August 29, 2014

Why separating couples should opt for collaborative lawyers

We always advise that separating couples find lawyers with similar mind-sets if they want to avoid a bitter ‘War of the Roses’ style divorce.

Choosing a collaborative solicitor – a lawyer who is trained to help reach divorce settlements without going to court – means that issues, including finances and children, are likely to be settled in a more consultative way.

With the government pressing for an increase in out of court options for divorce and family matters, it makes sound economic sense for couples to undergo this process – which promotes a ‘children first’ approach. It also ensures that the lawyers representing them remain on the same page – even if the couples themselves are at loggerheads.

Collaborative family lawyers communicate effectively to break down barriers to reach a settlement – regardless of any animosity clients feel towards their exes. This can speed up the divorce process, and possibly reduce the costs, with the couple both feeling more in control of their own destinies.

How do I find a collaborative divorce lawyer?

The Leeds Collaborative Lawyers Practice, Organisational and Development Group (POD) is a good place to start.  It comprises of collaboratively trained lawyers – including members of the Jones Myers team – and other professionals such as IFAs, forensic accountants, mediators and life coaches, who share an interest in promoting the good practice of collaborative law.

Details of collaborative lawyers are also available from Resolution, an organisation for divorce solicitors who takea constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. CFL North is useful for finding collaborative family lawyers in the north of England – you’ll find several lawyers from Jones Myers on the website.

How do I persuade my ex to use a collaborative lawyer too?

We advise clients who are interested in the collaborative approach to encourage their former partner to review the above information and links to see how it works and what the benefits can be.

Emphasising the “children first” approach can be helpful. Likewise, a trusted family friend, financial adviser, or accountant could persuade your partner that having solicitors with similar values may make the divorce process simpler.

If both parties use collaborative lawyers is there a much better chance of avoiding court?

By definition the collaborative process is one that avoids court. If there is a non-collaborative case, where for some valid reason the collaborative process may not be appropriate – perhaps there is a lack of trust between the parties or there may be mental health/domestic abuse issues involving two collaboratively trained lawyers, it is likely their approach will be similar, civilised, constructive and solution driven, as opposed to lawyers who think litigation first, and talk second.

Are there any instances when it wouldn’t make any difference for both lawyers to be collaborative?

If both parties are hell bent on going to court, it will still be a more constructive experience if both lawyers are collaborative – even if their clients are not.

If there are complex financial assets or complicated issues relating to children, is it still best for both parties to have a collaborative lawyer?

Sometimes the complexity of the issue, or the nature of the people involved, will need a third party to make a decision.  This could be a Judge or an Arbitrator – but this should not mean that the lawyers have to behave aggressively. There is more chance of avoiding this problem if the lawyers are collaboratively trained.

What happens if my ex doesn’t use a collaborative lawyer – or even a lawyer who isn’t a specialist in divorce?

This does happen, although it is rare these days to come across a solicitor who is not a family law specialist.  At Jones Myers we always start the communication process assuming it will proceed in a constructive manner and that both parties are seeking a mutually agreeable solution.

Do you want to know more about collaborative family lawyers, or do you have any questions about separation or divorce?  Please, drop us an e-mail You can follow us on Twitter @helpwithdivorce