Collaborative family law helps lower the cost of divorce
Divorce is often ranked alongside other life-changing events as being one of life’s most stressful experiences. However there are now several alternative routes to divorce that can not only help you minimise the emotional impact, they can help you protect your finances too.
‘Traditional’ divorce cases that are conducted in court with a judge setting the agenda and making decisions, have reputation for being long, stressful and very, very expensive. However several alternatives are now available; collaborative family law, for example, is being increasingly seen as an effective, more amicable option to litigation, proving highly effective in helping couples separate quickly, constructively and often at far less expense.
The collaborative process is practised by specialist family lawyers who have trained in collaborative law. The idea behind collaborative divorce is simple: amicable communication. Proceedings take place in face-to-face meetings, rather than in a court room, and it is the couple themselves that set the pace and agenda.
During the first meeting, the collaborative family lawyers will outline the principles of the collaborative process and then everyone will sign a collaborative agreement to confirm that they will not seek resolution through the courts. Issues are then discussed at a series of collaborative meetings with take place at the office of one or other of the solicitors. Collaborative meetings are designed to facilitate constructive discussion; the content of the meetings is confidential and should the process break down, neither side would be allowed to refer to the discussions during court proceedings. This confidentiality allows everyone to talk freely, often leading to faster conclusions.
One of the main aims of the collaborative process is to reduce the hefty costs that are often associated with divorce. Many collaborative family lawyers prefer to work with independent financial advisors who are on hand during meetings to help with valuations and financial disclosures. This helps speed things up and when mutually beneficial agreements are reached quickly, this can help to keep costs down.
It is important to note that whilst collaborative family law can prove beneficial in reducing the stress and expense of divorce, the process is not appropriate for everyone. Collaborative divorce is not suitable in cases where there is a history of abuse or domestic violence; to be successful, the collaborative process works best when both partners are highly committed and effective communicators. However, collaborative family lawyers have been trained to facilitate discussions in a way that is fair and provides equal support, even in cases where there is an inequality of negotiating experience.
In a further effort to help reduce the expense of divorce, many collaborative law firms now offer a fixed-fee pricing structure. A fixed-fee divorce offers the huge advantage of making couples fully aware of the cost of their divorce from the very start, helping them to plan their finances accordingly whilst avoiding any unpleasant financial surprises at the end.
Increasingly seen as the most constructive, amicable route to divorce, collaborative family law could help you separate in a way that protects your family relationships and your financial interests. If would like further information or to find out if the collaborative process is appropriate for your circumstances, please contact your family lawyer for further information.