Belinda re-trained in law as a mature student and completed her legal studies in 2015. She has worked with property lawyers and leading Cambridge family lawyers since graduation before deciding to introduce an innovative approach to the challenges currently facing family law.
Belinda has developed a good knowledge of the legal framework that underpins family law disputes, solid experience of how a court might approach any given set of circumstances and a down to earth negotiating style which recognises and absorbs the underlying emotions at play when such difficult practical decisions are required to be made.
Belinda has championed mediation and some of the many new forms of dispute resolution as the better way to resolve issues relating to family breakdown, ever since her own experiences as a client in divorce in 2007. Belinda has experienced, first hand, the adversarial nature of court processes. She saw the excessive financial cost of going to court, she witnessed the worsening effect this has had on the relationships of everyone involved and felt the lack of control over decisions relating to everyone’s future that court proceedings bring. Belinda brings a keenness to find the most cost-effective, least acrimonious route to settlement for any set of circumstances, but recognises that, as in her case, sometimes court is the only option.
Belinda has experience of contact disputes around children and brings a keenness to always put the child at the centre of considerations, rather than in the middle of the conflict. She has, also, developed a specialist knowledge and understanding of issues relating to personality disorders and Parental Alienation, when it is often not possible to ensure that the child is not exposed to conflict. Having worked with alienation specialists, Fran Wiley QC in London and Margot Elliot in Peterborough, Belinda has developed an awareness of the issues that can easily be overlooked in cases such as these, an understanding of the need to act quickly to avert quite devastating consequences, in particular for the child, and a knowledge of the changing approach of the courts to these cases. Belinda has also supported parents whose children are on Child in Need plans or who are on the Child Protection Register, in their involvement with Children's Social Care.
Belinda also works on financial matters, both supporting Direct Access barrister support at court and other forms of negotiated settlement. Having previously run her own, successful businesses, and benefitting from an MBA from City Business School (now CASS Business School), Belinda is comfortable working with company finances as well as the more traditional areas of division of property and assets. Belinda works closely with Independent Financial Advisers where appropriate, on such matters as pension sharing or other investment planning.
Belinda is a trained mediator with the Family Mediation Council. She completed her mediation training with the Family Mediators Association in April 2015. Belinda believes that a careful assessment of the needs and mindset of each party is key to defining how best to resolve a family's matter. At this highly emotionally charged time, Belinda feels that what separating couples need most is support and calmness to help them come up with their own solutions and to be supported to move towards their own preferred settlement at the same pace. This can be vital where children are involved and where you need to continue to co-parent for many years beyond divorce. Belinda strongly believes that mediation and constructive negotiation can provide this environment as well as a platform for better ongoing communication. However, Belinda promotes all models of constructive dispute resolution as no two sets of circumstances are ever the same and actively refers clients to other services where appropriate to do so.
Belinda is also one of the first practitioners to be trained in parenting co-ordination in the UK. Parent co-ordination is a relatively new practice, currently already used in the US, Canada, South Africa and Hong Kong to manage ongoing issues in high-conflict child custody and visitation matters by a professional psychologist or family mediator. Parent co-ordinators are trained in law and in mental health counselling. The parent co-ordinator usually meets with both parents, regulary, receives day-to-day queries or complaints about aspects o a party's conduct and then makes recommendations to the parties in relation to conduct, communication and securing external support or help.
Belinda regularly mediates family disputes in the Cambridge Family Court.
Belinda is a member of Resolution, The Law Society and of the Family Mediators Association.
In her spare time, Belinda is also the Treasurer for the Cambridge and Ely Child Contact Centres.
*A McKenzie Friend is someone who can help you at Court if you are a Litigant in Person (LiP) and who can help you prepare your case and relevant documents. There are some things that a McKenzie Friend cannot do on your behalf, such as conduct litigation, file Court documents or write letters although they can provide assistance with these activities, for you to then send, yourself. There is a Practice Direction issued by the Family Court which provides the guidelines. Currently, a McKenzie Friend does not need to be legally trained, have indemnity insurance or abide by SRA guidelines. It is a good idea to verify which of these three important areas of legal support, your McKenzie Friend does offer.