Cuts placing added pressures on separating couples

Sadly, January is when many couples with marriage difficulties choose
to make a fresh start, with many family lawyers reporting it is their
busiest month of the year.

The intensity and pressure of the festive period, together with
couples with children delaying difficult decisions until after
Christmas, regularly leads to a rise in divorce figures at this time
of year.

This year, however, the numbers are expected to be skewed by the
imminent cuts to Legal Aid. With public funding no longer available
for many family cases from April this year, Resolution’s members are
concerned that those who would previously have qualified for Legal Aid
may end up falling through the cracks after April.

This lack of access to legal advice could see an increase in drawn-out
courtroom battles; increased acrimony; and, most worryingly, a
detrimental impact on children. Resolution is an organisation of
family law practitioners who are committed to helping separating
couples resolve their disputes with the minimum of conflict,
encouraging them to put any children’s needs first.

At Dovetail we are members of Resolution and Robert Cresswell said:
“It’s certainly a worrying time. In a survey of Resolution’s members,
most Legal Aid practitioners believed less than a quarter of their
cases would continue to be eligible for public funding after April
this year. This may help the Government cut spending, but there’s a
bigger social cost in the long run.

“Resolution members – particularly those taking on Legal Aid cases –
certainly don’t see busy periods as a cause for celebration. Indeed,
any rise we see this year could be the tip of the iceberg, as we could
see just as many people next year who are not able to access advice
that helps support them through their separation.

Robert Cresswell encourages those facing separation and divorce to
speak with a Resolution member about their options, regardless of
whether they currently qualify for Legal Aid.

“Divorce and separation will always be a painful time, but it doesn’t
need to be the bitter fight you often see in the media, taking years
to settle and costing the couple huge sums of money. There are
affordable and effective ways that you both can reach an agreement,
ensuring any children’s best interests are put first and that the
courtroom is avoided wherever possible.

“Resolution recently published a guide to these options, called
Separating Together, and I would urge anyone who is facing separation
or divorce to read this before going any further.

“Many of our members will offer a free or fixed-price initial meeting
to talk through your options, so even if you will no longer qualify
for Legal Aid, it’s well worth talking to a Resolution member about a
way forward that works for you, as it could end up saving you money.”

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