Divorce cases are traditionally seen as bad tempered, riddled with anger, bitterness and high legal costs reaping heavy emotional and financial damage across a couple concerned, and their family. With extensive paperwork, and waiting times of many months for court appearances, a divorce process can destroy what was left of a couple’s functioning relationship in a marriage. However, collaborative law can offer an easier route to ending a marriage in an amicable manner.
Since 2003,when collaborative law came into force in the UK, couples are given the chance to sort out their problems in several face to face meetings, with both parties and their lawyers are present. In preparation for such meetings, each partner will hold separate talks with their lawyers, in order to discuss points to raise. Lawyers keep the correspondence between themselves to a minimum and at an initial meeting sign an agreement that says that they won’t take the case to court. They will also agree to a full and frank financial disclosure, and to keep negotiations confidential. If an agreement cannot be reached, both partners must appoint new lawyers, as collaborative lawyers cannot act for their clients in a court hearing. Such a structure makes seeking a final settlement incentivised, speeding up the divorce process from the traditional route.
Divorce cases often result in anger and sadness with any remaining good feelings between a couple destroyed. With collaborative law, a focus is put upon maintaining a functioning relationship between a couple outside of marriage, particularly where children are concerned. The collaborative law process means that the couple can keep control of their decisions, as opposed to having a judge make the decisions for them. Whilst collaborative law is still a legal process in which costs are built up, a final settlement, outside of court, can be in the best interests of both parties. Outside professionals such as financial advisers can be brought in to help make any decisions on dividing up assets or making financial allowances, with both parties’ lawyers present to give legal guidance. Unlike with a court process, no timeframe for an ending is set, allowing a couple to set their own agenda, and this can help in easing negotiations towards a final agreement.
An out of court settlement can be the best way for a couple to move onto the next stage of their lives, and collaborative law, with its structure around face to face discussion and problem solving, can make a swift divorce a fair and satisfying conclusion for both parties.
About the Author:
Tim Bishop is senior partner at Bonallack and Bishop (http://www.bishopslaw.co.uk ), a firm of specialist Divorce Solicitors with experience in Family Mediation and Collaborative Law. He is responsible for all major strategic decisions and has grown the firm by 1000% in the last 12 years. Tim sees himself as a businessman who owns a law firm and has firm plans for continued expansion.
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