Announcing: Stowe Family Law Settlements. By guest blogger James Thornton

Stowe Family Law Settlements is a new partner firm to Stowe Family Law. We believe that it is the region’s first specialist law practice of its kind: Stowe Family Law Settlements is dedicated to helping couples and families whose relationships have broken down, but who wish to avoid protracted and expensive courtroom battles.

Is change in the air? We think so – and would be interested to know if you agree. Stowe Family Law Settlements has already attracted media attention, and was launched in response to a surge in interest from Stowe Family Law clients over the past year.

As Marilyn Stowe has noted previously, the majority of Stowe Family Law cases are resolved outside the courtroom. We felt the time was right to set up a separate practice to focus solely on this area, and we are also hoping to build partnerships between Stowe Family Law Settlements and other law firms.

So what sets Stowe Family Law Settlements apart?

Well, one big difference is the way in which the firm combines mediation with family law expertise. Stowe Family Law Settlements is staffed by a nine-strong team of “lawyer mediators”:  trained family mediators who are also qualified and highly experienced family lawyers.

What do “lawyer mediators” do?

Couples meet in a neutral environment with a neutral lawyer mediator, who will provide a frank assessment and discuss the likely outcome of the case if it went to court. The lawyer mediator will then help the couple to arrive at a solution that suits everyone, and will also assist with drawing up a formal agreement that can be incorporated into an order.

At Stowe Family Law Settlements, our lawyer mediators are able to assist with a range of legal disputes including:

·         divorce and separation agreements

·         cohabitation agreements

·         child residence and contact disputes

·         grandparents’ rights

·         prenuptial agreements.

With decades of collective experience, the Stowe Family Law Settlements team includes members of family lawyers’ association Resolution and specialists in international law, cohabiting couples’ rights and cases involving children. The practice also benefits from the expertise of a forensic accountant, who can provide immediate information about finances and valuations.

Why now?

This innovative form of dispute resolution was once little-known in the UK, but is expected to increase in popularity. This is for two reasons:

1. From 6 April 2011, applicants for a court order in family proceedings will be expected, before making their application, to have considered with a mediator whether the dispute may be capable of being resolved through mediation. The court will expect all applicants to have discussed the case with a mediator before issuing proceedings and (except where exceptional circumstances apply) will expect any respondent to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, if invited to do so.

2. With one lawyer instead of two, the legal fees are often lower. Other benefits include the ability to resolve legal issues without the need for aggressive, stressful and time-consuming court proceedings. Couples are also able to maintain their privacy, because there are no court judgements to be made public.

Many couples split amicably and then find the stress of divorce proceedings drives a wedge between them. Most people don’t want to settle their differences in a courtroom or endure an unpleasant, protracted legal battle. They want to divorce, separate or resolve their legal disputes quickly and with as much dignity as possible, so that they can move on with their lives. Now, with increased pressures upon household finances, many couples are also looking to save money where possible.

More information

Locations: Harrogate, Cheshire and London.

Contact: call our practice manager, Morna Rose, on 0844 854 5421 or visit the Stowe Family Law Settlements website.

Ten good reasons for using Stowe Family Law Settlements

What you leave with


James Thornton is a lawyer mediator at Stowe Family Law Settlements and a partner at Stowe Family Law’s Harrogate office. With 14 years’ experience, James’ specialisms include dealing with the financial issues arising from divorce, particularly when substantial personal, business or pension assets are involved. His expertise also extends to cases involving children. A former member of the Law Society’s Family Panel, James is an Accredited Specialist member of lawyers’ organisation Resolution, sits on the North and West Yorkshire Resolution committee and is a member of the West Yorkshire Family Justice Council.


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