start apart, but which way do you turn?
separating couples across England and Wales are not getting the help they
desperately need at their time of crisis because they do not know which way to
turn, says a leading family charity.
100,000 marriages ending each year, and signs that January’s traditional upsurge
in separations will again occur this year, National Family Mediation (NFM) has
released data which shows huge increases in calls taken by its specialist
helpline staff. But it also show that each month in 2014 an average of 770 calls
went unanswered because the charity does not have funding to employ more
specialist staff to help families at their time of need.
'At a time of
crisis, you need to know where you can turn for help,' says Jane Robey, CEO of NFM
'This January, as couples resolve to make a new start apart, there will be
thousands of people rooting around for the advice and help they need to
kickstart their futures.
It’s easy to
be seduced by the inviting façade of the high-street solicitor, and the promise
of achieving a courtroom "victory’" over your ex. But there are other ways to
manage your separation that are better for the children and which allow you to
keep control over your own destiny. There is no need to leave it to a court to
make vital life-changing decisions.
access to advice for your own situation, you can end up taking what’s become the
default route towards an acrimonious and courtroom battle that you can ill
afford and that will leave you and your children scarred for
says the dramatic increase in demand for the charity’s specialist telephone
helpline shows more and more people who face separation are confused about which
way to turn.
specialist staff have taken over 2,200 calls each month in 2014, a rise of 67
per cent on the year before. The nature of the calls has changed too, with
increased confusion and bewilderment as people struggle to understand their
Minister aware of rise in calls
of calls our hard-pushed staff have missed, because they’ve been on other calls,
is worrying. Tenacious couples ring back later, but too many will be falling
through the net, exposing themselves to high-cost legal fees to settle their
divorce when there are much cheaper and quicker options.
our figures and our fears with Justice Minister Simon Hughes when he visited us
recently, and we are seeking funding that would enable more
specialist staff to be recruited to provide the help these families badly need.
mediation empowers separating families to reach agreements solutions on
property, finance and children that are in their own interests. Its timescales
are significantly quicker than court. It allows families to stay in control of
their destiny, their finances and their new family relationships, because
decisions are made by you, rather than about you. It is less
confrontational than a court battle, and it has fixed costs with flexible
payment terms - it remains free if you are eligible for Legal
What do you think? Here at Jordans we are sure that many practitioners will not necessarily agree with these comments. Why not add your view to the debate?The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.