Time to Talk day takes place today, Thursday, 4th February 2021. This initiative is part of the Time to Change Campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It aims to improve public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems and reduce the discrimination that people with mental health problems report in their personal relationships, social lives and at work. Time to Talk day encourages us to start conversations about mental health, a topic that is ever more important given the difficult times that we are all going through. Further details can be found at- https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day.

As family lawyers we understand the importance of talking. We know that our clients are going through difficult situations which may impact on their mental health. We support them in resolving the legal issues arising from separation. Mediation and the Collaboration are just two methods of resolving things, which can reduce conflict and the stress associated with relationship breakdown.

What is mediation?

Clients are often referred to mediation as part of the separation process. A mediation can be carried out by an accredited lawyer mediator or a non lawyer mediator. This process is an effective way of resolving disputes, particularly when there are issues in relation to the care of children. If communication with an ex-partner has deteriorated, mediation provides a 'safe' forum in which concerns can be raised in the presence of the neutral third party mediator. Discussions are open and respectful, and each party gets the chance to express their view. The mediator will not solve the dispute but help to encourage dialogue, understanding and ultimately agreement without going to court.

There will be an initial intake meeting when each party can discuss with the mediator their concerns as well as their expectations of the mediation process. There will then be a series of joint mediation sessions. At the end of the process, a summary of what has been agreed is prepared and this can be drawn up into a formal written agreement by the parties' own solicitors. Any discussions that take place at mediation are confidential and cannot be referred to in court which gives parties real freedom to explore different options.

And despite the restrictions brought about by the pandemic mediations can still take place virtually as we adapt to new ways of working and helping clients.

What is the Collaborative process?

The Collaborative process can also be used to resolve issues arising from the breakdown in a relationship. Trained collaborative lawyers will work with their clients in this very different and innovative way to resolve matters. The distinctive feature of this process is that both the clients and their solicitors sign up to an agreement at the outset in which they undertake not to go to court. All discussions take place with both clients and solicitors present and there is a commitment to being open, honest and to make full disclosure. Only those solicitors who are Collaboratively trained can participate in this process. Clients can also benefit from input from trained financial advisors and trained counsellors.

This approach puts the clients right at the heart of the process and enables them to come up with creative ways to resolve their differences. It encourages those involved in the process to focus on their mutual interests and create a solution which is right for them and their family, which is particularly important where there are issues to resolve in relation to the care arrangements for any children of the relationship.

Collaborative meetings can also take place virtually.

The family law team at Brodies is able to provide expert advice on all aspects of separation and divorce. We have a number of accredited family law mediators and Collaboratively trained solicitors who can assist you.


Rachael Noble

Senior Associate