Where can I get help if I’m going through a separation?
Mediation is often the most amicable and cost effective way of resolving a family dispute. Local mediation services I work with regularly are:-
Whilst solicitors see a case through from beginning to end, barristers specialise in representation at court. I usually conduct all hearings myself but you can choose instead to instruct a barrister. If you simply want representation at court without any help with correspondence or negotiation, you can instruct a barrister direct without first instructing a solicitor under the Direct Access scheme.
Chambers I work closely with are:
Family breakdown can often cause great stress and it can be difficult to talk openly with friends and family who know both parties. Many find counselling helpful. Your GP can refer you to NHS counselling or therapy services, such as the Staffordshire Wellbeing Service. There are several local charities and many private counsellors who can also help. Local services include:-
Staffordshire Wellbeing Service. All issues, based at Queens Gardens Business Centre, Newcastle under Lyme.
Neroli Counselling All issues dealt with, including counselling for children and young people.
Mind All issues, based in Hanley
Relate Relationship counselling for couples and individuals, including support following separation, based in Hanley
Dove All issues of bereavement and loss, based in Hanley
Help for families and separation
YMCA Relationship services provide parenting courses, Separated Parents Information Program and child arrangements negotiation meetings to help parents discuss and make arrangements for the care of their children. They operate a contact centre on a Saturday morning.
You can find useful information about the law, whether you can get legal aid, support for your children and how to go about representing yourself at www.resolution.org.uk and www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk
The Transparency Project is a registered charity which explains and discusses family law and family courts in England & Wales, and signposts to useful resources to help non-lawyers understand the system and the law better. It was endorsed as source of information for parents by Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice McFarlane during his keynote speech at a Family Justice Council event on 9th March 2017.
Driving and motoring offences
Stephen Oldham specialises in advice and representation if you are accused of a motoring offence.
If you have been invited to attend a Public Law Outline meeting by Local Authority Children Services or Children Services have issued court proceedings in relation to your children, you are automatically entitled to free legal aid regardless of your financial circumstances.
You can use the Civil Legal Aid Eligibility Calculator to find out whether you qualify financially for legal aid. If so, you will be entitled to public funding for mediation and associated legal advice. You are entitled to legal aid in relation to protection from domestic abuse.
If you are able to provide written evidence that you are the victim of domestic abuse or that your children are at risk of significant harm, you would be able to apply for legal aid for any aspect of family law. You can download template letters requesting evidence from the Gov.uk website.
The Civil Legal Advice helpline provides free Advice over the telephone about many aspects of the law.
Free advice and assistance
The Citizens Advice Bureau provides advice on areas not generally covered by solicitors such as debt management, housing and benefit entitlement.
The Money Advice Service is an independent service set up by the government to help people manage their money.
CLOCK (Community Legal Outreach Collaboration Keele) provides assistance from students from Keele University to support people who are unrepresented in court proceedings.
The Gov.uk website is a wealth of information and guidance about many aspects of the law.
You can download court forms from the court website
To get a figure for Child Maintenance use the Child Maintenance Calculator
Use the Benefits Calculator to check potential entitlement to benefits and tax credits.