TCCR has teamed up with Mischon de Reya to help address the need to offer alternative ways to resolve disputes for families, so that litigation can be the last, not the first resort for the resolution of parental disagreements.
This project comes in light of recent government figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, which reveal that the numbers of unrepresented parents in family court cases have increased dramatically over the last year coinciding with the withdrawal of legal aid from most family proceedings in April 2013.
Compulsory mediation information sessions were introduced by the government in April this year with the intention of reducing the number of parents litigating childcare disputes, however this has not had the desired effect. Instead the numbers of disputes reaching the courts have increased.
As part of the initiative, TCCR has worked closely with client-facing staff in Mishcon's Family Department to develop a common language to help their clients understand the benefits that therapeutic remedies can offer them and their children. Now that this training has been completed, TCCR and Mischon are working to create materials designed to support the law firm's clients in making positive choices about their children when going through divorce or separation. These materials will be supported by the best research evidence, practice guidance and practical tools available, to make any referrals effective and useful.
Susanna Abse, Chief Executive of TCCR said: “TCCR welcomes this new partnership with Mishcon de Reya which gives us the opportunity to further roll out therapeutic services to help parents come to collaborative agreements about their children. We know from experience that the need for these kinds of services is huge and this project will offer a ground breaking example of partnership between lawyers and therapists”
The service will last for six months and will provide a fuller evidence base and case study for advocacy and wider roll out to other law firms; broader adoption of the initiative being a key goal for both TCCR and Mischon.
Sandra Davis, Head of Family at Mishcon de Reya, added: "Despite the best intentions of the Judiciary, CAFCASS, specialist family law practitioners and experts, the process of separation or divorce remains fundamentally adversarial and blame-focused. Inevitably the child loses out. This project aims to promote the more positive alternatives to litigation, to ensure that as few children as possible are negatively impacted by the process".