Dispute resolution: the value of mediation or collaborative law

26 Nov 2013

How you deal with the emotional and practical issues of a divorce or separation really matters – to your own well-being, to your spouse/partner and most importantly, to any children you have.  When feelings are running high it is all too easy to feel that you are entering into combat with your estranged spouse or partner.  The decisions you may have to make can seem mountainous, just at the time when you feel least equipped to make them.  Going to court can often compound the problem.  People who come out of the court process often wonder what it really achieved for them.

Family solicitors who are members of Resolution encourage people facing divorce and separation to consider talking methods to resolve their issues.  Mediation can provide an opportunity in the right circumstances for each party to air their views and to really consider their options to see if they can come up with solutions that they both can live with.  Before commencing with a Court application mediation should at least be considered and in appropriate circumstances a Resolution family solicitor would always recommend it.

Another alternative method to Court is collaborative law.  Each party has the benefit of the legal assistance of their solicitor with the genuine aim of reaching a settlement or find a solution without going to court.  Solicitors practicing collaborative law are specially-trained and the parties and their solicitors meet together, face to face, to work through the relevant needs and aspirations. All four are committed to working constructively and flexibly.  The outcomes are often felt by clients to be more dignified and helpful than court action; the Collaborative model allows you to really explore the needs and feelings of each person, and any children, in a way that the court system cannot.  Experts, if they are needed, are asked to advise all four people together; everything is done by agreement and in a step-by-step way at a pace which suits the couple.  Both solicitors are committed to understanding both people’s viewpoint and to be open to the suggestions anyone makes – regardless of whether that is from their client or not.

Mediation or using collaborative law should not be seen as an easy option as sitting around a table face to face with your ex-spouse or ex-partner and talking openly and with willingness to compromise can be hard work. It takes a real commitment to listening to the other person’s point of view.  However for many people, no matter how fraught things are at the point of separation, the talking method is better than court.  It may not be easy, but it may allow you both to come out of this tough time in your life with your dignity and the knowledge that you both had a hand in creating your own solutions to the issues you face.