Who are we ? What do we do? Why do you need us?
Happy New Year, to all existing readers and to many new ones.
Today’s Family Lawyer will be bringing you a plethora of news, articles and blogs from a variety of legal professionals and also from me.
As we leave the old year behind and look forwards to a shiny new one, many people will be thinking about what this year will bring and perhaps start making changes to various aspects of their life, whether for personal or professional reasons.
I am hoping that this year will bring much needed change to the process of divorce and separation in the U.K.
With the imminent advent of No Fault Divorce and changes to co-habitation law, the time is ripe for us to change how we steer couples and families through the separation/divorce process.
Why the need for change?
- The current narrative for how we practice law for divorcing couples is, in my opinion, outdated.
- Family law professionals are overwhelmed with workload, court waiting times, litigants in person to name but a few, and are lacking in education, communication skills and coping strategies when helping the traumatised clients with whom they work.
- The modern family unit continues to evolve, with cohabiting couples out numbering married couples and many more ‘blended families’ becoming the norm.
- The rise in mental health issues for children is increasing, whilst provision for intervention is decreasing as NHS funding is reduced year on year.
- Co-parenting issues continue to rise, often ending up in court, as divorced couples struggle, with little help and support, to navigate relationship breakdown.
I have been working for the past decade as a Relationship Therapist, helping individuals, couples, families and businesses with a multitude of relationship issues.
For the past few years I have been working with family law professionals as a Family Consultant. This is a relatively new profession and one which I hope will become an essential element in the separation/divorce process.
My role as a Family Consultant evolved as I realised, whilst working with separating couples and their children, that there was something missing in the divorce process for both clients and the professionals they turn to for help.
So what is a Family Consultant?
“A family consultant is a professional with a background in clinical psychology or psychotherapy who works alongside lawyers to help divorcing clients reach the most advantageous and healthy settlement solutions for themselves and their children.” – Chris Mills, Psychotherapist, Bath
How do we do this?
Work is undertaken one-to-one with individuals, couples and families providing information, education, training and support for a variety of relationship, separation, divorce and co-parenting issues.
During the collaborative divorce process, attendance at round table meetings with clients and their legal professionals can be arranged.
Referrals come from a variety of sources including, ‘word of mouth’ recommendations, family solicitors, barristers and even at times a direct referral from the court.
Family law is evolving, and I believe there has been little by way of education for the professionals helping their clients separate.
In order to create a bridge between psychology and family law, I have developed two workshops specifically to meet the needs of ‘Today’s Family Lawyer’.
These workshops are already providing valuable resources and strategies that both improve client outcomes, and ‘arm’ legal professionals with information and techniques for working with emotionally traumatised clients.
I believe that integrative practice is the way forward if we are to reduce the number of referrals to the family court, and to ensure that today’s separating couples go on to create healthy, on-going, co-parenting relationships for themselves and their children.