D: damaging or diplomatic?

I: insufferable or innovative?

V: volatile or versatile?

O: obstructive or open-minded?

R: resentful or respectful?

C: combative or cooperative?

E: expensive or effective?

I know which group of words I would choose - do you?

Tears, tantrums and dramas are fine when we're watching Suits, The Split or Law & Order, but it's best if they can be avoided in real life. Cups of tea and tissue boxes often make appearances in family law meetings which is understandable given the delicate and upsetting issues which are to be discussed. There is, however, another way. 'Collaborative Practice' can help to alleviate the stress and worries associated with relationship breakdown.

Whilst most clients know they wish to avoid court if possible, not all know about the possibility of using the Collaborative approach. There are a number of reasons why Collaboration is more likely to lead to a successful resolution than a more conventional approach:-

  • the solicitors involved in the process are experienced and highly trained family lawyers;
  • the couple make a commitment to being open, respectful and civilised and to giving a full and honest disclosure of their financial situation;
  • the process focuses on mutual interests rather than legal entitlements;
  • the couple dedicate themselves to working with their respective solicitors and a financial neutral to reach a creative solution which may not have been available through court or by approaching matters more conventionally;
  • if needed, support is available within the process from trained Collaborative counsellors;
  • discussions take place face to face during joint meetings, so everyone is involved at every step;
  • protracted correspondence between solicitors is avoided;
  • all experts, such as surveyors and business valuers, are instructed on a joint basis; and
  • Collaboration allows the couple to retain control of the decision-making as opposed to passing it to a sheriff or judge.

For separating couples with children, restoring positive communication is the key to co-parenting effectively in future. That is much more likely when couples have worked together to achieve an outcome with which they are both content, rather than having spent months or years embroiled in an expensive and acrimonious litigation.

Whilst I have not yet undertaken my Collaborative training, I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to involve myself in some Collaborative cases as an observer. Credit must be given to couples who go down this route. It can be no mean feat going into a meeting room with someone for whom you likely feel a number of mixed emotions, but it is clear that if you are able to put those emotions to the side, hold each in high regard and work together, the benefits you will reap will be tenfold.

If you would prefer to "fix the problem, not the blame", consider using the Collaborative Practice. A large number of the Brodies' family law team are collaboratively trained and would be pleased to assist any new clients with this successful and worthwhile form of alternative dispute resolution. For more information, please contact any of our team or visit http://www.consensus-scotland.com/


Kate Bradbury