Belinda is a local girl whose father’s family were born and bred in Bourne returning to the area 25 years ago after studying in Leeds and her first job in Harlow, Essex.
Belinda has been in practice on her own since May 2008, after leaving Peterborough solicitors Buckles where she was a partner for over 20 years.
She started independent life in a two room attic at historic Thurston House in Peterborough, shared with a colony of pigeons and a couple of squirrels.
Life is very different now as Belinda has spacious modern offices in the Thorpe Wood Business Park, just opposite the main police station in Peterborough. It has very easy access off the Peterborough parkways but for the residents of Bourne, Belinda holds appointments for her clients at Stephen Knipe’s offices at the top of Abbey Road.
Belinda’s main area of specialism is family law and all that entails, marriage breakdown, leading to separation agreements or divorce, cohabitation agreements and nuptial agreements, (pre-nups and post-nups) and injunctions and occupation orders. These are necessary where unfortunately a relationship gets so heated that the husband or wife has to be kept out of the family home by a court order.
Belinda also has an expertise in children cases, being a longstanding member of the Law Society Children Panel, and for many years represented parents and children in the often-challenging arena of care proceedings. Belinda doesn’t have a legal aid franchise now but still represents foster parents and extended family members in care proceedings. She will also advise and make applications for adoptions, both in the public law field and step-parent adoptions.
The majority of the children cases Belinda handles are to do with residence and contact applications. Belinda is a keen supporter of the idea of the children of separated parents spending as much time as possible with each parent, along the lines of shared care arrangements
“It occurs to me that in most cases, there is no reason why the presumption of equal sharing of time for the children between separated parents, shouldn’t be applied as a starting point in every case. It seems perverse that in respect of property and other matrimonial assets, a lot of progress has taken place over the years leading to a starting point of equality for both spouses. Yet in the case of children, there still seems to be an old fashioned idea especially with younger children, that the mother can dictate when and where the father sees them. This usually says more about the relationship between the mother and father than what is best for the relationship between the father and the children”.
Belinda is always recommends mediation, parenting information classes and any other means to resolve problems concerning children but if all else fails, will support parents in applications to the County Court for a judge to make the final decision.
Belinda is also a qualified collaborative lawyer, which is a special accreditation with the national family law association Resolution which permits family lawyers to provide this alternative way to the traditional divorce. Cohabiting couples who are separating can also make use of the collaborative approach, which involves each side and their lawyers signing a binding agreement not to go to court on any disputed issues. Instead, four way meetings take place at a frequency and duration of the parties choosing, when the couple take charge of the agenda and work towards a compromised settlement which can cover every aspect of the break up, from finances and property to arrangements for the children. If the process breaks down because one or both decide they have to go to court, then everyone parts company and new lawyers are instructed.
Belinda says “I am very keen to promote the collaborative approach to divorce wherever possible. It is quite true that it does not suit every case and of course you need two to tango, with both sides being ready to embark on the collaborative process and commit to making it work. When it does, our experience shows that the clients have a far less stressful experience and are able to avoid the long-term damage that often results from divorce, both to each other and their children. They are able to take control of the whole process, rather than leaving the outcome to the often unpredictable whim of the family court”.
Belinda first started work as a solicitor in the cut and thrust world of crime, as a Crown Prosecutor in Boston for a couple of years and then acting for the defence in private practice in Peterborough up until leaving Buckles. Belinda continues to represent clients in road traffic cases, such as pleas and mitigation in high speeding incidents, drink/driving and totting up cases. Her success rate in representing clients in contested road traffic trials before the Magistrates Court is 100% since she has set up in practice.
Also continued from her Magistrate Court days, Belinda assists clients with Licensing Act applications for pubs, clubs and restaurants.
If you have any legal problem that you think Belinda could help you with, you are invited to make an initial enquiry at her Peterborough office on 01733 267414 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, January 13th, 2011 Uncategorised