This year’s Resolution National Conference took place on April 20 – 21 in Bristol. It is one of the most anticipated annual conferences for family law practitioners, bringing together those who are committed to a constructive and non-confrontational approach to family law matters.
One of the key topics of the 2018 Conference was no-fault divorce, and there was a broad range of content available across the two days, revolving around family law updates, proposed reforms, and skills workshops.
For me, there were two particularly notable talking points.
The first, and undoubted highlight of the conference, was Lady Hale’s keynote address in which she advocated for the provision by the courts of a ‘one-stop shop’ for family applicants as well as no-fault divorces.
Presently, in family law conflicts, parties can expect to be confronted with many family law applications and processes – matrimonial home division, divorce petitions, financial remedy proceedings, and child and support arrangements.
Lady Hale, however, emphasized that this process could – and should – be streamlined through an online process. One that allows individuals to tell their story, make claims, and seek relief in a simple and effective manner all at once. An idea such as this has the power to increase access to justice and decrease court waiting times. If put in place, this plan has the ability to tremendously change the family law system.
To read more from Lady Hale’s keynote address, including her five point plan, click here: https://www.supremecourt.uk/docs/speech-180420.pdf.
A second highlight was a discussion at the Family Law Question Time panel event, in response to the rhetoric surrounding a ‘meal ticket for life’. This term has recently been used to describe long term spousal maintenance payments provided to a partner following a divorce.
The discussion at the conference focused on how this term is misleading – failing to consider gender inequality, or the role other disadvantages can play in affecting one’s capacity to earn in the future. An example of this is providing maintenance payments to a mother, who set aside her career to raise the children. In fact, during her keynote speech, Lady Hale gave reference to Miller, emphasizing that an equal start to independent living might require compensation awards as a result of decisions the parties made when they were together.
The Conference was a tremendous opportunity to network with fellow family law professionals, discuss pertinent case law, and think critically about the family justice system.
Next year’s conference will take place from April 5 – 6 in Manchester.
Matthew Richardson, member of Coram Chambers and the YRes National Committee