Susanna and Alan. They had accepted that their marriage was over but were still living in the same house and wanted to reach an agreement about their children.
Alan had a new relationship and this was upsetting for Susanna. She was also worried about how it would affect the children.
In mediation, it was possible to agree a parenting schedule so that Alan was spending frequent time with the children. He agreed that the children should not be brought into contact with his girlfriend until after he had separated from Susanna. The couple then went on to agree that the family home should be sold but Susanna would receive a greater proportion of the proceeds to reflect the fact that Alan had more pension provision. Both Alan and Susanna had independent legal advice, but their legal fees were kept in check as most of the hard work was done in the mediation process. An agreement was reached without them having to go through slow, expensive and emotionally traumatic legal proceedings.

 

Mediation is a flexible process.

It is equally valuable for married and cohabiting couples and those ending civil partnerships. It is usually a three-way process (either face-to-face or by Zoom) where the couple discuss their separation and outstanding issues with their chosen mediator. However, in high conflict situations a couple may choose to be in different rooms (or Zoom rooms) with a mediator moving between them (known as shuttle mediation). It is also possible to attend mediation with legal advisors (known as hybrid mediation).

The author of this post is Kim Beatson who was  one of the first solicitors in the country to qualify as a mediator. She was the first person to win the prestigious Family Law Dispute Resolution Practitioner of the Year (2011). She is a Band 1 mediator in Chambers & Partners where she is described as “An outstanding mediator who has a huge amount of emotional intelligence”. For information about her mediation service please contact her at kim.beatson@anthonygold.co.uk 020 7940 4011.

Family Mediation Week – Child Inclusive Mediation

Choosing a mediator

If, as a parent, you are considering child-inclusive mediation your mediator must have enhanced criminal records clearance and  have attended a specialist course on direct consultation with children (DCC).

Exploring the suitability of DCC

There is an abundance of research (nationally and internationally) which supports the right of children to be heard. It shows respect for children, involves them carefully in decision making and ensures that they understand clearly what is happening to them.  Listening to a child can also help to clarify the parenting arrangements which the child feels comfortable with and this can be very different from the picture portrayed by one or other parent. It can even help to clarify whether a child wishes to spend more or less time with a parent.

However, it is not straightforward and it does require considerable preparation with different considerations depending on the age and maturity of the child and the attitude of both parents.

Usually direct consultation does involve the child meeting face-to-face with the mediator but Zoom meetings have been commonplace over the last two years. Most children aged 10 years or over, are perfectly familiar with and comfortable with that medium.

Confidentiality

It would be usual for the mediator to write to or email the child to explain, in simple language, that the parents are “sorting things out” and that one of the issues is how much time the child should spend with each parent so that the arrangements works best for everyone. A simple explanation regarding confidentiality is important; not that the mediator will ignore issues of safety, abuse and safeguarding but that the child should feel free to speak and that the mediator will decide with the child what will be said to the parents. Sometimes children prefer to deliver the message themselves, supported by the mediator. More frequently we find that children prefer the mediator to convey the agreed message, in language which is agreed with the child. Again much depends on the circumstances and personality of the child.

If DCC seems appropriate, the mediation consultation sessions usually last for around 45 minutes.

Whether children are seen alone or with their siblings depends on the circumstances and the age range. Teenagers often prefer their own space but it is very important that the views of younger children are understood and that one sibling is not held out as the spokesperson.

Child Inclusive Mediation Resources

For tips on talking to your children about separation and parenting through the process, we suggest you consult the website of the family law group Resolution (https://resolution.org.uk)

The author of this post is Kim Beatson who was one of the first solicitors in the country to qualify as a mediator and is accredited to consult with children.  She was the first person to win the prestigious Family Law Dispute Resolution Practitioner of the Year (2011).  She is a Band 1 Mediator in Chambers & Partners where she is described as “an outstanding mediator who has a huge amount of emotional intelligence”.  For information about her mediation service please contact her at kim.beatson@anthonygold.co.uk 020 7940 4011.

Court Fees increase in Family Proceedings

In line with The Court Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2021 SI 2021/985, which makes amendments to the Family Proceedings Fees Order 2008 SI 2008/1054, a number of court fees in England and Wales, including those in Family Court Proceedings will increase from 30 September 2021.

The court fees that will be increasing in Private Family Proceedings include:

Applications to initiate divorce and financial remedy proceedings

  • Divorce Fees will increase from £550 to £593

This includes applications for a decree of divorce (S1 Matrimonial Causes Act (MCA) 1973), a decree of nullity (MCA 1973, ss 11 or 12), or a dissolution order or nullity order (S37 Civil Partnership Act 2004)

  • Form A Notice of intention to proceed with an application for a financial order other than by consent will increase from £255 to £275

A notice of intention to proceed with an application for a financial order to which Family Procedure Rules (FPR) 2010, SI 2010/2955, 9.4(a) applies, or an application for a financial order to which FPR 2010, SI 2010/2995, 9.4(b) applies (other than an application for a consent order).

Applications within proceedings

  • An application in existing proceedings without notice or by consent, except where separately listed will increase from £50 to £53
  • An application in existing proceedings on notice, except where separately listed, will increase from £155 to £167

 Children Act Proceedings

The court fee will increase from £215 to £232 in the following proceedings:

  • Section 8 Children Act 1989 – Child Arrangements, Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders
  • Schedule 1 Financial provision for a child
  • Special Guardianship
  • Parental Responsibility
  • Change of a child’s surname or removal from the jurisdiction while a child arrangements order is in force under s 13 Children Act 1989
  • Appointment of a Guardian

A full list of the Family Court fees that are amended by SI 2021/985 is available using the following link: Family court fee changes 30 September 2021.

If you would like any advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*