Fewer than 20% of requests for information granted under early warning domestic abuse scheme

The Irish News’ John Breslin reported that less than 20% of requests for information were granted under a domestic abuse scheme meant to serve as an early warning system for potential risks.

This percentage is lower than many forces in England and Wales, indicating a disparity. The scheme, introduced in Northern Ireland following Clare’s Law, disclosed information 300 times out of 1600 total applications over six years.

However, when requests come from partners or third parties not affiliated with the police, the disclosure rate drops to just 11%. Despite facing challenges such as low awareness and procedural issues, there’s optimism due to legislative changes, including lowering the disclosure threshold.

The scheme, named after Clare Wood, aims to prevent future violence within relationships, allowing partners or close associates to request information if they believe there’s a danger. While there are difficulties, such as lack of awareness and issues with information sharing, there’s potential for positive change with adjustments in line with recent legislative changes.

It is these adjustments I personally look forward to welcoming in order to ensure the safeguarding of all those affected.

Image copyright Sussex Police

Minister Naomi Long MLA Champions Rule of Law Pledge

In a significant move for Northern Ireland’s legal community, Minister of Justice Naomi Long MLA has stepped up as the first elected representative to pledge support for “The Pledge to Uphold the Rule of Law.” Spearheaded by the Law Society of Northern Ireland, this initiative aims to combat unfair attacks on solicitors and reinforce respect for legal professionals.

The Pledge underscores six key principles: Independence, Responsibility, Fairness, Balance and impartiality, Transparency, and Accuracy. By committing to these principles, signatories affirm their dedication to upholding the Rule of Law and supporting the independence of the legal profession and judiciary.

Minister Long’s endorsement sets a positive precedent, emphasising her commitment to fostering a fair and just society where the law is respected. Her support is a significant step forward in ensuring that solicitors can carry out their duties without undue criticism or interference. A very important step to be taken for solicitors and legal professionals today!

As other MLAs and political parties are encouraged to join in, this initiative holds promise for rebuilding trust in the legal system and promoting a culture of mutual respect and integrity.

Image : Law Society of Northern Ireland 2024

Your First Meeting with a Divorce Solicitor: A Comprehensive Guide

Going through a divorce is undeniably one of the most challenging experiences in life. Amidst the emotional turmoil, legal complexities often add another layer of stress. Your first meeting with a divorce solicitor sets the foundation for the entire process. Therefore, it’s crucial to approach it prepared and informed. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for your initial consultation:

Gather Essential Documents:
Before your meeting, gather all relevant documents such as;

⁠- Marriage certificate
– Birth certificate
– Any court documents in relation to any arrangements in respect of children or any other matter pertaining to your marriage
– 2 pieces of Identification documentation- one to be photographic either a driving licence or passport to be valid for next 3 months.

Outline Your Concerns and Goals:
Take some time to reflect on your concerns, priorities, and desired outcomes. Consider aspects such as child custody, spousal support, division of assets, and any other specific issues relevant to your situation. Having a clear understanding of your goals will help your solicitor tailor their advice and strategy accordingly.

Educate Yourself:
Familiarise yourself with the divorce process and the relevant laws. This will empower you to ask informed questions during your meeting and better understand the advice provided by your solicitor. Additionally, knowing your rights and obligations can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that you make well-informed decisions.

Prepare a List of Questions:
Prepare a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your solicitor. No question is too trivial, and it’s essential to address any uncertainties you may have. Some questions to consider asking include:

What are my rights regarding custody and visitation?
How will our assets and debts be divided?
What factors determine spousal support (if applicable)?
What is the likely timeline for the divorce process?
What are the potential costs involved?
Are there alternative dispute resolution methods available?
How can I best communicate with my spouse during this process?

Manage Your Emotions:
Divorce can evoke a wide range of emotions, including anger, sadness, and anxiety. While it’s natural to experience these feelings, try to approach your meeting with a clear and composed mindset. Your solicitor is there to provide objective legal guidance, and maintaining a level head will facilitate productive communication.

Be Honest and Transparent:
Honesty is paramount when discussing your situation with your solicitor. Provide them with all relevant information, even if it may be uncomfortable or embarrassing. Remember that your solicitor is bound by confidentiality, and withholding information could compromise the effectiveness of their advice and representation.

Preparing for your first meeting with a divorce solicitor is a crucial step in navigating the complexities of the divorce process. By gathering essential documents, outlining your concerns, educating yourself, preparing questions, managing your emotions, being honest, and considering alternative dispute resolution methods, you can approach your consultation with confidence and clarity. Remember that your solicitor is there to guide you through this challenging time and advocate for your best interests.

Get in touch with the team below

📞028 3833 4020
📞028 3839 2132

Navigating through a separation during the Christmas season.

Navigating through a separation, especially during the Christmas season, can be particularly challenging. Michelle Crilly Family Law offers insightful advice and services to help individuals through this tough time. Here are some key points to consider based on the firm’s expertise:

Maintaining Contact with Children During Divorce: It’s vital to consider the emotional and psychological impact that separation has on children. Parents should strive to provide a stable and supportive environment, understanding the range of emotions children might experience, such as confusion, guilt, sadness, and anger. Legal aspects, like child custody and visitation rights, prioritise the child’s best interests. Practical advice includes maintaining open communication with children, keeping consistent routines, collaborative co-parenting, avoiding conflict in front of children, and seeking professional help if needed.

Separation & Maintenance: When a relationship breaks down, especially if children are involved, it becomes crucial to address a range of practical and legal matters. Michelle Crilly Family Law emphasises the importance of professional advice during these times. We commit to securing the best outcome for both clients and their children. This involves guiding clients through the complexities of legal proceedings and ensuring that their rights and needs are effectively represented.

Key Qualities in a Divorce Solicitor: Selecting the right divorce solicitor is crucial. The ideal solicitor should be empathetic, communicative, and skilled in negotiation and mediation. They should be able to guide clients through financial matters, child custody issues, and provide realistic assessments of the clients’ goals and expectations. Clear communication about legal jargon, processes, and costs is also essential. A competent solicitor can help clients navigate through the legal complexities, ultimately reducing stress and legal costs.

These insights from Michelle Crilly Family Law highlight the importance of emotional sensitivity, legal knowledge, and practical strategies when navigating through a separation, particularly during emotionally charged times like Christmas. It’s recommended to seek professional guidance to ensure the best possible outcomes for all parties involved, especially children.

For more information or to discuss your specific circumstances, feel free to contact my office.

Get in Touch today!

028 3833 4020

028 3839 2132


Maintaining Contact with Children During a Divorce

Divorce is a challenging process, not just for the couple involved, but significantly for any children they may have. As a Family Law Solicitor, I, Michelle Crilly, have seen first-hand the emotional and psychological impact that parental separation can have on children. This article aims to shed light on the importance of maintaining contact with children during a divorce and offers practical advice for parents navigating this difficult journey.

Understanding the Child’s Perspective

During a divorce, children often experience a range of emotions, including confusion, guilt, sadness, and anger. They might feel torn between both parents or worry about the future. It’s crucial for parents to understand these emotions and provide their children with a stable and supportive environment.

Legal Aspects of Child Custody and Visitation

The legal system prioritises the best interests of the child when determining custody and visitation rights. As a solicitor, I advise parents to familiarise themselves with these legal concepts. Custody doesn’t just determine where the child lives; it also involves decisions about the child’s education, health, and general welfare. Visitation, on the other hand, pertains to how the non-custodial parent will spend time with the child.

Practical Advice for Parents

  • Open Communication: Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Encourage them to express their feelings and assure them that both parents will continue to love and support them.
  • Consistent Routines: Try to maintain consistency in their daily routines. Stability in their schedule can provide a sense of security during this time of change.
  • Co-parenting: If possible, work collaboratively with your ex-partner in parenting decisions. Presenting a united front helps minimise stress and confusion for the children.
  • Avoid Conflict in Front of Children: Shield your children from any conflicts or legal discussions. They should not feel like they have to choose sides.
  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your child is struggling to cope with the divorce. Counseling can provide them with a safe space to work through their emotions.

For more information or to discuss your specific circumstances, feel free to contact my office.

Get in Touch today!

028 3833 4020

028 3839 2132


Key Qualities in a Divorce Solicitor

When a couple decide that they no longer wish to be in a marriage or are in the process of getting a divorce, it is extremely important to pick the right person to represent you.  Here is a list of the key qualities to look for:

  • No doubt this will be one of the most stressful and emotionally difficult times in your life, which often takes months if not years to resolve.  When you are deciding on a divorce solicitor it is really important that you feel comfortable with and have confidence in your legal representative, after all this is the person you will be dealing with for some time to come.
  • During divorce proceedings you will encounter many complicated matters to include financial matters, and to include your properties and pension shares and savings.  Perhaps you own a business together, your spouse may have a higher income than you and you may wish to seek assistance by way of maintenance.  You may not know anything about your spouses assets and need guidance as to where to start the process.  You may require advice in relation to the children and in relation to who sees the children and when and indeed with whom the children reside.  

A good divorce solicitor will be able to fully guide and assist you and help you navigate throughout this challenging situation in which you find yourself, providing you with assistance in relation to your legal rights and your entitlements.

  • In our experience our clients present us with their ideal scenarios or wish list and basically their expectations.  Sometimes these situations require to be managed carefully.  Your solicitor should be able to provide you with empathy and sympathy.  Your solicitor should act as the voice of reason in discussing with you initially as to how realistic these goals can be and how achievable they are.  As experienced solicitor will greatly assist you in navigating the pitfalls and providing you with good legal advice, which ultimately will avoid protracted court proceedings and the legal costs which follow.  
  • Being able to communicate with your solicitor from the outset is vitally important – someone who can communicate with you effectively and can explain the legal jargon and the various stages and processes involved during the proceedings, which will assist you greatly in making your own decisions.  Obviously a good communicator is one facet which requires to be considered.  

Another skill required of your solicitor is the ability to negotiate, as the solicitors role is to act in your best interests and negotiate a good settlement in your favour.  Children have to be considered in this situation, whether they are minors or grown up, it is always best to try and resolve matters of divorce as quickly and efficiently as possible, thereby reducing as much stress as possible.  Therefore a solicitor with the ability to communicate, negotiate and mediate in your best interests is extremely important.

  • Costs – obviously costs are huge issue firmly at the forefront of your mind when you are undertaking your research in respect of your family solicitor.  As with every other profession there are costs involved in relation to providing legal advice and in relation to pursuing court proceedings.  It is therefore extremely important that you instruct a solicitor who is very clear in relation to the issue of costs and guide you through the processes, advising you at all times in relation to whether the proceedings are costly or cost effective.  

Finally choosing your solicitor carefully will pay off in the long run and can make all the difference in assisting you in navigating your way through difficult procedures and difficult processes in order to achieve what is regarded as the best outcome for yourself and your family.

Digital Technology Can Help Families Living Apart

Digital technology is helping families living apart keep a line of communication open where one parent is shielding or self isolating. Never has my article, written for NI4kids, been more relevant than during these unprecedented times.

As most children and young people today have access to some form of digital device such as iPad, tablets and mobile phones, facetime and skype have become a means of keeping in touch when direct contact is not viable.

In fact, this situation is working very well for many families and avoids a situation whereby the children suffer disappointment when that parent cannot be present for their contact arrangements. Certainly, facetime and skype is a great help in affording children the ability to get in touch and gives them some control, in a situation which was unfortunately beyond their control.

Just a simple “hello” and “goodnight” to an absent parent can be enough to maintain the link and retain the bond between children and their absent parent.

This also applies to other family members such as grandparents, to allow them to keep in regular contact also.


“I was extremely pleased that my case was carried out in a completely professional and efficient manner and throughout my case, I was treated with consideration and my Solicitor was particularly personable and friendly towards me”. - Anonymous
Michelle Crilly Family Law
“I was extremely pleased that my case was carried out in a completely professional and efficient manner and throughout my case, I was treated with consideration and my Solicitor was particularly personable and friendly towards me”. - Anonymous

“We were extremely satisfied with your service and you kept us informed every step of the way during our case. Everything was dealt with efficiently and professionally. We would recommend this firm and thank you for all of your help throughout the case” - Anonymous
Michelle Crilly Family Law
“We were extremely satisfied with your service and you kept us informed every step of the way during our case. Everything was dealt with efficiently and professionally. We would recommend this firm and thank you for all of your help throughout the case” - Anonymous
Michelle Crilly Family Law
Read All Testimonials

Family Law Solicitor Portadown, contact us today on 028 3833 4020 or 028 3839 2132

Get in Touch

If you think we can help out in any way, please fill in our enquiry form below and we will get back to you.