UK family lawyers launch mental health resource for divorce clients

The tool includes a guide for identifying and engaging with clients struggling with mental health

UK family lawyers launch mental health resource for divorce clients

Family lawyers in the United Kingdom have collaborated with mental health professionals to develop a comprehensive resource aimed at supporting individuals navigating the complexities of divorce and mental health challenges, The Law Society Gazette reported.

Spearheaded by Ben Parry-Smith, a partner at Payne Hicks Beach, this initiative brought together expertise from the legal and psychological fields to enhance the support offered to vulnerable clients during what can be an exceedingly stressful period.

Parry-Smith emphasized the responsibility of family lawyers to extend their duty of care beyond traditional legal advice, highlighting the importance of directing clients to appropriate mental health support. “I am delighted so many of us collaborated on this initiative and hope that it will be a valuable resource for anyone practicing family law in the UK. I hope it shines a spotlight and starts a wider conversation about how best to help vulnerable clients and indeed, one another,” Parry-Smith said.

The newly developed guidance encompasses several key areas, including a guide for identifying and engaging with clients struggling with mental health, a primer on self-care and professional boundaries for lawyers, and a “survival guide” for clients to understand and manage the emotional toll of separation. Additionally, an “escalation policy” provides a framework for law firms to respond to clients exhibiting increasing vulnerability.

Contributions from organizations and professionals such as Dr. Jonathan Iliff of Psyke/NHS, Dr. Emma Jones of Sheffield University, and Sheena Cassidy Hope of Mishcon de Reya, among others, have been instrumental in the creation of these resources, according to Payne Hicks Beach. The initiative also draws on existing materials from the Family Justice Council, Tavistock Relationships, and the Law Society, offering a well-rounded support system for both legal practitioners and their clients.

Payne Hicks Beach also acknowledged the Mindful Business Charter and members of the family law group resolution for their input during the consultation process, as well as the multitude of law firms, social workers, and mental health experts who contributed their insights and expertise.

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