Category Archives: Mediation

Happy First Birthday Family First

A year after its launch Ridley & Hall celebrates the success of Family First.

Family First is an innovative and unique service that supports families in need of legal advice.  This service allows clients at Ridley & Hall to choose the level of support they require for divorce, children and financial cases and in doing so they choose the price that they pay.

Meena Kumari, Head of Family at Ridley & Hall, explains:

“There have been many challenges in family law in the last 12 months with many firms closing their doors after the loss of Legal Aid.  These profound changes have affected clients’ ability to access legal advice.  When a relationship breaks down, the next steps you decide to take and the thought of legal action can often be overwhelming.  Family First offers clients greater freedom of choice and an opportunity to save money on legal costs, with our costs starting from only £200.

Family First offers an alternative that is both affordable and transparent.  The level of support includes a checking service for court documents, a do-it-yourself with help service where our clients pick and choose when you seek assistance and a pay as you go service which helps you budget.”

Statistics shows that there are more clients representing themselves in court proceedings.  Litigants in person often need legal advice for only part of their case, for example, at a hearing.  Family First offers this flexibility.

The Family First team wants to help resolve your dispute as painlessly and cost effectively as possible.  We offer a free half an hour consultation, where we can talk you through your options and costs.

For more information, please contact the Family First team at Ridley & Hall either by phone on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.

April Brings Landmark Changes in Family Justice

April marks two major developments in the world of family law with the implementation of the Children & Families Act 2014 and the integration to the Single Family Court.

The Act which comes in to force on 22nd April brings with it a wide range of changes relating to children and families which includes more rigorous plans to tackle delay in adoption system, maximum 26-week time limit on completing cases concerning children taken in to care, changes to the system governing young people living in children homes and foster parents, new legislation extending parental leave beyond parents to adopters and those going through surrogacy arrangements.

Meena Kumari, family Solicitor and accredited Resolution member, commented on the Act stating that there were many changes the top three impacting on private law children cases include :-

  1. The long awaited presumption that it is in the best interest of the child of separated parents to have continued involvement with both parents in their lives unless they present a risk to the child.
  2. Change in terminology will no longer mention residence and contact orders, rather child arrangement orders which create equality between separated parents. The arrangements contained within any order will still, however, determine where a child lives and when they will see the other parent.
  3. Making it a requirement to attend a family mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before apply to the court for certain orders. To find out more about mediation visit the FamilyFirst Mediation webpage.

The Single Family Court will bring together the functions of the Magistrates Court, County Court and High Court under one uniform umbrella organisation.  All locations of family courts will detail with all aspects of family law with the exception of some matters relating to international child related disputes and adults with mental incapacity which will be reserved to the High Court.

All new cases will be started and heard in the Family Court but will be allocated to an appropriate judge by the court staff.  All level of judges and magistrates will work alongside each other (as judges of the family court).  Each hearing cases on appropriate levels of complexity and issues.

For specialist advice on your all your rights after separation contact the Ridley & Hall’s FamilyFirst team either by phone on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.

Gwyneth & Chris – Conscious Uncoupling – In Love But Separate

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced on 26th March 2014 their intention to separate.

They announced it on and said:-

“It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate. We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our own space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent we will be able to continue in the same manner.”

Whilst the text might seem very “new age” the sentiment is to be applauded. It is very easy for separating couples to overlook the fact that they still have to parent children together and it is clear that Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow are trying very hard to ensure that they continue to co-parent their children.

This is easier said than done. Here are some top tips to try and assist in keeping things amicable:-

  1. If the children are old enough, try and sit down with them and see what they would like to happen and how they would like the arrangements between two households to look.
  2. Always try and keep the children informed – this does not mean getting the children to take sides but neutrally explaining to them what is happening and ensuring that the children know that the reason for the separation is between two adults and not because of the children.
  3. Always try and keep defined roles – be parents and not friends. Sometimes, with the best intentions, people either expect too much from their relationship. It is important to give each other space to come to terms with your new status. Don’t go planning days out, or holidays together.
  4. “Communicate, communicate, communicate” – this can be difficult at times – it may be that the other person has had a bad day and may react badly to something you have said. Whereas communication might have been a problem in the relationship, it is even more important that you try and improve communication now that you have separated.
  5. “Try to forgive”- this does not mean forget but try and be as peaceful with one another as possible – this is far better for the children.
  6. Make arrangements that best suit the two of you – frequently, I hear from client’s that they do not want to be “a glorified babysitter” or that the father has not had enough “parenting experience”. Parenting does not come with a manual sadly. It is important that both of you support each other even when things don’t quite work out.
  7. If you cannot agree on arrangements, try and mediate – mediation can help the two of you reach compromises in circumstances where the two of you on your own cannot. Mediation is about the two of you making decisions rather than a Court imposing them. It may help to be able to see things a little more clearly.
  8. Give yourself time to come to terms with your new situation. Some days will be easier than others.
  9. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We cant be perfect all of the time!

If you need some assistance from a mediator or family lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact Vicky Medd on 01484 538421 or by e-mail. Vicky Medd has over 20 years’ experience as a family lawyer and over 9 years’ experience as a family mediator. She is an accredited specialist with Resolution and Family Mediators Association.

Young Divorce – Lessons to Learn From a Bitter Divorce

The bitter and acrimonious case of Scot Young may not yet be over, despite the High Court ruling in November 2013 that Michelle Young be awarded £20 million.

The judge said that he felt sympathy for the children of the family after 7 years of bitter feuding between the parents had been played out in public.  Michelle Young had asked for £6.5 million towards her divorce costs, but the Judge awarded £5 million, saying that Michelle Young had duplicated costs by going to 13 different firms of solicitors, and 4 different accountants who between them dealt with over 65 different court hearings.

Michelle Young alleged that her former husband, Scot Young had tried to hide billions of pounds from her within the divorce proceedings.  Mr Young had been jailed for contempt of court for failing to comply with an order that required him to provide personal financial documentation.  The judge disagreed with the extent to which Mr Young had covered up his financial arrangements, but did accept that he had tried to hide a lot of assets from his wife.

The judge has ordered Mr Young to pay £20 million to his former wife within 28 days, on the basis that he had some liquid assets in 2008 to pay them.  If he breaches the order, Michelle Young will no doubt have to apply back to the court to enforce the order.

The judge criticised both parties, saying “I have to be highly critical of the way in which the case has been conducted at various times by both parties. In many respects, this is about as bad an example of how not to litigate as any I have ever encountered.”

Divorce is always difficult, and emotions run high, and for most people, the sums of money involved in this case are mind boggling.  However, the judge criticised both the husband and wife in this case.  Mr Young was criticised for attempting to hide the true scale of his wealth, and Mrs Young was criticised for seeing conspiracies everywhere.  Vicky Medd, an experienced family solicitor said “It is the job of the family lawyer to help guide clients through the process, and to try and help them concentrate on their future, rather than allowing emotions and a lack of trust to guide them in their decision making now.  This hopefully ensures that legal costs are kept to a minimum and that the process is relatively short.  The stresses that separating couples undergo as a result of the separation are bad enough, without long, expensive and fraught court proceedings making things worse.”

Vicky Medd is a Family Solicitor and Mediator at Ridley & Hall LLP. She can be contacted on 01484 538421 or via e-mail.

Family First is Two Month’s Old

Our innovative Family First department is 2 months’ old but we have over 50 years’ of Family law experience. Please choose us to help you

Elderly couples ‘Need More Relationship Guidance’

Elderly couples ‘need more relationship guidance’, BBC news 27.06.13

By Hannah Richardson BBC News education reporter

Elderly people in the UK should be offered more relationship support to help them cope with older age, the Relate charity says.

Relationships play a critical role in dealing with the pressures of old age, but can fracture if they are not nurtured, costing the state more money.

For full story click here

As Divorce surges in the over 60s Meena Kumari, Divorce specialist at Ridley & Hall Solicitors comments “I’ve  seen a significant increase in the number  ‘silver separations’ – older couples going through Divorce. They have heightened anxieties surrounding the disentanglement of a lifetime worth of assets and fears whether they will meet someone to support them in older age. More marriage guidance would equip these couples with the journey ahead.”

Meena heads up a new service Family First to help support couples with precisely these issues.

Government Cuts to Legal Aid Could Mean Parents Missing Out On Contact

By Vicky Medd Solicitor and Mediator with Ridley & Hall Solicitors.

The Government’s cuts to the Legal Aid budget which came in on 1st April 2013 are already having a massive impact on families in this country.

Previously, parents who were having a dispute over contact to their children could, provided they qualified financially, get legal aid to take the dispute to Court.  From 1st April 2013, this is no longer the case.

The Government brought in a very wide ranging definition of domestic violence, but have then brought in very stringent criteria in which legal aid will be made available.  Parents not only have to qualify financially, but they have to prove that there is domestic violence, or there is a child protection issue, and the evidence required to prove it are very exacting.

Vicky Medd, solicitor and mediator at Ridley & Hall said “Since the government cuts came in, very few clients have been able to get public funding for cases involving contact to children.  The evidential requirements often cost money – a letter from a GP, or a letter from the police are required to be written in such a way as to satisfy the Legal Aid Agency’s requirements.  This is stopping vulnerable people being represented by a solicitor in very difficult cases.  It could lead to more children not having contact to parents.”

In addition, people who can not afford solicitors are resorting to issuing court proceedings themselves.  This is taking up more court time, and the court system may struggle to cope with these cases.  This could mean court proceedings taking longer.  It also means that other services are going to be stretched – the Police and Social Services in particular.

Vicky explains “It  is hoped that the Government rethink their plan.  What they have failed to see is that by saving, they hope, £350 million from the Legal Aid budget, they will have to spend more in supporting other services like the police and social services”.

Vicky Medd is a family solicitor with over 20 years experience.  She is an accredited specialist with Resolution and has a lot of experience of financial relief, and child disputes.  Vicky was also recently involved in one of the first family arbitration cases in the country and has a lot of experience in dealing with cases as expeditiously as possible, whilst achieving the best outcomes for clients.

Vicky has also been a family mediator for the last 9 years.  She is a member of the Family Mediators Association, and is also qualified to act as a professional practice consultant, which enables her to work with other mediators, and try and develop their professional practice.  Vicky was previously head of a family mediation practice in a large West Yorkshire firm.

Vicky is also a Collaborative lawyer, which enables her to work with other Collaborative lawyers across Yorkshire to help clients achieve settlements with as little acrimony as possible.

Contact Vicky Medd on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.