The importance of preserving privacy in divorce
Our partner, Nicki Mitchell, who heads Jones Myers’ York office, has recently featured in the Yorkshire Post’s Legal Matters Q and A section. Her insights on issues – which include the importance of preserving privacy in divorce – are featured below.
What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?
When I qualified 25 years ago the law was a very different place. The world was full of general practitioners doing everything from defending speeding motorists to conveyancing. Solicitors treated family cases as something to be “won” in the same way as damages for a road traffic accident.
Thankfully, things have changed with the introduction of mediation and collaboration which can help avoid a protracted, expensive and stressful court process. As a skilled mediator who became the first collaborative family lawyer in York in 2005, I’ve seen at first-hand how clients have benefited from going down this route and preserving their privacy. Good specialist family lawyers recognise that separating couples can move on with their lives without fighting in court.
What law would you like to see changed?
Our current divorce laws are completely outdated and I am delighted that no fault divorce is finally making its way through parliament. Some say it will make divorce easier but it is never easy. Forcing couples to justify why they can’t live together does not, in my experience, save marriages – it just increases conflict.
As a firm Jones Myers has been an ardent supporter of Resolution’s long-standing campaign to introduce no fault divorce – having witnessed how friction from acrimonious break ups impacts negatively on children. Changing the system to remove animosity and frustration will enable couples to focus on vital factors such as creating financial security and ensuring the future happiness and wellbeing for their children is preserved in a harmonious, as opposed to a harmful, environment.
What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?
It isn’t about an individual case. The most important decision anyone makes when a relationship breaks down is how they deal with the consequences. I spend time with clients explaining the options. Although no one process is right for everyone, communication is key. I get real satisfaction working as a mediator and collaborative lawyer, helping couples to work through one of the most difficult times in their lives. Separation doesn’t just affect couples. It has a real impact on the lives of their children, wider family, friends and colleagues. Anything I can do to minimise the damage, whilst giving sound advice is what the job is all about.
Who in the legal world do you most admire?
The obvious choice is Baroness Hale who hails from Yorkshire and whose string of achievements and ‘firsts’ is inspirational. However, there are local lawyers whom I admire for their sensible approach and commitment to supporting separating couples whilst minimising the financial and emotional cost.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
It’s not about you! What we do and how we do is highly responsible and affects the lives of those we work for. The best family lawyers I have worked with have been compassionate and sensitive to clients’ needs, but firm when necessary in handling their affairs. They are also dedicated, driven, and passionate about clients and their cases, good listeners, sensitive and understanding as well as being personable, trustworthy, open minded – and non-judgmental.
For queries on family law call our Leeds office on 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office on 01423 276104 or our York office on 01904 202550. Visit www.jonesmyers.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @helpwithdivorce \ls