Separation or divorce is nearly always distressing, challenging and, invariably, sad. The resulting change, emotion, financial realities and the needs of children often mean that rational thought and common sense go out of the window – but is there a better way?
Imagine a divorce that is non-adversarial and where negotiations produce agreements to achieve the best possible outcome for the family and, most importantly, the children. Does this seem as likely as finding hens’ teeth? If so, you could be wrong.
Collaborative Law is a process where both spouses and their solicitors work together through a series of ‘round table’ meetings to sort out financial and other issues with dignity and mutual respect.
Collaborative Law provides an inclusive and co-operative environment where balanced and informed discussions can take place about your separation. You can set timescales and agendas at your own pace, find creative solutions tailored to your needs and priorities, and ultimately reach agreement with your former partner. Your solicitor provides structure, guidance and advice about the legal issues during the process.
There are some cases where collaborative law is unsuitable and where a more adversarial approach is appropriate. Your solicitor will advise what process is right for you.
Both mediation and collaborative law are non-adversarial processes, both are voluntary and negotiation based solutions. One important difference, however, is that in collaborative law, your solicitor will be supporting you in discussions throughout. In mediation, the legal advice is provided in between your mediation sessions and the face-to-face discussions are carried out with the mediator and your partner.
Generally a more adversarial approach costs more. Sitting around the table and talking through options and solutions in a constructive environment, rather than drawing battle lines, is likely to be cheaper and quicker.
No. Collaborative lawyers are specially trained to handle cases this way. You can find a list of your local collaborative lawyers at www.harrogatecollaborativelaw.co.uk or www.resolution.org.uk
By taking a collaborative approach you will be trying to achieve a holistic outcome through open discussions with your partner and your solicitors. The ‘best’ deal is not necessarily the cheapest, nor the one where you end up with the most money. It is important to factor in both the emotional and financial costs, especially where children are involved. How do you place a price on being able to talk to each other long after the divorce is behind you?
Carmelita Ardren is a partner, Head of Raworths’ Family Law, a collaborative lawyer and an advanced member of the Law Society Family Law Panel. To contact Raworths telephone 01423 566666 or visit our offices at Eton House, 89 Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1HF. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.