Chair of South Yorkshire Resolution, Vanessa Fox, spoke at the group’s first ever winter dinner, of the ‘difficult times’ facing family lawyers and their clients since the removal of Legal Aid for most family law and divorce matters.
Vanessa, head of the family law team at hlw Keeble Hawson, told the audience of lawyers and guests: “We all know the massive effect of the removal of public funding on our clients, and the effect of the rise of the Litigant in Person on the court system and our daily professional lives.”
Resolution is a member-based organisation of family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales who are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.
The South Yorkshire group was founded almost 30 years ago and the group’s dinner boosted funds for Kids in the Middle – a charity which supports children from separating and separated families – by over £1,000.
In her presentation, Vanessa said that many clients were having to think ‘often with their pocket in mind first’ when considering separation and divorce, and thus might not benefit from approaches such as mediation and collaborative law which seek to avoid court room confrontations.
However, despite significant changes to family law this year, she added that family lawyers’ concerns are the same as they were 20 years ago.
“Resolution members have tried to find a ‘better way’ for our clients to separate and divorce, putting their interests first and their children at the forefront of our thinking as practitioners,” Vanessa said.
“We know the damage that can be done to children’s lives by warring parents, the money that can be spent from a limited family pot on litigation, and we all give advice daily to members of those families to try and make the position less acrimonious.”
Also speaking at the black tie dinner at the Royal Victoria Holiday Inn, was Sheffield’s Designated Family Judge, Her Honour Judge Carr QC.