Partner and Head of Wills & Estate Planning at Andrew & Co Solicitors Helen Newson writes...
Can you avoid disappointment and upset in family disputes?
- AuthorSue Leadbeater
James Carroll of the Law Society’s Family Law Committee said in response to a report that family law accounted for the highest number of complaints to the Legal Ombudsman;
“Divorce is an inherently difficult area of law, where people are often emotionally raw and one party may feel hugely upset at being caught in the process at all. As the report acknowledges, expectations about what the court or a lawyer are able to deliver may be unrealistic and sometimes people press on with actions which may be against their legal advice; so it is not surprising that people come out of an often distressing process feeling dissatisfied, particularly when we do not have a system of no fault divorce”.
So, what you can do?
It is important to appoint a lawyer who you trust and have confidence in. Consulting a lawyer who subscribes to the Resolution Code of Conduct is a first step towards that. The Code encourages solutions rather than confrontation and requires it subscribers to take into account the needs of the whole family and in particular the needs of any children. They will discuss whether alternatives to traditional solicitor negotiations such as mediation or a collaborative process may be right for you. Most of all they will do everything they can to help you reach a fair and just outcome as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
So, what is Collaboration?
Collaboration is a relatively new way of dealing with family disputes which involves you and your partner or spouse appointing a collaboratively trained lawyer and instead of negotiations being conducted by letter or phone call four way meetings are held where the people involved and their lawyers work together to reach a solution face to face.
The Collaborative process gives you more control over what is happening and a greater opportunity for everyone’s opinion to be listened to and taken into account. Other professionals can be involved in the process too, for example accountants if there is a business or more than one property and tax advice is necessary but also people such as relationship advisers or others who can provide emotional support.
When you separate important decisions need to be made that will have an impact in the future. It is so important that when those decisions are made you are in the right frame of mind. The collaborative process can allow that to happen and avoid unnecessary disappointment and distress.
I am a Member of Resolution and a collaboratively trained lawyer. I am happy to answer any questions or explain matters further and offer a free half hour consultation to explain the procedure and differences between the collaborative and conventional approach to family related problem solving.