3rd Oct 2019

Solving complex divorce issues with confident creativity

Berwins’ Family team is proud to specialise in collaborative family law and support separating clients to move forward in a constructive way. Marking Collaborative Family Law Week 2019, Director Stephen Root looks a commitment to creativity can help to solve difficult and complex problems in divorce.


“Confident creativity” may seem an odd topic for Collaborative Law Week. However, it is a crucial part of the process and in many ways the key to its success.

If the collaborative process is to work it is essential that all participants have complete confidence in it. I do not just mean the clients but the lawyers as well. The clients need to have confidence that they will be able to express their views and be listened to. They need to be reassured that they will have the support of the lawyers. And, despite the fact that they are separating, they need to a degree to have confidence in each other and that they are both committed to the process. The Participation Agreement, signed by them at the outset, helps to reinforce what is expected of them and that, together with the Anchor Statement, cements the basis on which everybody is taking part.

The lawyers too need to have confidence in the collaborative law process. They need to remember that the vast majority of collaborative cases are successful. They need to be able to trust each other and, just like their clients, be prepared to listen and not scared to express their views. They need to be confident enough to each support both of the clients. It helps if the lawyers have worked together beforehand on other cases but it is not essential as there should be a base level of trust between all collaborative lawyers after the extensive and rigorous training we have all gone through.

Studies in industry have shown that if leaders are creative and are prepared to give their staff freedom to express themselves that the confidence of the entire business benefits. It is very similar in the collaborative law process. The lawyers can lead and by showing how much they believe in collaborative law the clients will feel much more comfortable.

The effect of this is to create a virtuous circle. By this I mean everyone in the room will feel able to ask questions, put forward views, discuss options and be creative. One of the beauties of collaborative law is that enables us to consider solutions that a court cannot impose. I’ve dealt with collaborative cases where part of the settlement has involved, for instance, arrangements about looking after pets or attending children’s activities. If need be we can spend as long as needed sorting out arrangements about the contents of the house, something a Family Court judge will have little patience with. We can ensure that the settlement is bespoke to that family and it’s particular needs.

As a collaborative law case goes at the pace that the parties want it also makes for a more comfortable negotiation as neither party should be feeling bullied or forced into a settlement that they are not ready to consider. Court proceedings will often make one of the clients (if not both) feel that to be the case. It should be remembered that collaborative law cases are also private. Meetings will take place at a solicitor’s offices rather than in the public forum of a court building and there is no possibility of the press being present which might – just – happen at the Family Court.

Confidence allows creativity. Creativity is often the key to finding a solution. Confidence in the process together with the freedom of expression it allows will also give insights to complex situations make finding answers much easier.

Collaborative law is an option which allows clients have confident creativity and avoid the pain and uncertainty of litigation.


Consistently ranked in industry directories as one of the leaders in his field, Stephen Root is a pioneer in the practice of collaborative family law and has been supporting clients for over 30 years. 

Berwins' dedicated and friendly team is here to help. If you have a matter you would like to discuss with Stephen and the team, please get in touch by calling (01423) 509000 or use our contact form online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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