Collaborative family law helps minimise the cost of divorce

file000704919536 (1)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.



The Changing Face of Family Law

lawyersThe Changes of Family Law

For couples facing the end of their marriage, there are now several different alternatives to divorcing through the courts.  Contrary to popular belief, divorce rarely requires going to court and the latest options for divorce are designed to address the legal consequences of separation in a more amicable and constructive way.

Developed in an effort to counteract the spiralling numbers of acrimonious battles in the divorce courts, new approaches to divorce such as collaborative family law, family mediation and family arbitration are becoming increasingly popular.  The negative effect that divorce has upon children is now widely understood and these alternatives to the courts offer separating couples the opportunity to work out their differences amicably, therefore helping to protect their children from some of the more stressful aspects of divorce.

Most family law experts now agree that the majority of issues that need to be resolved during divorce can be addressed outside the courts in a more informal, amicable environment.  Courtrooms do have a reputation for bringing out the worst in people; relaxed, non-confrontational communication tends to be difficult and even small issues can quickly spiral out of control.  Family mediation and collaborative family law provide couples with the time and space to negotiate settlements with each other in a relaxed atmosphere, giving them control over the pace of negotiations and the final outcome.

Collaborative family law and family mediation also provide a level of privacy that is often sorely lacking in the divorce courts; couples can negotiate resolutions with their ex-partner through their family lawyers in face-to-face meetings, whilst still maintaining an amicable relationship.  When divorce is handled in this way the whole family benefits – from the couple themselves who have the opportunity to reach agreements that feel fair to both of them, through to their children who are offered the security of reassurance of having parents who have amicably resolved their issues.

Family arbitration offers a kind of halfway house; used as way of reaching difficult decisions about property or family finances, arbitration provides an alternative to asking a judge to make the decisions.  Both sides must agree to arbitration and arbitration is used in cases where a couple are unable to sort things out between themselves or through another form of dispute resolution, such as family mediation.  As in a ‘court-based’ divorce, an arbitrator will gather together all the facts of the case – as a judge would – taking into account the views of both sides.  Once the information gathering stage has been completed, the arbitrator will issue a binding ruling, often referred to as an ‘award.’

Family law now offers couples a wide range of opportunities to avoid the conflicts, negativity and the disagreements that were once associated with divorce proceedings.  Of course these alternatives aren’t appropriate in all divorce cases, especially those where there is a history of abuse of domestic violence, however they are helping thousands of couples protect their family relationships whilst securing long-lasting, amicable agreements.