For many, the process of separation and divorce can be bewildering and stressful. This post aims to set out the options available to enable you to decide on the best way for you to deal with issues arising out of separation and divorce.
Where you are still able to communicate effectively with each other, then it may be possible for you to reach an agreement between yourselves on the division of the finances and arrangements for any children. In these circumstances it would still be advisable for you both to take separate, independent legal advice to ensure that you understand your 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 you may need advice on the terms of a financial consent order to be submitted to the Court.
If you are struggling to reach an agreement, or emotions are running too high, where further assistance is needed in resolving matters mediation may help. An independent mediator would meet with you both together to help to resolve any issues arising out of the breakdown of the relationship. The mediator would not be able to provide legal advice but would assist you in reaching a solution that both of you can be happy with. During the mediation process, you should obtain independent legal advice regarding the settlement and implementation of the agreement to ensure that it is binding and enforceable.
A further option is the Collaborative Law Process which enables issues to be resolved respectfully and in a non-confrontational way. Each of you appoints your own specialist Collaborative trained lawyer and the focus is on discussion and negotiations taking place at round table meetings attended by you both and your lawyers. You and your Collaborative lawyers agree in writing at the start that the matter will not go to Court but that you will work together to resolve the issues in an amicable and dignified way. Issues are discussed and resolved in structured meetings, where you both listen to and discuss each other’s wishes and needs. The Collaborative lawyers provide legal advice, guidance and support throughout, and further support can be provided by specially trained family consultants or financial advisors.
The Traditional Model
In some circumstances where none of the above options are suitable, you may need to instruct Solicitors the traditional way. The Solicitor will negotiate on your behalf with your husband/wife or their Solicitor, obtaining all the relevant information and advising on potential settlements. If no agreement can be reached, or where a court timetable is likely to be of benefit, either one of you could apply to the Court for a financial order once divorce or separation proceedings have been commenced. Throughout the Court process you can continue to try to reach a settlement, and will be encouraged to do so, but in the event that this is not possible the Court will make a decision which the couple will be bound by.
If you would like any more information about your options and choosing the right process for you please contact us. If you would like to receive a copy of Resolution’s Divorce and Separation leaflet please let us know and we will send one out to you.
Image by: Kate Ter Haar under a Creative Commons Licence