The school summer holidays will shortly be upon us. It is a time of year when parents who have separated particularly look forward to spending a few precious weeks – or even a few days – away with their children and, maybe, other family members too.
Most, but by no means all, are able to plan well in advance so that everyone knows what they will be doing. But a significant number, often through no fault of their own, leave the planning until very late in the day. And there are those who assume that their plans are agreed, when the reality is that they are not. Left unresolved, disappointment invariably follows.
Those who can afford to consult solicitors. Those who are permitted to issue proceedings may find that the courts have difficulty accommodating a hearing on short notice at what is a busy time of year.
The DRS Unit remains committed to providing access to its services for as many as possible in an easy and informal way. And so for the month of June and until the schools break up for summer, we have set up a special scheme to offer mediation services to those who need help in formulating, or finalising, their holiday plans.
Provided, obviously, no safeguarding issues arise we can offer appointments at short notice and will do our best to work around existing child-care and work commitments. Within the scheme we are also able to offer an early neutral evaluation service (ENE) to those who may benefit from a more directive approach, in terms of the range of the powers available to the court in the particular circumstances of the case, as well as likely outcomes.
For those who may wish to find out more about ENE, His Honour John Altman (formerly designated family judge for London, an Associate of chambers and a member of the DRS Unit) has written an article on the subject which you can read here.
A similar scheme will be launched in the autumn to run from 1 November 2016 to provide mediation services in the run up to the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Further details of the scheme, together with costings, can be obtained by contacting the clerks on 0207 936 1500 or via Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Kirk QC
Head of the 1kbw DRS Unit and Deputy Head of Chambers