Elizabeth McCallum, who is a family barrister and co-founder of Children in the Middle.

Family barristers commend report calling for a change in approach to divorce and separation

Authored by Reporters
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 11:41am

BARRISTERS at a Westcountry-based law service specialising in family and child law is supporting a new report that calls for parental breakdown to be moved away from a ‘justice’ response.

A 123-page report by the Family Solutions Group said that a legal response to parental disagreements over their children is inappropriate for many, and actively harmful for some.

Family barrister, Elizabeth McCallum, who co-founded Children in the Middle® with fellow Exeter barrister Sarah Evans, says: “The new report from the Family Solutions Group calls for a rethink of society’s approach to divorce and separation and we also agree that it has to change.

“Many parents turn to the family courts with disagreements about their children almost straight away, before taking time to talk things over and compromise. Many parents’ first expectations upon separation is to fight for their rights, rather than cooperating and working together over their shared love for their child or children.”

The report, titled ‘What about me?: Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation’ recommends improving information and support for children, with those deemed to be of appropriate age being consulted on the decisions that will affect them.

It also calls for a triage with parents to assess their needs and direct them on a safe pathway for vulnerable families who do need access to the family court or to direct them away from court and promote a long-term parenting relationship.

Elizabeth added: “Of course, this isn’t easy for parents and there are further recommendations for them to seek therapists and mediators alongside legal services to help them work together and resolve issues rather than work against each other.

“We’re here to help those couples at any point during their separation, get together, discuss and work out what is right for them and their child/children.

“No matter how challenging your circumstances, we can guide you through making care arrangements that work for you and your children. We offer creative, practical solutions to even the most difficult problems, so you and your children can move forward in a positive way.”

Children in the Middle® is one of the few legal services in the country offering people the chance to speak directly to barristers. In the past a solicitor was required to instruct a barrister, but due to rule changes under the Public Access Scheme, members of the public are now able to instruct barristers direct. 

Elizabeth has practiced in this area of law for more than 14 years. She initially qualified as a barrister, then transferred to become a family solicitor. More recently, she has resumed her career as a barrister. 

Sarah, who has been a children law specialist for more than 30 years, has a wealth of experience having spent time as a family lawyer working in the USA, Scotland and London before joining Magdalen Chambers in Exeter as a barrister. 

“Most of our work is done remotely, which means geography is not a barrier. It also means we keep our overheads down, a benefit we can pass on to you. What we offer is affordable, expert legal advice about your children.

“By having direct access to our barristers, you can save money by managing your own case through handling the admin and the paperwork, while still benefitting from specialist legal advice from a barrister, who is a children’s law expert.” 

As well as helping with court cases, Children in the Middle® can offer assistance with appointments and paperwork to parents living anywhere in the UK.

For further details, please visit www.childreninthemiddle.co.uk.

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