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Will children of separating couples become increasingly vulnerable as more parents opt for a DIY divorce?

A recent drop in private family law cases could mean that more separating parents are taking the law into their own hands when it comes to childcare arrangements.

Recently published statistics by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service reveal a 36% year-on-year drop in the number of family cases involving children. These figures follow a report from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service released earlier this year which found a sharp increase in the number of people representing themselves in the family courts in the UK.

In 2013 significant changes were introduced which removed legal aid from the majority of divorce, residence and child contact cases.  Critics warned that the changes would be damaging to vulnerable families who would no longer be able to afford the legal advice they so desperately need during these difficult circumstances. Recent reports add weight to this argument indicating a growing trend of people taking matters into their own hands or simply giving up when it comes to their children.

The breakdown of a marriage or relationship is hard for everyone involved. While couples may be divorcing or separating, their role as parents continues. Children often don’t understand why their parents must live apart and can have difficulties coping with the significant changes that this will bring to their lives. With emotions running high, many parents find it difficult to agree on sensitive and contentious issues including where their children should live, when they should see the non-resident parent and child maintenance payments.

It’s vital therefore for families in this situation to have access to professional legal support to help protect both the best interests of the children and to try to salvage an amicable relationship with ex-partners with whom there is a lifetime tie despite the decision to separate as a couple.

By opting for a DIY divorce, separating couples with families risk matters getting messy further down the line with children feeling confused and upset if clearly defined agreements haven’t been reached concerning shared access and finances for example.

There are now a number of options available to separating couples to avoid matters reaching the courts, parting ways when there are children involved is a complex issue involving the agreement of both parties on key aspects which impact the whole family.

There are a number of different approaches to divorce to help families get through this difficult period in a conciliatory fashion and with the long term needs of the whole family in mind. Appointing the right divorce lawyer to help match the appropriate divorce method to individual family’s needs can help avoid a lot of heartache further down the line.

While legal aid remains available with regards to mediation, recent research suggests that the number of people accessing these services has dropped since the changes to legal aid were introduced last year.

Mediation and collaborative law can prove very beneficial during divorce proceedings particularly when there are children involved. Both provide a less contentious approach towards reaching important, jointly agreed, decisions putting children at the heart of the family, and justice system, where they belong.

Linder Myers’ team of specialist divorce lawyers can help you through your divorce or separation while protecting the needs of your children and making sure you have all the support needed for the next chapter of your life.

If you’re looking for a divorce lawyer in Manchester please contact one of our team of solicitors for an informal chat.

Find out more about our Family department Read ‘A complete legal guide to divorce and separation’


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