When we heard that legal aid was going to be withdrawn from private family law, we committed to filling the knowledge gap.
Why us? Since 2006 we've been providing family law information to separating parents. Our team has collectively answered more than 10,000 posts from separating parents on various independent and charity based forums. When we started, there was little that was written for parents. There was nothing detailed enough to help a parent manage their own case. Parents were entirely reliant on solicitors or spending hours trawling the internet or buying expensive books. We asked the question "What happens if you can't afford a solicitor?" The answer was to try to represent yourself in court with scant information to help you... or... simply give up.
More and more parents are choosing to represent themselves, and the withdrawal of legal aid from private family law cases will see a further 50,000 families lose mainstream legal advice. We've been helping parents like them for the past six years. In 2006, we had published The Custody Minefield book, which reached no.2 on Amazon's Divorce Chart and was stocked by Waterstones and other major high street retailers.
The law evolves, and we found that a paperback format was soon out-of-date. Reprinting was costly, so we started to move to a digital format, and our website started getting more and more visitors. The number viewing our guides roughly doubles each year. In 2011 guides were viewed 278,000 times. We've already had over 400,000 page views in 2012. Many of our online pages are top ranked on Google. We don't pay for advertising, our growth comes from word of mouth recommendation (primarily from the major charities, parenting websites and various others). The Times recommended us as a top family law support website in 2008.
Technology moves forward, and when it was announced that legal aid was to be abolished, we decided to build a library of legal guides. We're providing them in a variety of formats. There's this flApp... there are our 21 litigation packs... case law to download.
What makes us different? We write guides from a starting position of knowing the questions that parents ask... and particularly, parents who cannot afford a solicitor. Aside from our own publications, we've led the way in informing parents about relocation law (and successfully lobbied to improve it)... campaigned for greater rights for grandparents... written guides for leading national charities... pushed a rational and research based argument for shared parenting and contributed to Government consultations on family law reform. In this flApp... we answer 350 questions on family law, cover more than 60 categories, and the final word count is more than 700,000 words of content. Massive content but in a simple, accessible and user focused format.
Mr Justice Ryder recently called for more information for separating parents. We've already built it m'lord!
If you notice a link that doesn't work... or a full stop that's missing, please let me know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Everything is done by volunteers... and in this way, you do your bit too!
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Michael Robinson © 2014
Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales
Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland.