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Aug 19th, 2019

Newly accredited resolution specialist discusses reducing conflict during divorce

Congratulations to Debra Jackson in our Family Law department, who has recently become a Resolution Accredited Specialist.

Debra is an associate solicitor within the team, and has been awarded Specialist Accreditation in Cohabitation and TOLATA (The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996) and Complex Financial Remedies I.

All of the solicitors within the Family team are active members of Resolution, and Debra now joins Laura Sargeant and William Kaye as Accredited Specialists in York.  Emma Lawler, in our Lincoln office, also holds this prestigious accreditation.

As members of Resolution, the team are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Debra tells us more about being a Resolution member, and the ways in which working with a Resolution Member can make separation as positive as possible for the whole family.

What does it mean to be a Resolution Specialist?

Resolution is an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.

Being a member of Resolution brings many benefits to our clients, we can access a wide range of resources to assist them in what is often a tense and emotional time of their lives.  They also have the comfort of knowing our focus is on helping them move forward in a constructive and positive way.  We avoid expensive and acrimonious Court processes where we can, and in doing so keep their costs as low as possible, but also set clients up to move forwards with their lives.

I am proud to have gained Specialist Accreditation to complement this approach.  Being an Accredited Specialist means that I have been able to demonstrate expertise in Cohabitation and Complex Financial Remedies for low to medium income cases.  

I am delighted to know that my skills and expertise have been recognised in this way, and clients can be confident when instructing me that I am able to represent them at the highest level, providing realistic and appropriate advice, and always upholding the Resolution Code of Practice when doing so.

How do you think things will change when the ‘no-fault divorce’ legislation is introduced?

Although we do not yet know when this change will come in, it is one of the things that I am asked about in initial meetings with clients most frequently.

The law that we currently use for divorces dates from 1973, and simply does not reflect the reality of why most people ultimately separate.  At the moment, anyone wishing to become divorced before they have been separated for 2 years must place blame for the breakdown at the other person’s door.  Sometimes this is appropriate, but more often than not, the relationship has run its course, and neither party feels that they are responsible for the breakdown.

The new legislation to avoid this must be drafted carefully, with checks and balances to prevent it from being abused, but along with the many members of Resolution, I would hope that this will significantly reduce conflict - which almost always means lower costs, and a quicker and less painful process.

Most importantly, we know that when parties are engaged in high levels of conflict, this creates significant potential difficulties for any children, both at the time of the divorce and in later life, and means that the parties themselves take longer to move past the separation.

I hope that with the more immediate no fault divorce option, we will see less contested and acrimonious proceedings, and a legal system working better for the people who need it.

How do you see the law for cohabiting couples developing?

Langleys are proud to support Resolution’s campaigns for better rights for cohabiting couples – those who live together but have chosen not to marry.

This is the fastest growing sort of family in this country, and at the moment, the law provides minimal protection of people who have lived together, often for years, and then separate. Many people are entirely unaware that they could be left with nothing from their partner, and the current law will do little to help them.

Again the law needs to be developed to more accurately represent the society that relies upon it, and The Law Commission, Resolution and a number of MP’s have all called for this change.

I would hope to see the law develop to provide cohabiting couples with the right to ‘opt out’ if they have chosen not to marry specifically to avoid acquiring such rights and entitlements, however for the majority of cohabiting couples, the Courts should have the ability to make orders and awards which more accurately reflect the commitment made to one another and the life that they shared together.  For the many people who simply do not realise that even after living together all their lives, they could be left with nothing, some protection needs to be built into the law.

At the moment, cohabiting couples can only start to protect themselves by entering into cohabitation agreements, but these do not provide any assistance with pension provision, and again rely on the couple recognising that they are necessary and seeking advice.

Until the law does develop in this area, I would suggest that any cohabiting couple who own a property or other assets (particularly if they are only in one of their names) should seek advice from a suitably qualified solicitor as to the best way forwards.

Do you need guidance with your separation? If you would like a free initial appointment with one of our specialist family team to discuss issues such as separation, divorce or arrangements for the children, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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