June 10, 2011

How collaboration avoids aggravation in the summer holidays

For couples whose marriages are more akin to sinking sand than solid rock, the additional pressures of the impending and protracted summer holidays can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Such turbulence is also exacerbated by the current economic squeeze when foreign jaunts are swapped for ‘staycations’ which can see the cracks widen further with bad weather and endless hours of time to fill. 

With around 136,000 couples undergoing divorce each year in the UK, the distress of a marriage break up is often compounded by an acrimonious court battle.

At Jones Myers we champion a more positive and less traumatic way forward via collaborative family law (CFL), which provides a less adversarial process for dealing with any family dispute.

This ground breaking option is gaining popularity in the UK after being launched in the US in 1990. Our team of expertly trained CFL lawyers are committed to this approach, where appropriate.

With collaborative law each person instructs their own lawyer. Instead of negotiations being conducted by letter, telephone, and ultimately in court, couples and their lawyers work things out face to face, with the aim of reaching consensus without involving the courts.

Such meetings can also involve other relevant experts – such as an accountant, life coach or children’s counsellor – to help reach the best and most amicable conclusion.

The collaborative process is often more cost effective, private and quicker than traditional approaches to family disputes. Whereas divorce through the courts can take a year or longer, sorting out finances via  the CFL process can bring a resolution in as little as six months.

So why aren’t the divorce courts emptying more quickly? Well, there is a view that going to court can allow angry partners to “get back” at their spouse and provide an outlet for their frustration. Two thirds of divorcees have admitted to using their children as bargaining tools and one in five have confessed to wanting to damage their ex-partner – but what kind of shaky foundations does this aggression create when it comes to providing a nurturing environment for children?

We’re heartened that collaborative family law is starting to catch on in the UK. Those of our clients who have commissioned the process have found immense benefits. People feel more in control over their future, agreements are reached more quickly and creatively and those involved often benefit from improved levels of communication and a healthier attitude towards the needs of their children.

There will always be a small number of cases where court cannot be avoided, perhaps where one party is being dishonest with the other about assets or where there are significant levels of acrimony. What is important is ensuring that divorcing couples are fully aware of their options before they go down that road.

Where future co-parenting is a priority and the couple’s relationship isn’t overly combative, CFL could be the ideal solution, providing as it does an opportunity to divorce with dignity.

Share with us your thoughts on CFL by commenting below or contacting us here.