Collaborative Law, Mediation or Arbitration in divorce
GEORGINA EARLE-HUTTON >
Partner and Senior Family SolicitorTue 21 December 2021
We firmly believe that, wherever possible, you should be the one to decide how your money should be divided with your former partner.
We strongly encourage Out of Court Settlements which our expert Family Lawyers are trained to assist you with. They can help you to use alternative ways of resolving your issues through Collaborative Law, Mediation and Arbitration.
What is divorce collaborative law?
Collaborative Law is the process whereby you and your Solicitor work together with your former partner and their Solicitor to resolve matters. The process is holistic and flexible and represents a clear willingness by both parties to seek a fair resolution as quickly and without friction as possible. The parties will typically sign up to an agreement to use the process and not resort to going through the Courts. An agreement to collaborate may include terms as to what happens if either party abandons the collaborative approach, particularly any implications for costs incurred and it is usual to agree that if collaboration fails and court process is needed, neither party will be able to disclose in court proceedings the terms or details of any negotiations.
All issues are decided at meetings where everyone is present. This means that there can be every opportunity for ideas to be discussed and problems to be resolved with the direct assistance of your Lawyers and sometimes an interventionist mediator. With collaborative law, the parties will often, on a flexible basis, agree to bring in experts, such as financial experts or even psychologists, as required, to help resolve difficult issues.
There is still the need for parties to provide full details of their financial circumstances. However, the face-to-face structure means that everyone can more easily understand each other’s position. The chances of reaching an agreement are significantly improved as the likelihood of misunderstanding is minimised.
Any agreement ultimately reached is then submitted to the Court for approval.
Mediation involves parties meeting with a trained Mediator in an attempt to resolve the issues.The Mediator helps the parties to identify key issues, but also allows the focus to be kept on the issues considered the most important to the parties.
The role of the Mediator is to help parties reach an agreement and not to direct them towards a particular settlement. The parties are encouraged to obtain legal advice throughout the process. This is so that they understand the legal framework and so that their agreement can be given legal force.
This process requires parties to provide full disclosure of their financial circumstances. They are then assisted to decide for themselves how they wish to resolve the issues, as opposed to having another party decide for them. The length of the process will depend on the number of issues to be resolved and the willingness of the parties to compromise with each other.
An agreement reached in Mediation is not binding until it has been ratified in an Order submitted to the Court for approval.
The process of resolving disputes through the Courts can be a lengthy and expensive one. Arbitration is useful where the parties want there to be an outcome which is binding. Arbitration is a means of achieving a final result in a more timely and cost effective manner than going to court.
Parties can agree to have an issue resolved by an Arbitrator who is usually a retired Judge or Senior Lawyer. They will consider the financial information produced by the parties, hear evidence and then make a decision.
Arbitration is similar to the Court process, but the decision is made by an Arbitrator instead of a Judge. The parties are not restricted by the rules of the Court process and can decide what issues are to be decided. This includes what evidence is to be produced and the timescales for resolving the matter.
How can we help?
Our team of dedicated Family Lawyers have years of experience dealing with all aspects of Family Law. They can help you to resolve your dispute with your former partner in a pragmatic and cost-effective way.
If you’re looking for further advice, please contact Georgina Earle - Hutton at our Bexleyheath Office on 020 3551 8110 or click here to read more about the services we offer.