January is traditionally the second busiest month for divorce lawyers; September is the busiest. It seems that spending too much holiday time with your nearest and dearest, especially when aggravated by alcohol and other festive indulgences can lead to separation rather than closeness.
No matter what you hear, divorce or separation is always stressful for the people involved. There is a new way of divorce which cannot eliminate stress but can certainly help reduce it and we hope that more people will consider it as the dignified way forward.
It is called the collaborative approach to divorce. It works by having a series of four- way meetings with the couple and their solicitors trying to reach a negotiated settlement. The four way discussion creates a more imaginative and tailor made solutions to their own problems, rather than having the Court impose solutions on you. There are none of the nasty letters flying between the lawyers which often cause more anger and increase the costs in an adversarial divorce.
Each person has the support, protection and guidance of his or her own lawyer and together the lawyers and the parties meet to discuss all of the issues that the parties believe need to be addressed. The lawyers agree that they are there to help the parties resolve those issues constructively and that they are not there to take the case to Court. The lawyers are prevented from taking the case to Court.
This encourages open communication and information sharing so as to let people negotiate a mutually accepted settlement without using the Court. It also means that the couple can concentrate on the issues that are most important to them, and not the ones that the law deems to be important. Solutions can be agreed between the couple that suit them, rather than the couple having to fit into a decision imposed upon them by a Judge.
You can see how useful this would be if you need to sort out details about horses or pets and at the other end of the scale, if you are in partnership or business together. Creative solutions may enable you to keep the business going without causing undue hardship to either the couple themselves, or their employees and wider family members.
The couple might want to use a team of people. Oftentimes there are divorce coaches/counsellors involved to help a couple (either individually or together) work through their emotional or communication difficulties as well as IFAs and accountants to assist with financial information and planning for the future. Mediators or child specialists may be involved to help sort out issues about their children for example.
The process came to England about four years ago and it is really taking off. The more people hear about it the more they want to take this dignified way forward. It provides a much better role model for the children than the old adversarial approach; it helps couples who are involved in businesses or work in partnerships together to separate without adversely impacting on their business and it gives back control for the couple which otherwise they hand over to the Court.
I urge you to find out more about Collaborative Family Practice by contacting one of the specially trained collaborative lawyers in your area who are willing and able to assist you.