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Aurora Family Mediation is now one year old and this anniversary coincides with some important changes to the industry. Now seems like a good time to update you with how these changes will affect you and what our service can provide.
Year One for Aurora Family Mediation
I decided to found Aurora because, after practising as a lawyer for twenty years and as a qualified mediator for 10 years, I saw the value that my particular experience and expertise can bring to couples. I bring a unique offering to our clients through my ‘lawyer mediator’ background and have a wealth of experience and accreditations:
- Recognised by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and family mediation council (FMC) to carry out family mediation
- Resolution trained mediator
- Collaborative Lawyer and resolution accredited specialist
- Law society family Law panel
- Member of the FMA
- Direct consultation with children
I give family lawyers a professional and effective avenue to mediation for their clients and believe that solicitors refer a client to me because they know and trust that I will do my very best to help them find their way to agreement.
Legal Aid rules set to change.
A year into my adventure with Aurora and the landscape is set to change significantly as a result of reforms to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012. The scope of services covered by legal aid will be reduced significantly and legal aid funding will be withdrawn for the most frequently seen family disputes. The LASPO Act will limit the availability of funding to those cases involving issues of child protection or where there is evidence of domestic abuse within the relationship.
Public funded legal services will be limited to:
- Public family law regarding protection of children (care proceedings)
- Private family law with evidence of child abuse
- Child abduction
- Legal advice in support of mediation
- Domestic violence injunction cases
- Forced marriage protection orders
Mediation in a comfortable environment
I know that separation can be an upsetting and stressful time for any couple. Whilst a mediator cannot tell people what to do, couples can make their own well informed decisions with information about the law, finances, children and other issues.
As I prepare myself for any mediation session I like to remind myself of why we are there and what the process can mean for the couples I am about to see.
- I aim to create an environment where people are comfortable and at ease to encourage meaningful dialogue in a welcoming and neutral space.
- We take each step only when a couple is ready to do so, helping them to put the most they can into the process whilst allowing them to cope with their emotions.
- The overall intention is to ensure they receive a great service, value for their money, effort and time and the most amicable solution possible.
Over the past year I have successfully helped many clients, both private and legally aided, and I look forward to building on Aurora Family Mediation’s successful start in the year ahead.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you think I can help.
Nicolette April 2013
Dispute Resolution by way of arbitration is looked at in the following case reported in family law week January 2013
High Court approves consent order achieved following rabbinical arbitration
All issues, including parenting of children, referred to Beth Din
In AI v MT  EWHC 100 (Fam), Mr Justice Baker has given judgment in a case in which a consent order was agreed following an arbitration carried out by rabbinical authorities.
The parties' lawyers invited Mr Justice Baker to give a judgment explaining the court's approach to the process of arbitration chosen by the parties as the means to resolve the issues between them.
The judgment dealt with three significant issues:
- Baker J considered and agreed to a request by the parties to refer all issues (including those relating to the financial settlement, the status of the parties marriage and the care and parenting of their children) to arbitration (at the date of the order in February 2010, there was no precedent for referring a matrimonial case for arbitration) by a Jewish religious court, in this case the New York Beth Din.
- He considered the interaction of English law and Jewish law (Halakhah) and in particular the paramountcy principle on which English children's law is based.
- Considered the plight of the agunah, the Halachic term for a woman who is 'anchored' or 'chained' to the marriage, as a result of her husband's refusal to grant her a religious divorce, known as a Get.
Mr Justice Baker, commenting on the arbitration proceedings, said:
"I consider that the resolution of the issues between the parties by this process was largely in accordance with the overriding objective of the Family Procedure Rules 2010. I have some concern about the delays in the process, and thus question whether it can be said that the case was dealt with 'expeditiously'. I have no information as to the costs incurred by the parties. But overall it was, I think, fair and proportionate. So far as the children were concerned, the outcome achieved by the Beth Din award, as refined subsequently by the parties through further negotiation and agreement, was manifestly in the interests of their welfare. It was unnecessary for the court to embark on any lengthy analysis of welfare issues. So far as the financial settlement was concerned, the terms of the agreement were unobjectionable. The parties' devout beliefs had been respected. The outcome was in keeping with English law whilst achieved by a process rooted in the Jewish culture to which the families belong."
"This decision is perhaps the first where the court considered its ability to refer all issues between parties who were embroiled in divorce, children, financial and child abduction proceedings to arbitration (in this case an arbitration scheme run by a Jewish religious court, the New York Beth Din).
"The case will have very significant resonances within the Jewish community where the plight of the Agunah is a serious issue in England and indeed in many jurisdictions worldwide. The fact that the lawyers on all sides worked so hard to deliver sensible and sensitive outcome for this family has resulted in a landmark judgment where all the principles of English Law were applied rigorously but, as Mr Justice Baker said in his judgment, 'it was notable that the court was able not only to accommodate the parties' wish to resolve their dispute by reference to their religious authorities, but also buttress that process at crucial stages'."
Henry Setright QC, of 4 Paper Buildings, and Edward Devereux, of Harcourt Chambers, (instructed by Dawson Cornwell) represented the father. Marcus Scott-Manderson QC and Teertha Gupta QC, both of 4 Paper Buildings, (instructed by Manches LLP) represented the mother.
UK residents (under 65) living in married households have declined by 6% in last ten years
Cohabiting couples and lone parents households increase
The latest statistical bulletin, published by the Office for National Statistics and derived from the 2011 census, focuses on the structure of households. The bulletin shows that the number of UK residents under the age of 65 living in a one family married couple household has declined by 6% since 2001. The relative numbers of such residents cohabiting has risen by 2% and as lone parents by 1%.
Key findings are:
- Thirteen per cent (7.1 million), of usual residents in households in 2011 lived in one person households, the same percentage as in 2001 (13 percent, 6.5 million).
- The percentage of usual residents in households who were part of a one family married couple household, where at least one household member was aged under 65 years, decreased by six percentage points from 50 per cent (25.3 million) in 2001 to 44 per cent (24.4 million) in 2011.
- The percentage of usual residents in households who were part of a one family cohabiting couple household, where at least one household member was aged under 65 years, increased by two percentage points from ten per cent (4.9 million) in 2001 to 12 per cent (6.5 million) in 2011.
- The percentage of usual residents in households who were part of a one family lone parent household, where at least one household member was aged under 65 years, increased by one percentage point from 11 per cent (5.4 million) in 2001 to 12 per cent (6.5 million) in 2011.