Children, Challenge and Growth
Published on 16 October, 2018 | Katie Dillon
Twelve months is a long time in family law.
In September 2017, I chose to join Hall Brown in order to lead its newly-established children’s team and have since been delighted in how its grown and how the service which it provides has improved.
The division had been formed in response to a rise in the number of complex cases involving children seen by my colleagues since the firm opened its doors to clients 18 months before.
What we intended to provide was the kind of support needed by individuals dealing with matters of great delicacy. It was a move which, in my opinion, has been fully justified.
We have seen a continued steady increase in the amount of children’s cases that we handle, involving topics as diverse and as difficult as abduction, relocation and even domestic violence.
Many of those have been made even more fraught by their extending across different jurisdictions.
A rise in the number of parents confronted with such circumstances has subsequently led Hall Brown to devote even more resources to this area of work.
In the last few months alone, our children’s unit has recruited an additional three staff – Senior Solicitor Melanie Kalina, Solicitor Emma Godefroy and Paralegal Jodi Ford – to enhance our ability to offer clients the very best service possible.
The resourcing of these matters is, I believe, important, given that not every case can be resolved speedily and the fact that it’s essential for clients to have access to advice when they need it most.
Statistics released in June by the Ministry of Justice showed that private law children’s cases which make it to court are currently taking even longer to conclude (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/720100/FCSQ_January_to_March_2018.pdf).
The average of six months is an increase of three weeks on the year before and illustrates the pressures which courts and families are currently under.
That is partially due to the fact that more than one-third of cases now feature parents who have chosen to represent themselves because of the withdrawal of Legal Aid five years ago.
It is understandable that men and women who are unfamiliar with the finer points of children’s law and the judicial system may take longer to arrive at a decision.
Even so, as we know, many parents clearly feel that the well-being of their sons and daughters are better entrusted to individuals with experience of the issues and intricacies concerned.
In addition, as Hall Brown Family Law’s Senior Partner, Sam Hall, has observed, our ability to deal with parents’ legal concerns both effectively and in a sensitive manner has been one factor in the increase of people coming to us for advice and assistance over the last 12 months.
I feel that’s due to our regarding every matter of this sort as significant due to its potential to affect parents and children well into the future.
We consider that it’s important to be available, able and willing to help and reckon that families deserve nothing less.