Rebekah Gershuny, collaboratively trained family solicitor at Collins Solicitors, gives advice to one reader on dispute resolution rather than confrontation for those considering separation or divorce.
Q: “My husband and I have decided after many years of difficulty to divorce. We have three children, and we want to ensure that there is as little impact on them as possible. While I want to know what my rights are, neither of us wants a big fight, and we want to avoid going to court if possible.
“I have heard of ‘collaborative divorce’ but do not understand exactly what this is, or whether it is an appropriate process for us. Can you please explain?”
A: There has been a lot in the press recently about alternative methods for resolving divorce cases. Collaborative divorce is an increasingly popular method of dispute resolution that encourages couples to find creative solutions and discourages conflict and fault finding.
If you and your partner feel that you can resolve matters by discussion between you, which is not appropriate in all cases, then you should consider the collaborative approach, which encourages parties to reach their own solutions for their family, while at the same time ensuring that they each receive appropriate legal advice.
If you decide on this option, you and your husband would each appoint your own collaboratively trained lawyer, and you would enter into an agreement at the outset that you will not take the matter to court.
This is in contrast to mediation, where both parties meet with one mediator, who does not give legal advice.
In contrast to the traditional approach, where lawyers negotiate on your behalf, you and your husband would be directly involved in the negotiations at face-to-face meetings together with your lawyers, and will have control over their outcome. Other professionals can also be brought into the process such as family therapists and financial advisors.
The agreement you reach is one that both you and your husband will have agreed on. It is not one imposed by the court, which may not be to either of your liking.
The process can also be significantly less expensive than the traditional case that proceeds to final court hearing.
You can find further information about the collaborative and other processes from Resolution, which is a group of independent family lawyers committed to encouraging solutions rather than confrontation.
Resolution can be contacted at www.resolution.org.uk
Collaboratively trained family solicitor,
Contact Collins Solicitors on 01923 223324 or visit www.collinslaw.co.uk