6th Oct 2017

A better ending to separation

For anyone who reaches the decision that they must explore divorce, focusing on the final outcome can often become clouded by events in the present.

In many ways, that’s a natural response to what is an immensely trying experience –many professionals compare the process to one similar to the grief of losing a loved one. So irrespective of whether the process becomes embroiled in court proceedings or progresses through the less confrontational approach collaborative law involves, the process will be tough.

For most, while the end of the legal process will bring some closure, it does not mean that neither those difficult emotions nor some form of ongoing contact with your former partner will disappear. Focusing on a better ending from the start can help to ensure the future is brighter – you need look no further than hit BBC series Doctor Foster to see the potentially destructive impact divorce can have on someone years after a divorce.

Taking the right approach

The way a person chooses to handle divorce has a huge impact upon the relationship they are able to have with an ex-spouse moving forward. It is easy to get wrapped up in the emotions of divorce and lose sight of what is most important. I have seen a number of “messy divorces”, throughout my career, which have ultimately ended up in protracted court proceedings where, it is important to remember, nobody comes out of the court process a winner!

With the collaborative process you are both able to explore the options with the benefit of legal advice and decide what is best for your family, rather than having a decision imposed upon you by the court where you cannot control the process.

For those couples who have children, it is imperative that you retain some kind of relationship moving forward. You will need to co-parent effectively and ensure that the children feel as little disruption as possible.

Even when the children have grown up, there will be occasions where you will need to support your children together such as; their weddings, graduations etc. With the collaborative process you have a much better chance of remaining friends or at least civil with one another moving forward. This will make those big events less awkward for you and your children.

My experience of the collaborative process has been nothing but positive. Whilst it is not suitable for every case, where it is suitable and your solicitor is collaboratively trained……you should grab the opportunity!  The court process is becoming more and more unpredictable and can take 12-18 months to reach an ultimate conclusion. One Judge commented a number of years ago “that if both parties walk away from my court room unhappy, I know I have made the right decision”. The court process is a gamble and an expensive risk to take. 

In my opinion the collaborative process provides a better ending for all. In most cases you will have reached an outcome within 2-3 meetings and have a solution which works best for your family. You are also much more likely to walk out of the collaborative meeting as friends. We often see our clients grabbing a coffee after meetings and supporting one another.

One of my clients, very recently, said to both me and his wife’s solicitor “Thank you. You have made a difficult process much easier for which we are both grateful for”. 

Danielle Day is a Collaborative Family Lawyer in Berwins’ industry ranked family law team. 

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