One of the biggest misconceptions I have discovered from clients when meeting them for the first time has been their assumption that getting a divorce, separating from their partner or having a disagreement on issues regarding their children will lead to expensive legal fees and arguing with their former partner in a court room.
This misconception is understandable when the media publicises high profile cases that have been decided in court and led to each party spending huge amounts of money in legal fees.
The reality can be completely different provided those parties affected by the disputed issues have the right approach from the outset, which can be achieved in having the right lawyer.
In my view, the right lawyer is somebody who follows what I call the ‘collaborative approach.’
The definition of ‘collaborative’ is that this is created by two or more people working together. Thus when there is an issue needing be resolved you and your partner should, with your legal advisors, be able to work together to achieve an outcome which is deemed fair.
Being collaborative can take many different forms. Some collaborative approaches include:
- Removing the emotional feelings each person has about the dispute out of the equation.
- Having round table meetings with all both spouses and their representatives present so those disputed issues can be resolved by sensible discussion in a controlled environment.
- Having a third party join the case to assist in helping both spouses reach their goals.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can advise you on the best approach for your situation and provide you with access to many different types of third parties including mediators, counsellors, therapists and independent financial advisors.
When the collaborative approach was first introduced Cambridge, where I am based, was one of the first cities to adopt this approach. Presently in Cambridge, and the surrounding area, there are a number of groups, consisting of certain lawyers and other professionals, who meet regularly to discuss how we can promote and improve the collaborative approach in Cambridge and the surrounding area.
Resolution, an organisation run by family law solicitors, has also played a leading role across the country in trying to promote family disputes being resolved amicably and cost effectively. They have launched Good Divorce Week as an awareness campaign to help with this.
Too many times I have seen contested court proceedings issued far too early which is simply an expensive, stressful and time consuming route in resolving a dispute. I accept there are times when contested court proceedings will be necessary to achieve the right outcome for my clients, but in most cases this is not the best way forward.
Due to the progress made by some within the legal profession, who follow the same approach as me, there are now several methods available in family law that will allow disputes to be resolved much quicker and cheaper than court proceedings. At the start of some of the divorce cases I have worked on my clients would not have believed an amicable agreement with their ex-partner was possible, but with the right information and guidance this can be achieved.
It is therefore important you pick the right lawyer so they can make you aware of the options available to you and which route will be right for you. If you feel you made a mistake by choosing the wrong partner do not make the same mistake again and choose the wrong lawyer.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have the largest team of family lawyers in England and Wales. If you require legal advice on divorce or children arrangements call us on freephone 0808 916 9055 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.
Marc Etherington is a family solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cambridge.