October 14, 2011

How collaborative law is lighting up the North

Last week’s get together for the north of England’s collaborative law community proved to be an inspiring occasion. It was truly exciting to be in an atmosphere buzzing with fresh ideas about how we can spread the message that collaborative law should be the way forward for so many more couples who want to separate.

There was a real sense of commitment to the cause of what we used to call alternative dispute resolution but now know as appropriate dispute resolution (ADR) at this year’s Northern Lights event. The reason “alternative” was swapped for “appropriate” comes down to that idea that collaboration, mediation and arbitration, rather than litigation, should be the norm when it comes to divorce. And while the mood is certainly moving in that direction, as more and more couples learn about the advantages of a collaborative split, we’re not quite there yet.

But let us explain just why that’s the way things should be. Firstly, litigation is a destructive way to proceed: it’s bad for families and the conflict that it causes can be traumatic for children who are more often than not exposed to it. And secondly it generates hostility and polarises the two parties, making civilised communication unlikely if not impossible.

Going the collaborative route however is a totally different experience and feedback from our clients, here at Jones Myers, confirms this time after time. Resolving matters with both sides – and other, relevant advisers such as accountants or life coaches – in the same room keeps clear and civilised communication channels open at all times. It takes away the tendency to interact by means of belligerent solicitors’ letters, and removes the intrusiveness of intervention by a stranger. On top of all that it can be a less expensive option too.

As the collaborative way of managing separation gains more acceptance and popularity we hope it will enable separating couples to think more clearly about what is good for their family and for protecting their family’s assets while keeping relations between both parties civilised.
The Northern Lights event also has the distinction of having raised £1,200 for Children in Need. Our very own Pudsey Bear travelled across the north of England from event to event, raising money as he went and being photographed at landmark northern locations such as York Minster and Harrogate’s Royal Baths, before finally making his way to Park Square in Leeds.

As specialists and pioneers in collaborative law, we’re really proud to have been able to support Children in Need. Among other things, collaboration is very much about protecting children from the trauma of an acrimonious divorce and it’s very rewarding to be supporting a charity that does so much to change children’s lives for the better.