Time for Climate Change in the Family Justice System

How does a family justice system, with 150 years of legal development behind it, reduce adversity? Is it even possible?

Our founding partner, @HelenAdam3, Chair of the Family Solutions Group, was invited to deliver this lecture at the Family Justice Council conference. She commented: ‘An adversarial system for separating families is a bit like the carbon combustion engine; thought to be a useful vehicle for dealing with a family breakdown when it evolved but we now know it’s harmful. Other safer ‘greener’ methods are urgently needed.’ You can read the full speech below:

Bridget Lindley Memorial Lecture 2022

Here at The Wells Group, we are committed to ensuring the best outcomes for children when parents separate. That’s why we offer all families an invitation for child inclusive mediation as part of our divorce process. For more information, speak to a professional today.  


No Time to Fight: No-Fault Divorce Coming into Effect April 2022

On 6th April, no-fault divorce will be coming into effect in England and Wales. The new Divorce Act will allow couples to end their marriage jointly, rather than needing to apportion blame to the other party.

With the current system, couples are required to prove one of the five grounds for divorce. For decades, this has coerced couples into feeling the need to apportion blame to their partner, resulting in a more hostile divorce process. By removing this requirement, the new Act is designed to encourage a more collaborative approach to divorce.

The introduction of no-fault divorce is long overdue. However, legislative change alone is not enough to protect children from the effects of family breakdowns. The Family Solutions Group is urging the government to do more to put child welfare at the centre of family separation. One way this can be achieved is by reframing our national vocabulary to eliminate the combative subtext that is still so prevalent during the divorce process.

In a comment released today, Helen Adam, one of the founders of The Wells Group and chair of the Family Solutions Group says:

“We can no longer ignore the mental health risks for children and parents by framing all family separations as legal disputes. If the only provision on offer is one which pits parents against each other during a time of already heightened emotions, then we are simply adding fuel to the fire of separation.

Some families need the robust protection of a court order but most families need a safe space to talk rather than the boxing ring. Now is the time for change. It’s time for a gentler, more relational approach for the many thousands of families who separate each year.”

You can read the full article here.

Here at The Wells Group, we are committed to ensuring the best outcomes for children when parents separate. That’s why we offer all families an invitation for child inclusive mediation as part of our divorce process. For more information, speak to a professional today.

Language Matters: An End to Custody Battles

For many years, family lawyers, mediators and judges have been frustrated to hear family law incorrectly referenced in the media, arts, and by the public in general. One continually hears reference to the term ‘custody’ when in fact this was abolished by the Children Act in 1991.  Similarly, there’s a language of battles, when the law expects parents to cooperate with each other wherever safe to do so. Only yesterday there was a play on the radio which  referred to ‘the main carer’s rights’. Aaagh!

There’s great news this month and hopes for change. First of all, the President of the Family Division[1] has been promoting the importance of using the right language in the context of family law, quoting extensively from this article by Helen Adam in Family Law:   https://www.familylaw.co.uk/news_and_comment/language-matters-time-to-reframe-our-national-vocabulary-for-family-breakdown2

This article highlights the many changes to family and relationships over the last 50 years, and the important progress made in many aspects of our modern vocabulary, for example the removal of gender-biased and racist language from everyday speech. Yet we still carry the unfortunate legacy that family breakdown is an adversarial legal process conducted against a backdrop of aggression and conflict.

A new language around family breakdown is needed to ensure safety and to protect the children of parents who separate.

Launching this week is a new initiative: the Family Law Language Project. This was borne out of a recommendation by the Family Solutions Group for correct language to be used in all references to family law, bringing an end to the unhelpful and potentially harmful terminology so often heard. Emma Nash, a London solicitor, has pulled this together with a team of family professionals. Their hope is to make it user-friendly, to demystify terms which are difficult to understand, and gently to correct those words which so often crop up and which in fact have no place in family law at all.


Well done Emma! We’re really excited by this new initiative and hope it will be the start of a new language – one which is less intimidating and more reflective of the needs of families going through a difficult transition time, and mindful of the wellbeing of children.

Helen is one of the founding partners of The Wells Group. She is a Senior Mediator and Child Consultant. Helen is the mediator representative on the Private Law Working Group, which is examining how family law disputes are currently resolved in England and Wales, and how that might be improved.  In 2020 Helen was invited to become Chair of the Family Solutions Group (a sub-group of the PrLWG), and its report “What about me?”, focusing on the needs of the child following family separation, was published on 12 November 2020.

[1] https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Supporting-Families-in-Conflict-Jersey.pdf

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