As a collaboratively trained divorce lawyer, when I first meet a client it is usually at a highpoint of emotional turmoil in their life as they consider the prospect of separation and divorce. At their initial appointment, after I have heard their history, I ask them to picture themselves in 12 months’ time and think about how they want to recall their divorce when looking back.
Being asked to make this sort of inward reflection is often not something they were expecting from their solicitor, or an idea they may have contemplated at all, but more commonly the answer is the same. Most people want to come out of the divorce process physically and emotionally intact.
For some separating couples it quickly becomes apparent that even though they no longer wish to be married, they will still need to have regular contact with each other after the divorce. There may be some connection that cannot be broken, such as their children or grandchildren, commitment to looking after each other’s parents or common friends. They may find themselves attending the same social events, living near each other or even needing to continue working together.
Where I can identify a need or a desire to maintain an ongoing relationship between the couple after the divorce, I may suggest using the route of collaborative law as a constructive way to come to an agreement about the financial settlement and arrangements for children.
The concept of collaborative law started in the US and offers an alternative approach to negotiating a divorce settlement that avoids the conflict involved in using the court. It brings solicitors and clients to the table in a series of four-way meetings, in which all issues can be raised as part of an agreed agenda to explore the resolution of any disputes together. Experts can be called in for advice, such as accountants or pension specialists.
The solicitors and clients all sign an agreement that if the divorcing couple are unable to reach a settlement and have to resort to court, then these solicitors cannot represent them. This encourages everyone to commit to resolving the issues together.
In my experience, couples that are able to come to an agreement through the collaborative process feel more in control of their divorce and less acrimonious towards each other. This enables them to find a way of maintaining a constructive relationship, continue co-parenting or running a business together, after the ink has dried on the divorce papers.
Laura Lambert is a solicitor trained in collaborative law in the Cannock office of Ansons Solicitors.
For more information on using collaborative law in divorce contact Laura Lambert in the Cannock office of Ansons Solicitors on 01543 431 996 or email email@example.com. Susan Davies is a collaborative law solicitor at the Lichfield office of Ansons Solicitors. Contact Susan on 01543 267 190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.