August 5, 2011

An alternative to the trauma of court divorce

The knock on effect of around 200,000 people losing their entitlement to legal aid in the family courts each year from October will spark an increase in the number of individuals representing themselves.

But whilst an increase in self-representation might be inevitable, it’s important for us at Jones Myers LLP that those going through divorce are aware of all the options to ensure they receive the right advice and support.

Mediation and collaborative law and are two options that can reduce the cost and trauma of divorce proceedings.

Although there might be challenges over lawyers’ fees to support you through the process, we would urge you to refrain from short term gain to avoid an unsatisfactory settlement that could impact on individuals’ lives and emotions for many years to come.

The most important – and emotionally-charged decisions – centre on childcare, the sale of a family home or the division of finances.

Clear and dispassionate advice from experts who know the pitfalls is invaluable at a time when feelings are running high.

Many people regard going to court as an inevitable part of the divorce process. A key issue with court hearings is the length of time the process takes, creating higher fees by default. Other options of making a settlement can be speedier, less adversarial and stressful, while achieving similar outcomes.  

Mediation is an option which the Government predicts will more than triple in 2012. This process involves a mediator advising a couple over key areas where they can make voluntary agreements.

The mediator’s role is not to advise over the “right” outcome but to help a couple address their challenges between them and agree a settlement. Because there is only one mediator or solicitor involved, the parties often share a single fee, further reducing the costs of resolving a dispute.

Not all divorces can be settled without going to court, but seeking out the right advice and knowing your options is vital to come away with a settlement which reduces emotional and financial costs and enables both parties to restart their lives.

Collaborative law – an innovative new approach to resolving divorce cases – is another option which involves negotiating an agreed settlement. Jones Myers LLP’s team of collaboratively trained lawyers are highly experienced in this approach.

The process involves both party’s lawyers sitting face-to-face to discuss what each side sees as a fair settlement and achieving a compromise.

The purpose is to address and resolve outstanding issues with the aim of mapping out a fair agreement. Accountants or independent financial advisors may also be invited to attend these meetings.

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