With a bill for ‘no fault’ divorce in the House of Commons, attitudes towards divorce are changing for the better – minimising animosity and improving outcomes for families should always be the aim of separation – but until blame is removed entirely from the equation, collaborative methods of dispute resolution currently offer the best way forward.
When you think of divorce, your first impression may be of a tense courtroom battle, and many couples are entirely unaware that it is possible to finalise separation agreements entirely out-of-court using alternative methods such as mediation, collaborative family law, or arbitration.
Each of these options offer a less-combative approach to the separation process, coming to a mutual agreement on practical, financial, or parental decisions with a clear emphasis on discussion, collaboration, and cooperation, where possible.
Collaborative divorce has been shown to minimise conflict between separating couples, improve future co-parenting arrangements, and create fairer and more sustainable financial outcomes – an approach that has essentially laid the foundation for the future of the proposed introduction of ‘divorce without blame’.
Of course, while in theory, this kind of cooperative method may seem unlikely for couples going through the emotional upheaval of separation, in practice, it can be adapted to a range of different circumstances – even when any kind of agreement seems impossible.
For those who feel able to sit down together – or separately – to discuss their situation with an impartial third party, mediation offers an effective option for resolving issues and coming to a decision about the division of assets, living arrangements, and childcare.
For parents who want to work together (supported, of course, by their solicitors) to create a tailormade plan for co-parenting in the future, collaborative family law provides a neutral environment to discuss options and come to a mutual decision that benefits your entire family.
For couples who wish to keep their legal affairs private and resolve financial disputes with the minimum of upheaval, arbitration is another out-of-court alternative that allows for cooperation and seeks to avoid animosity.
Each of these methods removes the need to go to court, and ensures that both parties are given individual support from their own solicitors and/or guidance from an impartial third party, such as a mediator or arbitrator. Rather than becoming consumed with how to ‘win’ their case, couples are encouraged to work in cooperation with one another – no matter whether this actually involves sitting down together or keeps correspondence at a distance – with the aim of a mutually beneficial outcome.
Collaborative approaches can help to reduce the anger and resentment often involved in divorce, by shifting the focus away from blame and towards a positive future – particularly where there are children involved. These out-of-court methods are also generally faster, cheaper, and less stressful, with long-lasting effective outcomes.
Until the option for no fault divorce becomes a reality, collaborative divorce offers the next best alternative for couples who want to move on with their lives, avoid going to court, and work through separation with a positive eye on the future.
For more information on divorce, separation, and the out-of-court options available, visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk or get in touch with one of our friendly, experienced family lawyers.