Susan Alexander

Free parenting guide offered to separating families

New free parenting guide offered to separating families in Cheshire and North Wales.

The Parenting Through Separation Guide is written by family professionals and advises parents on how to put their children first during a separation.

The guide is being published by national family justice organisation Resolution, during their Good Divorce Campaign Week (29 Nov – 3 Dec), As Resolution members we are offering the guide for free to local families who are divorcing or separating.

We know that the pandemic has put huge pressure on families and even more so on those who are separating. Every parent wants to put their children’s interests front and centre, but all too often they don’t know where to turn for help and aren’t given the support they need in order to do this.

It’s important for parents to have access to good, authoritative and professional advice that helps them to parent responsibly through their separation. We hope all local separating parents will use the Parenting Through Separation Guide, to help them find a better way forward for them, and for their children.

The free guide is available to any parent seeking help during their separation. It contains advice about how to co-parent with a former partner, background on the common disputes that arise between separating parents, and how to talk to children about the painful topic of divorce or separation, plus much more.

Juliet Harvey, national chair of Resolution, said:

“I’m really pleased to have Cullimore Dutton’s support during Good Divorce Week. Resolution members like them do really important work in their community to help families separate in a constructive and amicable way. The more families who know about and use the free Parenting Through Separation Guide, the better equipped they will be to navigate the challenges divorce and separation brings, particularly when it comes to putting children first.”

In addition, Resolution have created this video to help support separation parents:

Here’s an extract of advice contained within the guide:

Top tips for discussing divorce with your children

If your situation allows, try to have a joint conversation when all of your children are present. Keep this age appropriate.

Plan a series of conversations, including different follow up conversations, if your children are different ages. Be mindful that their reactions will depend on their age, developmental stage and their individual personality.

Reassure your children that it is okay to feel sad or scared and showing emotion is good. They can always talk to either of you and ask questions.

Remember you are a role model and your children are watching how you manage this situation. If they see that you are still their parents, making decisions together about them, then they will cope better.

PDF copies of the guide can be downloaded from:

If you would like a free initial consultation to discuss your will with one of our team contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Susan Alexander

My Ruby Anniversary as a Solicitor

I was lucky enough to be taken on as a trainee by my university lecturer in Evidence and Procedure and had a great training in a Glasgow City Centre firm, specialising in civil litigation. I was only 20 years old when I had started my training in 1979 and extremely wet behind the ears. It is true that everyone in the office, including the one-legged mail man, knew more about the job than I did. On my first day I had to get a client to sign a form. This should have been a simple task, but I only asked him to sign on one page, not realising that he needed to sign on two. I was so terrified of getting into trouble that in the evening I took three buses to his home with the form for him to sign and once signed three buses back. In the morning no-one was any the wiser about my foul up.

The work was so different in those days and looking back, I feel like Methuselah. There was basically no tech although I do vaguely remember a Telex machine. There were no computers or even electronic typewriters, no faxes, email didn’t exist, mobile phones had yet to be invented. Yet at the same time Richard Susskind was a contemporary and even in these early days was writing about how lawyers would be taken over by machines.

In the mornings, the solicitors would arrive, their secretaries would serve them tea, sit down with a notepad and pencil and take their dictation to answer that morning’s post. Everything came by letter or was delivered. Conveyancing completions took place in person with the purchaser’s solicitor going personally to the seller’s solicitor’s office to exchange the money for the deeds. The court solicitors would then head down to the Sheriff Court in Glasgow to do their trials and proofs or appear in the Ordinary Court. The Ordinary Court was a massive court with around 30 or so lawyers gowned up in the benches with litigants and members of the public watching on. It was the size of a small theatre. This was a civil court which dealt with over 100 applications and civil interlocutory applications every day. Our firm did a lot of agency work and once I qualified, I became a regular at the Ordinary Court as an advocate doing scores of applications each morning. I had to learn to be very organised to make sure I had all the relevant paperwork at my fingertips, and I learned to think on my feet. The other lawyers nicknamed me the Iron Pussycat (this was of course, Mrs Thatcher’s era).

At lunchtime all the solicitors (all men, I was their first female) would adjourn to the Blue Chip for lunch. We would be joined by other solicitors from other firms and my bosses would regularly settle their cases with them over lunch. In the afternoon, we would be booked solidly with client appointments, yet no one seemed to work beyond 6pm.

It was a rarefied existence looking back on it. It took me a good nine months to even begin to feel like I could do the job. The salary was abysmal, but you were considered lucky to be paid as before my time budding solicitors had to pay for their training. I remember I was paid £8 per week. My parents lived far away from the City so I lived in digs which took up all my pay. I had a second job working most nights as a barmaid at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, which is the home of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, so at least I got some culture.

I relocated to Chester in 1993 and passed the exams to become a solicitor in England and Wales in 1994 and have practised here ever since.

It is hard to believe I’ve done the job for 40 years and that I was so young when I qualified. If you genuinely love the study of law and find people endlessly fascinating, then there is no better career. Out of my cohort of friends who graduated at the same time, only one other woman is still working in law. This is not a career for the faint hearted and you need to be very resilient.

Advice I’d give to my younger self (given to me by an older colleague): Don’t be so hard on yourself.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Susan Alexander

Update on No Fault Divorce

The Government has announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which will allow married couples to divorce without blame, will come into force on 6th April 2022.

The Act was due to come into force this Autumn but has been postponed allowing the divorce online IT system to be brought up to speed


How will the new Act be different?
In terms of the new Act one or both parties may apply for a divorce on the simple ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. However, before application can be made to the ‘conditional order’ (formerly decree nisi) stage, there is a waiting time of 20 weeks from the date of the application for divorce. Decree absolute may be granted 6 weeks after the date of the conditional order. The effect of this is that a divorce will take at least 6 months to finalise and more time if there are outstanding financial issues to be sorted out.

It is unlikely that the timescale will be any quicker under the new legislation but by removing the mudslinging of fault-based allegations, it is hoped that this will encourage couples to be more amicable about the other arrangements to be made in relation to the arrangements for their children and the splitting of the finances.

If you a facing divorce or separation and would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.