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Family Law Blog

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Is ‘Sorting Out Separation’ the answer?

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So what do you think? The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a smartphone and web app to help the 300,000 families undergoing separation in the UK each year.

It pledges to offer parents tailored advice on where they can access support while going through a break-up: financial, legal and emotional. It comes on the back of a specially-commissioned poll that shows more than half of separated parents find it difficult to track down the support they need.

It has some fairly high profile endorsements: Mumsnet, Relate and Families Need Fathers were among the organisations supporting the launch.

A third of children in Britain now live in separated families and so it is commonplace for families to be in need of support rather than it being the exception it might have been 30 or even 20 years ago.

In some ways, Sorting Out Separation appears to be the type of service more forward-thinking agencies and family law specialists have been offering for some time, but obviously coming from the Government, it is going to have a higher profile and is to be applauded. Is it the whole answer? I doubt it, but I would be interested to hear other people’s views on this. The information hub also covers housing support and arranging child maintenance.

I am pleased that the Government is getting involved to help us tackle the huge challenge we have of families in crisis across the country. I am also happy that they have chosen an online portal through which to do this. However, the reality is that every single case is different. An online tool may point people in the right direction but it needs to be made equally clear that this is not the solution to the problem. And I am not sure that message is coming out at the moment.

It’s an issue that has me in a quandary. What do you think? Let me know…

Andrew Woolley
Family law solicitor

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My major criticism is that the app does not ‘point people in the right direction’ at all. It often simply points them in the direction of the same parental rights organisations that have been exacerbating the disputes between parents for the last 30 years.

This was supposed to part of the Government’s drive to promote collaboration between parents after divorce or separation. It’s difficult to see how the app will help at all.

It’s desperately disappointing to see Maria Miller and Tim Loughton’s radical vision reduced to something akin to ‘Kids in the Middle II’....

By Nick Woodall on Thursday December 13, 2012

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