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Collaborative Family Law
Monday 19th January 2009
It is still a sad fact of life that divorce is here to stay.
In recent years, statistics have suggested that almost half of UK marriages will end in failure. The real cost of the relationship breakdown is not merely financial, but also emotional, however anyone who has been through the divorce process will know how costly court battles can be. However, one cannot ignore that it is not divorce itself but the way in which you divorce which takes the heaviest toll. For those divorcing it is both a personal and emotional upheaval. A bad divorce can leave a lasting mark not only on the parties but on the children and the immediate extended family and support network. It is therefore why we, at Marsden Rawsthorn, provide a service for those who wish to commit to adopting a non-confrontational approach to their divorce and can be assisted in having their divorce process assisted by a collaborative process.
By entering into a collaborative process, the parties are approaching their divorce not only in a non-confrontational manner but it encourages couples to reach decisions together and offer solutions which can then be finalised by way of an agreement. Although the traditional divorces do settle after a battle in the court, or even after lengthy negotiations, those that have been involved in a traditional divorce will most probably agree that the process is still quite confrontational and emotionally draining.
The traditional process of divorce usually involves the client instructing their solicitor who would then, in turn, negotiate matters with the other parties solicitor. After much to-ing and fro-ing between the respective solicitors, the solicitors would come up with a settlement that would then ultimately be approved by the client. This process, although it does work successfully and provides a solution, can in actual fact leave the parties to feel removed from the decisions that are being taken on their behalf and can also cause much delay in resolving the matter. There could most probably be a lot of other issues surrounding the breakdown of the parties marriage which a client wishes to come to terms with but does not really have the opportunity to do so. A matter of fact process can leave divorcing couples feeling very isolated. It is very important to some clients in the breakdown of their marriage that their feelings and anxieties are acknowledged before matters are fully settled.
The collaborative process allows the parties to be more in touch and this is likely to promote stability of reaching a resolution to the issues surrounding the breakdown of their marriage without isolating the parties. It would involve a situation where both parties would sit together with their respective solicitors and commit to resolving matters together. They would enter into a participation agreement which sets out the foundation upon which the parties will embrace the negotiations in order to resolve the issues surrounding the marital breakdown. The parties entering into the participation agreement have the benefit of knowing that the other will not proceed to pursue an application through the court whilst they remain involved in the collaborative process. This clearly removes the fears the parties may have that matters may become adversarial which therefore enables them to concentrate on the issues at hand respectively during the collaborative process.
During the collaborative process, both clients will share their hopes, their aspirations, their expectations and even their fears. This process ensures the parties work together to create an agreement which will work for the parties. This enables the divorcees to emerge from the process ready to get on with the rest of their lives and without the bitterness and unresolved anger that so often accompanies the divorce process.
The collaborative process is proving the best way forward and those lawyers who practice the collaborative approach bring all the legal experience that one would expect and additionally they will have taken training in the collaborative process. In the event that additional assistance is required from financial advisors, accountants, parenting consultants or counsellors in the event that the situation demands such expertise then a collaborative lawyer is able to call upon such assistance.
The parties together set the agenda and the pace at which they wish to address the issues surrounding their marital breakdown. In adhering to the collaborative process the parties promise to provide full disclosure and issues that matter to them openly. The parties have the opportunity to discuss matters in a relaxed manner in a situation where they feel that they are in control of their situation.
One other notable benefit of those divorcing and entering into the collaborative law process is that this provides a positive signal to their children that their parents are working together to resolve their differences. To enter into the collaborative process, it is important that both parties are committing to being non-confrontational and that they prioritise and balance their need to appropriately deal with the issues at hand.
Those that are committed to entering into a collaborative process, it will genuinely assist the parties to resolve issues like childrens arrangements, division of financial assets and even the manner in which the divorce is going to be commenced without intensifying the anxieties that most people would normally experience in the traditional approach. On achieving a successful result in a collaborative process this provides the certainty and security to divorcing couples but will enable them to remain friends with their former partner which will promote an environment of mutual respect and understanding upon which they can further build an amicable relationship.
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