Family lawyers have set up a scheme to help separating parents who do not qualify for legal aid to work together to minimise conflict and put their children first after the breakdown of their relationship.
Resolution has been given more than £650,000 by the Department for Work and Pensions to pilot the project – Family Matters.
It will run in Crewe, Newcastle upon Tyne and Oxford for two years from April 2013 to April 2015.
Resolution’s long-term aim is that it will provide a model for supporting separating families that can be replicated nationwide.
Announced by Resolution’s chair Liz Edwards at the family lawyers group’s annual conference today, the scheme will provide advisors known as ‘family matters guides’ to provide help and guidance for separating parents on low incomes who are not eligible for legal aid.
Legal aid was removed for most private law family matters from 1 April when the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 came into force.
The guides, who are trained lawyers and mediators, will not offer legal advice, but will provide separated or separating parents with information and guidance to help them access local services to assist them in reaching constructive agreements that focus on the needs of their children.
The funding is part of a scheme announced last June by the DWP as part of a government initiative to promote collaborative parenting in separated families and better coordination of the services available to them.
Edwards said the project builds on Resolution’s approach to help parents minimise conflict on separation.
‘The emphasis is on enabling separating families to maintain lines of communication and reach agreements together,’ she said.