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Take the time to talk for the children

View profile for Sam Miles
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Come January you either look back at the year or forward to the next.  Family lawyers instead expect to be preparing for their so called busiest time of year.  The first working day in January is known as ‘Divorce Day’ each year, as lawyers receive more enquiries than at any other time of the year, and the latest EU data shows that the UK has the highest rate of family breakdown in Western Europe.  Sam Miles, Family Partner, here explains how this has the biggest effect on children, and why the new regulations around mediation can help in some way to bring normality back into their lives.

“Statistics show that more children than ever celebrated Christmas with only one of their parents, following a relationship break-up,” begins Sam.  “According to the research, published by the Marriage Foundation, one in three children under the age of 15 woke up with just one parent on Christmas morning.  In addition to this, there are many more families where couples will have ‘held it together’ for one last family Christmas, but who will now be heading for divorce following the raised tensions over the festive break.

“If you are considering divorce, the first step is getting some legal advice about your situation,” explains Sam.  “The law changed significantly in 2014, and every couple will have different reasons as to why they wish to separate, so it is best to get advice on your particular situation.  One of the biggest myths surrounding divorce is that matters are all dealt with in one and this isn’t the case.  A divorce simply dissolves the marriage, any other issues such as children matters or financial matters are not considered in this process. Dealing with them separately has benefits, it reduces confusion and helps keep all parties focused on resolving their difficulties amicable and productively.”

These discussions can get messy however; as emotions are running high and parents may wish to score points against each other, leaving the children caught in the middle.  Sam explains, “Mediation is the best way to ensure parents keep their children’s best interests at the forefront of their minds by introducing a neutral party to the discussions and removing the animosity between parents.  It’s for this reason that mandatory mediation information assessment meetings before filing court papers were introduced in 2014.”

Figures suggest that mediation is faster and cheaper than going to court, with Government figures showing the average time for a mediated case is 110 days compared to 435 days for non-mediated cases.  As a result, family lawyers are saying the emphasis for 2015 will be on talking solutions.

Obtaining advice at the start can help avoid pitfalls or anxiety later on.  Sam concludes, “We appreciate that just after Christmas legal advice seems an expensive outlay however we often find understanding all the options available at the start can help avoid difficulties further down the line, and make the process as pain-free as possible for all concerned.”

To find out more about mediation or the divorce process, contact Sam or the Family Team on 02380 717431 or visit the website


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.