About Family Foundation
Family Foundation is an alternative dispute resolution service offered by the Family Division of the Royal Court of Jersey.
It is a service offered free of charge.
It is intended to benefit all families in the Island who may require the Foundation's help, and its resources must be shared fairly with those who genuinely wish to resolve their dispute without recourse to the courts.
Team members of Family Foundation include Family Judges, Family Proceedings' Officers (FPOs), Jersey Family Court Advisory Service (JFCAS) officers. Help may also be offered, when required and available, by trained mediators, psychologists and family counsellors.
Engagement with the Family Foundation is not a substitute for legal advice.
It is not the equivalent of applying to court for a judge to make a decision.
Family Foundation services can be withdrawn at any time at the discretion of any team member.
The basis of the Family Foundation is empowerment.
We believe that each family seeking our support is usually best placed to agree what works for each of its members when a dispute arises, and our purpose is to help each family reach its own agreement without asking the court to decide for you.
We aim to help those who agree that they would prefer to try to resolve issues between themselves where possible, to avoid what may be the emotional and financial costs of a family dispute.
Who we help
Family Foundation can help Jersey families who are struggling to resolve disputes about money or children arising from the breakdown of a relationship.
When we can help
We can only help families if all parties agree to participate in the Foundation: the process is entirely voluntary.
Foundation assistance is offered to those who live and work in Jersey. The process is not suited to, for example, remote participation by video link.
Family Foundation cannot help in cases in which there are ongoing allegations of domestic abuse, harassment or other criminal behaviour.
We reserve the right to withhold our help in cases in which we consider that the issues are too serious to be agreed through Family Foundation or in which we consider that the participants' behaviour warrants the withdrawal of our help.
If you are already involved in court proceedings, you can only use the Foundation services if all parties and the judge overseeing your case agree.
How we help
Family Foundation run limited monthly sessions from the Family Division court centre in International House (Foundation Sessions).
We are trying to help families avoid court proceedings and giving them some tools to agree a way forward for their family.
Depending on how many families seek our help, there may be a waiting list for Foundation Sessions. Please be patient. We will offer a session at the earliest opportunity.
Each family may be offered one or more sessions, but you will understand that we may need to prioritise some families, depending on the nature of the dispute.
What you can expect
Foundation Sessions are intended to make it easier for you to resolve your dispute with some help and guidance from Foundation team members.
Foundation Sessions are without prejudice, meaning that you can have a full and frank conversation without worrying about what you say being repeated in court.
Foundation Sessions are entirely confidential. The only exception to confidentiality is where a team member becomes aware of a risk of significant harm to a child or where we believe that a criminal offence may be about to be committed.
Foundation Sessions may involve mediators, legal advisors, JFCAS officers and other experts, as required and deemed necessary by us.
Any judge who might be involved in a Foundation Session will not be able to determine any subsequent court proceedings for you; a judge's role in a Foundation Session is likely to be limited to approving any agreement reached by you.
Foundation Sessions are free of charge (but the costs of any work or therapy or mediation that families agree to do with experts, lawyers or mediators arising from involvement in Family Foundation will not be covered by the Foundation).What you should not expect
Participation in Family Foundation is not the same as starting court proceedings. Family Foundation will not impose a decision on you. Team members do not take sides. We may, however, mediate to assist you in seeing all sides of any dispute.
Participation in Family Foundation is not a substitute for legal advice. If you require legal advice, you will need to obtain this outside the Family Foundation. Team members will not give legal advice; we will empower you to find your own practical and agreed solutions.
You may not refer to the substance of any discussion at Foundation in any court proceedings which might become necessary.
Family Foundation can only assist with family disputes between individuals. We cannot help with public law or criminal proceedings.
How to apply
Ask your partner or former partner or person with whom you are having a dispute if they will agree to use the Family Foundation to help you resolve your dispute.
If they agree, decide:
- who will complete the Form (C or F, as applicable)
- which one of you will make the application to the Foundation
If the person with whom you are in dispute does not agree to participate or will not respond to your invitation to take part, complete Form C or F, as applicable, and we will ask them on your behalf if they will take part, provided you give us accurate and up to date contact details.
If they are not willing to participate, or you are unable to provide us with up to date contact information, unfortunately, the Family Foundation cannot offer its services. The Family Foundation will recommend alternative services or advisers who may be able to assist.
Email your completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have access to a computer, deliver your completed form to the third floor reception at International House. No fee is payable.
- Fill in Form C if you have a dispute about your child or children and you are not arguing about money
Family Foundation Form C
- Fill in Form F if you have a dispute about money or other property arising from the breakdown of an intimate family relationship, whether you need money for yourself or your children
Family Foundation Form F
You will receive a date for an initial appointment (Intake Appointment) which, ideally, you should attend with the person/s with whom you cannot agree. This Intake Appointment is not part of the Foundation Session but is intended to ensure that the correct resources are available for your use at a Foundation Session. No fee is payable.
This will be our opportunity to:
- find out more about the dispute
- check that it is suitable for the Foundation's assistance
- check that we can help. We cannot assist if there is an allegation of domestic abuse, harassment or other criminal proceedings relating to the breakdown of the relationship or the child/children
- identify how we might be able to help, for example by involving a mediator or JFCAS
- determine what documentation we might need from you both before a session can take place
This will be your opportunity to:
- ask any questions you have about the process including a likely timeframe for a session with the Foundation
- get an idea of how the Foundation can help you reach an agreement
- ask what might happen if you do reach an agreement
- find out what other resources may be available to you if you do not reach an agreement
Once all parties agree, we will give you a time and date for a Foundation Session. In order for this to take place, all parties need to attend the Foundation Session.
Foundation Sessions take place at International House. This is the Family Division court centre and there may be court hearings taking place when you are invited to attend, so be respectful and considerate of other court users.
The Foundation Sessions will take place on set dates, to accommodate other court users, which cannot be changed to suit your particular needs. Alternative dates are not likely to be available or offered.
Either party can rescind their consent to participate at any stage; withdrawal of consent or exclusion from Foundation Sessions does not prevent you from engaging in other forms of alternative dispute resolution (or from starting court proceedings, if necessary) but you will not be offered any further assistance by the Family Foundation.
Before the scheduled date for your Foundation Session, parties will be expected to supply the Foundation with any requested documentation required to assist you in resolving your dispute. Failure to do so may mean that the session will be wasted and we may not be able to give you a further opportunity to use the Foundation.
On the scheduled date, participants will be expected to:
- attend any Foundation Session promptly on the date and at the time agreed
- make arrangements with work and organise childcare to leave sufficient time to have an in depth discussion
- attend on their own (without children or third parties present)
- be prepared to have an open and honest discussion about the issue in dispute;
- come willing to spend the time to try to find a solution
- be courteous, civil and respectful to everyone. Failure to do so will result in our services being withdrawn
Foundation team members will:
- give every party an opportunity to have their say
- allocate such resources as we are able, when we able to do so, to assist you in resolving your dispute
- make arrangements for experts to assist where available and possible
- allocate Foundation resources fairly so that everyone attending at a particular Foundation Session gets a fair share of the Foundation's time