Collaborative family law lowers emotional cost

Over the past decade, collaborative family law and family mediation have become widely recognised as being extremely beneficial in helping divorcing couples minimise the emotional impact of their marriage break-up.

Unfortunately the process of divorce is often associated with untold stress, upset and the potential for causing long term damage to family relationships.  However collaborative family law now offers an effective alternative to a ‘traditional’ court-based divorce; an alternative that can help couples protect themselves and their children from the worst aspects of the divorce process.

Developed as a more amicable approach to divorce, collaborative family law was created in the United States in the early 1990s.  During the 1980s the number of high profile, long drawn out and bitter divorce cases had spiralled, leading a group of like-minded US family lawyers to look for an alternative.   The result is the collaborative approach to family law, a divorce process that puts couples in control and is conducted outside the courts.

A collaborative divorce is based around a series of face-to-face meetings which are attended by the couple and their respective lawyers.  The meetings are designed to provide an amicable, constructive forum for discussion on all matters relating to the divorce.  However where these face-to-face meetings prove to be most beneficial is when contentious issues such as the children and the division of assets are discussed.

Before the first collaborative meeting can take place, couples are asked to sign a ‘collaborative agreement’ to confirm that they will attend all of the collaborative meetings – should either side decide to seek resolution through the courts, the collaborative process will be terminated with immediate effect.

Because collaborative divorce proceedings are conducted in face-to-face meetings rather than in court with a judge setting the pace, the majority of couples who opt for the collaborative approach find that their divorce is concluded much quicker and often at a much lower cost than if they had gone down the traditional route.  Collaborative divorce allows couples to make decisions together, working towards effective, long-lasting solutions that not only benefit themselves but feel fair for everyone involved.

Family mediation has also proved to be extremely successful in helping couples to minimise the potentially negative impact of divorce.  Family mediation is not necessarily a route to divorce in itself – it is often simply used as a way for couples to resolve contentious issues – however some family law firms now offer specialist family mediation services that are run by practising solicitors, barristers and legal executives.   These legal experts are also trained mediators and work towards helping couples in the process of separation to resolve matters quickly and amicably.

Many divorcing or separating couples are now opting for a more amicable, less confrontational route to divorce, thanks to collaborative family law and mediation.  Both of these routes to divorce are helping couples resolve the issues that would have once resulted in bitter courtroom battles, reducing the negative impact that divorce and separation once had on families and in particular any children.  If you are facing the prospect of divorce, why not contact your local family law firm for further information?