August 10, 2022

Self-representation can be a minefield: how to put children’s best interests first  

We applaud the Government’s plans to increase funding to give those most in need access to legal support and help more people to manage their legal issues in the early stages.

The assistance aims to prevent fewer people from becoming a ‘litigant in person’ and representing themselves in court, while also providing specialist legal guidance to those who go on to do so.   

The dramatic increase in litigants in person has resulted from the 2013 demise of Legal Aid. Sadly, there are many cases where estranged parents cannot agree on key areas for their children’s welfare such as finance or living arrangements.

Many litigants in person find it challenging to prepare and read substantial paperwork and to understand procedures, the finer points of law and advocacy techniques.

They also experience anxiety about presenting a case in a technical manner, requiring knowledge and an emotional distance.  

Putting children’s best interests at the heart of relationship breakdown is vital.

Jones Myers is at the forefront of alternatives which guide and support our clients through the following processes which are less confrontational, private, and avoid going to court.

Arbitration – a private court hearing where couples hire an Arbitrator (‘Private Judge’) to speed up the outcome of their financial settlement.

Like a judge, the Arbitrator hears the evidence from the couple, collects relevant facts, and bases their decision on the evidence, considering the views of both parties.

Couples have the same Arbitrator through the process – something which will rarely happen at Court where different Judges are often involved at various stages of the proceedings. The Arbitrator’s Award over who should have what is final and binding.

Collaborative Family Law – a “no court” agreement is signed at the outset in a shared commitment to find an agreed resolution.

The couple appoint their own collaboratively trained lawyers and work with them to find, address, and resolve key issues. Accountants, IFAs, and other relevant experts can also attend the sessions if required to provide expert advice in a neutral way.  

Mediation – where separating couples confidentially discuss the most important issues with a qualified mediator.  They work constructively towards agreed arrangements for the family’s long-term interests.  

Bringing financial and time savings, the process takes the time it needs to resolve the issues, keeping communication channels open. Any agreement is again confidential to both parties.

Our partner, Nicki Mitchell, a highly experienced mediator and collaborative family lawyer is also a child-inclusive mediator who meets with children of separated parents and hear what they want.

Founder, Peter Jones, can arbitrate on financial and property disputes and the breakup of civil partnership or disputes between cohabiting couples whose relationships have ended. 

These alternatives enable divorcing couples to agree solutions which put their children’s future wellbeing and happiness first.

For queries on divorce or family law, call us at Leeds, 0113 246 0055, Harrogate 01423 276104, York on 01904 202550. Visit, email or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

 Jones Myers blog is ranked 9th in the UK’s Best 25 family law blogs and websites to follow in 2022.