Few people realise that, actually, they don’t have to engage in a bitter battle at court to get divorced and, in fact, most cases settle out of court anyway.
But what if the threat of the court process and all of the trauma and associated costs that go with it could be removed completely?
One dispute resolution option becoming increasingly popular for couples who still care about the emotional and financial wellbeing of each other and any children beyond a divorce is called the Collaborative process.
Specially trained Collaborative lawyers sit around the table with both of the spouses and, upon signing a legally binding agreement which commands respect, constructive negotiation, honesty and openness, help them to work towards finding tailor made solutions for themselves and their families.
A Collaborative agreement is essentially an agreement to agree. Most importantly though, once signed, a Collaborative agreement prevents any party (including the lawyers!) from threatening to take each other to court. By removing the threat of court with all the accompanying costs, risks and emotional turmoil it brings, the atmosphere of a Collaborative meeting completely changes from one of attack and defence to co-operative brain storming.
Instead of animosity and the more typical to-ing and fro-ing of hostile letters and court applications, everyone in the room works together to explore the various options available and decide the best outcomes for the whole family. Couples are empowered, often for the first time in some years, to take responsibility for key decisions which underline their pasts and begin to shape their futures.
In reality, when the agenda concentrates on settlement and the sole measure of success for the lawyers involved is to reach an agreement that their clients can accept and live with a massive leap forward in effective problem solving occurs.
It is certainly not an easy process and other Collaborative experts may be brought in to help clients deal with their raw emotions head on, the anchorage for all being a real desire to avoid a bitter fight and shield any children from exposure to conflict
At the end of a Collaborative process agreements reached can be drawn up as official Orders for the court to approve and seal.