There is a common phrase ‘New Year, New Start’ with many making resolutions about losing weight, stopping smoking and changing direction with their careers. Sadly for some, this extends to a major life change such as ending their relationship. January is generally the busiest time of the year for family lawyers with an increase in the number of new divorce related enquiries.
Couples who are experiencing difficulties often hold back on taking any formal action to end their relationship until after Christmas as they wish to portray to their loved ones that all is well during the season of peace and joy.
However, Christmas can put added strain on a deteriorating relationship, with couples spending prolonged periods of time together and juggling the requirements of their respective families not to mention the inevitable expense that occurs.
Many couples will have explored reconciliation and separation or divorce will be the only route left. Unfortunately, this can have far reaching consequences for them, any children and their wider family. At such times, it is important to have clear and pragmatic advice about the options available and for the issues to be resolved quickly and effectively with the minimum of expense.
An agreed solution is best and one way of achieving this is through the Collaborative Law process. Each person appoints their own trained collaborative lawyer and negotiations are conducted by a series of meetings between all four instead of by telephone or correspondence.
Both parties and their lawyers sign an agreement committing them to resolving the issues without going to court, meaning the same lawyers cannot represent them if the collaborative process breaks down. However, the success rate is high and the focus is on constructive discussion and problem solving, with the lawyers working as a team to seek the best solutions for the couple.
The meetings will help the couple to reach an agreement about finances and arrangements for their children and will enable them to have as good an on-going relationship as possible for the children’s sake.
The couple are in control of the process which is flexible to suit them, their circumstances and the issues for discussion. The meetings are arranged at their own pace and some couples may only need two meetings to reach an agreement whereas others may need more.
Collaborative Law is a ‘value added’ process and while it may not be suitable in every case it will have benefits for many.
Jayne Turner is a trained and experienced collaborative lawyer and will advise on whether Collaborative Law if the right option for you. She is also a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Complex Financial Remedies and Pensions on Divorce and is an Advanced Member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel. Jayne is described in the Legal 500 2018 directory as "sensible, client focused and knowledgeable".