Dispute Resolution Quiz – are you really walking your talk?

It’s short and it’s essential – so go ahead and do this quick quiz  to prove that you are indeed walking your talk when it comes to promoting dispute resolution.

ONLY MEDIATORS AND COLLABORATIVE LAWYERS are eligible for this quiz (anyone else is going to get a very low score!)  Click here…


michelle camacho Taylor Rose Collaborative Law


“The quiz helped me be more aware that I need to focus on actively promoting my collaborative work on a day to day basis”

Michelle Camacho: Collaborative Practitioner Taylor Rose TTKW




And how will you make it pay?

What is your Intention right now, for how much dispute resolution can be part of your law practice?

Start answering both those questions by completing the quiz – you get your score at the end.

Suzanne Kingston family arbitrator london

“I have done the survey! It was engaging, interesting and easy to do so it would be great to get it used more widely and it’s a great resource….”

Suzanne Kingston: Partner, Solicitor, Mediator & Arbitrator Withers World Wide




Complete the short quiz by clicking here – you get the results straight away!



Tomorrow’s Child Exhibition – 1001 Critical Days Manifesto

Tomorrow’s Child Exhibition – 1001 Critical Days Manifesto

Without a name, an unseen face

Without a name; an unseen face and knowing not your time nor place, Tomorrow’s Child, though yet unborn, I met you first last Tuesday morn.


The beginnings of this poem by Glenn Thomas was read by Ray Anderson during his TED conference talk regarding sustainability, but today its ethos is being addressed by the charity Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK who are facilitating an exhibition in Parliament, to continue focusing the hearts and minds of policymakers regarding the experience of being a baby in the UK.

tomorrows child exhibition 1001 critical days manifesto

The origins of Monday’s Child is fair of face rhyme with its beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century, used a fortune telling methodology to predict the life chances of childhood. Today there is incontrovertible scientific understanding which is contributing to policy discussions of the 1001 Critical days: conception to age 2 period – asking for a cultural shift in thinking about the importance of the antenatal period and its significance for future life chances of the unborn baby.

Tomorrow’s child exhibition presents a creative response to the only cross-party children’s manifesto in the country which brings together a coalition of policy-makers, professionals and parents, to enable the village around the infant-family in our local communities.

Should the day in which you are born determine your life chances? Giving every baby the best possible start in life presents us with a challenge and responsibility to consider together what that looks like in the UK. How well we are doing with what science and economics is showing us is a progressive way of thinking for better outcomes for our citizens.


Suzy Miller is the UK’s unique ‘Alternative Divorce Guide’, Public Speaker and Trainer, featured on Radio 4 Women’s Hour, the Daily Mail and C5’s The Vanessa Show.

Her submission, Suzy Miller: Alternative Divorce Guide is a series of videos under the title of “Do Babies Cause Divorce?

The focus of these short films is how, during the first 1001 days, divorce and family separation has a range of effects upon the new life  and therefore the family as a whole, and society – both financially, health-wise and also on a deeper level of ethics/humanity.



Earliest relationships and children’s experiences of this right from their experience in the womb, lays the foundations of potential and building blocks to support infant and early childhood mental health.

Creative collaborations between a community of 60 artists and scientists have generated a fascinating menagerie of art objects, images and designs, which positions this exhibition as a pioneering piece of neuroscientific enterprise.


Saying bad things about Mummy: Co-parenting through divorce and separation

In Psychology Today, Edward Kruk has written of 11-15% of the children of divorcing parents suffering the effects of implacable hostility. In the UK, where roughly 250,000 divorces are granted every year, that estimate would equate to some 50,000-75,000 children every year.

The parent labelled with ‘implacable hostility’ is unable to see any value in their child spending time with the other parent.  But the effects of this on the child can be extreme, and the phrase used to discribe this is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), which can begin at a very young age – even younger than 2 years old.

But there are much more subtle and common forms of alienation, and not always against the non-resident parent.

This mother shares her story:


Building babies minds has been a recent campaign launched by the charity PIPUK, recently saw over 10 million people across the UK engaged in raising awareness of infant mental health in the first national week of its kind. Infant mental health and its public message of prevention as cure, contributes significantly to children’s mental health and it is in this context that thinking about a child’s life chances can be thought about – preventonomics to give a better start for investing into our future generations.


Tim Loughton MP says:

“There is a growing acknowledgment that those first early years of a child’s life are absolutely crucial. Getting it right as parents supported by professional help and public investment where needed has the potential to make a huge difference to how that child will grow into an adult contributing to society.

Putting this approach at the heart of what Government does in which there is now buy in of all the political parties. I’m delighted to be sponsoring the Tomorrow’s Child exhibition in Parliament which is a creative response to the 1001 critical days’ manifesto from a community of artists and scientists who have worked in collaboration over many months to bring the arts and science together for such an important topic”.


Bringing art and science together to represent the names and faces of the 776,352 babies born each year in the UK and the many losses which add up to 3,564 stillbirths, 42,841 recorded miscarriages and around 186,000 through termination of pregnancy brings a focus for the infant-family and all of the joys and sorrows experienced in homes throughout our villages, towns and cities.

Survey of law firms effectiveness in promoting Dispute Resolution

Survey of law firms effectiveness in promoting Dispute Resolution


Survey to measure how law firms promote DR

and how well they do it:

How does your firm measure up?


I believe there are two reasons why the majority of law firms I observe who offer dispute resolution, fail to proactively promote it.  I think it’s about time someone pointed them out.


But first I need to illustrate the extent of the problem.  So I’ve started a survey and begun with 4 law firms in the South East, measuring the amount of online content they dedicate to DR.  I’ve also included the number of relevant videos that appear for each firm during an ‘on page one’ google search.  The results were interesting, and I hope that other firms will want to do the survey for themselves – full guidelines and the results are below.


The two reasons for the failure to promote DR

The first reason sounds too cynical, but there may be truth in it.  It just might be that law firms do not feel committed to dispute resolution and feel no obligation to encourage more of it to happen – at least not enough to direct their marketing spend in that direction.

This could be why it is not unusual for a Mediator or Collaborative Lawyer to say the words: “I’d like to do more DR and to promote it – but the firm just won’t spend the money.” 

Now that would make sense if we were talking about spending more than the cost of a meal for one at Pizza Express every week for a year – but we’re not.  This is not a financial issue – it is a lack of Will.


But I believe there is another reason too.  A more serious one.  That the DR professionals themselves are afraid to put their heads above the parapet – outside of the secure comfort of private LI groups – and shout “Hey, come over here – Dispute Resolution is not a tick-box – it actually works!” 


Self-promotion does not seem to be included in the Resolution training – and more’s the pity.  Which is why you hear some Collaborative Lawyers saying: “There’s not much demand for it” – and totally ignoring the fact that it’s very hard for the public to demand something they don’t even know exists. 


This is an uncomfortable truth that some lawyers seem to try to pretend isn’t the case.  But it is.  Finding out about Collab in a state of emotional upheaval during a MIAMS is just not the same as finding out about it when searching: ‘how to divorce’ on Google in the earlier stages, well before everything starts to go pear-shaped.


So who got the Gold Stars and who got the Raspberries for the survey?


Let me put it in perspective first.  This is not a ‘name and shame’ – simply an investigation which I found very useful for myself, and I wanted to share it. 

If you would like to survey your own firm, the simple instructions are below, but I wanted to ‘frame’ the results briefly before I tell you what I found.


I used private browsing to get consistent results and simply used a short selection of keyword phrases and recorded the page links that appeared on the first page of google that were focused on dispute resolution.  In an effort to be kind, I included the legal firms profiles of their dispute resolution professionals who appeared in the searches, even though some fail to provide actual information about DR on those pages.


I also clicked the video link on google for each DR search to record the number of videos about DR that appeared – which is important, bearing in mind that over half the search traffic is now viewed on mobile devices, and video is a very accessible way to access information (rather than reading small text off your phone).

The selected keywords were: divorce (company name), mediation (company name), collaborative law (company name) and then the number of links of 1 lawyer per firm searched with the terms (name of lawyer) mediator and (name of lawyer) collaborative lawyer.


So far I have surveyed 4 law firms in the South East – naturally including one of my clients who does invest in promoting dispute resolution – and here were the results:


And the winner is?


Not surprisingly, the smaller firm that deals primarily in dispute resolution (O’Sullivan Family Law) faired much better in this survey than a full service firm.  But only by 6% more on the number of total links per search page, focused on dispute resolution using the search terms, compared to full service firm Stephen Rimmer LLP.


However, it is worth noting that I was able to include the home page of O’Sullivan Family Law as relevant links because dispute resolution is specifically highlighted (naturally) – but there is no reason why larger firms cannot do the same.


Despite the many excellent videos Jo O’Sullivan has created, she was just topped by Stephen Rimmer LLP who had 31 videos appearing, compared to Jo’s very healthy 29.


Now here come the raspberries.


Obviously, this is only a guide, but I am going to stick my neck out here, and suggest that firms who have a similar score to Mayo Wynne Baxter and Dawson Hart Solicitors, pay attention.  You know who you are. You know that sandwiches and conversations in Pod meetings does not compensate for a lack of online marketing of DR by your firm.


I don’t think the two other firms I picked at random are in any way alone in being fairly ineffective in proactively promoting dispute resolution online.  And I hope that all firms that measure themselves in this way, will make a concerted effort to make sure that their own scores improve over the following year.  And not simply by better search engine optimisation (though that is worth considering) but by sharing useful content via articles and videos that potential clients will find of value.

I’ll let you see the results for those two firms yourself in the data table below, but suffice to say, there was a marked difference between the first two firms surveyed, to the last two, in the number of website pages and videos that were focused upon dispute resolution.


In summary, when a law firm’s name is linked to the word divorce in a google search term, wouldn’t it be grand if – rather than around 30-40% of the page links being focused on DR (as with the top DR promoters) – it was closer to 100%?


I don’t think that will happen while lawyers delude themselves that the public actually understand the true options open to them.  By creating worthwhile content and sharing it, not only will they be building a more educated client-base, but they may get more DR work into the bargain.

But is there the Will to do it?  Or is the world of online marketing and video still too scary for the more traditional law firms?

I shall let Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer John Stebbing of Stephen Rimmer LLP have the last word:


“It is seriously important that D R professionals drive forward through marketing to share the advantages of DR options with those facing family breakdown and conflict.

DR is imbedded now in the Family Law system, and its role must be applauded by all family law practitioners as reducing stress, cost, and conflict for our clients.

Legal practices have a responsibility to spread the word, so our clients seek DR options first out of choice, not merely to secure a signature on a MIAMS Form.”


Survey Results:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 16.51.29

For the full data (links on each search) email me and I can send it over: suzy@startingovershow.com


How to use the template

• Use the same keyword phrases replacing (company name) and (solicitor name) where appropriate

• Key word phrases are used ‘incognito’ (Private Browsing) to get consistent and fair results, page 1 of google only.

• Only record pages that were specific to dispute resolution (not simply mentioned on the family law page) and providing some DR information on the page linked to.    Nb. I have included profile listings from the firms’ own websites even though in many cases no explanation about the DR practiced by that solicitor is provided.

• Record the number of weblinks relevant directly to DR on the 1st search page, which includes profile listings, articles and videos.  There are 10 one each search page.

• Do not include links to LI (only relevant to people who have joined) or sites that provide only contact details and no actual information on the page about dispute resolution (you CAN include profile pages on your company website as long as your DR role is mentioned).

• Video columns are from the Video tab on google search per search term: count only the number of videos about DR linked directly to that firm ie. not generic DR videos.

NB: Even though some of the firms surveyed did have videos on their website pages, they did not necessarily appear individually on the google search pages.  (Which means better optimisation is required – eg.popping some relevant keywords into the Youtube tags).

Good luck!

Do Sick Babies cause Divorce?

Do Sick Babies cause Divorce?

An inspirational story by a mother who describes the strain on her marriage when one of their twins is born with brain damage.

Sarah’s Story



Study on bereaved parents and divorce

In an article entitled Bereaved Parents and Divorce by Dr Mark Hardt Ph.D. & Dannette Carroll, it is reported that in 1977 a bereaved parent, wishing to illustrate the need for a formal examination of the risk of parental divorce subsequent to the death of a child, guess-timated that 75% of such parents eventually divorce within months of the death (Schiff, 1977). The figure is not derived from any empirical evidence; it was meant to illustrate a need for analysis.  However, it became an accepted ‘fact’ by many professionals dealing in that area of support for parents.

Guilt and anger are very common emotions felt by parents whose children die, and these emotions need to be addressed.  It is significant that the majority of respondents reported that both they and their spouses had sought counselling after their child’s death.

In the film, Sarah explains that she and her husband – whose relationship was ultimately strengthened by the experiences and the way they dealt with those experiences – found counselling  extremely useful.  Particularly in helping them both to understand that they had very different ways of dealing with the grief, and to be able to support each other despite not necessarily understanding the other’s different approaches to surviving this emotional ordeal.


What about parents of children with special needs?

OnePlusOne states: “It’s not very surprising that research shows that couples raising chronically ill or disabled children are more likely to divorce or separate than parents with non-disabled children. And those couples who do split up are less likely to remarry.”

They put it down to “the gruelling schedule of 24-hour care and frequent hospitilisation, plus grief, financial pressure and continual worry over a child’s health” which puts a massive stress on the couple’s relationship.


Do babies that die cause divorce?

Although it is accepted that the death of a child can eventually lead to emotional estrangement, apathy, and indifference toward the marriage, a full on study was finally conducted by Dr. Mark Hardt and Dannette Carroll of Billing, MT.  This statistically responsible study presented some interesting results.

Only 9% of respondents divorced following their child’s death. 24% of the remaining respondents had considered divorce but had not actually done so.

Instead of serving as a catalyst to separate, it would seem that a child’s death can actually serve to draw couples together.


For families who are not suffering the loss of a child, but who are at risk of divorce – or have already split up – I believe they can find inspiration from the way Sarah and her husband dealt with the situation they found themselves in.

Whether a couple stay together or not – that ability to be resilient, to respect each other’s differences, and to find their own ‘dance’ – is going to make any co-parenting relationship stronger, whether inside or outside of a marriage.


Suzy Miller

CoParenting in a Box


With thanks to:

Sarah Davies for sharing her story: http://www.waveofenergy.co.uk/
Natasha Rusalka for her song ‘Tempest’
Caz Greenwood for cover image

Additional music Rights Free usage


The average cost of divorce in the UK

I’ve just received a copy of the survey conducted recently for the Legal Services Board (LSB). The LSB wish to understand how the price of common legal services purchased by individual consumers changes over time and this research sought to establish a set of baseline prices paid for a number of relatively straight forward scenarios.

Here are some snapshots regarding the cost of divorce: These are the average costs where the divorce does not end up in court.

statistics cost of divorce


statistics cost of divorce LSB Research


What is most interesting to me, is how law firms prefer to represent the client as a solicitor and refer them away from the firm for mediation.  Is this because they make more money that way, or simply because they are attracting clients who don’t yet know that they need a mediator?

If Mediators became the gatekeepers to divorce, would that change?


Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 18.37.16


The full report for this research has now been published on the LSB’s website, and you can access it by using the following link: