Press Release




Leading debate on supporting parents and their children after the UK summer riots.

This year, Family Law in Partnership LLP[1], a law firm passionate about providing the best possible support for families navigating the family justice system, joins Researching Reform[2], a project dedicated to highlighting family policy issues, to host a debate in The House of Commons on Monday 12th December which will examine how, in the wake of the summer riots, the family justice system can play a vital role in supporting families and children, and encouraging family values in today’s complex world.

The family courts are under fierce pressure to protect the welfare of children in the UK, at a time when resources[3]are under increasing strain and confidence in the system are at an all-time low. The riots in August have added a striking dimension to family policy: the apparent neglect of some children from prosperous backgrounds. Dubbed ‘middle class rioters’, there is a rising unrest amongst young people in Britain[4]. From grammar school pupils to law students, social exclusion is no longer a phenomenon exclusively associated with vulnerable children, but affects children from all walks of life.

Chairing the debate is John Cryer, Member of Parliament for Leyton & Wanstead[5].

The panel members for this debate are:  Sue Atkins[6], parenting expert for the BBC, Elaine Halligan[7], Director of The Parent Practice, District Judge Nicholas Crichton[8], lead Family Justice Council member for the Voice of the Child Subcommittee and David Allison[9], partner at Family Law in Partnership LLP and chair of the family solicitors group, Resolution.

Our panel members say:

Sue Atkins: “Kids spell love, T-I-M-E”.

Elaine Halligan: “Society is in crisis. There is no one explanation to explain why the rioters resorted to criminal activity,  as they came from all walks of life ranging from those who were unemployed; fatherless; uneducated to those who were female; professionals and well-educated from stable homes.

 I feel there is a crisis of parenting; we need to take responsibility as a community for what has happened and think holistically about how we can support parents to bring up the next generation better. Given the statistics of separating families there is an onus within the family law system to enable separated parents to co-parent effectively, ensuring all children survive in a post divorce world. “

District Judge Crichton: “We need to understand the wholly disproportionate cost which our most troubled and dysfunctional families represent to the taxpayer. Often the problems have been repeated through several generations. It is important to find ways of breaking the cycle. It is not easy”.

David Allison feels strongly about providing support: “Families are under ever-increasing stress from economic turmoil, work life balance issues and the break-up of relationships. In these circumstances parenting can be a challenge for many of us. This debate will examine how those of us closely involved in the family justice system can provide help and support to reinforce family values and to enable families to avoid becoming involved in the court process.”


For further information please contact:

Natasha Phillips – Researching Reform

07769 647 983


Notes to Editors:

[1] Family Law in Partnership LLP is a leading  law firm which specialises in private family law. During 2011 the firm was named Family Law Firm of the Year, receiving a prestigious  industry award for best family law firm in 2011.

[2] Researching Reform is a project founded by Natasha Phillips, after she went through the family courts herself. She has written a manual on what it is really like going through the courts and the Westminster Debates Series are also part of her project, in which she hopes to create useful dialogue between families and government.

[3] Resolution article, 8th November, 2011 “Carry on with the cuts and good divorce reforms will fail

[4] Daily Mail, 2nd September, 2011, “The Middle Class Rioters Revealed

[5] John Cryer is a Labour MP, representing Leyton & Wanstead. He voted against the introduction of tuition fees in 1998 and benefit cuts.

[6] Sue Atkins is a parenting coach whose work has been featured all over the world. She has written articles for The Times, The Daily Telegraph and Psychologies and makes frequent TV and radio appearances for the BBC.

[7] Elaine Halligan is a parenting specialist and has a keen interest in a variety of Special Educational Needs, such as dyslexia; dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorders.

[8] District Judge Nicholas Crichton has been working as a family judge for twenty-five years and recently received an industry award for successfully implementing a Family Drug and Alcohol Court designed to help parents with addictions and keep families together.

[9] David Allison has been a partner at Family Law in Partnership LLP since 2001, where he has a comprehensive family law practice with particular emphasis on the legal issues affecting un-married families and civil partners.


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