Relationship Breakdown – The Options

For many, the process of separation and divorce can be bewildering and stressful. This article aims to set out the options available to you, to enable you to decide on the best way to deal with issues arising out of separation and divorce.

Where the couple are able to communicate effectively with each other, then it may be possible for them to reach an agreement between themselves on the division of the matrimonial finances and arrangements for their children. In these circumstances, it would still be advisable for the couple to take separate, independent legal advice to ensure that they understand their rights and to ensure that the implications of the settlement are considered. It would also be advisable to seek legal advice on the paperwork to reflect the agreement, for example by way of a financial consent order to be submitted to the Court for approval without the need for the couple to attend.

If further assistance is needed in resolving matters, mediation may assist. An independent mediator would meet with the parties to help to resolve issues. The mediator would not be able to provide legal advice, but would endeavour to assist the couple in reaching a solution that both would be happy with. During the mediation process, the couple will need to seek independent legal advice regarding the settlement and implementation of the agreement to ensure that it is binding and enforceable.

A further option open to couples is the Collaborative Law Process which enables issues to be resolved respectfully and in a non-confrontational way. Each person appoints their own specialist collaborative trained lawyer, and the focus is on discussion and negotiations taking place at round table meetings attended by the couple and their lawyers. Correspondence between the lawyers is kept to a minimum. The couples and their specially trained collaborative lawyers agree in writing at the start that they will not go to Court, but that they will work together to resolve the issues in an amicable and dignified way. Issues are discussed and resolved in structured meetings attended by the couple and their lawyers, where the couple listen to and discuss each other’s wishes and needs. The Collaborative lawyers provide legal advice, guidance and support throughout.

In some circumstances where none of the above options suit the couple, they will instruct Solicitors in the traditional way. The Solicitor will negotiate on your behalf with your spouse’s Solicitor, obtaining all the relevant information and advising on potential settlements. If no agreement can be reached, or where the couple would like the benefit of a Court timetable, either one of the couple could apply to the Court, once divorce or separation proceedings have commenced. Throughout the Court process the couple can continue to try to reach a settlement, but in the event that this is not possible, the Court will make a decision which the couple will be bound by.

As can be seen, there are a variety of options available to suit the individual requirements of the couple in question. BLB Solicitors’ specialist Family team are all members of Resolution (formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association), and as such are committed to adopting a constructive, as opposed to confrontational, approach to resolving matters. They will give you clear, tailored advice based on your particular circumstances. The team includes Solicitors trained in the Collaborative law and Family Mediation process.



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