Meet the committee member: Claire Colbert

How long have you been involved with Resolution?

Since I became a trainee solicitor in the late 1990s (wow, that makes me feel old!)

What committees do you sit on?

I am co-chair of the Parenting After Parting (PAP) Committee.

Why did you want to get involved with Resolution? 

I initially joined Resolution to meet like-minded family law professionals and was then asked to join the local Oxford committee which I loved. When a vacancy was advertised on the national PAP committee it really appealed to me, as I have always felt that the work we do with separated parents is fundamental to ensure children are put first when discussing plans for separation and/or divorce.

How have you benefitted from being a member of Resolution?

I have learnt so much from the wonderful people I have met and worked with on and through the committees and events; new skills, different approaches and great insights. I’m sure I learn something new and useful at every event and meeting. So many of the people I have worked with on committees I feel lucky to now be able to call friends – a lovely bonus to a rewarding role.

What’s the one Resolution resource/service/achievement that you want everyone to know about?

That’s easy – the Parenting Through Separation Guide. The guide was written by the PAP committee in 2020 and a new, bigger, better edition has been prepared by us this year. I am so proud of the feedback we have had for this resource, both from parents who are separating and the professionals who are supporting them.

Is there a Resolution resource not currently available that you would love to see?

I would love there to be a guide for children whose parents are separating … watch this space! 

What would you say to encourage more members to become volunteers with Resolution?

If you would like to make a difference, you can do it by joining Resolution, where you will be working with people who feel passionately about the same issues as you.

Why did you choose family practice?

I love talking to people and trying to help make things better, and family law felt like a good way to do this.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

I am a Child-Inclusive Mediator and feel privileged to be able to meet with children to give them a voice in the process when their parents are separating. Knowing just how much that can make a difference to them, is the most rewarding part of my job.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Separated parents behaving in ways that could have long-term impacts on their children’s mental health, emotional stability and their own relationships.

What do you think have been the biggest changes in family practice/the family justice system since you started out?

I would say that the significant cuts in Legal Aid have been damaging because people can’t easily access legal advice and support, and this has impacted all aspects of family law. Also, the delays in the court system are a real concern, but there are at least different ways people can try to reach agreements without having to go to court. The introduction of no-fault divorce has probably been the most positive change I have seen, together with the introduction of the £500 government voucher scheme to help parents pay the costs of mediation if they are discussing issues involving their children.

What’s the one government policy you would like to see changed or introduced?

Comprehensive and clear statutes to help cohabiting couples who separate.

How do you keep a good work/life balance and look after your wellbeing?

I think setting boundaries is very important, turning the phone off, not checking emails etc. Being able to escape my desk at some point during the day for a run or just getting out for some fresh air, headspace and getting my heart rate up is how I try to find balance and look after my wellbeing.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in family practice?

Thank about the language you use in letters and court documents; consider the impact on those involved.

If you were not a family mediator, what would you be doing?

I’m a bit of a maths geek, so maybe a maths teacher.

Who or what inspires you?

So many people inspire me, especially those finding a way to make the world a better place for us all.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Setting up Family Mediation and Mentoring with my business partner, Rachael Oakes, in 2021.

What advice would you give your younger self?

No matter what you do or say or how hard you try, you are human and fallible. Don’t waste energy trying to be perfect, be you, it’s so much more interesting.

Choose three words that best describe you.

Compassionate, genuine and hardworking.

What can’t you live without?

The seaside.

Claire Colbert is an Accredited Mediator at Family Mediation and Mentoring